Great Opportunity for Fabulous Floating Ogopogo Sighting Station

Posted by: John Kirk on July 12th, 2006

The Kelowna Daily Courier newspaper has carried its share of Ogopogo reports over the years so I like to read the online and paper editions when I can. Not too long ago they carried a story that is intertwined with a little bit of Ogopogo history. Here’s the story of a tugboat that served those who live on the lake for nigh 35 years:

The last authentic tugboat in Kelowna could be shipped to Penticton and remade into a tourist attraction.

The steel-hulled tug, owned by the City of Kelowna since 1993, has been moored offshore from Sutherland Park.

“It’s still floating, but there has been some damage and vandalism done to it,” acting civic properties manager Ron Forbes said Friday.

In a report to be considered by council on Monday, Forbes recommends the 90-foot-long boat be given to the Penticton-based SS Sicamous Restoration Society.

The non-profit group oversaw the $2-million restoration of the SS Sicamous sternwheeler, and is also restoring another tugboat, the SS Naramata.

“We’d like to get the tug into the right hands, people who could take care of it properly,” Forbes said.

The society would be responsible for the cost of insuring and moving the tug. Members would fix it up, then open it to the public for guided and self-guided tours.

"It’s possible, given enough support, that we could get it going on the lake on a regular basis, but that would be a long-term goal," said Alexa LaMadrid, general manager of the Sicamous society.

Kelowna’s tugboat, known simply as No. 6, was built in England in 1948. For decades, it was used to move barges laden with fruit and railway cars up and down Okanagan Lake, with its last commercial run in 1973. The tug was powered by a 575 horsepower diesel engine, and weighs 157 tonnes.

It was bought by the city for $35,000 from a private owner at the suggestion of former museum curator Ursula Surtees.

“It’s not the prettiest boat in the water, but I thought we might be able to make it into an Ogopogo sighting station,” said Surtees, who is now retired.

“He’s a famous monster, but he doesn’t really have his own setting,” Surtees said.

She envisioned the tug outfitted with pictures and stories of Ogopogo, the mythical lake monster, and moored at a dock in Waterfront Park. But funding was never secured for the project, and the museum turned its attention to other matters.

Last fall, the city asked for proposals from groups or businesses interested in buying and preserving the tugboat. One was rejected as impractical, and the other was submitted by the SS Sicamous Society.

“I’m pleased to see something’s being done with the tug at long last, so the poor thing doesn’t rust and sink to the bottom of the lake,” Surtees said.

“But I still think an Ogopogo viewing station somewhere would be a good idea.” 

You may wonder why Ursula Surtees has such an affinity for Ogopogo, well the truth is she has seen the mystery denizen with her own eyes. In 1962, Mrs Surtees and her friend Madge Tostenson were watching their husbands waterski near Poplar Point at the northwest end of Kelowna. They looked at what they thought was a peeled log (one with the bark stripped off) lolling in the reeds just offshore. They then looked back out to where the men were skiing for a moment and then their eyes were drawn to a commottion alongthe shoreline weher some subsurface object was creating huge turbulence. They realized it was Ogopogo making a foray.

As they ran down the pier to get a better look, Mrs Surtees looked back at the reeds and the ‘log’ had simply vanished. There was no current or backwash that could have dislodged the log, so the two women realized that they had not been looking at a log after all.

I can vouch that because of the way light falls on the creature, Ogopogo can indeed look like a peeled log as it did to Ken and Andrew Shauntz, Kenji Chono, my son and I in August of 1990. We were all in a boat near Rattlesnake Island when we saw what we thought was a log lying on the surface of a lake very close to a couple who were sitting in their own boat oblivious to the "log’s" presence.

As we neared the log, it suddenly took off under its own power and went roaring up the lake in a northeasterly direction. We realized that this was not a log, but rather a living creature.

I certainly hope that Old No. 6 is refitted and moored off the beach in Penticton where she will make a great Ogopogo sighting station in an area where back in 1950 bus driver Don Nourse and several others saw four juvenile Ogopogos just off the waterfront.

I will keep my fingers crossed that this great asset will relive its Glory Days.

John Kirk About John Kirk
One of the founders of the BCSCC, John Kirk has enjoyed a varied and exciting career path. Both a print and broadcast journalist, John Kirk has in recent years been at the forefront of much of the BCSCC’s expeditions, investigations and publishing. John has been particularly interested in the phenomenon of unknown aquatic cryptids around the world and is the author of In the Domain of the Lake Monsters (Key Porter Books, 1998). In addition to his interest in freshwater cryptids, John has been keenly interested in investigating the possible existence of sasquatch and other bipedal hominids of the world, and in particular, the Yeren of China. John is also chairman of the Crypto Safari organization, which specializes in sending teams of investigators to remote parts of the world to search for animals as yet unidentified by science. John travelled with a Crypto Safari team to Cameroon and northern Republic of Congo to interview witnesses among the Baka pygmies and Bantu bushmen who have sighted a large unknown animal that bears more than a superficial resemblance to a dinosaur. Since 1996, John Kirk has been editor and publisher of the BCSCC Quarterly which is the flagship publication of the BCSCC. In demand at conferences, seminars, lectures and on television and radio programs, John has spoken all over North America and has appeared in programs on NBC, ABC, CBS, PBS, TLC, Discovery, CBC, CTV and the BBC. In his personal life John spends much time studying the histories of Scottish Clans and is himself the president of the Clan Kirk Society. John is also an avid soccer enthusiast and player.

4 Responses to “Great Opportunity for Fabulous Floating Ogopogo Sighting Station”

  1. stonelk responds:

    ogopogo boat sounds like fun. Peeled log? Dosen’t sound like a sturgeon to me.I have a aquarium with a plecostomus catfish.The fish looks somewhat like a sturgeon and when it is at rest it’s fins are clearly visible.When it is active it flares it’s fins. The dorsil fin on the sturgeon is far back on the body and would not easily be visible when swiming on the surface but if the fish was just resting on the surface like the peeled log I think the plated dorsal ridges would draw attention.

  2. twblack responds:

    Sounds like a cool boat!

  3. CryptoInformant responds:

    lol?ogopogO rof pantac A
    (read top line backwards)

  4. praetorian2317 responds:

    90 foot long boats require lots of money and a crew to maintain and operate them.

    Perhaps the BCSCC could negotiate some space onboard for an Ogopogo exhibit and operate an underwater webcam off the boat? It would certainly draw interest that could benefit both the BCSCC and the SS Sicamous Restoration Society.

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