Community volunteers work through the winter to restore abandoned boat in Knik

Published: Feb. 14, 2021 at 7:29 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - “The Nomad,” which has become an iconic landmark in the Knik community, is getting a makeover so it can be remembered and enjoyed for generations to come. The abandoned boat was once owned by Joe Redington Sr., mushing legend and founder of the Iditarod. It’s been sitting, and decaying, near the edge of Knik Arm at mile marker 13 of Knik Goose Bay Road since 1967.

“It’s a part of history, but it will wither away,” said Mike Mahoney. “It will go away, and everybody will say, ‘boy, somebody should have done something with that.’”

So that’s what he’s doing. Mahoney is leading the effort to restore the boat along with community member Jack Shea, and granddaughter of Joe Redington Sr., Lisa Redington. “I would just like to see it here longer. I don’t think it would be the same without it,” said Redington.

Redington says she’s happy to see the community band together to preserve a piece of her family’s history. “My grandparents used it to go to Flathorn and back here,” she said. “They had a homestead in Flathorn, and a homestead here in Knik so they would go back and forth.”

Mahoney says he and a few others are out working on the boat several days a week, relying on donations to make the restoration happen.

“We started out with a little jar at Knik Bar and Grill and it just built from there, and they decided to have a spaghetti feed, and that brought in a lot of money and then they had a silent auction,” said Mahoney, “And then actually the council has given me quite a bit of money too to restore it so that’s a big help. I’d say we’re into it about $4,000 right now, and that’s just all materials. We’re donating all of our time, all our tools and equipment.”

For those who aren’t a fan of the new look... well, it’s not finished yet. Mahoney says the idea isn’t to make it look brand new again. He just wants to keep it around a bit longer, and make it safer for the folks who venture out to the landmark.

“So many people go out there and take pictures and they get on the boat and take graduation pictures, and wedding pictures, and it’s really nice to see that,” said Mahoney. “I’m trying to make it as safe as I can because kids crawl around it all the time.”

The hope is to have it finished and painted by the end of summer. “I’m using pressure treated wood because it gets a lot of weather out here,” said Mahoney. “So every three to four years, we’re going to be coming out here and redoing the deck, and putting a new coat on the deck. Kind of like your deck at home, you know?”

If you’d like to donate to the restoration fund, click here.

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