Chilkat Valley News - Serving Haines and Klukwan, Alaska since 1966


Restored sloop sails again


June 9, 2011

After more than a decade on land, the 83-year-old sailboat Manu Kai is back in the water.

Terry Jacobson launched the Manu Kai (meaning "sea bird") on June 2 at Letnikof boat launch after a more than 10-year restoration project.

Built in San Diego, Calif. in 1928, it once sailed the waters near Hawaii. Resident Betsy Van Burg bought the boat in 1990 from a man in Ketchikan and sailed it to Haines.

"She was a great boat," Van Burg said.

A Whitehorse man bought the boat from Van Burg, she said, and it sank in the Haines harbor. Eventually that owner hauled it out of the water, plunked it down by the post office and put it up for sale.

Finally, about 10 years ago, Jacobson bought the boat and began restoring it.

The project included restoring most areas of the sloop, including planking on each side, new ribs, and a new stern. The once-sunk engine had to be replaced. But Jacobson kept chipping away at the to-do list.

"I’d tackle a little at a time," he said.

At one point over the years, a snowplow crunched over the top of the mast as it lay on the ground, Jacobson said.

Jacobson’s son and trained boat builder, Joey Jacobson, helped with some of the work. Both men have built and restored boats previously and one of Joey Jacobson’s boats is currently moored in Letnikof Cove.

Terry painted the boat blue, teal and white, similar to the original colors, he said.

On June 2, Terry pulled into Letnikof boat launch, the Manu Kai blocked on an old trailer. Joey Jacobson and Merrick Bochart followed behind, towing the 40-foot mast. Terry backed the trailer down the launch with water nearly reaching over the back tires of his Ford F250.

It took Terry and Joey’s combined efforts to get the trailer to release and move the boat off the blocks. Terry’s wife, Judy Jacobson, hopped aboard and poured champagne over the bow to celebrate.

"Launched," Terry calmly proclaimed when the Manu Kai eased into the water.

"The Manu Kai is floating again," Joe said.