A yacht once owned by Wayne Newton might never make it off dry land again, but the vessel has already seen more water than it was ever intended to, judging from a newly released video from October.
The National Park Service video, obtained by the Las Vegas Review-Journal through a Freedom of Information Act request, shows Newton’s 65-foot luxury houseboat quickly sinking to the bottom of Lake Mead after a salvage crew freed the damaged vessel from a covered slip at Temple Bar Marina in Arizona.
No one was on board the 1996 Skipperliner on Oct. 18 when went it suddenly filled with water and went down stern-first, leaving its bow sticking straight up from the surface in its slip.
The video, shot the following day, shows the boat being sunk the rest of the way so salvage workers could start the long process of floating it again.
Greg Ewing owns Mohave Valley, Ariz.-based Metropolitan Marine Solutions, the salvage company brought in for the job. He said they needed the houseboat to be resting flat so they could tow it away from the marina and eventually bring it back to the surface.
It wasn’t the largest boat his company has salvaged, but it was one of the heaviest, thanks to a sturdy steel hull more commonly found on vessels in rougher waters such as the Great Lakes, Ewing said.
Extra precautions were taken to contain any leaking fuel or oil from the yacht, but no leaks occurred, he said.
Investigators later blamed the sinking on a pair of malfunctioning hoses that allowed the houseboat’s rear storage compartments to fill with water.
It all happened in about 15 minutes, according to a National Park Service incident report and witness statement just released to the Review-Journal.
A marina employee noticed the yacht listing at about 9 a.m. Oct. 18. Workers barely had time to untie the boat and cut some of the supply lines before it tipped up on its end and sank in about 50 feet of water.
No one was injured in the incident, but the inside of the vessel and all of its contents were “a complete loss due to water damage,” according the report.
It took until Dec. 4 for the salvage crew to get the houseboat floating again. It was towed to Temple Bar’s main dock so an insurance investigator could inspect it. A month later, it was towed across the lake to Las Vegas Boat Harbor near Boulder City, where it was pulled from the water and placed in dry storage.
Ewing said he didn’t know what would happen to the houseboat, but he said nothing appeared to be wrong with its steel hull. “It could be renovated. It could be sold for scrap,” he said.
Newton owned the 60-ton, four-deck yacht with a 10-foot swimming platform and multiple berths for about five years, and he used to go out on it almost every weekend in the summer, according to his publicist.
The sinking came at the end of a lousy year for the now-72-year-old entertainer known as Mr. Las Vegas. Last June, he had to move out of Casa de Shenandoah, his home since 1968, after a long and ugly legal fight over plans to turn the 38-acre estate at the corner of Sunset and Pecos roads into a tourist attraction.
Contact Henry Brean at email@example.com or 702-383-0350. Find him on Twitter: @RefriedBrean.