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Catamaran’s delivery requires labor of love

Sally J. Taylor

A 12-foot-wide baby arrived Wednesday at Tahoe Keys Marina.

Or half a baby, anyway.

The delivery of the first piece of the Woodwind II catamaran was like delivering a child, said owner Steve Dunham.

“It took just about as long and was just about as painful,” he said.

In September, nine months ago, Dunham commissioned Shaw Boats, Inc., of Hoquiam, Wash. to build the catamaran.

Dunham’s mother warned him that it would “take longer than you think, be more painful than you think, but once it’s here, you’ll forget about the pain.”

With only half the baby delivered, the pain and tension still grip Dunham.

The second, 18-foot-wide piece should arrive next week. The “baby” is expected to be whole and sailing before the end of the month, capable of carrying 50 passengers.

The 64-foot mast, measured from the top of the cabin, will arrive from Southern California in a couple days.

Once reassembled, the Woodwind II will be 30 feet wide, 55 feet long, weigh 26,000 pounds and carry 2,000 square feet of sail. According to Dunham, the Woodwind II will be the “the biggest sailboat in the history of Lake Tahoe.”

The Woodwind II will berth in Zephyr Cove and the first Woodwind, a trimaran, will move to Camp Richardson Resort. The older vessel carries 30 passengers and has been sailing from Zephyr Cove for 22 years.

During those two-plus decades of sailing, Dunham considered the characteristics he wanted for a second Lake Tahoe vessel.

“I dreamed of what the next boat should be like,” he said. “More comfortable, and bigger. I thought about what people are going to like (to sail in) on the lake.

“It’s just a lot more boat than the old Woodwind.”

Besides extra room, the Woodwind II has a total of 300 horsepower from twin 150-horsepower turbo-charged diesel engines.

Inside the cabin, which will shelter 30 people, passengers have seven feet of headroom, private booths and two bathrooms. Outside, in the foredeck where catamarans often have netting, passengers can lounge securely on planks. A four-person staff will attend to the vessel and passenger comforts.

Dunham and his first captain, Kevin Sleeman, labored on the vessel’s assembly in Washington for a full month, “seven days a week, 10 hours a day, for four weeks.”

Assembled whole, it reached 16 knots during a trial run. Under sail, it’s expected to travel at 12 to 20 knots.

Although designed in small pieces with the intent of being shipped in pieces, “it was heartbreaking to see it cut in half,” Dunham said.

Reassembly is simply a matter of gluing and reinforcing, he said.

Bringing the piece from Washington took two and a half days and involved permits from the departments of transportation in four states. The first piece needed a permit for height and the second piece requires a permit for width. Liggens trucking company, which transports huge marine parts for the U.S. Navy, orchestrated the move.

Based on traffic flow, Liggens chose to bring the piece into the basin via Luther Pass. It arrived in Meyers around noon before maneuvering through traffic and road construction to the Tahoe Keys, the only marina with the space and equipment to handle the reassembly process.

Once the baby is put back together, it will be appropriately christened before setting sail.


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