Divers To Begin Recovering Spirit Of Sacramento Paddle Wheeler On Tuesday

BETHEL ISLAND (CBS13) – A legendary riverboat with a Hollywood history capsized on the Sacramento River Labor Day weekend.

The “Spirit of Sacramento” took on water early Sunday and capsized near Bethel Island in Contra Costa County. A section of the Delta is now closed, as the U.S. Coast Guard and law enforcement agencies investigate what happened.

“Our main goal today is to have the divers go down and assess the boat and see how everything is positioned,” said Lt. Nicole Emmons of the U.S. Coast Guard.

Special divers with the Coast Guard and Global Diving and Salvage Team spent most of Labor Day underwater, trying to come up with a plan to hoist up the “Spirit of Sacramento”.

Lt. Emmons said the 87-foot boat contains about 600 gallons of diesel fuel, which began leaking sometime early Sunday morning.

According to Lt. Emmons, “They immediately they put booms around the area to keep the sheen inside the area around the vessel.”

Emmons said the Coast Guard, along with Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Deputies and the Department of Fish and Wildlife enacted a safety zone all around the riverboat to keep divers safe.

But the “Spirit of Sacramento” is no stranger to the Contra costa County Sheriff’s Office; an official with the department says the boat had been anchored near Bethel Island for weeks, and had no current documentation.

The Coast Guard and local law enforcement spent Monday surveying the boat, and working on a plan to salvage the historic paddle boat, and the surrounding environment.

According to a Sergeant from the Sheriff’s Office, two men had just purchased the “Spirit of Sacramento” from an auction in San Francisco and were bringing it back up to the Sacramento area to fix and re-sell.

Divers will get back in the water again on Tuesday and begin working to recover the boat.

The historic riverboat starred in Blood Alley with John Wayne in 1955, and later burned in 1996 before it was abandoned for the next decade.

More from Angela Musallam
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