(Saturday photo by Nick Adams for WSB)
By Katie Meyer
Reporting for West Seattle Blog
As we’ve covered the Beach Drive boat-woes saga, the now-wrecked trimaran’s background has started to emerge, particularly once commenters discussed having seen it advertised online for free.
Finally finding that expired ad led us to the man who built the trimaran that is now in pieces south of the Harbor West Condos. He had not heard about the fate of the Nunga Nunga Nue until we contacted him today.
Bob Sinclair is 85, a mainframe programmer who retired from Boeing in 1992, and who originally built the trimaran himself decades ago: “Originally, I had dreams of building something large enough that I could go anywhere in the world if I wanted to, and small enough that I could sail it myself.”
He was working at Boeing, single and traveling a lot, and thought he’d live on the boat after it was finished.
Once a commodore of the Northwest Multihull Association, Sinclair recalled that he and several other members, including friends at Boeing, would built boats as projects. One co-worker had started building a trimaran, getting the cross arm built, but had to stop work on it so Sinclair took it, along with some Alaskan cedar, and hauled it to another friend’s pasture where they built a shed and he continued construction.
“We built the boat, you know you build it upside down. When I did mine, I decided to do custom colors, and a ‘cellophane’ finish, where you put gloss down over the wood, let that dry, then you tape cellophane over that and the sun warms it and the plastic shrinks right to the boat, then you cut a small hole in the cellophane and pump resin inside under the cellophane. It dries in a short time, you peel the cellophane off and it looks like a motorcycle. That boat had a custom color finish, some mahogany plywood…”
As the years went on, his lifestyle changed – marriage, kids; Sinclair managed to sail the trimaran “for about an hour and a half” at Shilshole Marina. It never had fuel in it, although he did build a engine well and put in an outboard motor. He noted that “I should have gotten rid of it a long time ago.” Over the years the engine well would get water in it, and he siad it did sink once: “They built a special covering for it with a rubberized edge and nailed that down on it.”
In hindsight Sinclair said he would have built the well several inches higher, and the cross arm differently.
Shilshole Marina wanted Sinclair to remove the aging and problematic trimaran, he said. When he first ran the online ad to give away the trimaran, he had more than 100 people respond. Of the three people seriously interested, a man who planned to take it up to Alaska took ownership – the paperwork was processed so the new owner had the title, but he then “disappeared off the face of the earth” and finding that the paperwork had never changed hands in Olympia, Sinclair got an affidavit of ownership, and ran the ad again.
This time approximately 50 people responded to the ad, and as two people were looking at the boat, its current owner, who Sinclair knows as “Rick,” came up to him on the dock, “didn’t even really look at the boat, just said I want it. Got the paperwork? We went to Department of Licensing, got it turned over to him, went to the marina, where I said this guy now owns it and he’ll take it…”
His guess is that Rick didn’t plug the motor well, or forgot to put the cover over it; “…it had taken on a little water when it was at Shilshole before Rick started to tow it.” As Sinclair was giving the new owner the additional materials that went with the boat, he handed over the winches used to pull the sails up and/or in, to which Rick asked, “What are those for?”
As for what happens now – as we reported earlier today, the state Department of Natural Resources is evaluating possible next steps. We’ll be checking with them agan tomorrow.