Heavy Rains and Strong Current Sink Rare, Classic Boat

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SACRAMENTO RIVER-

Heavy rains Sunday caused a classic boat to sink on the Sacramento River, near the River View Marina on Garden Highway.

The boat’s owner, Alan Helmer, told FOX40 there was a small leak in the boat, but his bilge pump was keeping it afloat.

But when the rain started, it flooded his boat’s deck and over loaded the pump. That’s when Helmer believes it started to sink.

“I think that we can probably raise it up if it just stays there, (but) the river it’s rising,” Helmer said.

Helmer and a friend were able to tie the sunken vessel to the shore using a skidoo and a rope, but not until after both fell into the river.

Helmer claims the 34-foot mahogany boat is a 1954 Hunter classic, and extremely rare, one of only 13 ever made.

“There’s only two left in the world, and now if this goes down, there’s only going to be one left in the world,” Helmer told FOX40.

“We called 9-1-1 made sure there wasn’t nobody on there, then we realized what boat it was,” said James Jordan, who lives on Garden Highway and has a backyard view of the river where the boat sank.

Jordan said he’s had issues with Helmer parking the boat near his home in the past.

“He parked it here for about a month, and we came out here and asked him is there anyway you can move it, we can’t even cast on our own dock,” Jordan told FOX40. “It’s irresponsible of him to leave it unattended.”

But Helmer said he parks his boat on the river because most marinas on the Sacramento River won’t let him dock a wooden boat.

“They just don’t want you there. A lot of marinas are just saying no wooden boats. Well that’s our heritage, we’re losing our heritage,” Helmer said through tears on Sunday.

According to Jordan, Sunday’s storm rose the water level about fifteen feet on the river.

“You know my buddy is a rice farmer, so this is definitely going to help them out,” Jordan said.

Helmer told FOX40 he was going to remove the boat from the river this week, so there’s only a little oil and fuel in it.

He plans to use scuba gear Monday to put a lift bag underneath the boat to rescue it.

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