dock

About 50 houseboats came loose from the London Dock after heavy rains on Thursday night.

Owners of the London Boat Dock recently moved the docks from the Rockcastle River to the Cumberland River due to decreased water levels in Lake Cumberland.

On Friday, more than 2 inches of rain that had fallen in the region sent the Cumberland River rushing, causing docks and boats to break loose from their moorings and careen about 30 miles down the river to the Burnside area.

“A large section of the covered slip is in Burnside (about 30 miles down the river),” said Nancy Mitchell, owner of the dock. “Part of the older covered slip is down at Jasper Bend (about six miles down the river).”

Fortunately, all but one of the boats are accounted for. Several hundred yards from the dock store, the only piece of the dock facility remaining at the site, one of the stranded houseboats can still be seen.

Donnie Ellison, manager of the boat dock, said Friday morning the rains turned the Cumberland River, which is typically about eight feet deep, into a fast-moving chute of water. Monday, Ellison estimated the river was still about 18 feet deep. The ripples from the fast-moving current could still be seen in the middle of the river.

“I just saw a raging river with lots of trash and logs floating down,” Ellison said. “I was trying to keep the docks from going down the river.”

Mitchell said she and her employees have spent the last several days trying to figure out how to put all of the pieces back together. There had been no estimate of how much damage was done to the boats which witnesses said pinballed off the rock walls as they floated down the river.

Monday afternoon, Ellison was surveying what was left of the facility that at one time housed about 50 boats, including 16 houseboats.

Ellison said the decreased lake level had dropped the Rockcastle River to about four feet and the Cumberland River to about eight feet.

Although a houseboat only needs about 18 inches of water to float, Ellison said the width of the river had been cut down to about 100 yards, which resulted in the decision to move the docks.

“We looking at all of our options and trying to decide what we are going to do,” Mitchell said. “There is no power and no phone service at the dock store right now. The good news is that nobody was hurt and there was not fuel released into the river.”

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