Salvage crews from Hart Diving and Salvage were on the scene Tuesday afternoon assessing the situation after the stern of the historic Larry Don sank Monday at its mooring near Bagnell Dam.
Terry Hart, Hart Diving owner, said despite rumors and innuendoes, he is unsure if ice was the cause of the sinking.
"I've raised nine boats so far this year, and none was due to ice," he said. "The only boat I know of to be sunk by ice is the Titanic."
Raising the 65-foot passenger vessel will be tricky, Hart said, because of the boat's proximity to the docks, the wind, the ice, the boat's high center of gravity and underwater cables. It is cables that apparently are holding the bow of the boat to the dock, or the entire vessel would have sunk.
"It's a very big vessel," Hart noted.
The plan is to raise the vessel with airbags, pump it free of water and then determine the source of the leak that took it into 20-25 feet of water. Hart said the owners, who also own Beavers at the Dam, haven't decided if the historic vessel will be salvaged or repaired.
If Hart and his crew are able to raise the boat, it will be towed a couple of hundred yards along the shoreline to the Iguana Sports facility, which has the original trolley used to launch the boat.
Iguana Sports employees were trying to clear a path through the ice to their launch area.
"We don't know why it sank yet," Hart said. "But it's sitting hard on the bottom. Drama can always happen in a situation like this."
A small amount of fuel and oil escaped from the Larry Don, but Hart said that was quickly contained by Lake Ozark Environmental. He's been working closely with Ameren Missouri and Department of Natural Resources officials.
A handful of onlookers was reminiscing about their times on the Larry Don in its heyday in the 70s and 80s about mid-afternoon Tuesday as Hart and his crew were beginning to assess the situation.
The Larry Don
According to www.thelakehistory.info, the Larry Don made its debut at the Lake in 1948. It is believe to be the oldest commercial boat on the lake. The boat was fabricated in St. Louis from sections of World War II landing craft, the website says.
The Larry Don is a triple-decker boat that is 24 feet wide. The vessel, which has seen decades of enjoyment by tourists and local residents, was commissioned by Lawrence M. Fry and built by Warren A. Strutman. The boat purportedly is named after Fry's son, Larry, and his brother, Don.
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