Keuka Maid attempts to dock in Penn Yan
KEUKA LAKE—The Keuka Maid traveled from Hammondsport to Penn Yan and back, Monday, Nov. 1, to the surprise of many.
Urbana Supervisor Gordon Lanphere said he found out the boat left its dock in the town earlier in the day. He explained residents called the office asking where it had gone. The boat had previously been unable to take passengers out onto the lake without getting an inspection. According to Yates County Sheriff Ron Spike, the boat was newly registered as a pleasure vessel, Oct. 20, 2010.
Spike said the vessel was piloted by Edwin Briggs, with Captain Robert Hicks Jr., and deck hands Gerry Briggs and Calvin Hinson, all from Steuben County. Spike explained Robert Hicks was hired two weeks ago to get the boat ready for travel, by owner Robert Pfuntner.
Spike said as far as he knew, Pfuntner had the right to operate the boat on the lake as a personal vessel. However, after the boat arrived in Penn Yan, sheriff’s deputies boarded and inspected it. The Keuka Maid came to a halt about 300 feet from shore, near Sarrisin’s Restaurant, around 6 p.m. Pfuntner also owns Sarrasin’s.
Residents from Hammondsport to Penn Yan found out the boat was on the move and tracked it during the day. Several motorists followed its progress up the lake along East Lake Road and Route 54. The Keuka Lake Association’s Facebook page also posted updates during the day.
That is how Deb Craig and Neil Bradley found out about it. The two were at Red Jacket Park when it arrived. The two left and came back with protest signs. Craig yelled out to the Keuka Maid about “No ugly boats!”
Spike said the pilot intended to beach the boat on the restaurant’s lakeshore. However, he added that the lake is too shallow there. Spike said the sheriff’s department determined the Keuka Maid was a hazard to navigation where it rested.
According to a news release, the sheriff ordered the vessel “to terminate unsafe operations” as stated in New York State Navigation Law, and ordered it back to Hammondsport with a sheriff’s escort.
“Due to the shallowness of the north end of the lake there is no place to dock it without it creating a hazardous condition,” said Spike.
He added that by the time the Keuka Maid was back in Hammondsport, the Urbana dock was blocked by a barge. Spike said the vessel had to left at the dock in a different location. Tuesday, Nov. 2, Lanphere confirmed the barge was blocking the dock to do repairs.
Spike said there are several navigation law charges, including misdemeanors, pending further investigation by the marine patrol unit.
While the Keuka Maid was docked permanently as a commercial vessel since 2006, Pfuntner paid the town of Urbana rent each month to dock it. Lanphere said Pfuntner has been up-to-date in paying the $1,000 per month. He added the Urbana town board will look at its options and consult with an attorney about the Keuka Maid at the town dock.
Judge W. Patrick Falvey placed an injunction on the boat Dec. 18, 2007, preventing it from coming to Penn Yan. However, that injunction was lifted March 15 of this year.