A new Seattle-area church wants to buy the paddle-wheeler, and has begun a fundraising campaign to pay for it.
The owners of the 138-foot paddle-wheeler Queen of Seattle have agreed to sell the vessel for $250,000 to a fledgling Seattle-area church that hopes to use it for retreats, worship, counseling sessions and conferences.
Lisa Dindinger of Alaska Travel Adventures, owners of the steam-powered stern-wheeler since 2005, said Pastor Steve Brown of A Walk With Jesus Church submitted the only written offer for the vessel, which has been used for tours in Seattle and Alaska.
Dindinger said Brown agreed to the boat’s most recent asking price, which had dropped sharply from the $1 million the company asked when it put the boat up for sale more than two years ago, a figure based on an insurance appraisal of the boat’s replacement cost.
Under terms of the deal, to be ratified by the church’s board of directors, the travel company has agreed to short-term financing giving the church six months to pay for the boat, moored at Lake Union Drydock.
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Brown, 52, who started his church a year ago, said it has launched a fundraising campaign to generate the price of the boat and another $70,000 to $80,000 for renovations.
“We are firm believers,” said Brown. “We know if you want to make something work, it will take a lot of hard work, but we believe in it.”
Once the vessel is renovated, Brown said, it likely will stay docked for several years, operating as a floating restaurant, wedding and conference venue, before it has the crew and certification to carry passengers on short tours.
Long-term, Brown said, he envisions the boat hosting a variety of church functions, such as sessions in marriage counseling, which has been a key focus of his ministry to date.
Brown, who lives in Lynnwood, said his church, with 50 to 100 members, is operating online and meets Sunday evening at his home. He hopes to find a school classroom the congregation can use for services by early next year.
Brown said when he saw the boat in a Seattle Times article last month, he had a powerful sense that his church could use it to benefit the community.
The steel-hulled boat, built in Sacramento in 1984, can carry up to 400 passengers and has the classic “floating wedding cake” look of paddle-wheel riverboats of a bygone era.
Owning and operating the boat are likely to be expensive. In addition to the costs of maintenance, moorage and insurance, the vessel is required by the Coast Guard to have a licensed steam engineer on board any time it is under way.
Dindinger said Brown’s enthusiasm for the vessel and its potential are encouraging.
“I think he has got a great vision. I hope it works out,” she said. “It would be nice to see her stay in Seattle.”