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'It's painful to let her go': Someone is selling an old BC Ferries lifeboat

"It's got the strongest hull, it's unsinkable!"

A little piece of B.C.'s maritime history is being sold.

A 2004 lifeboat from the BC Ferries fleet is being sold off. Current owner Michael Rayne bought it a couple of years ago; a guy he knows is contracted by BC Ferries to sell their used things; he believes it was one of the lifeboats on the Queen of Cumberland.

Rayne, who runs the indigenous tourism business Indian Arm Adventures, has been using it to move people around the arm, including campers, cyclists, and large groups.

"I used to take school groups out, families, community groups, things like that," he tells V.I.A., noting he's shut things down for the winter. "It's been a bit of a floating classroom."

Because it only was active during tests of the ferry's systems, it's barely been used (despite some faded paint, which Rayne kept because he liked it).

And it's made to survive. It can hold 60 people and supplies for them for seven days. Its engine can run that entire time (it's not the fastest-moving vessel, but it sips diesel). However, Rayne does note the vessel is a bit loud.

Everything is designed to make the lifeboat safe in case it was needed for its original purpose (Rayne hasn't altered it significantly); even the cloth roof helps catch rain for fresh drinking water.

"It's got the strongest hull, it's unsinkable," Rayne adds.

As it's an unusual sight, Rayne says he's often stopped to talk about the boat, even having people float up while out on Indian Arm to ask questions. 

"People are always asking questions about it, it's a lineup at the dock," he says. "You can't go anywhere without it being recognized."

While it's uncommon, it's not completely unique; three lifeboats were sold at the same time by BC Ferries. And since lifeboats are on ships worldwide, they do show up in different places. A few people have even turned them into liveaboards; one couple in the Gulf Islands is actually converting one of the other lifeboats sold at the same time as Rayne's into a floating home.

He's not excited about selling it, listing it at $10,000, but between the dipping economy, his regular job as a longshoreman, and having to do everything himself, he figures it's a smart move.

"It's painful to let her go," he admits.

That said, Rayne does say that if a business partner (he specifically mentions Seth Rogen) wanted to go in on it, he'd be interested.

"I'd like someone to partner up with me, that would be ideal," he says.

For now, though, it remains docked at Lynnwood Marina with plenty of tire-kickers coming by.

"Everybody has their ideas of what they would do," says Rayne.