SS Sicamous Society director Adolf Steffen leans on the railing of the pier along the starboard side of the historic sternwheeler. The pier was just recently completed, along with renovations incurred by last year’s flooding, and will be showed off at an open house on Saturday. Dustin Godfrey/Western News

Full steam ahead for SS Sicamous after renovations finished

SS Sicamous hosting open house to showcase new look, with hot dogs, face painting and activities

After reining in the SS Sicamous, adrift during last year’s flooding along Okanagan Lake, the boat is now firmly at dock again.

Work has finished on the historic sternwheeler, and now officials with the ship-turned-museum are opening the ship up for an open house Saturday.

Renovations on the ship were twofold — some planned and others unplanned. First, operators of the ship-turned-museum built a starboard-side pier along the ship to give the illusion of a ship at dock. Initially planned for spring 2017, however, that was postponed after flooding in the region.

“This boat floated and it rose 24 inches,” SS Sicamous Society director Adolf Steffen said. “Then when she came down, we started pumping sand under her — 300 yards of sand — and she stopped at 18 inches. So now she is 18 inches higher than she was before the flood of 2017.”

Because of the ship’s sudden, unexpected growth spurt, so to speak, some of the infrastructure around the ship had to be amended. For instance, the metal staircases on the port side of the ship.

“Each one of these staircases has an 18-inch piece added to it, because all of a sudden the stairs were 18 inches lower than the boat,” Steffen said.

On top of that, an elevator attached to one of the staircases also had to be — ahem — elevated.

“The way we did it is we got a forklift in and we were able to lift that whole cage up, and we had a welder come in and he prefabricated an 18-inch beam all the way around, which we then slipped in, put the elevator back down again, and she’s now 18 inches higher,” Steffen said.

It was all hands on during work to shoot the sand under the ship — a marine engineer from Vancouver advised on how to best let the ship settle, and the Penticton Fire Department offered their help with their fire hose.

“So this worked out better than we anticipated. The boat actually settled perfectly level, which is quite a feat when you think of the way she was and to pump that much sand under,” Steffen said.

As well, near the boat’s sternwheel an electrical box was underwater during the flooding, so the SS Sicamous Society had to move the electrical hook-ups to another location that wouldn’t be affected by floods. A fire prevention pipe attached to the ship, too, had to be mended to include knuckles on the piping that would allow it to shift if the boat floats up and down.

Back on the starboard side, however, much of the work performed on the ship was aesthetic — the new pier, started after Labour Day last year, is now finished.

The open house Saturday will revolve more around the new facade of the boat, with the grass and flora around the boat now sprouting around it.

The ship will be open to visitors from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., and will include hot dogs and refreshments, face painting, games for children and other activities.

Report a typo or send us your tips, photos and video.

Dustin Godfrey | Reporter


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