No injuries were reported when the Hannibal Fire Department took its jon boat out for a night boat rescue on Thursday, July 17.

No injuries were reported when the Hannibal Fire Department took its jon boat out for a night boat rescue on Thursday, July 17.

The 19-foot Starcraft Holiday occupied by owner Thomas Hodson and three friends was successfully towed back to the Hannibal Boat Marina, where it had been docked since before the Mississippi River flood caused the flood gates to be installed.

With access to the Boat Marina closed by the flood gates, the HFD boat was launched from the John Hay Recreation Area in Illinois.

Hannibal Fire Chief Bill Madore reported the HFD was called out at 10:33 p.m. and told a boat with a dead battery was anchored south of Hannibal near Sawyer’s Creek. “It was approximately 200 feet from off the Missouri shore,” he said.

After the rescued boat was returned to the boat marina, the HFD boat returned to the Illinois side to be loaded back on its trailer.

“We cleared the scene at 1 a.m.,” Madore reported.

Although the firefighters had no problem returning the boat to the marina, Madore had a word of warning for people boating at night, especially in high water.

Boating at night on the Mississippi River is “very risky,” he said, “due to the fact that you never know what can happen. … You have some sight distance issues with debris at nighttime, especially during higher water. That poses an increased risk.”

On Thursday, he added, “you had a boat experiencing mechanical difficulties, and with the flood gates being in, you have a delayed response by emergency responders.”

The three firefighters taking their boat out also were at risk, Madore said. “We also have an increased risk and hazard due to the fact that even though we are emergency responders, where we are put in that situation, we have the same sight distance issues at night as recreation boaters.”

This was the first rescue the HFD did since the flood, and the second in 2014, Madore said.

On Monday, July 21, the flood gates are scheduled to be removed in Hannibal, and boaters will be able to return to the riverfront.

Madore hopes they will be patient about waiting for the cleanup required before the area is re-opened. “I would proceed with caution,” he said. “When the flood gates come out there will be a certain amount of cleanup,” so the marina will not immediately be re-opened.


1981 boat still

in ‘pristine’ condition

The boat that was rescued Thursday was recently bought by Hodson, who reported the 1981 Starcraft Holiday was like new.

He recently bought it from Jack’s Harbor Marine in Hannibal, where it was originally purchased.

The boat’s second owner had it for many years but had not used it, Hodson said, and Jack’s Harbor Marine had bought it from him.

“It looks brand new and is in pretty pristine shape,” Hodson said.

On Friday, Hodson bought two new batteries for his boat, to prevent future problems.

He kept it at the Hannibal Marina and had taken it out a couple times before the flood.

When the flood gates were to be installed, he said, he had only a short notice to remove the boat from the marina and could not do it, so it remained there during the flood, Hodson said.

However, this did not harm the boat, because “the marina is built to take the levels of the river. I was a little worried” when he heard a rumor that the river level might reach 29 or 30 feet.”

Hodson agreed it was dangerous to be on the river during high water. “This is my first boat but not my first time on the river.” he said. “I know what that river is capable of, and you need to take precautions.”