Lake Cumberland plays host to one of largest V-bottom boats
by Bill Mardis Commonwealth Journal
Launching a $2 million vessel at General Burnside Island State Park late Tuesday was a harbinger of things to come; a most appropriate event heralding the anticipated end to what seemingly has been an eternity waiting for Lake Cumberland’s return to normal operation.
An excited crowd with cameras watched as the majestic yacht took to the water like a duck. A 59-foot yacht is big, reportedly the second largest V-bottom boat on the third largest lake east of the Mississippi River.
The owner of the yacht declined to be interviewed or identified, but he obviously has faith in Lake Cum-berland’s future. He has gone to a lot of trouble and expense to put his classy vessel where he wants it to be.
Shouldering its opulence in the placid waters off the ramp, the big boat was an optimistic exclamation ahead of next week’s final safety review of the $594 million rehabilitation of Wolf Creek Dam.
If the troubled dam passes scrutiny, Brigadier General Margaret W. Burcham, commander of the Great Lakes and Ohio River Division of the Corps, is expected to give the green light for Lake Cumberland to once again wrap its watery arms around the foothills of the Cumberland Mountains.
Wolf Creek Dam, sitting atop a porous limestone base, has been plagued with uncontrolled seepage since the gates were first closed.
After being classified in high risk of failure in 2005, the 62-year-old structure has undergone a massive rehab-ilitation believed to be a permanent fix.
To facilitate the work, the level of Lake Cumberland was kept 40 feet below normal for six summers and about 20 feet below normal this past summer. Tuesday’s launching of the expensive yacht is a statement that the future is now for the lake, heartbeat of the economy in the 10-county Lake Cumberland region.
“The boat’s owner has another yacht on the lake; he is upgrading,” said Reveshia Erts, co-owner with husband, Andy, of Erts Trucking Inc., Ocala, Fla. Their firm transported the larger yacht from Vonore, Tenn.
Erts said it took two large trucks to bring the yacht to Lake Cumberland. The superstructure was taken off and hauled on one truck and the body of the vessel was brought on another truck.
“We got here Saturday,” said Erts. “We are not familiar with Lake Cumberland; we researched all weekend and talked with local people and were told this (ramp at General Burnside Island State Park) is the only viable ramp on the lake to launch a boat this size.
The launching ramp, extended when the lake was lowered, is 350 feet long and ends in deep water; This depth currently exists even though the lake is about 31 feet below normal pool stage at the tree line.
“It took all weekend to put the boat back together,” Erts said. Two large cranes were necessary to lift the superstructure back atop the yacht.
Launching was tricky. A large wrecker was used to anchor the truck backing the yacht into the water “ ... so it won’t go in the water too fast,” Erts explained.
Once in the water, the yacht traveled under its own power around the island to nearby Burnside Marina. “It’s here ... it got here safely,” a marina spokeswoman said Wednesday morning.
“After odds and ends are taken care of, the boat will be taken to a home port near Jamestown,” said Erts. Her company will remove the owner’s old boat now on the lake.
The big yacht was built in Pulaski, Wisconsin “ ... quite a coincidence that it was launched in Pulaski County, Kentucky,” Erts said.
The previous owner had the boat on the Tellico River, near Knoxville.
The Tellico River rises in the westernmost mountains of North Carolina, but it flows mainly through Monroe County, Tennessee. It is a major tributary of the Little Tennessee River and the namesake of Tellico Reservoir, a reservoir created by Tellico Dam, which impounds the lower reaches of the Tellico River and the Little Tennessee River and was famous during the 1970s for the snail darter controversy.
The big yacht will have room to stretch its rudder on Lake Cumberland. Tellico Lake, its previous home, has 15,560 acres of surface and 357 miles of shoreline. When Lake Cumberland returns to normal, hopefully next sum-mer, yachtsmen may explore 65,530 acres of water and hide among wooded coves along 1,255 miles of scenic shoreline.