Canal tour boats return to service after inspections



Two Petersburg boats used for daily guided tours of the Augusta Canal made their way back into the water Tuesday after being on dry land for almost a month for routine inspections.

The 65-foot vessels, which look like the boats that once traveled the canal transporting cotton and other items, were out of service from Jan. 30 to Feb. 13 while their hulls were inspected by the Coast Guard.

On Tuesday, a construction crane lifted the boats from their specially built sup­ports on the canal’s south bank near the John C. Calhoun Expressway and placed them back into the water.

The vessels will resume daily tours Saturday.

The custom-built boats have been in service for more than 10 years and must undergo inspection every five years to make sure their hulls are fit for service, Augusta Canal National Heritage Area Marketing Director Rebecca Rogers said.

During inspection, canal staff sand and paint the vessels and perform other required maintenance.

In 10 years of service, Rogers said, the boats have carried more than 165,000 passengers on guided tours. The vessels carry between 17,000 and 20,000 passengers each year.

“We had some people who came up wanting to go on a tour while the boats were being inspected,” Rogers said. “They’ll be glad to know the boats are back.”

Canal tours put on hold; boats to be inspected