Lake Ontario Flooding Affects Boating in Youngstown

RCR Yachts battles rising water levels

Mike Baggerman
May 12, 2017 - 4:00 am

WBEN Photo/Mike Baggerman

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YOUNGSTOWN, N.Y. (WBEN) - Flooding along the Lake Ontario shoreline will have a noticable affect on boating this summer. 

"Here in the lower Niagara River we're finding that the same things that the people are seeing along the Lake Ontario shoreline," James Egloff, Operations Manager for RCR Yachts in Youngstown said. "Rising water levels are causing flooding issues along (the shore). We're having all kinds of increased water levels which are hampering our duties of getting the boats in the water and building enthusiasm among our customers getting into the season again. It's something new every day."

One of the biggest issues Egloff explained was physically placing boats in the water. RCR Yachts uses a travel lift, a three-sided machine, that lifts the boats using pulleys and hydraulics. 

"The issue that we're seeing now is when we back the machine out over the water to lower the boat in," he said. "It's on steel rails and these rails are now underwater. Our biggest concern is that we can still do our job but we need to be more cautious based on the water. Because we are underwater we have trouble seeing where the rails are on the rail so we have a couple extra pairs of eyes in order to guide us back. As long as we don't get any northeast winds or northwest winds that will bring waves into the lower Niagara River we'll be fine and we can continue to do our job in servicing our customers."

Egloff explained that another issue with the rising water levels is their inability to see underneath the docks and concrete to see what kind of erosion damage has been caused.

"We can pretty much expect that the more water we get the more damage we'll receive," he said.

If the water levels rise another few inches, RCR Yachts would be unable to see the steel rails and therefore be unable to place the boats in the water using the reliable machines. At this point, the water levels are high enough that the docks - some made as recently as a year ago - are already overtaken with water, meaning boats can't dock. 

People who use their boats are unable to bring them to the docks. The organization does have what is essentially a "taxi service" that will transport individuals to and from their boat in the water. 

"Our customers enjoy bringing the boats to the docks," Egloff said. "That's one of the things that make the Youngstown Yacht Club so attractive is having your boat right at the dock to enjoy. Because the water level is now over the docks...the boats are basically above the dock so there's nothing to tie it to. That's where some of the enthusiasm is lost because people can't enjoy their boats at the dock like they would like to."

Still, Egloff is optimistic that people will still enjoy using their boats this summer.

"The enthusiasm of members is less than we've seen in the past based of the weather," Egloff said. "The enjoyment of the boat doesn't seem to be on the top of their list right now. Now that the snow is gone and the sun is supposed to come out soon people always get a little excited, they're supposed to get a kick in their step and a bigger smile down here. We're missing some of that right now. We probably won't see that for a little while but we will provide the service we have been providing to our customers to the best of our abilities. We encourage them to get out an enjoy the water."

The Youngstown Yacht Club's website is www.yyc.org and their phone number is (716) 745-7230

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