Club working to repair damaged boat before dragon boat festival - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

Club working to repair damaged boat before dragon boat festival

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(Western Mass News photo) (Western Mass News photo)

A dragon boat ran aground in the Connecticut River around 7 p.m. Tuesday. 

Now, the Pioneer Valley Riverfront Club is rushing to make repairs to their vessel.

It is something they said has never happened before.

"It's heartbreaking.  Our boats are our babies," said Ben Quick with the Pioneer Valley Riverfront Club.

It was an unexpected turn for a routine practice for the dragon boat racing team.

Low water levels and strong winds drove this dragon boat to run aground.

"We take care of our boats, they take care of us," Quick added.

Quick told Western Mass News that his heart sank when he got the call.

"I stopped eating my dinner, got in the car, and came right down," Quick explained. 

A large crack in the hull caused water to flood the 40-foot boat.

Thankfully, boaters were able to step out of the boat and walk through the water.

The Agawam Fire Department happened to be doing drills nearby when the dragon boat was grounded.

"We came around the corner and saw that they were beached up on the shore line.  Everybody on the boat started wildly waving at us," said Agawam Deputy Fire Chief Frank Matuszczak.

Timing and luck was certainly on their side.

"We started evacuating passengers, getting them on our boat," Matuszczak added.

These boats cost a pretty penny.  They are about $10,000 new.

"We are grateful to have an exuberant staff of volunteers that are going to do the repairs. It'll take about three days of work," Quick noted.

However, the non-profit is still asking for a little help to get them back in the water.

"Any donations to help repair the boat will be gratefully accepted," Quick said.

That means the team will have a little less time practicing before the dragon boat festival later this month, but it won't impact competition day.

"The Connecticut River, we love and respect.  She tells us where to go and what to do.  We have a great cooperation, we like to think, but it is heartbreaking," Quick added.

The dragon boat festival is still a go.  That will be held June 23.

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