A Mississippi-style riverboat took anchor recently at New River Marina in Sneads Ferry, where it remained a couple of days while crew members sought repairs and supplies.
While heading to Florida from New York through the Intracoastal Waterway, the riverboat Liberty Belle had problems at the Wrightsville Beach Bridge near Wilmington.
“The bridge got stuck for some reason and only opened part of the way,” said Marlene Taffler, who works at New River Marina in Sneads Ferry. “She was too big to get through and ran into something under the water. They had to turn around and come back here for repairs.”
Taffler was inside the marina when the boat anchored along their seawall and was able to speak with the captain and his crew during their stay, which lasted from Jan. 13 to 15.
“The captain docked here to have us check his vessel out before moving on,” Taffler said. “One of our divers saw that his rudder was messed up. One of their props, which was bigger than a shrimp boat’s, also had some damage.”
For the few days the Liberty Belle was anchored in Sneads Ferry, its crew of 10 and captain mostly remained on the boat, venturing to land for socialization and supplies.
“The crew was a mix of girls and guys,” Capt. Marc Hairston of Bad Habit Sportfishing said. “It’s just very unique for this area to see a paddle boat like that. Everyone on the crew was nice and polite, very friendly. They were also painting the inside of the boat red and fixing it up while they were here.”
The Liberty Belle attracted many admirers while anchored in Sneads Ferry, with many people taking pictures even throughout nighttime hours.
Liberty Belle sold at an auction in August in Baltimore for $357,200. The winning bidder was Julia Pledger representing Captain JP Cruise Line from Troy, N.Y., which purchases boats and refurbishes them to resell or lease. The 140-foot vessel will host dinner cruises when it reaches its final destination in Miami.
After repairs were finished on the vessel, the crew secured one final batch of food supplies and shoved off under their own power around midnight Wednesday, according to a Facebook post by crew member Kyle Fennell.
“It’s fixed and we are off to Florida,” Fennell wrote online.