After almost five years and over 7,500 volunteer hours, the Ladysmith Maritime Society has launched the Kirkegaard — a wooden heritage vessel restored by LMS volunteers.
The Kirkegaard took to the waters around Ladysmith’s harbour on April 20, 2021. LMS held a small celebration for the launch and has big plans for the Kirkegaard’s future.
“The boat will be accessible by the public,” LMS executive director Richard Wiefelspuett. “It’s joining our heritage fleet now on the water and it’ll be actively used in our tour boat program where we show the harbour to paying passengers.”
Up to 10 passengers will be able to tour around the Ladysmith harbour aboard the Kirkegaard. Historically, the Kirkegaard was a crew transport vessel and was used to bring workers back and forth from the Gulf Islands. It was built in 1947.
All of the restoration work was done using traditional materials and tools to preserve the Kirkegaard’s heritage elements. The LMS boat restoration team was awarded a Heritage Award from the Ladysmith & District Historical Society for their work.
LMS volunteer Jeff Reichert has been involved in the Kirkegaard restoration since the very beginning. He said that when LMS began restoration work on the Kirkegaard in 2016 it was far from being in ship shape.
“There were parts of the stern that you could take off by hand because the wood was so rotten. There were planks that actually fell off the boat, the fasteners were corroded and it was just the water pressure that held them in place,” he said. “I’m not sure how much longer she would have lasted in the water.”
When wooden boats take to the water it the wood adjusts and swells. LMS volunteers checked the boat for leakage and found only a little amount of leakage. A subsequent check on April 21 found there was no further leakage.
Reichert said that the entire volunteer group is proud to know that the Kirkegaard will once again serve the community.
“It feels really good. You not only get a tour of the harbour and the nearby Gulf Islands, but you do it on a historic boat,” he said. “I’m sure there will be a lot of people who want to be on this boat.”