Owner, yacht club debate over removing sunken houseboat on Mississippi River

- Though most agree the sinking houseboat is an eyesore, those involved are now arguing over who’s responsible for getting it out of the water.

The boat went down on Dec. 11, 2016, and it’s remained on the Mississippi River in St. Paul ever since.

“It was my home, and I just wish it never happened,” said owner Cynthia Rapacz. “I loved it, I loved the people there.”

Rapacz said the yacht club forced her to move, and the new boat slip was too short. She said this is the reason her boat was pulled under by chunks of ice.

“The yacht club moved the boat, and they didn't have enough dock pieces,” she said. “I think if we had had enough dock pieces, it wouldn't have sunk; our boat didn’t fit.”

But, the yacht club said the slip was plenty long and that the boat had been leaking for weeks. The club said it was just a matter of time before the river would take it down.

“They had a duty to keep this vessel seaworthy,” said Brian Toder, attorney for the yacht club. “Water got in, and it kept coming in, and it sunk.”

Rapacz argues that the boat was not sinking.

There has been a lot of finger-pointing that Ramsey County is responsible. However, the county attorney's office said it's an issue between the boat owner and the yacht club, and secondarily, the city’s since the city has a lease agreement with the yacht club. 

The city, though, said the signed agreement frees them from any responsibility.

So, ultimately, it's unclear who will end up paying for it.

“I don't want the burden to go on any taxpayers,” Rapacz said. “I don't want the burden to be on anyone. “

The yacht club did file a lawsuit holding Rapacz responsible for lost revenue and repair.

“Every day this vessel sits here it is more and more and more expensive for the yacht club who really has nothing to do with getting this thing out of the water,” Toder said.

The yacht club attorney said he will meet with the county, city and possibly the insurance company later this week to possibly come up with some sort of solution.

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