The centerpiece for this weekend’s Down Key Festival in Longbranch, Wash., slipped into a dock at the marina with a handful of volunteers from the Longbranch Improvement Club to greet her.
The 110-feet Tourist No. 2 finally arrived on the southern tip of the Key Peninsula an hour later than expected.
Christian Lint, the boat’s captain and owner, stood on the bow of the 90-year-old maritime relic of the Pacific Northwest and apologetically explained he and his crew had to rescue a kayaker at the Tacoma Narrows.
“The guy was rolling around and rolling around exhausted because of the current,” the Bremerton-based Lint said. “So we pulled up right next to him and deployed a man-overboard line there and had him attached and pulled him into the boat.
“We wrapped him in one of our sleeping bags and he came back to life, sort of, and we called his wife, who was kind of miffed at him,” the old tugboat driver said with a smile.
The minor delay did not dampen the excitement on the docks as members of the Longbranch Improvement Club, led by Rich Hildahl, greeted the wooden-hulled beauty.
The vessel was once a ferry used on the Astoria-Megler route on the Columbia River in Oregon, according to columbiariverimages.com. The diesel-powered ferry could carry 20 cars and 155 people.
The vessel’s storied history includes a stint as a mine layer during World War II, a floating cannery in Alaska and, in 1967 when it was moved to Pierce County and renamed the Islander, was again used as a ferry on the Puget Sound.
Bought by Argosy Cruises of Seattle in 1996 and renamed the Kirkland, she was a popular boat for tourists and locals alike. A fire in 2010 gutted her and she was deemed “too expensive to repair,” according to evergreenfleet.com.
Lint rescued the vessel, gave her back her name Tourist No. 2, and is now moored in Bremerton, Wash.
“I took this vessel that was an icon of the Northwest and turned it around,” he said.
Lint does everything himself, but “I do have excellent help,” he said pointing to a handful of spirited deckhands sitting on plastic chairs on the bow of the boat.
“All he wants to do is preserve these historic boats,” Hildahl said of Lint. “He’s passionate about it and loves keeping them up and works hard on it.”
THE DOWN KEY FESTIVAL
This is the first year of the festival, which is primarily a fundraiser to help Key Peninsula schools. Rich Hildahl said the group’s goal is to raise $10-$15,000 this weekend. “This is just the beginning,” Hildahl said.
Club Dinner: Friday, 4 p.m.,on the Tourist No. 2. Chili dogs, salad and corn bread will be served. $10 donation
Chorus Group: Saturday, 11 a.m. at the club house. A chorus group from the three elementary schools on the Key Peninsula will perform an hour-long program. “This has never happened before,” Connie Hildahl said of the chorus group. After the program, hotdog lunches will be served to the children for free, adults can join for a donation of $2.50. Then the children go out for Field Day games, including spitting sunflower seeds.
Gala: Saturday, 4 p.m., Alaskan salmon dinner, silent and live auctions aboard the Tourist No. 2 and a performance by the Gig Harbor Canoe and Kayak Racing Team. Tickets are $50.
Brunch: Sunday, 11 a.m., aboard the historic vessel.