After 50 years of service, a 92-year-old ferry will be returning home to Astoria and returned to service.
When the repurposed ferry M.V. Kirkland caught fire in 2010 at Kirkland’s Marina Park its owners, Argosy Cruises of Seattle, determined it would be too expensive for them to repair, and the ferry was decommissioned.
But Capt. Christian Lint had a different idea, and he bought the ferry and repaired it in three days, he said.
“These are the last remaining vessels of the vintage maritime fleet,” he said. “They are frankly floating museums.”
Lint is an area captain with an interest in salvaging old boats, including a historic yacht called El Primero which was built in 1893. The 66-year-old has been working on and commanding boats since he was 22.
He has worked as a tug boat captain, aerospace designer and delivered yachts around the world, but restoring old boats is his passion.
“Just simply to preserve the historic vintage vessel from being destroyed,” he said.
After purchasing the boat and repairing it Lint put the boat of up for sale in 2015, which caught the eye of 67-year-old Astoria native Robert Jacob, and his friend Jeff Daly.
Jacob said Daly showed him the advertisement and they both thought it would be a great idea to try and get the M.V. Kirkland back.
“As a kid I used to take 25 cents and a bicycle and me and my buddy would pedal down and ride the ferry,” Jacob said. “We would just go over to the Washington side and bike to one of the national parks and forts and play around and ride the ferry back at the end of the day.”
Their idea started generating interest and soon after a nonprofit called Astoria Ferry was formed to purchase the M.V. Kirkland, return it home and restore its original name, the Tourist No. 2.
Astoria Ferry is run by a seven-member board including Dulcye Taylor, president of the Astoria Downtown Association.
“I thought it was a natural fit to bring the historic ferry back to Astoria, so I jumped on board, so to speak,” she said.
The group has already raised around $32,000 towards the $200,000 price tag, and with the down payment made and the ferry on contract, the Tourist No. 2 is headed to Astoria.
As the oldest town west of the Rocky Mountains, Taylor said the historic nature of the ferry will work well for the town.
“We have tons of history here, and getting one of the original ferris back, I mean, I already have probably a thousand people on my Facebook page with stories,” she said. “It’s just that historical perspective.”
The Facebook page for The Astoria Ferry has more than 700 likes and a fundraising campaign can be found on their website astoriaferry.com.
According to the website, the Tourist No. 2 has a long history. It was created in 1924 for $42,000 and could carry 20 cars and 155 passengers between Astoria to Washington until the Astoria-Megler Bridge was completed in 1966, with the exception of the World War II years.
In 1941, following the attack at Pearl Harbor, the Tourist No. 2 was commandeered by the U. S Army to lay mines in the mouth of the Columbia River and ferried troops between Fort Stevens in Oregon and Fort Canby across the river, according to the website.
Following the completion of the Astoria-Megler Bridge, the Tourist No. 2 was moved to Pierce County and renamed the Islander, where it shuttled people between south Puget Sound islands.
It was bought by Argosy Cruises in 1996 and retrofitted for cruises on Lake Washington before the fire in 2010.
Jacob said the ferry is scheduled to be returned the week of July 11 where he said it will likely be cleaned up further before it begins making begins making runs along the coast of Astoria.
“We just think that it would be a great addition,” he said.
Lint also thinks the wooden hulled Tourist No. 2, service history aside, is a prime living example of a bygone era of craftsmanship.
The ferry is from an era before steel hulled ships were the exception for civilian transit, not the norm.
Jacob said Lint worked with them to negotiate a good deal on the ship, and hopes that soon the Tourist No. 2 will be sailing the waters for which it was created.