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Plans in store to refloat iconic antique North Shuswap boat

Owner Paul White spent 10 years restoring historic vessel originally built in Vancouver

Paul White calls the recent sinking of his well-known and often-photographed vintage vessel an inconvenience but not a tragedy.

This winter, White’s boat, the Mandalay B, an approximate 50-foot diesel-powered wood vessel constructed in 1923 by the Hoffar Motor Boat Co. in Vancouver, took on water and sank where it’s moored at McKay Bay in Lee Creek in the North Shuswap.

White believes that during the recent cold snap, wind-strewn waves blew up against and froze along the side of the boat, freezing and expanding, breaking the caulking that sealed the wood planks.

“When it warms up a bit, that ice will melt, especially if it’s on the sunny side of the boat, and then you’ve got a little bit of a hole,” said White, adding he’d visited the boat a week before it sank and everything was fine.

Before each winter, White said he clears the vessel of fuel and any other fluids that could contaminate the bay and Shuswap Lake should such an incident occur.

White said the Mandalay B has since been moved closer to shore. His plan is to use flotation devices to refloat the boat and then pump out the water.

“My plan is that we float the boat and fix whatever went wrong with it, which is happening in the next days, or weeks. Then there will be a lot of cleanup to be done, and then the boat will just continue,” said White.

Read more: Shuswap history in pictures: Shuswap Lake Boat Livery

Read more: Shuswap History in Pictures: Lake boat journey

Since its construction, the Mandalay B has had several owners, the first of whom was George Beeching from 1923 to 1937. White said he bought the boat in 1993 and spent close to 10 years restoring it.

“I’ve owned that boat for 30 years and I’ve put a completely unreasonable amount of money into (it), which is the nature of being a boat owner,” laughed White. “My desire for that boat exceeded my common sense.”

White is proud of the vessel, its history and the craftsmanship that went into its construction. And he says he’s been approached by or has heard from others who also admire the vessel and love seeing it in McKay Bay, where it’s been moored over the past decade.

“The scene of her, with the lake beyond, stirs a feeling of the essence of the Shuswap in so many of us,” said Scotch Creek resident Melissa Bloxham, who has shared photos of the Mandalay B via her Instagram account, epicnorthshuswap.

One person even sent White a book of photos, all of the boat taken at different times and in different lighting.

“I see people in the grocery store, people I hardly know say, ‘I saw your boat this morning, it was looking so nice, I just love seeing that boat, it makes me feel everything is right with the world… It’s like a step backwards in time,’” said White. “So I love it for all of those things.”

While not overly concerned with the task of refloating and repairing the boat, White said he’s getting older and he’s thinking about what the future holds for the Mandalay B.

“I’m kind of retired and so maybe the boat might be fore sale in the spring,” said White, adding individuals have expressed interest in buying the boat.

“It’s 99 years old this year and to have lasted this long – it’s got a history and it’s got a warm family sort of feel to it,” said White.
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Paul White is planning to refloat his boat the Mandalay B, which took on water over the winter and sank where it is moored at McKay Bay in the North Shuswap. (Jim Cooperman photo)

Lachlan Labere

About the Author: Lachlan Labere

Editor of the Salmon Arm Observer, Shuswap Market, and Eagle Valley News. I'm always looking for new and exciting ways to keep our readers informed and engaged.
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