Restoring the indomita: A chance to learn

Sitting in the yard at Desperate Marine, it’s clear that the wooden sailing vessel Indomita needs a little paint and elbow grease. 

Wanting to see her restored to her former glory, the Kachemak Bay Wooden Boat Society, or KBWBS, is working hard to make sure she is seaworthy once again.  

When one discovers the meaning of its name, it almost seems like this boat was always meant to be rebuilt. The word “indomita” in Italian means untamed, wild or unbeatable.  

Originally built in the Northwest, the Indomita was gifted to KBWBS by her owner, after he had gutted and stripped much of the vessel but didn’t have the time to finish the project. 

Seeing the opportunity for education and promoting the craft of working on wooden boats, KBWBS jumped at the chance to pick up where the last owner had left off. 

After making its way to Homer just a year ago, restoration of the Indomita began almost immediately.  

The boat itself is a 30-foot, ketch-rigged Baltic Trader. A ketch is a specific type of sailboat that has two masts, one usually smaller than the other, and allows the boat to have three sails up at one time. 

Because of its size and unique rigging plan, there’s a lot of opportunity for education with this vessel, says Jim Lunny, vice president of KBWBS. 

“I think it could be a really good teaching experience for anyone wanting to work on it,” he says.  

Using the Indomita, KBWBS would like to offer classes on woodworking, hull mechanics, rigging and even the art of sailing itself once the boat is in the water. 

“We’re hoping to have it finished soon, and it could be in the water as early as a year,” says Lunny.

John Miles, a member of the wooden boat society for the last 22 years, says there’s a lot of work left to be done that the community can help with.  

“The motor needs to be mounted, there’s still some woodwork that needs to be completed, the mast needs to be stepped of course and it needs to be rigged,” says Miles.

But for both of these men, that’s one of the most exciting things about the wooden boat society: the opportunity for the community to get together. 

“I like to see the community get around something,” says Lunny. “The interactions between kids and grownups, the different ages that are brought around is very valuable.”  

When asked what attracts him to the wooden boat society, Miles laughs and says, “Wooden boats have a long history in Alaska and around the world, but to be honest, I just like the people. They’re committed, enthusiastic, and I like being a part of that.”  

Although there is still much aboard the Indomita that can be done with volunteer labor, KBWBS is also facing funding challenges to keep the boat going.  

“We have to have funds to afford the harbor fees once we get her in the water, and to keep the restoration going,” says Lunny.

He and other members of KBWBS hope the upcoming Kachemak Bay Wooden Boat Festival on Sept. 3-6, as well as an auction fundraiser later this year, will help with some of the restoration’s funding needs. 

Lunny hopes that the Indomita’s admittedly rough appearance encourages others to bring out their wooden boat projects to the festival next weekend.  “I’d like to see a lot of people show up to the festival, and if you’ve got a project you’re working on, even if it’s not beautiful, we’d love to see it.”  

For more information on volunteering with KBWBS or on the Kachemak Bay Wooden Boat Festival, visit their website at Members and volunteers meet weekly on Saturday mornings to work on the Indomita.


Kachemak Bay Wooden Boat Festival 

Sept. 3-6


Sept. 3:

• 3 p.m.: Historic Homer Harbor Walking Tour, cost $10 per adult, kids are free, meet at the kiosk in front of the Salty Dawg

• 7 p.m.: Sea Chanteys and Tall Tales at the Salty Dawg

Sept. 4:

• 6-9 p.m.: Guest speakers John and Andrew Gregg will give a talk on renovating the Western Flyer, a boat John Steinbeck traveled in and wrote about. At Alaska Islands and Oceans Visitor Center. 

Sept. 5:

•10 a.m.-5 p.m.: Wooden Boat Festival at Pier One Theater on the Spit. Includes kids boat building, traditional crafts, blacksmithing and more. Participants are encouraged to bring their own wooden boats.  

• 6-8 p.m.: Dinner, Dance and Auction at Alice’s Champagne Palace. Auction supports the wooden boat society. The dance includes music from the Rogues and Wenches.

Sept. 6:

•10 a.m.-noon: Group paddle on the Kachemak Bay Water Trail led by Dave Brann.

•Noon-5pm: Wooden Boat Festival at Pier One

• Noon-2 p.m.: Rogues and Wenches Sing-aLong