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Really big deal as new Knight Inlet lodge arrives in Campbell River tonight

A double rainbow forms over the tow carrying the new Knight Inlet Lodge from Nootka Sound. It arrives tonight in the city and will tie up at the mill dock. - Al Hansen/Special to the Mirror
A double rainbow forms over the tow carrying the new Knight Inlet Lodge from Nootka Sound. It arrives tonight in the city and will tie up at the mill dock.
— image credit: Al Hansen/Special to the Mirror

Remember the lotto ad: “Big, big, big, big, big, big, big?”

Well this is bigger.

Sometime late tonight, the 460-foot-long, 131-foot wide, semi-submersible dry dock Faithful Servant will be towed into Campbell River, carrying the new Knight Inlet Lodge.

“It’s pretty cool. It’s something to see,” says Dean Wyatt, a Saratoga Beach resident and the owner of the world-renowned lodge which specializes in grizzly bear watching tours.

In the early morning hours of Sept. 25, 2012, the old lodge burned at Glendale Cove, located 80 kilometres north of Campbell River. No one was hurt, and rather than mourn, lodge staff acted quickly to accommodate guests.

Tents, portable toilets and a portable commercial kitchen were brought in by choppers and planes that same afternoon. The next day new guests arrived and not a single person backed out.

“It’s always surprising what you can do…everyone was amazing,” says Wyatt.

That was good enough as a temporary measure, but not good enough for Wyatt. When the season was over, he and the other owner, his wife Kathy, went looking for a new lodge.

And they found one on the other side of Vancouver Island. The relatively new floating Hoiss Point Lodge in Nootka Sound was for sale and was bigger than the old Knight Inlet Lodge with 20 guest rooms, 20 staff rooms, dining room, activity room and two owner/manager bedrooms.

Price wasn’t the problem, getting it to Knight Inlet was the issue. And then Wyatt found out about the Faithful Servant, based at the Fairhaven Shipyard in Bellingham, Washington.

After a lot of waiting, the submersible dry dock arrived in Nootka Sound last Friday, towed by the 144-foot tug Sea Commander. The lodge was loaded the next day and then the tow proceeded south.

“It’s plugging along nicely at four-and-a-half knots,” says Wyatt.

As of Thursday morning, the tow was just heading past Victoria and is expected to arrive in Campbell River sometime tonight. It will then tie up at the Catalyst mill dock where the vinyl siding will be replaced with boards and the interior will get a full makeover.

“It looks too commercial. We’re going to give it the lodge look,” says Wyatt, who’s feeling a little anxious during the tow operation. “I’ll feel a lot better when it’s floating at the mill and then when we get it to Knight Inlet.”

The Wyatts plan to open the lodge for their 16th season on March 24. To follow the tow online, visit www.marinetraffic.com and type in the name of the tug Sea Commander. Learn more about Knight Inlet Lodge at www.grizzlytours.com

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