If you happen to be driving into Longport from Somers Point, something out of the ordinary may catch your eye.
The 'Belle Miracle Ann' riverboat has been beached and resting in Back Bay BBQ parking lot in Egg Harbor Township since Hurricane Sandy. "Yeah, we would like to get her back in the water ASAP," said Belle Miracle Ann co-owner, John Dagit.
The riverboat was built in 1924 and had been used as a ferry on the Hudson River for about 30 years. It eventually made its way to Atlantic City and was used for weddings and parties behind the Comfort Inn. Three years ago, John and Leonard Dagit bought the riverboat at an estate sale and drove it into the Anchorage Poynte Lagoon.
Leonard Dagit told NBC40, "It's like an icon of the storm. We actually had to close one driveway down because we had so many cars coming through to take pictures of it."
The riverboat has been used for weddings and private parties for the past few years, but owners now say it's become a financial strain and that they can't afford to pay the 40,000 dollars to get it back in the water with a crane. Dagit said, "It's a labor of love but it's also a big expense."
With half of the riverboat sitting on dry land and then the other half resting in the water, the beached boat rests at an awkward 10-degree angle. However, the owners say they are making the most of the situation by performing some key repairs to the bottom side of the boat before it goes back in the water in a few months.
John Dagit explained, "We've been working on her because Sandy did such a nice job putting her on a dry dock for us for free, so we are working on it slowly and hoping to get it back in the water in the next month or two."
In the meantime nearby residents say the boat is an eyesore. Jake Bentsen, a local construction worker, said, "It's not like the Leaning Tower of Pisa, you know what I mean? It's not like a site people come to see." Suzette Hay, a nearby resident, told NBC40, "I thought for sure they were sailing it up the lagoon to get rid of it for scrap...and it never left."
The owners of the riverboat hope that one of the next full moon's high tides, and a pull from a tugboat, can help free it from the parking lot and get it back to it's rightful parking spot in the lagoon.