Members of the Kelowna Yacht Club’s sailing group launch their Santana 525 boats at Water Street boat launch using a crane, Saturday, March 18. - Image Credit: Carli Berry

Sailboat members launch boats in a new way

After the closure of the Queensway launch, sailors are using a crane to launch their boats

Members of the Kelowna Yacht Club are finding a new way to launch their sailboats, out of their own pockets.

In February, the City of Kelowna closed the Queensway boat launch as part of the city’s plan to improve foot traffic and create pedestrian spaces.

The boats have fins on the bottom which prevent them from being launched in shallow water, so previously, the sailors launched their boats at the Queensway launch.

The sailboats require at least seven feet of water to be able to launch, the water level at the Water Street launch is currently at six feet.

The members rented a crane in the morning, Saturday, March 18 to be able to set their boats safely in the water.

“And cranes aren’t cheap,” said boat owner/organizer of the launch, Brad Hallan.

He said he received a notice the city would be closing the launch only a few days before it was closed, and he wished the sailboat owners had time to launch their boats before the closure.

The closest launch would be at Shelter Bay Marina, but Hallan said it would be expensive.

About 10 sailors pitched in to rent a crane for a few hours.

The crane was able to lift the boats so they could be placed deep enough in the water.

Robert Parlane, manager of parks and buildings with the city, said a study was conducted in order to determine the cost of an extended boat launch, which would equate to $360,000 for a study and changing of the launch. A renovated launch would also require a permit from the province.

The city is not currently planning to extend the launch, but “that’s not to say never,” said Parlane.

Last year, a camera was set up from July to November to determine how many boat owners used the Queensway launch. Parelane said it was used only 30 times.

The deep-keel owners usually launch their boats before that timeframe, however.

Parelane said the city notified the Yacht Club back in October, and November, giving them the timeframe for when the launch would be filled in.