Boat takes on water, beached by owner

(UPDATED: 10:45 p.m.) A 42-foot yacht was being refloated late Sunday night after the owner beached the listing vessel near the Veit's Landing condominiums east of Smith's Bayou bridge.
Becky Vargo
Jul 23, 2012


Richard Lubbers of Spring Lake said he was rafted with some other boats in the bayou east of Smith's Bridge late Sunday afternoon when someone told him his large wooden boat, named "Wreckless," was listing.

"There was a lot of people on board so it was difficult to tell at first," Lubbers said.

But when he checked, he noticed water coming in and the bilge pumps shooting water out.

"I asked everyone to get off and began untying" from the other boats, Lubbers said.

When he realized the water was coming in faster than the pumps could send it back out, he said he threw off the lines and took his boat straight to shore.

The beach was steep, so the nose of the boat went up and the back of the boat went down enough so that water flowed in through some open windows, further sinking the boat, he said.

"He did the right thing," said Brian DeVries of Great Lakes Towing and Tow Boat U.S. DeVries said it would be easier for them to refloat the boat from shore. 

Tow Boat U.S. owner (for east coast of Lake Michigan) Rich Lenardson donned scuba gear and located a 3-inch by 8-inch hole where a step had ripped out. As of late Sunday night, he said they would lift the boat with air bags, plug the hole in the rotted wood, drain the water and tow the boat to a marina where it would be immediately lifted out of the water.

Lubbers said the 1971 Chris Craft Constellation had just been inspected by the Coast Guard on Saturday. He said he has owned the boat since 1999 and has done normal maintenance and repairs. He said the boat was insured for $43,000.

The Ottawa County Sheriff's Department Marine Patrol responded from the water. Spring Lake/Ferrysburg police responded on shore.

Coast Guard personnel were also on scene to monitor and possibly remove any spills in the water.

They were monitoring the fuel spill, which created a strong gasoline odor in the area, for several hours, said Jason Hall, a marine science technician first class with Sector Field Office Grand Haven.

 "We can't do anything with gasoline. We just have to let it evaporate," Hall said. "If you contain it, you create an explosive environment with the vapors."

Hall said they would remain on the scene until the boat was removed in case there was any oil spilled. They would then use absorbent pads to remove the oil from the water.



"Well said" returned - thank you for speaking out ... xoxo


Agree. It's interesting how critical (and sometimes mean-spirited) folks can be when they can hide behind a fake name on a website.


Absolute sad truth - thanks so much for your reply - ;)


Oh your right, Good thing this didn't happen in deeper water while your two little girls were sleeping...I imagine if this were the case you would certainly be looking for a "source to blame". Your suggesting we smoke a cigar, pet the pooch and congratulate the guy who narrowly escaped a "potentially traumatic ordeal". The skipper is accountable for his craft, and this skippers craft sank. Look at the posts below, he took (some) responsibility and noted that he has learned from the expirence. This will only make him a better mariner in the future. Whining about subjective comments accomplishes nothing.


I'm suggesting you attempt to utilize this amazing characteristic called empathy and not look at other's personal tragedies as your objective, cold-hearted, critique material.


Sidenote critique of your comment - Your use of "your" here is incorrect - should be edited to "you're" ... ;)


Go jump in the lake. Pic looked like Gilligan's Island. You should grow a sense of humor.


Keep talking ...


Speaking of pics - quite the Flickr collection you have - beautiful family - you must be so proud.


43° North's photostream -


"And finally, the boat is very tall and narrow and therefore quite tippy"

Narrow? It has over a 14 foot beam. Chris Craft Commanders are one of the widest boats out there. They also weigh in at over 20,000 lbs. Not sure if I would call that "tippy."



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