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A cruise boat owned by two Twin Cities businessmen rests on the St. Croix River bottom after sinking sometime late Thursday night or early Friday morning. It took a section of dock owned by Afton-Hudson Cruise Lines with it as it sank. (Hudson Star-Observer photo by Randy Hanson)

Cruise boat sinks at Hudson dock

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A 60-foot cruise boat docked along the dike road in Hudson sank to the bottom of the St. Croix River late Thursday night or early Friday morning, Aug. 29-30.

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The large houseboat-type craft used by two Twin Cities businessmen for pleasure and to entertain clients buckled a section of the dock it was tied to as it sank. The dock is owned and operated by Afton-Hudson Cruise Lines, which uses it for its Grand Duchess riverboat.

City Parks Supervisor J.J. Barnes reportedly noticed the sunken boat sometime after 4 a.m. Friday and notified the Hudson Fire Department. The boat came to rest on the shallow bottom of the river next to the dock with the top deck and most of the first deck above the water.

Exenvironmental Inc., a Hudson company that provides training on hazardous materials handling, was called to contain and clean up the diesel fuel and gasoline that leaked from the boat.

At 9:30 a.m., Jay Penfield, a Hudson firefighter and partner in Exenvironmental, reported that workers had the boat surrounded with booms to contain the fuel. They were using absorbent materials to collect the fuel from the water surface.

Penfield said only a small amount of fuel had leaked from the boat's tanks.

Exenvironmental was making preparations to pump the remaining fuel from the tanks.

Penfield said the company hoped to arrange for a crane from the new Stillwater bridge worksite to be brought to Hudson to raise the cruise boat. He said straps would be placed under the boat and attached to the cable on the crane, allowing it to be gradually raised to the surface.

The crane is on a barge that would be towed to Hudson by a tugboat.

It is unknown why the boat sank. Afton-Hudson Cruise Lines owner Gordy Jarvis said it has a steel hull, and only a handful of places where the water could get in. He speculated that something broke, causing the boat to take on water.

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Randy Hanson
Randy Hanson has reported for the Star-Observer since 1997. He came to Hudson after 11 years with the Inter-County Leader at Frederic, and eight years of teaching social studies. He’s a graduate of UW-Eau Claire.
(715) 426-1066
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