Ethan Allen’s owner defends listing boat for sale

CAPITAL REGION, N.Y. (NEWS10) — The infamous Ethan Allen, the pleasure boat that capsized killing 20 people on Lake George, is for sale. NEWS10’s Anya Tucker found the boat and asked the owner why he would want to sell something tied to such a horrible tragedy.

For 13 years, the Ethan Allen has sat outside an Ulster County marina 115 miles south of her former home in Lake George. In 2005, the pleasure boat capsized killing 20 people, the victims were mostly elderly tourists from Michigan and Ohio.

Vince Kelder is the manager at the marina in Kingston where the boat, with its name now painted over, has been stored. He says it has not been in the water since it motored up to the marina’s dock more than a decade ago.

“I know some of the history about it, so it’s eerie for me to look at it,” Kelder told Anya.

And many others would agree with Kelder. People like Bob Blais, the Village of Lake George Mayor, says the boat brings up horrible images that time will never erase. “It was lasting. And it will be lasting in our memory,” said Blais.

John Panzella owns the Ethan Allen and has it listed for $49,000. He told Anya that he feels the boat is a piece of maritime history. “It’s a terrible thing that happened on that boat. But I love owning that boat because the legend lives on,” said Panzella.

Anya asked if he could understand how some people might feel that the sale is morbid or feel that Panzella might be taking advantage of a tragedy in which 20 lives were lost. Panzella responded, “I can understand that. But that’s not the way I look at it.”

Panzella says he has replaced the engine and the once heavy hard top — which was determined to play a role in the boat’s capsizing — with a lighter aluminum one. He told Anya that he initially intended to add the watercraft to his own pleasure cruise business based out of Newburgh but that never happened. He insists that the Ethan Allen is functional and safe.

Anya asked Mayor Blais if he would ever want to see the boat on Lake George ever again. Blais responded, “Personally, no.”

Panzella says he has not yet received any offers for the boat, and it remains unclear if the Ethan Allen will find a new owner and a new life beyond its former tragedy.