Help float the boat

Dustin Godfrey

The SS Naramata is steeped in the history of Okanagan Lake, and she may hit the water again.

The provincial government has provided a $25,000 grant to get the ball rolling on a project that would lift the SS Naramata up off the ground, and repair parts of the hull.

"What is happening is we need to pick her up, put her on the cradle so we can inspect the hull, because the hull is starting to rust away," said SS Sicamous Society vice-president Adolf Steffen. "And if you don't do anything in 20 years time, you'll just have a piece of rubble there."

The grant will fund an initial feasibility study, bringing engineers in to inspect the damage and estimate the cost of repairing the boat and putting it in the lake.

"This $25,000 will allow us to get some professional engineers to give us directions of how we're going to go about it and some proper engineering so we could go to apply for different grants," Steffen said.

The project is expected to cost between $100,000 and $250,000, and it's not expected to be an easy task.

Steffen said pulling the boat off the ground without causing further damage to the hull would cost about $100,000 on its own, as the boat is effectively implanted into the ground.

But the high cost is worth it for SS Sicamous Society assistant manager and curator for the SS Naramata Jessie Dunlop, who says the boat, which was decommissioned nearly 50 years ago, once united the entire Okanagan Lake.

"The lake boats used to be the centre of pretty much everything in the valley," Dunlop said. "Everything had to come in by boat, basically. Without the lake boats, there wouldn't have been settlements in the Okanagan, pretty much."

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