For some, she’s a newborn; for others, a grand old lady. Either way, the Thunderbird No. 2 needs her rest.
The classic wooden sailboat has been put to bed for the winter, six months after volunteers at the nonprofit Gig Harbor BoatShop finished a two-year renovation project.
They spent thousands of hours returning the boat to its former glory at the same place it was built and launched in 1959. Ed Hoppen owned the boatyard back then, and he built the sailboat in response to a contest from the local plywood trade association.
Thunderbird No. 2 was a prototype for a line of sailboats that became well-known for affordability as well as speed and performance.
The boat is now moored in the harbor under cover, her mast hanging in the boatshop, said Guy Hoppen, Ed Hoppen’s son and the boatshop’s founding director.
“She’s being babied and taken very good care of,” he said.
The restoration was the first major project at the publicly funded Eddon Boatyard, born in 2006 as a way to bring back a vestige of Gig Harbor’s old working waterfront.
For four weeks last fall, the boatshop offered free hourlong tours of the harbor aboard the sailboat, also known as the Pirouette. The response was overwhelming, with reservations filling up in one day.
“We found out that most of the people who signed up to take the trip had never been sailing,” Guy Hoppen said. “A lot of them had never been out on the harbor.”
He said the boatshop will expand the program to five months in 2013, from May to September. The sailings won’t be free, but he said they will be kept affordable.
In the meantime, volunteers are busy restoring another of the old vessels — Thunderbird No. 11, which was donated last year.
Jaime Storkman and Bill Issacs have led both projects. Storkman said a family on Whidbey Island donated Thunderbird No. 11 last year. It was in horrible shape.
He said the sailboat should be finished by spring. It may join Thunderbird No. 2 in taking residents on rides around the harbor next year.
The boat renovators also have their eyes set on building a Thunderbird from scratch.
“We have a place and expertise to build a new boat in a modern way,” Storkman said.Christian Hill: 253-274-7390