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Ethan Allen for sale
The former Ethan Allen tour boat, as seen on a website that lists the boat for $40,950.

Editor's Note: The word "modern" was inserted in the first paragraph to clarify the capsizing's place in New York maritime history.

The tour boat at the center of the worst maritime disaster in New York's modern history is for sale.

The Ethan Allen is being offered on the boat website usedboats.com for $40,950. A Newburgh tour boat company owner who bought it after the accident said this week that he has put it up for sale since a contract to use it for tours on the Hudson River fell through.

The boat capsized on Lake George on Oct. 3, 2005, resulting in the drowning deaths of 20 elderly passengers. Years of lawsuits followed, and the owner, John Panzella, said he bought the boat once it was no longer encumbered by litigation.

The boat tipped over because it was overloaded, and the state drastically cut the passenger limit for it and other tour boats in the state after the tragedy.

Panzella, who owns and operates River Rose Cruises in Newburgh, said he bought it while it was at Scarano Boat Builders of Albany. Scarano was the company that put a wood-and-glass canopy on the boat in 1989.

That canopy was initially blamed for some of the boat's instability, but the portion of a federal wrongful death lawsuit that pertained to Scarano was dismissed because of a lack of evidence. Scarano's owners had contended the canopy improved the boat's stability.

Panzella would not say from whom he bought the boat. The boat was owned by Shoreline Cruises when it tipped over and was taken out of service in 2005.

The online advertisement for the boat indicates it is in Ontario, Canada, but Panzella said it is in Scarano's boat yard.

Scarano co-owner John Scarano said Wednesday that Panzella did not buy the boat from his company, but he would not discuss the matter further.

Panzella said he was aware of the boat's history when he purchased it. Scarano put a new engine in the boat, and Panzella said he paid to have the transmission replaced.

"Mechanically, the boat is a 10. There's nothing wrong with it," he said. "The boat is a beauty."

Panzella said the 46-year-old Dyer boat was made by a company renowned for making solid, sturdy craft.

The boat's name is not visible in the photos on the website, but its state registration number is evident.

The boat is subject to a new passenger limit in light of the capsizing - and a stability test performed on its sister boat, the de Champlain, found it should carry no more than 14 people - but Panzella said he was told it could carry 26 or more if the wooden canopy was removed.

He said selling the boat is no different than selling a house that has been the scene of a tragedy.

"That was an awful thing that happened, but people buy houses all the time where people died," he said.

The boat has been listed for sale for a couple of months, and he has gotten one call from someone from Lake George who recognized it.

"He wasn't interested," Panzella said.

A lawsuit against the state in the state Court of Claims is still pending and is scheduled for trial next spring.

Shoreline Cruises, which owned and operated the Ethan Allen when it capsized in 2005, still owns the Ethan Allen's sister boat, the de Champlain. It has not been used for tours since the tragedy.

A phone message left for Shoreline's president, James Quirk, was not returned Wednesday afternoon.

 

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