Disillusioned Makah suing Kalakala owner
The fate of the historic art-deco ferry Kalakala -- seemingly cursed by years of misuse, neglect and restoration plans gone awry -- has taken yet another perilous turn.
The owner of the Kalakala,
Steve Rodrigues, is being sued by the Makah Indian
Tribe, which has played host to the boat since it was towed from
When the ferry arrived at
But the jobs never materialized; the boat at one point careened into a Makah dock, allegedly causing several thousand dollars in damage; and after a stint anchored in state waters, Rodrigues had the ferry again tied to a tribal dock -- illegally, the Makah say.
"It is there without the tribe's consent or
permission," says Makah attorney Frank Jozwiak of
The Makah lawsuit, filed Monday in Clallam County Superior Court, contends that Rodrigues, Kalakala Alliance Foundation and Rodrigues Enterprises LLC, doing business as Lost Horizons, "knowingly and willfully trespassed on the tribe's property, despite the tribe's repeated demands that the vessel M/V Kalakala be removed."
The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages.
Rodrigues responds that "they invited us there and then they gave us unsafe moorage." He adds that the boat is now tied to the dock with one cable, but from an anchored position in state waters where it's less likely to cause the dock damage.
"We're just as unhappy with the tribe as the tribe is with us," says Rodrigues, who is working on a formal response to the lawsuit.
Rodrigues says he's also just as eager to move the boat as the tribe is.
Ultimately, Rodrigues says, after the Kalakala is repaired, it will be moved to its final home port in Port Angeles, where he wants to convert the boat into a multipurpose attraction, including a museum, conference and banquet hall, and restaurant.
And he says he has a plan to get there from his current state -- being sued, with nowhere to go.
After he receives Coast Guard approval, he says, he
plans to move the ferry to the Martinac Shipyard on
the Thea Foss Waterway in
He says he's raised most of the near-$300,000
necessary to get the boat to
Next, Rodrigues says he
hopes to have further work done on the boat on waters controlled by the
An official with the Coast Guard's Marine Safety
Office said late last month that he had been in preliminary discussions with Rodrigues about moving the Kalakala
Meanwhile, Rodrigues also has placed on eBay the rights to any potential books, documentaries or feature films stemming from the story of the boat. The auction will run through the weekend.
Rodrigues dreams of parlaying the profits -- of a half-million dollars or more -- into a loan of about $7 million to complete the final plans for the project.
As of this morning, the high bid was $3,050, a far cry from Rodrigues' asking price of $500,000.
But he maintains hope for just "one eBay bidder, a successful philanthropic/investor," as he phrased it in a news release issued late yesterday, to come to the rescue.
"Hopefully, if that happens, we'll be on our way," says Rodrigues, who bought the Kalakala at a federal bankruptcy auction in October for $136,560.
The 276-foot Kalakala was
built in the mid-1930s. For years, it was a
The ferry last carried passengers around regional
waterways in 1967. It was then hauled up to
Local sculptor Peter Bevis led an effort to bring the Kalakala back to
Rodrigues isn't the only one pulling for a happy ending to the Kalakala saga.
Joe Martinac, owner of the
"I remember seeing the Kalakala
as a little kid. Really, you heard it before you saw it," says Martinac, 52, recalling times spent at a friend's house in
"To me, it's a neat old vessel, and it deserves a little more dignity than it's been given recently."
P-I reporter Sam Skolnik can be reached at 206-448-8176 or firstname.lastname@example.org This report includes information from The Associated Press.
© 1998-2004 Seattle Post-Intelligencer