Sailing Ship Company Woes
The flagship of the Inland Packet & Navigation Company, a Missoula based builder of cheap plywood boats, the S/V Wawona has returned to the company dry docks following a mishap during it's latest round of sea trials less then two weeks before it is to be featured at a Seattle boat show. "All I can say is a member of the board broke our boat" said CEO and Chief Captain James Maxwell. "So the insurance and labor is negligible" he continued to a rousing chuckle. "During any time of testing, things like this can happen and in this case it did." Maxwell continued saying the watertight integrity of the vessel was never in danger nor were there any lives at stake at anytime during the incident.
According to testimony from witnesses and those directly involved the sea trials were to test improvements in the handling characteristics of the fleet flagship following modifications to various systems. President Maxwell and board members Mike Seitz, First Mate Criss Mortensen, Crew Micheal Irvine, and company friend Scott Leister were present during the initial stages of the trials. "We finally got some wind so I called all hands to braces and prepared to make sail" At this point Maxwell's mother appeared with food and it was decided he would wait until after consuming some sandwiches. It was at this juncture that Mike Seitz, who appears on the company website as a "builder" suggested he take the Wawona out on it's trials. "I wouldn't hesitate to send him out again" said Maxwell. "He's a new sailor but so was I the last time this boat got wet. Part of the process and our company vision supports that. He retains the full faith and confidence of the company"
Following a successful launch the Wawona, under the command of Seitz began a series of maneuvers to evaluate it's handling both up and downwind. But twenty minutes into the voyage it was obvious there was trouble. "He ran himself pretty hard up on the far bank. I knew what was happening because the same thing happened to me on the first voyage." recalled Maxwell. "It's a small pond and the USCG (Coast Guard) are not on duty. So I had to rescue him myself."
With no thought of his own comfort, Maxwell dove into the pond and swam the thirty yards across the pond. "It was a good workout and felt refreshing."
It was there the cause and damage was evident. "Wawona does not posses very good windward performance if any windward performance at all. We saw it on the first voyage and were hoping that it would have been corrected with the changes but that does not seem to be the case" The leeboard, a stabilizing board attached to the side of the vessel, had torn it's lower mounting clean off. "Put hard aground like that it just comes right off. Not what we wanted but nothing we can do about it now." With help from crew member Irvine the boat was towed across the lake on human power alone, and returned to the dock under paddle power with Maxwell and Irvine aboard. "I think she accounted herself well" said Maxwell of his company's flagship. "The fact we returned to the dock under our own power and with minimal water inside shows the ability of the boat to withstand damage and setbacks." Repairs are currently underway. Wawona is scheduled to be at Seattle's Center for Wooden Boats Home Built Boat Weekend July 24th and 25th.