FBI divers and Nassau County police officers used air bags...

FBI divers and Nassau County police officers used air bags to raise the Kandi Won from the bottom of Oyster Bay. (July 11, 2012) Credit: Howard Schnapp

Investigators Wednesday raised the 34-foot cabin cruiser that sank July 4, killing three children, and towed it ashore to begin looking for clues into why it capsized.

The Silverton 34 Convertible with 27 people aboard had been returning from a fireworks display when it tipped over and sank off Oyster Bay.

FBI divers and Nassau police Wednesday raised the boat, named the Kandi Won, in a daylong effort after failing to get it out of silt 60 feet under the water's surface Tuesday.

It was scheduled to be trucked overnight to the Nassau police Marine Bureau in East Rockaway for examination.

"It was a successful recovery of the Kandi Won," Nassau police spokesman Det. Vincent Garcia said. "It floated, they towed it in. It didn't take on water along the way as far as we know."

The boat was to be quickly examined Wednesday night, lifted onto a flatbed truck and driven to the Marine Bureau for a full investigation, Garcia said.

"It's going to get a cursory look over for any major malfunctions," he said. "They'll just look at it here and then prepare it to take over to East Rockaway."

The effort to recover the boat had been hampered by currents, underwater movement from wakes of other boats and visibility that dropped to virtually zero as the recovery work stirred up silt.

Divers had trouble getting straps around the vessel on Tuesday. Wednesday's effort used small inflatable bags to lift the cabin cruiser high enough to get the straps under it, police said. At one point, the wake from another boat made the air bags used to lift the boat slip off, they said.

As the boat was lifted to about 30 feet below the surface, divers added more inflatable bags to help it rise.

"It was a long, tedious process, but it went exactly as planned," Garcia said.

The first pair of divers entered the water at about 9:50 a.m. By 4:25 p.m., the craft floated at a near-normal level and was towed by a Nassau County police patrol boat toward the Oyster Bay Marine Center.

The U.S. Coast Guard had declared a "moving safety zone" around the boat, keeping other boaters away. Two Nassau County patrol boats and two Town of Oyster Bay boats accompanied it as it was towed past Centre Island, the site of the fireworks display.

The Kandi Won was maneuvered into a 55-ton-capacity crane by a Nassau County police patrol boat and Town of Oyster Bay bay constable boat. With the boat listing at about a 20-degree angle, Nassau police and marine center staff used a pump in the cabin to get more water out.

The only visible damage was to the Bimini cover on top of the flying bridge and a missing boarding platform at the stern. Some algae appeared around the wall that separates the cockpit from the cabin.

Investigators said they hope the wreckage will help explain how the boat tipped over. They will check for structural damage or mechanical failures that might have contributed to the capsizing, and try to determine the number of life jackets aboard.

"We'd like to have the boat in as pristine condition as possible," Azzata said Tuesday.

Police also are looking into whether the boat had too many people on board to be safe.

On July Fourth, the Kandi Won capsized shortly after 10 p.m. spilling 24 of the 27 people on board into the water.

The three who died -- cousins David Aureliano, 12, of Kings Park, and Harlie Treanor, 11, of Huntington Station, and family friend Victoria Gaines, 7, of Huntington -- were trapped in the boat's cabin, officials said.

With Patricia Kitchen

and Gary Dymski

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