By CHRISTINA RITCHIE ROGERS
After three hours of hard labor and teamwork, Cornelius Police and community volunteers on Sunday removed a sunken boat off the end of Point Regatta in Knox Creek. The 21-foot fiberglass boat had been underwater for about two years.
“We are proud of our shoreline and will go the extra mile to help keep it the way it should be,” Sgt. George Brinzey said.
Sgt. Brinzey is leading the police department’s lake patrol efforts this summer, and said police would receive multiple calls from concerned boaters reporting the same sunken boat. Police were unable to find the owner of the boat, but did contact the man to whom the boat was originally registered, and he said he had no problem with them getting rid of the boat.
So Sgt. Brinzey, with West Marine manager Brad Hewitt, Officer Derrik Queen and police volunteer Dave Rochester spent three hours Sunday morning getting the boat out of the water.
Mr. Hewitt operates Tow Boat U.S., a tow boat company, and volunteered to help police on his day off.
“It would never have happened without him,” Sgt. Brinzey said. Mr. Hewitt had the know-how and the equipment, and spent the morning waist-deep in the water next to Sgt. Brinzey pulling, pushing, and pumping water. “He’s a real good guy that’s proud of his community,” Sgt. Brinzey said.
For the first two hours, Sgt. Brinzey and Mr. Hewitt stuck rocks under the boat to try to get its back end out of the water. They also fastened the boat to the police boat on one side and to a tree on the other side, and tightened the ropes and belts in an effort to pull the boat up. Once all the edges of the boat were above water, they then pumped the retained water out, and the boat began to float again for the first time in years. Volunteers on the Cornelius Fire Boat offered their pump for the water, and also provided a device to collect any oil that leaked out.
Cornelius resident Dave Rochester, a citizen volunteer with the police department, joined Sgt. Brinzey and Mr. Hewitt in the water to get the boat pumped and tied to the police boat, and ultimately onto the police trailer.
“He is literally my third arm when it comes to projects like the one today,” Sgt. Brinzey said.
Officer Derrik Queen operated the police boat at the scene, and helped to rig the sunken boat to the police boat to pull it up and out. He also towed the boat around the cove to the police trailer once it was floating.
Once the boat was secured on the trailer behind the police truck, Sgt. Brinzey drove the boat to the town’s storage lot, where Jake Brown of Jake’s Towing helped get the boat off the trailer.
Aside from the town paying for police to be out Sunday, the boat was removed at no additional expense to the town, Sgt. Brinzey said. A task of that scope could have cost more than $3,000, he said, if it hadn’t been for the volunteers donating their time and equipment.
“What’s so amazing is how responsive all these different organizations and people were to this problem boat,” Sgt. Brinzey said. “It makes me proud to work for a community, town, and police department that supports missions like this, and more in the future.”
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