Iconic Surf City dinner cruise boat destroyed in Florence gets new life

Iconic Surf City dinner cruise boat destroyed in Florence gets new life

SURF CITY, NC (WECT) - For almost 10 years an iconic Surf City dinner cruise boat took visitors on scenic tours of the beautiful island.

After retiring the dinner cruises nearly two years ago, the boat continued to sit proudly in it’s dock in Surf City for all to see. But the boat will now serve another purpose after it nearly sank in Hurricane Florence.

Sharon and Dave Luther purchased The Belle of Topsail in 2007.

Before arriving in Topsail it served many purposes and sailed all over the country from Washington to Montana to Kentucky.

The original hull of the boat was built during World War II in 1943.

I swear, I see a book, or a movie on The Belle. Even starting with her original name, The Vagabond. Started being built...

Posted by Sharon Luther on Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Unfortunately when Belle nearly sank during the wrath of Hurricane Florence, Sharon and Dave’s house boat they lived on sank as well.

Fortunately the people the couple has met through The Belle have been like family to them and one even offered to let them stay at their house in Asheboro, NC.

As for The Belle, Dave Gardner, a fellow boat captain of another cruise business in Surf City offered to take her from the couple.

He intends to fix her up and use her for dredging and marine construction.

Dave said he wants to rename the Belle after his grandfathers who fought and died in World War II or after the submarine his grandfather died on called The Grayback.

“He’s giving her a new life," Sharon said. "And that old girl has had a lot of lives. I find it very interesting that her original name was the Vagabond - traveling around. And she’s sure done that.”

Sharon and Dave also say it’s ironic that the boat was originally built during World War II and now it will be named in honor of someone who died fighting in the war.

How Appropriate for Veterans Day. The Belle left Surf City today to the boatyard. Dave Gardner who has The Vonda Kay...

Posted by Sharon Luther on Monday, November 12, 2018

Sharon says it’s humbling to see that The Belle’s legacy will now live on in new ways.

“The death of her was like the death of not just a person, but of a whole family," Sharon said. "And to see her live on and her memories keep going... It’s wonderful.”

Sharon and Dave said the thing they’ll miss the most about Belle is the people.

“We’re going to miss her,” Dave said. “We had her for 10 years and we loved it. We absolutely loved it. And it was time for us to move on.”

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