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Spirit's paddles will churn again

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After being raised from the water on the Westside, the Spirit of Kelowna paddlewheeler was towed Tuesday to the boat launch near the Delta Grand hotel.
It'll take a major overhaul, but the Spirit of Kelowna will sail again.
The side-wheeler is intact with only minor structural damage after sinking off the shore of Kalamoir Park on the weekend. Divers and a recovery crew righted it Monday, pumped out the water so it floated on its own, and towed it across Okanagan Lake to the Water Street boat launch Tuesday morning.
The mild weather following last week's cold snap led to the sinking. Lake water froze and fractured the vessel's sea strainer, a plastic hole-fitting designed to filter contaminants and weeds from water used to cool the motor.
The ice melted, allowing water to leak into the boat's hold.
"Water came through a valve that was open. Once the water pump froze and opened up, the water free-flowed," said Bob Jones, who owns Shoreline Pile Driving, the company that recovered the 66-foot vessel.
"It was right full, up to the deck . . . Had it been properly winterized, it wouldn't have happened."
The converted paddle-wheeler had been moored off the park since the spring. It capsized 70 metres from shore in four
metres of water early Sunday. The owner, believed to be a marine engineer in Vancouver, hired Shoreline to raise the boat and tow it to Kelowna.
Former owner Doug Mayzes spent eight years and close to $500,000 on converting the former U.S. Navy vessel before selling it. Contrary to an article in Tuesday's paper, Mayzes does not represent the new owner.
Mayzes tried unsuccessfully to certify the Spirit of Kelowna with Transport Canada. It can carry 75 passengers, but has yet to take paying customers out on a lake tour. The owner did not carry insurance.
Two divers checked the hull before setting straps under it. The Shoreline crew used a crane on a barge to raise the two lines and straighten the vessel. Once it was lifted above the water mark, the crew used three pumps to extract the water.
Divers circled the boat with an oil boom to confine any leaking fuel. The tank held only about 15 litres of diesel and the hydraulic reservoirs were all sealed, Jones said.
Kandis Lipsett, who monitors emergency responses for the Ministry of Environment, found no visible sheen nor smelled any fuel.
The recovery ran smoothly, she said.
"They planned it out. They took a lot of steps to prevent it from going bad . . . Our concern was the shoreline and ecology in the area. There was nothing other than the disturbance."
The plan now is to remove the paddlewheels, dismantle the boat and likely dry-dock it somewhere in Kelowna. A mechanic was down below Tuesday fixing the motors so they don't rust or freeze, Jones said.
He agrees it can be salvaged. Most of the work will be fixing the water damage and repairing broken wood above deck, he said.

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