Want a Fire Boat? Seattle's Is For Sale, Again

Aug. 23--The fireboat Alki, which has changed hands several times since it left Seattle last fall -- including being seized by a port district for a failure to pay moorage costs -- is once again for sale.

And the current owner says if he can't sell the Alki "as a whole," he may need to scrap the 1927-vintage vessel to recoup his costs.

"I can't afford to just hang on to it," said Craig Mullen, of Bow, Skagit County, who purchased the boat for $10,000 three months ago from the Port of Skagit.

Mullen, who had the boat towed from La Conner to Bellingham, is asking $56,000 for the Alki, which is described on the website alkifireboat.com.

The site invites potential buyers to "Experience for yourself the magic and grandeur of this powerful member of Seattle's fireboat heritage."

The challenge for would-be buyers of the 123-foot fireboat is that the vessel remains an expensive item to maintain and is not easily convertible for other uses.

But the website offers a variety of possible uses to trigger a buyer's imagination: A marine museum, a tour boat with impressive water displays, a unique site for weddings and parties, or a working fishing boat or refueling vessel.

At midday Friday, the website listed a price for the boat of $159,999, but Mullen said that was being dropped to $56,000.

Although the 16-engine Alki was a dependable workhorse of Seattle's floating fire fleet for generations, it took two auctions and $35,000 in prep work before the city was able to sell the boat last September for $25,000 to two La Conner-based businessmen, who envisioned it as a showpiece at community functions.

Ken Gunderson, one of the La Conner buyers, said he and co-owner Ron Rennebohm had started to put it to that use, but also were seeking other buyers.

In December, they sold the boat for about $140,000 to a buyer listed on Port of Skagit records as Scott Keeney, of Venice, Fla.

Gunderson said Keeney talked of plans to have the fireboat travel up and down the West Coast raising money for firefighter-related causes, but that Keeney ran into difficulties.

Carl Molesworth, Port of Skagit community-outreach administrator, said the boat was deemed abandoned, and taken over by the port, after Keeney stopped making moorage payments.

In late May, port commissioners authorized the sale of the boat. They held an auction and after getting no bidders, sold the fireboat to Mullen, who had it towed away.

"Once it cleared the dock, that was the end of it for us," said Molesworth.

Seattle Times news researcher Miyoko Wolf contributed to this report. Jack Broom: 206-464-2222 or jbroom@seattletimes.com.

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