Charges filed against Keuka Main operator

Penn Yan, NY – The Captain of the Keuka Maid Robert Hicks, Jr. age 69, of Bath, NY who was operating the vessel with three others on board on November 1, 2010 on Keuka Lake when it arrived at 5:55PM in the vicinity of the Keuka Lake Outlet and went aground was charged by Sheriff’s Marine Patrol unit today as a result of the investigation into the attempt by the Keuka Maid’s owner Robert Pfuntner, of Elmira, NY to have the vessel parked at his Sarasin’s Restaurant site on the North end of the Lake. The 100 ton three tiered 107 foot long vessel had recently been re-registered by Pfuntner as a Class 4 (over 65 feet) pleasure boat and no longer a public passenger vessel. The eight charges all involve the NYS Navigation Law including misdemeanors of (1) Reckless Operation (Keuka Lake specific law – creating endangerment) and (2) Interference with free and safe navigation (creating a hazard), and violations of (1) Registration not properly displayed, (2) Registration certificate unavailable, (3) Fail to display a validation sticker, (4) No all around white light, (5) No visual distress signals, and (6) Carrying expired fire extinguishers. He was issued appearance tickets today in Hammondsport, NY and released to appear in Town of Milo court before Justice Symonds on November 18, 2010. Investigation continues.According to Yates County Sheriff Ron Spike investigation indicates that the Captain and crew were following the owner’s instruction to beach it at the Sarasin’s lakeshore, or get it as close as could and abandon, as bulldozers and cables would be used to pull it ashore. However, no equipment was present. The crew did have a smaller boat tied to it to make their trip back to Hammondsport. No local officials from the village, town or county had been notified by Pfuntner of the Keuka Maid’s arrival.The lake has dropped approx one foot in past month and was too shallow given the vessels depth in the water, and at the grounded location was determined by deputies to be a hazard to navigation due to its size and length as it was 440 feet from shoreline and with its added length was 547 feet into the lake interfering with egress of the lake’s outlet “channel” and impeding the navigational safety markers and buoys. The Sheriff Office terminated unsafe operations to re-mediate the hazard, and escorted it back to Hammondsport where it had came from as a “safe harbor” to dock the vessel. With Sheriff’s Deputies aboard the boat which travels at 3 mph made its way South again and emergency arrangements were made for diesel refueling, etc. It arrived at the South end at approx 2:30AM. The Keuka Maid remains docked in the vicinity of the Town of Urbana mooring site near Hammondsport where Pfuntner has maintained a lease with the town.

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