Take a trip down memory lake.
A former lifeboat-turned-tour vessel is currently listed for sale and can fit 60 people inside, though current owner Michael Rayne of Indian Arm Adventures says he’s never packed it to capacity.
“I mean, I’ve never had that many people on there, of course. Getting lifejackets for 60 people is quite an undertaking,” Rayne said with a laugh. “I’ve had 30 on there, no problem.”
Rayne started his touring business back in 2018, purchased the boat sometime in 2019, and, since then, has taken it on countless adventures — from school trips to end-of-life ceremonies.
“We’ve done funeral arrangements and dropping ashes,” he said.
The boat called Lifeboat #3 was built in 2004 for BC Ferries, measures 28 feet long by 10 feet wide, is painted mostly orange and features a 48-horsepower diesel engine that “seems like it drives forever,” exclaimed Rayne.
“It’s really good on fuel too,” he said, noting it can run on just one tank for about a week. “One of my friends told me the best thing about a boat is the hull and the motor that drives it. This boat, in particular, is so solid, the hull is perfect.”
However, Rayne’s not quite sure of the boat’s backstory, including when BC Ferries retired it or what ferry it was strapped to in case of an emergency.
“I think it came from the Queen of Cowichan,” he said.
“I had been running an Indigenous tourism business and taking people out up the Indian Arm and things like that, so I’d thought it would be good for bigger groups. It served its purpose. It’s been really great for all the time I’ve had it.”
The boat is currently moored at Lynnwood Marina in North Vancouver, according to Rayne, who’s asking $10,000 for it in an online ad. However, that price isn’t stern as he’s willing to negotiate.
“I don’t even know if I want to let it go,” said Rayne, though ongoing business hardships leave him no choice.
“Right now, it’s winter and everybody’s hurting,” he said. “I’m not getting a lot of business and my overhead is pretty heavy. At this point, I’m not sure where I’m going to go with the business. I’m going to play it by ear. I’m hoping spring is going to be better for this tourism business.”
Still, Rayne’s come a long way, having first set sail with a small boat before transitioning to several vessels, including the lifeboat that he’ll remember as being “perfect” for attaining customers.
“From school groups to community organizations, I’ve worked with some professional bike rider guys. We did a whole bunch of different groups,” he recalled. “I started this business with a little aluminum skiff but needed to get bigger boats as business got better and better.”
But as the business grew, the captain also grew aware that many who wanted to experience B.C.’s beauty on the unique vessel just couldn’t afford it. Since then, he’s offered discounted or free tickets to be able to share the province’s pristine scenery with others.
“We also go foraging and stuff, collecting mushrooms, prawns and crabs and stuff like that. We go fishing and hopefully, everyone is on the same page about the beautiful environment around us,” he said. “Open it up and try to make it accessible to everybody, all the beautiful nature.”
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