The tour boat that had operated from the north end of Keuka's west branch was the last of the lake's excursion boats.
The Esperanza Rose, last of the public excursion boats on Keuka Lake in recent years, has been demolished at the very dock from where she took so many on tours and dinners and wedding parties.
Yates County Chamber of Commerce CEO Mike Linehan says, “It’s a shame. The Esperanza Rose was critically important to Keuka Lake, and was a key talking point in our promotion. We’re now a lake without a public vessel.” Citing the examples of The Canandaigua Lady, Captain Bill’s boats on Seneca Lake, and Midlakes Navigation on Skaneatles Lake, Linehan says, “If you visit the Finger Lakes, you need to touch the water. It’s what we’re about.”
Owner David Wegman announced last year that the dinner and excursion craft associated with the Esperanza Mansion Inn and restaurant, would not return for business in 2014. Wegman says he made the decision to retire the boat after it was discovered there were inspection issues that would be too costly to repair.
At 65 feet and 85 tons, with a triple-planked wooden hull and twin Detroit Diesel engines, the Rose was built in 1982 on the North Carolina coast. The Wegmans brought her through the canals to Seneca Lake and then over land to Keuka in 2005. It was reported at the time that the cost of transporting her exceeded the cost of the boat itself. In 2009, inspection issues raised by state marine inspectors, required $35,000 worth of work to the Rose.
Wegman did not respond to a request for a comment, but Elisabeth Wegman responded to Facebook comments and photos: “Regarding the dismantling of the Esperanza Rose, I’m not even sure how to respond to some of these comments, so I’ll just say this. We loved the Rose more than anyone else, so you should just know that it hurt us to make this decision. We tried to sell it.....no buyers. A fundraiser would never have been able to cover the costs of repair, which according to the state inspector, would continue to be an issue inspection after inspection... The Rose was never a profitable part of our very seasonal business, but because we loved her, we kept her going as long as we could. Every possible avenue was explored by us to keep her afloat, and it just wasn’t possible... Thank you to those of you who have loved and patronized the Rose. We all have some wonderful memories to look back on.”
Earlier reports that the Wegmans had a signed purchase offer with Jeremy Fields, CEO of Fields Construction in Canandaigua, could not be confirmed. Fields owns and operates The Canandaigua Lady on Canandaigua Lake. He paid $26,000 for The Keuka Maid at auction in October 2012. That boat was dismantled and plans for its return are uncertain. Fields did not return a call for a comment.
The Viking Spirit, which had been operated from the Viking Resort on Keuka’s east side, was taken out of service in 2010 after 21 years in service.
From Memorial Day through the fall foliage season each year, the Esperanza Rose departed Branchport on afternoon sightseeing cruises with bar service, Saturday night moonlight cruises with wine tastings and live music, as well as lunch, dinner, and Sunday brunch cruises.