Good Season Predicted for Region's Boaters

Pittsburgh Tribune Review
24 May 2015
By Jodi Weigand

Unseasonably warm weather and less rain this spring than last year has marina owners and boaters predicting a good boating season.

“In light of the weather being what it is so far, we're cautiously optimistic that this will be a good year,” said Frank Hack, who helps out at Outboard Haven in Verona. “We're praying for the good Lord to have mercy on us that we'll have a good summer.”

The weather has been so encouraging that many people have their boats in the water.

Priscilla and Andy Gagnon of North Huntingdon have been out on the river this spring. The couple was out last weekend polishing their cruiser at the Oakmont Yacht Club.

Priscilla Gagnon said they're happy to be able to get out this Memorial Day weekend.

“Last Memorial Day the river was raging and there were a lot of debris and no one was out,” she said.
This year, they plan to meet up with friends and go rafting on the river, she said.

They're also looking forward to more trips to Pittsburgh's North Shore, one of their favorite destinations.

Lauren Chorney, co-owner of Rosston Eddy Marina near Ford City, said the good weather means they've been working seven days a week.

“We're hopping here,” she said. “There are lots of boats in the water and people getting their boats serviced.

“I think it's going to be a fabulous summer season.”

Last season was a much different story. Some of those who had paid for a slip at Rosston Eddy had yet to put in their boats by July, and more than half of the slips at Bell Harbour Yacht Club in Blawnox were empty.

In 2014, heavy rain in the northern part of the state in May and June elevated flows on the Allegheny River from the Kinzua Dam in Warren County to downtown Pittsburgh.

Mud and debris in the water kept most boats docked.

It was one of the coolest summers on record in the region. The average temperature in June, July and August was 70 degrees. The region set a record low on July 29 at 51 degrees, according to the National Weather Service.

This year, the weather has been quite the opposite, with temperatures well above the normal of 71 degrees for May. Most days temperatures have been in the mid to upper 70s, with a few days hitting the upper 80s.

Rain in May has been about half of the four inches the region usually sees.

“So far, things are looking great weather-wise and, after the winter we've had, everybody's looking forward to a fantastic boating season,” said Mike Shafer, president of the Oakmont Yacht Club. “We recently added more docks and we're full and have a waiting list.”

CJ Miller, owner and manager of the Cheswick Marina, said they expect to have one of their best seasons ever.

“We're expecting to be full for the first time in eight years since we've owned it,” he said. “Our season starts May 1 and a good majority of people have already put their boats in. Others will put in over Memorial Day weekend or early June.”

William “Buzz” Knepp, owner of O'Hara Landing Boat Club, said boaters have been so enthusiastic that some went weeks ago to park their boats outside Heinz Field in anticipation of the May 30 Kenny Chesney concert.

“It's like Black Friday, everything opens early, then it's two days and then places are open 24 hours,” Knepp said.

Better river conditions have certainly contributed to the excitement.

“Last year there was a ton of debris,” Knepp said. “The river is better and the boaters are out and about.”

Jodi Weigand is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-226-4702 or