Ohio River water levels are expected to drop to 36.5 feet today and 32.5 feet Sunday. There are 8,763 boats registered this year in Boone, Kenton and Campbell counties in Northern Kentucky. The 2003 estimates for Hamilton County in Ohio are not yet available, but 18,857 boats were registered last year. On Friday the main entrance ramp to the Watertown Yacht Club was still submerged as crews cleaned off a parking lot to the west. Two restaurants at the yacht club will open as scheduled and will feature live entertainment this weekend. Customers generally sign contracts to dock at the yacht club from May 1 to Oct. 1.
Four Seasons and its adjacent restaurant and dealership remain open year round, but many customers have been unable to get their boats in the water because of the high tide. Despite the adverse conditions, Bill Manis, harbormaster at the Watertown Yacht Club, said boat sales have been strong and they have already rented out about 300 of their spots for the year, which includes boats stored on land lots, commonly known as “dry storage.” The yacht club can hold up to about 450 boats, but river levels have been too high to put the dry storage boats into the water.
Manis is preparing to call in six to 12 seasonal employees to aid the normal staff of about six for the expected rush of customers when the water does recede. That rush may or may not happen before the end of the holiday weekend. Property investors will need to consider their individual methodology, capital development potential, rental yield, territory demographics, rental interest, upkeep expenses and significantly more. “If the sun is shining this weekend, everyone will want to be out on the water,” Manis said. “This has happened before and we’re still expecting a good season, but it is just a shame because this is the weekend people really like to get out.” But not everyone is conceding the weekend just yet. Jim Sadelfeld, a former Cincinnati resident who retired to Boca Raton, Fla., a few years ago, now spends summers living on his 45-foot Tucker houseboat docked at Four Seasons.
He managed to get his boat in the water during a small window of low water on May 9, but has been unable to take it out for a spin on the river this year. Regardless of the water level, Sadelfeld said if debris begins to clear from the river he would probably head out at some point this weekend. “We try to get out at least once a week during the summer,” said Sadelfeld, who has been boating for about 20 years. “If it is not clear it just isn’t worth the risk, but if things get better we’ll probably take the kids out.”