Local News

Stuck pontoon boat to take plunge over Tar River dam

Posted March 6, 2009 12:56 p.m. EST
Updated March 6, 2009 6:53 p.m. EST

— A pontoon boat stuck on the edge of a Tar River Reservoir dam will take a 25-foot plunge Monday, ending its run as a sightseeing attraction for five days.

City officials believe the boat came untied from a dock about a mile upstream, floated down the river and then got stuck on the dam Wednesday.

Since then, spectators have streamed by to look at the vessel, perched on the edge of a waterfall, rocking as water rushes over it.

"It's odd seeing it sitting there. It's just not moving; it's not going anywhere," spectator Opal Medlin said.

"It's exciting really to see something like that," Julian Peace, another spectator, said.

Some people took pictures, and they all speculated about how the boat got there and how it's kept hanging on.

"It's amazing that it hasn't gone over before now," spectator Greg Griffin said.

Meanwhile, Rocky Mount officials, the boat's owner and an insurance company wondered what to do with the boat. The owner was out of town, and the city decided it was too dangerous to send a crew to pull in the vessel.

"What you have is private property that is on public property," said Wayne Hollowell, the city's director of Water Resources.

On Friday, though, the insurance company declared the boat a total loss, clearing the way for a new option: Open the flood gates.

"Monday morning, with written permission from the owner, we'll drop the dam, and the boat will come off the dam," Hollowell said.

The boat's show will end with a 25-foot plunge onto rocks. Ultimately, officials said, it's the safest end.

Emergency crews will be on hand Monday to ensure safety and to salvage the boat, or pieces of it. City officials said they'll closely monitor water levels before opening the dam.