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January 14. 2013 5:10PM

MV Kearsarge is back afloat after small hole detected


Crews work to raise the MV Kearsarge at the Sunapee Town Docks on Saturday. Courtesy 

The MV Kearsarge after it was raised from the bottom Saturday. Courtesy 
SUNAPEE - A hole the size of a pencil eraser sunk the MV Kearsarge in its winter berth Thursday, according to the boat's owner.

The summer dining boat, which was discovered with its stern on the bottom of Lake Sunapee at the town docks at about 7 p.m., was repaired and "refloated" Saturday with the help of several local, state and private organizations, according to its owners.

"It's back afloat," said Pete Fenton of Bradford, whose family owns the boat.

The owners had seen the 30-year-old, 34-ton boat, which is valued at more than a half-million dollars, floating in place as usual at 4 p.m. Thursday. Three hours later, it was discovered with its rear submerged.

Their investigation into the cause of the sinking showed an eraser-size hole "in the coupling from a sea valve to the port engine as the likely trigger of what resulted in the sinking," Fenton said in a press release.

"There are bilge pumps onboard. The vessel sustained additional damage to the rudders as a result of contact with the lake bottom, and may eventually have to come out of the water for further repairs beyond the drying out and clean-up process."

Fenton said the owners aren't yet sure how much the repairs and resurrection of the boat will cost. He credited "a superb effort" by Black Dog Divers, Clean Harbors, Dive Winnipesaukee, Fred and Donna Nashawatay, National Wrecker Service, the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services, S. G. Reed Towing, Richard Osborne, Tow Boat US, Wrightway Landscaping, and the town of Sunapee including the town's fire, police, highway and water departments in bringing the boat to the surface.

"The vessel is now floating without any external aids," Fenton said. The Fentons say they anticipate that the boat will be fully repaired and operational again in time for the 2013 sailing season on Lake Sunapee.

"We would like to sincerely thank the community for all the good thoughts and support that you have sent our way these past few days. We are so lucky to live in such a great, thoughtful and caring community. We are very thankful that no one was injured when the boat sank or during the recovery operations. Thank you again for your thoughts and support; this is why we love this area," said Mary Beth Fenton.

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