Oklahoma River Cruise Boats At Risk In Dried Up River
OKLAHOMA CITY - A failed dam was blamed for grounding two-thirds of the popular Oklahoma River Cruise's fleet Saturday.
Operators said it was a frustrating situation to be in again, following a similar event in September. Within two hours of the dam failing, the middle basin of the Oklahoma River was virtually dry and two boats sat next to their dock. Instead of floating, they were slowing sinking into the muddy riverbed.
"It's a little frustrating for an operator to not have his fleet," explained River Transit Manager Jeanne Smith. "We are concerned about the boats sitting in the mud."
The boats, each worth $1 million, could have damage to the propellers, rudders and hull. Smith said the longer they stay in the mud, the more of a chance there is for damage.
One of those boats, the Pioneer, was recently repaired after it got stuck in the mud last time.
"It actually caused one of the drive shafts to bend. Of course that boat had been sitting in the mud for a considerable amount of time," said Smith.
The boat was stuck in the mud for about four weeks, she explained. Replacing the drive shaft is not cheap. In fact, any damage to the boats comes with a cost and on top of that they were losing money with only one of the three boats running cruises on the river. Smith said it was a blessing that the third boat was still operational down the river.
The most frustrating aspect of the whole ordeal may be that they will not know the extent of the damage until they can get the boats afloat again.
"Now it's just a matter of waiting until the repair at the may dam is completed, which should be sometime the middle to late next week," explained Smith. "At which time they'll release some water from the may basin to at least give us enough water to refloat these boats."