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Abandoned houseboat removed from Lake Lanier
Deteriorating craft was left near Sunrise Cove Marina after owner died last year
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A barge follows two Tow Boat U.S. boats Thursday morning as they pull an abandoned houseboat to Balus Creek Park on Lake Lanier, completing an effort of nearly a year by the Lake Lanier Association. The boat’s owner was found deceased and the vessel was left moored in a cove near Flat Creek Road and began to take on water.

An abandoned houseboat on Lake Lanier got its much-needed attention Thursday when the sunken vessel found its new resting place in a Gainesville salvage yard.

The Lake Lanier Association coordinated the boat’s removal with funds approved through the Georgia General Assembly that were matched by Hall County.

The association’s executive director, Joanna Cloud, said the houseboat’s owner died without a next of kin and had no assets to the estate.

“It quickly became a liability,” she said. “The boat initially had floating integrity, but I think the battery died and the bilge quit working and (it) started taking on water.”

The state allocated $25,000 for removing boats on Lake Lanier for fiscal year 2017.

“We felt like the state should step up and have some responsibility to keep our lake clean and pristine,” state Rep. Kevin Tanner, R-Dawsonville, said Thursday. “There’s a lot of tax revenue collected off of Lake Lanier. A lot of our constituents live on Lake Lanier.”

Beginning Thursday morning on Flat Creek Road, crews worked to pump water out of the submerged houseboat and employed float bags. Cloud said workers found soaked furniture and snakes among the houseboat’s contents.

Despite being so close to Sunrise Cove Marina, the boat was too large to fit on its boat ramps, Cloud said. The towboats eventually made their way to Balus Creek Park on Mountain View Road.

“Both of the towboats and the barge — they were all working on getting this thing on the trailer,” Cloud said.

After drilling more holes to let more water out of the vessel, the tarped houseboat was transported by 5 p.m. Thursday to Xpress Metal Recycling in Gainesville.

“I called the salvage yard to say watch out for the snakes,” Cloud said.

Tanner said he hopes the funding will allow for more proactive responses in the future before these vessels become a “costly and time-consuming problem.”

Cloud estimated the salvage will cost at least $10,000.

“It’s a hazard to personal safety. It’s a hazard to boating safety. We just don’t want that in Lake Lanier,” she said.

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