“Fintry Queen”, a 326 passenger ship built in 1948, may soon have a new home in Penticton cruising the southern end of Okanagan Lake. At last night’s City Council Meeting in Penticton, staff were directed to enter into a 5 year lease agreement that may see the Fintry Queen build a new dock and moorage facility in that City in time for Summer 2015.
“With the assistance of City Staff and Council in both Penticton and Kelowna, we now have the key lease agreements which is the first step to proceeding with financing and permits. Penticton is a great fit with its natural beaches, active downtown and paddlewheel history,” said Andy Schwab, President of Okanagan Lake Boat Company Inc.
For many years, the Fintry Queen operated out of Kelowna, averaging 28,000 passengers annually, and in the new location Schwab sees more opportunity.
“In our first year, we’ll likely offer circle cruises of the shoreline, then over time, develop additional docks to safely access Naramata, Summerland and many other communities on the lake.” said Schwab.
He sees a future for economical public transportation on the water, linking the communities, parks, wineries and resorts along the shoreline, similar to the historic paddlewheel services provided by the CNR and CPR from 1893 – 1972.
The Fintry Queen is the largest commercial ship on Okanagan Lake. The earliest version was all open deck and passengers were issued with raincoats. Today the ship can carry up to 325 passengers in comfort, year round. The enclosed Main Deck is both heated and air conditioned, featuring a commercial galley, Forward Lounge for 80 and Main Dining Room with bar and dance floor for another 120 guests. On the Upper Deck, there is a covered Aft Deck, Sun Deck, barbeque, snack bar and kids room. The ship held a Food Primary liquor license for 280 patrons and a Liquor Primary license for 225 passengers, where minors were permitted. Two fuel efficient turbo diesel engines power the vessel at an average cruising speed of 6-8 knots. Initially designed as an all-season car ferry with an extra thick hull for breaking through the ice, the Fintry Queen’s unique hull and bow shape, enables her to get close to shore to utilize her bow boarding ramp for safely loading and unloading passengers where there are no docking facilities.
The Okanagan Lake Boat Company intends to raise $500,0000 to get the Fintry Queen re-started, which includes an estimated $300,000 for the new dock and $100,000 for renovations. The previous owners spent an estimated $800,000 between 2004 and 2008. “Every wire, light switch, all the panels, pumps, fire systems, shafts and propellers, were new or re-built” says Schwab. “Most of the improvements we will make will be cosmetic. The main engines were rebuilt and are very economical to run.”
Schwab plans to seek registration as an Eligible Business Corporation under the BC Investment Program for small business to raise equity capital through a 30 per cent tax credit for eligible investors. “We want to give everyone the opportunity to be an “owner” and “partner” with local businesses. The more we can engage and involve the local community, the more successful the ship will become.”