PORT TOWNSEND — The 80-foot schooner Ninaa Ootakii is back on the water after six months of repairs due to being blown ashore on the Beckett Point Beach on Dec. 20, 2018, during a storm and extreme high tide.
After an unsuccessful recovery effort Jan. 1, the boat remained trapped on the beach, as repairs were needed to make it seaworthy again so another recovery attempt could be made.
Eric Wennstrom of the Salish Rescue, a nonprofit marine rescue organization, said that the boat has been beached to the point of needing rescue twice, with a large number of minor beachings as well.
Wennstrom and the Salish Rescue had previously assisted with towing the Ninaa back into the water before, when it was beached at Fort Worden in 2017.
This instance, however, he refused to risk the safety of his crew by attempting to remove the boat from the beach back in February.
The boat was returned to the water on June 6, after the tugboat Vulcan was able to tow it off the beach during high tide, according to Wennstrom.
The legal owner of the ship is unknown, as the previous owner Tyler Vega had attempted to sell it to a friend. According to Vega, paperwork wasn’t completed properly, but he has taken responsibility for the ship, so the price tag didn’t fall to taxpayers and the state Department of Natural Resources.
Vega said he is attempting to get the ship’s systems (the engines, instruments and other systems) working again so he can bring it to a dock to have a more stable work area, instead of open water.
The ship was anchored in north Discovery Bay as of Friday morning — with plans to bring it into a dock — so it would be more stable to work on, according to Vega.
The repairs took much longer than Vega was initially anticipating, with the cost of the repairs over $1,000, as there ended up being a “plethora” of repairs needed to make the boat sea-worthy again after it ran aground.
Vega stated a common acronym for BOAT among sailors, “Bring Out Another Thousand.”
The project has strained his resources to the extreme, and it has only been getting worse for both his work life and his personal life, he said.
The true cost, however, was “my whole life, it’s incalculable. I took a whole month off of work just to repair the initial damage,” Vega said.
Reporter Zachary Jablonski can be reached at [email protected].