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Boat owner upset with conditions at Inland Marina

Dec. 13-- EVANSVILLE-- John and Melinda Graybill love being on their two boats during hot-weather months-- laughing, entertaining and escaping. It's our getaway, "said John Graybill, who works locally in sales and real estate. Lately, though, the Graybills have become concerned by what they've seen at the Inland Marina boathouse where their treasures are moored.

By John Martin, Evansville Courier & Press, Ind.
McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

Dec. 13--EVANSVILLE -- John and Melinda Graybill love being on their two boats during hot-weather months -- laughing, entertaining and escaping.

"We stay the night on the boats. It's our getaway," said John Graybill, who works locally in sales and real estate.

Lately, though, the Graybills have become concerned by what they've seen at the Inland Marina boathouse where their treasures are moored.

They point to uncovered electrical wiring, power lines drooped toward the water's surface and fire extinguishers that have been empty since 2008. Those concerns came to a head during last week's winter storm, when their boat and others were used as buoyancy devices to keep the boathouse from sinking while snow and ice fell on its roof.

One of the Graybills' boats, with a fiberglass hull, was pulled so hard during the storm that it sustained cracking.

"These are deficient docks," Graybill said Friday at the marina. "The weight of the roof comes down, and what they are doing, premeditated, is they are using boat owners' boats, unannounced, unapproved, to hold up the docks."

Graybill said an insurance agent was to inspect damage to his boat soon, but "I'm not worried about my material boat, that's why we have insurance, and that's where it will be addressed. My drive and personal crusade right now is the safety of boating, period, end of story. I don't want to see (Inland Marina) harmed, I would like to see a favorable outcome and somehow this brought up to code."

Inland Marina is the only alternative for those who wish to dock their boats locally, year-round, according to the Graybills. In recent days, the couple tried to discover what entity has jurisdiction for inspecting the facility.

After speaking to Mayor Lloyd Winnecke's office, the City-County Building Commission and the Army Corps of Engineers, there still was no clear answer.

"It seems to be the land of the lost," said Graybill, who pays $7,800 per year to keep his two boats at Inland Marina.

Ron Riecken, owner of the marina for 50 years, said that during major snow events, boathouses need additional support from below to remain upright.

He said marinas in Grand Rivers, Ky., Cincinnati and elsewhere have collapsed in the past because of weight from snow and ice, and Inland Marina wants to avoid that.

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"We added another line to his boat, and I don't think (Graybill) understands the mechanics of what would happen if we didn't," Riecken said. "The boats would be destroyed. (If Graybill's boat sustained damage), we'll fix it. He has insurance, and even if he didn't have, we'll fix it. But we basically saved his boat from being totally destroyed, and he doesn't understand it. The other boaters are calling us, telling us they understand."

When major snow events occur, "we get up on the roof and personally shovel snow and ice off there," Riecken said. "It takes some time. These three docks are as large as football fields, We hire lots of people. We pay people all night long to shovel show. As it's going down, the mooring lines are tightening up. We found this out accidentally one year. We actually go back and add lines, so the roof and dock are supported evenly. We try to get it stabilized uniformly, temporarily, while we shovel snow. All the boaters there know it, and they're all fine with it."

Graybill reiterated his view that the boathouse is deficient. He pointed to marina guidelines set by the National Water Safety Congress stating that boathouse roofs must be able to accept 10 pounds of accumulation per square foot.

He said other local boaters share his concern but might not want to air it publicly.

"The boats that are moored there, if the facility were up to code for property buoyancy, they would not have to (use boats for added buoyancy)." Graybill said. "... Shouldn't a boathouse be able to stand on its own merit?"

Riecken, asked about the out-of-date fire extinguishers the Graybills spoke of, said, "I had no idea they were that far out of date. We'll definitely get them inspected if they're that far out of date. I guarantee you they'll work. But we will get them inspected when the weather permits."

Riecken disagreed with Graybill's claims that the wiring issues constitute a safety hazard.

"All that is done by licensed electricians," he said. "A floating structure, a marina, and a permanently attached building somewhere are different. Everything has to move in a floating structure. Everything has to have slack and be able to move, and that's what he doesn't understand, either. I'm sure even the casino has lines that fluctuate other there. We'll jump 10 feet in a 24-hour period."

Graybill said the biggest question he has is one of jurisdiction at the marina. City-County Building Commission Director Ben Miller said the matter was researched by City Attorney Ted Ziemer Jr.

"He looked into it at great depth. The structure is partly in Kentucky and partly in Indiana, as I understand it," Miller said. "Part of it is in the city of Evansville, and fire safety issues and electrical capacity that would be regulated by the city."

Miller said he would be inspecting the facility on Friday, prompted by inquiries from Graybill.

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"This is the first complaint that I know of that's ever been received about the marina, so we're going to check it out. We would go out and review what the complaint was and work with the owner to get them corrected, and if he was unable to do so, take further action."

___

(c)2013 the Evansville Courier & Press (Evansville, Ind.)

Visit the Evansville Courier & Press (Evansville, Ind.) at www.courierpress.com

Distributed by MCT Information Services

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