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Historic ferry becomes a destination at Bremerton Marina
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A restored 1924 ferry that is moored at the Bremerton Marina and will be used as a floating venue for social events. (Tim Kelly Photo)For a guy who says he never wanted to be a seafarer, Christian Lint sure loves boats and has logged thousands of miles as a tugboat captain on oceangoing voyages.

He recently piloted the MV Kirkland into the Bremerton Marina, where the 1924 wooden-hulled vessel will be moored and used a waterfront events venue. The Kirkland’s sailing days are over, but it has a long history as a Columbia River car ferry, WW II military craft, and most recently as a tourist boat on Seattle’s Lake Washington.

It’s the kind of boat that Lint thinks should be preserved, which is why he bought it three years ago when the Kirkland was no longer of any use to Argosy Cruises after a fire in the engine room.

“My goal was to keep it from being demolished,” he said. He was dismayed that the insurer viewed the sturdy 98-foot craft, which Argosy had refurbished as a tour boat in 1996, as totaled.

Although the fire was fairly small, it left a sooty mess that took a lot of work to clean up, Lint said. However, there was no structural damage and the engine was intact.

Christian Lint is owner and captain of the MV Kirkland. (Tim Kelly Photo)“There was nothing wrong with it, that’s the bottom line,” he said of the Kirkland.

Asked how much he paid to acquire the historic ferry, the burly, well-traveled captain replied, “All I had.”

He’s invested in old boats before and done well. He said the first boat he bought was a 1929 tugboat for $22,000, and his first towing job in 1987 was taking a 300-foot Guppy class submarine out of the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard to Everett.

“I got paid $1,200,” he recalled. Not a princely sum, but the opportunity for a more lucrative payday came along a couple years later when he took his tug to Alaska and got hired for $3,700 a day helping on the cleanup of the Exxon Valdez oil spill.

Retired now from his adventures as a tugboat captain, the 63-year-old Lint still has a mechanic’s passion for toiling in the engine room.

“My background really has been rebuilding classic yachts,” he said.

Once he got the Kirkland shipshape, he thought about taking it Tacoma or back to Astoria, Ore., where it started out ferrying cars across the mouth of the Columbia River. Then last summer he heard about the special two-year moorage deal at the Bremerton Marina, and he said he was impressed with the facility and with manager Kathy Garcia’s enthusiasm for bringing the boat there.

Christian Lint stands on the foredeck of the MV Kirkland at the Bremerton Marina.He was encouraged that Garcia wanted to have “interesting historical value vessels” that would make Bremerton a “marina of destination.”

The Kirkland, which Lint plans to rename, is listed on the Washington Historic Register and the National Register of Historic Places. As an events venue, it has a spacious, glass-walled main deck and an enclosed upper deck. There’s a pool table, a bar with five beer taps, and maritime ambiance galore.

There’s no venue management contract with Lint, but Garcia and Port of Bremerton marketing consultant Bob Wise said they will let the community know about what their new tenant has to offer.

“We’ll be promoting it at chambers and downtown business associations, to get people down to the marina,” Garcia said. “They don’t have to have a boat to have an event at the waterfront.”

“We’re excited to have the boat at the marina,” Wise said. “We certainly look forward to letting yacht clubs and the boating community know about it, and I think we’ll get a lot of interest.”

Lint owns another historic vessel he’s pretty proud of, one that’s even older than the Kirkland. The 120-foot El Primero, built in 1893 as a steam-powered yacht, is currently on display at the Foss Waterway Seaport in Tacoma.

“Hopefully we can convince him to bring that one here as well,” Garcia said.

 
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