Paducah boat dock gives green light to tourists

PADUCAH, KY – More than a dozen boats float alongside Paducah’s new transient dock on its opening day.

After more than a year of construction, city officials were putting finishing touches on the dock Thursday.

We met boaters from all over the continental United States, even a Canadian couple. Many of the tourists from Wisconsin, the Florida Keys, and New Jersey were part of the “great loop.” The route begins at the Great Lakes, passes through our area, and makes its way south.

They told me we were in great loop season. They also said word about the new pit stop in Paducah is getting around the boating world.

That season helped to make the opening day of Paducah’s boat dock a successful one.

Days and weeks at a time spent on the water are way of life for Dave and Kelly Johnson. They said the new stop made this trip much better. “There’s nowhere to stop, nowhere to get groceries, fuel, water. The next destination, without Paducah being here, is significantly further, another day for us,” Dave said.

It’s more than a pit stop to them, though. Kelly is a retired teacher who says she finds meaning in blogging about her travels. She said downtown Paducah is beautiful, and she spent her afternoon on the riverfront blogging about the history and museums that surround our riverfront.

It’s more than sight-seeing or a fill-up to the tourists. It’s money to Quilt City, USA. In fact, the Johnson’s estimated more than $500 in expenses in 48 hours. That includes docking their boat and buying food.

Paducah Parks and Recreation Director Mark Thompson was surprised at how many boats sailed in right away. By the end of opening day, Thompson said, they could expect up to 16 boats overlooking the Ohio River. “Everybody who’s been down here, all the boaters, told us we built this right. They love it, and they love to go visit downtown Paducah,” Thompson said. Every tourist I spoke with echoed the same tune.

You may be asking yourself: What’s the big deal about a boat dock? For a boat traveling long distance, it can literally save them from running out of fuel. The Johnson’s yacht holds 700 gallons of fuel, so they’re good for a long time. But Chip Hillyer’s smaller vessel holds 450 gallons.

Dave tells us the closest stop for fuel is near St. Louis. That could put some boats on E. Hillyer said it takes planning, and the more stops available make the trip easier to navigate.

Kelly will have plenty to write about. “We have lots of boating friends back home in Wisconsin who would love to do this trip, and sometimes they say ‘Boy, it’s just like we’re there with all the pictures and the stories,’ Now they’re aware of a place like this,” she said.

The parks department essentially runs the dock. Staff members are there to pump gas or empty waste from the boats. Thompson says this is in the event of a spill, the team knows how to deploy a spill kit.

The cost is $1 per linear foot for a boat per night.

The dock is limited in space. It can support 580 feet of boats.

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