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MV Kearsarge Floating Again

  • Crews work yesterday to raise the MV Kearsarge, which sank in about eight feet of water in Sunapee Harbor on Thursday. (Rob Strong photograph)

    Crews work yesterday to raise the MV Kearsarge, which sank in about eight feet of water in Sunapee Harbor on Thursday. (Rob Strong photograph)

  • Crews work yesterday to raise the MV Kearsarge, which sank in about eight feet of water in Sunapee Harbor on Thursday. (Rob Strong photograph)

    Crews work yesterday to raise the MV Kearsarge, which sank in about eight feet of water in Sunapee Harbor on Thursday. (Rob Strong photograph)

  • Crews work yesterday to raise the MV Kearsarge, which sank in about eight feet of water in Sunapee Harbor on Thursday. (Rob Strong photograph)
  • Crews work yesterday to raise the MV Kearsarge, which sank in about eight feet of water in Sunapee Harbor on Thursday. (Rob Strong photograph)

Sunapee — It took all day, but with the use of large airbags and a heavy duty pump, the partially submerged MV Kearsarge was raised off the bottom of Lake Sunapee late yesterday afternoon.

“It is floating again,” Tim Fenton, whose family owns the 66-foot vessel, said last evening.

The two-deck Kearsarge began taking on water Thursday evening while tied to the dock in Sunapee Harbor and the stern of the boat sank in about eight feet of water. A salvage team stabilized the vessel Friday afternoon using a sling wrapped around the boat and secured to a cable from a truck.

Yesterday, divers placed several large airbags underneath the stern of the boat. When inflated, they began easing the boat out of the water, eliciting cheers from onlookers, many of whom were standing on the harbor ice.

“The airbags raised it enough to allow some of the water to drain out,” Fenton said. “Then they put the pump in and it was pumping 500 gallons a minute.”

It took a few hours but the pump did its job and the Kearsarge came back up to about where it was before the accident.

Fenton said though there are still leaks, a smaller pump employed overnight is removing the water faster than it is getting in.

“I just live across the street so I will check on it during the night,” Fenton said. “We will regroup and re-evaluate (today) and decide what to do next.”

Fenton said they are still not certain about what caused the problem. They believe when the rudders hit the bottom some additional damage caused more leaks but they still have not determined why it sank. Though they didn’t examine the hull closely, the divers did not see anything obvious, Fenton said.

The Fenton family has owned the MV Kearsarge and its sister boat, the MV Sunapee II, for about 10 years. The vessels are used during the summer to ferry passengers around the lake on cruises. The Kearsarge is left in the water during the winter and bubblers are used around the hull to keep it free from ice.

On Friday, Fenton said he did his daily check of the boat around 4:30 p.m. Thursday and everything appeared normal. Three hours later, the back of the boat was under water nearly to the top of the second deck with a noticeable list.

Fenton said they were able to get on the boat yesterday and make a quick survey of the damage.

“Everything was wet but it is definitely too soon what it will cost to repair it,” he said.

The Fentons plan to have the MV Kearsarge ready for dinner cruises next summer. For now, though, they are pleased that the boat is back on the surface.

“We are definitely headed in the right direction,” Fenton said.

Patrick O’Grady can be reached at ogrady56@yahoo.com.

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