It all started when the Department of Transport built a breakwater in Gellatly Bay for the moorage of pleasure boats for the Westbank area. A local group was required, such as a Yacht Club to take care of the moorage and build a walkway to connect the breakwater to the shore.
In 1962, thirteen enthusiastic boaters gathered to form the Westbank Yacht Club.
Permission was received from the Parks Board to use a small house located in the park directly across the road from the breakwater, for the club house. The members painted the exterior and fixed up the interior a little but the members were not happy with the old house.
On New Years Day in 1965 the M.V. Pendozi sank at the C.N. wharf in Kelowna. It was a clear day, slightly below zero with a strong wind creating waves to wash onto the car deck and turn to ice, weighting the ship lower in the water. The engines had been removed from the engine room but the cooling discharge ports were left open. Water poured in and it quietly sank.
The M.V. Pendozi had been retired in 1958 and sold to the City of Kelowna for one dollar. The old car ferry had been a moorage problem to the City for the past six years. The idea came to Alan McLeod (Past Commodore) that this troublesome vessel would make an ideal clubhouse for the Westbank Yacht Club. Waiting until the Pendozi was raised, Alan McLeod and Clare Small approached Kelowna Mayor Dick Parkinson at the Laurel Packing House. He was told that the Westbank Yacht Club needed a club house and the ferry would solve this problem and the club would pay the city double what they had paid for the ferry – two dollars.
Mayor Parkinson took the offer to council and on February 8, 1965 the city donated the M.V Pendozi to the Westbank Yacht Club. Now to find a place to beach the vessel! It was decided to beach it in front of the old house in the park at the north end of the breakwater. If it was beached there the club wouldn’t get into too much trouble and the ferry would most likely be able to stay there.
A drag line was rented, on a Sunday, from the Kelowna dump. Lorne Dobbin hauled it over and a channel was dredged to bring the Pendozi into shore. Unfortunately the channel was not dredged out far enough and when Mr. Simpson’s boom tug towed the ferry down to Westbank (free) on March 1st, it got hung up on a gravel bar two hundred feet out. The tug could not budge it. One of Lorne’s big bulldozers hooked on a winch but that did not work – it all but broke the cables. The next day, John Brown phoned the C.P.R. in Kelowna and one of their tugs was just leaving to go come south with two barges of freight cars. The skipper said, “No problem” he would drop by and give it a shove. When he arrived, he put one of the barges that he had alongside against the stern of the ferry and gave the tug one shot of power. The ferry came into shore like a dart. For a moment it was thought it was going to come right up on the road but it settled down and that is where it sits today.
Alan McLeod’s brother-in-law, Bill Reid, a naval architect from Vancouver designed the renovations. Many Westbank and area people contributed their skills and labour. Syd Saunders and Bert Longley tackled the restoration of the hull; Jack Maddock built the railings and converted the old boiler room plates into bases for tables in the bar and lounge; Charlie Hoskins did the wiring, and Clare Small re-conditioned the plumbing. Most of those who worked hard on all phases of the renovation were Charter Members. The result of all this loyal effort was the transformation of the old car ferry into a beautiful, smartly nautical clubhouse.
The clubhouse had a large lounge, paneled in mahogany and knotty pine, a similarly decorated boardroom, a roomy open-air dance floor (with a roof), a kitchen complete with fridge, stoves and plenty of counters and cupboards; refreshment bar, washroom facilities and lockers. This was all topped with a sundeck large enough to accommodate 250 people.
All of the alterations necessary to turn the Pendozi into a functional clubhouse were accomplished without losing the original shipboard atmosphere. The project was financed through the sale of $100 ten-year debentures. As the Pendozi neared completion, membership grew to 127 paid-up members, including a few from the coast. In 2010 the club was renamed to the West Kelowna Yacht Club.
The West Kelowna Yacht Club, today, has 250 members and the Pendozi is still lovingly cared for by volunteer members to keep it ship-shape.
The M.V. Pendozi was named after Father Pandosy. Note the spelling mistake when commissioned. Superstition has it that it is unlucky to change the name of a ship.
The West Kelowna Yacht Club’s Club House the M.V. Pendozi was designed in 1938 by Mr. T. Halliday, a naval Architect from Vancouver. It is 122 feet long, with a beam of 41’ 4” and a draft of 6’2”. When used as a ferry it had a capacity of 30 cars and 150 passengers. It had two 160 h.p. Vivian Diesel Engines.
The original cost to build it was $123,000.00 in 1938. It was launched, Thursday, May 8, 1939. The fare for a Passenger was .10 and for a car and driver it was .75. Trucks were $1.00 and up.
The MV Pendozi worked continuously during the war. There was no relief vessel and no possibility of building one, due to the war. Repairs were made at night or while under way using only one engine. There was no ferry slips available for hull inspections. In 1944 plans were drawn up for a slip to be built at a cost of $36,000.00. Work commenced on the slipway in 1944 but was hampered by a shortage of materials.
In addition to its regular schedule, the MV Pendozi made special trips for group organizations, troops, hauling loads of sheep and at 3:27 am December 13, 1944 was even called out for a maternity case.
With the completion of the ferry slip in 1945, the Pendozi was hauled up for hull inspection and despite its winter runs through ice, was found to be in good condition.
With the end of the war and the end of gas rationing, ferry traffic continued to increase and in May 1946, tenders were called for a second vessel similar to the Pendozi except it would have steel bulwarks and superstructure. This vessel was called “Lequime” in honor of an early settler. Both ferries operated during peak traffic times and refitting was accomplished by laying up one vessel during the winter.
Due to ever increasing traffic volume, a third vessel named the “MV Lloyd-Jones” was built in 1950, and all vessels were used during heavy traffic seasons.
The last day of Kelowna – Westbank ferry service (10 minute crossing) occurred on July 20, 1958. All three ferries carried a total of 534,371 vehicles during their last year of service.
All vessels became surplus with the opening of the bridge in 1958 and the MV Pendozi was turned over to the City of Kelowna who later sold it as the Clubhouse for the West Kelowna Yacht Club.
The MV Lequime, was transformed into the Fintry Queen and the MV Lloyd-Jones was bought by BC Ferries in the early 1960’s for the Vesuvius-Crofton run. Since there is no navigable water between the Okanagan Lake and the Ocean, the MV Lloyd-Jones was cut into pieces and transported to the coast by truck. There she was put back together as the Bowen Queen and put into service for BC Ferries.
In 1965 the Bowen Queen was renamed the Vesuvius Queen. During her time with BC Ferries the Vesuvius Queen served on many of the minor routes. She was also used on a variety of routes outside the corporation. In 1990 the Vesuvius Queen along with the Nichola went into emergency service between Horseshoe Bay and Squamish when a rockslide closed down the Sea-to-Sky Highway. In 1996, she was used as a relief vessel on the Albion Ferry (across the Fraser River between Fort Langley and Maple Ridge).
In 1998, the Vesuvius Queen was sold to Agencia Naviera Del Caribe of the Dominican Republic for $85,550.00.
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