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Boat owners' dreams destroyed by Charlotte accident

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  • Lee Morelli
    Boat owners dreams destroyed Jeffrey Blackwell Democrat and Chronicle Gene Langie watched the fireball from mangled train cars across the Genesee River on
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 25, 2001
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      Boat owners' dreams destroyed

      Jeffrey Blackwell
      Democrat and Chronicle

      Gene Langie watched the fireball from mangled train cars across the Genesee River on Sunday and feared the worst for his 30-foot boat in storage near the site of the derailment.

      "It was somewhere behind the flames, but I could not see if it was OK," he said yesterday. "I came down here to find out what happened to my boat, but they won't let me down there."

      Langie was one of many boat owners who appeared at police barricades in Charlotte yesterday to see if their passions and investments survived Sunday's train wreck.

      Langie was lucky. His boat, parked a few yards from the pile of twisted train cars, survived.

      "I've never seen anything like this," he said. "The fireball is something I will never forget."

      Others were not so fortunate. The derailment and fire destroyed two homes, leaving three people homeless. It damaged several businesses and damaged or destroyed several boats.

      Heavily damaged was a record-setting sailboat called the Earth Voyager. The tri-hull, 60-foot racing boat, built and sailed by Ray Howe, has won the Port Huron-to-Mackinac Island Sailboat Race three consecutive years..

      At least one of the boat's three hulls was burned and crushed. Two coal cars also crushed the 56-foot mast.

      Howe was driving to Florida when he received a call from the Genesee Yacht Club about the wreck. He drove back to Rochester yesterday.

      "He was in Philadelphia when he got the call," said his brother Robert Howe. "They told him that if he was driving, he better pull over. He is crushed. He can't even talk about it."

      Robert Howe spent most of yesterday waiting for police to allow people down to the site. The white sailboat is within clear view from Shumway Marine across the Genesee River from the accident site. Howe said the boat was knocked 12 feet from its original position. He said about 15 feet of one of the hulls is gone.

      This is the second time the boat has been damaged. A fire destroyed part of the boat when it was being built in 1990. Ray Howe finished the boat in 1991 after five years of work and at a cost of about $500,000.

      "It took a superhuman effort to build the boat," Robert said of his brother. "I can't imagine what he is going through."
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