mckinley boat, 6/26/12

The Matthew McKinley, an entertainment boat docked in Whispering Bay, is undergoing a renovation to be ready for Suisun City's Fourth of July festival. (Brad Zweerink/Daily Republic)

Suisun City

Matthew McKinley gets new lease on life in Suisun City

By From page A3 | June 27, 2012

SUISUN CITY — Tucked away next to a dock in Whispering Bay, the entertainment boat Matthew McKinley is getting a new lease on life.

Suisun City residents will be able to see what could be the city’s next resident entertainment boat Monday when it ties up to the downtown waterfront.

Vacaville’s Gary Stone, who owns the Matthew McKinley, and a crew of friends, family members, volunteers and contractors have spent the last three weeks completely renovating the vessel: putting in new forward stairways, replacing the electrical system and refurbishing its interior.

Half the vessel’s wooden roof, which was ripped off by the wind in December 2009, has been completely replaced and more strongly anchored to the deck.

Stone, who bought an island in the Suisun Slough that he is turning into a youth camp, acquired the Matthew McKinley two years ago. When Community Services Director Mick Jessop asked Stone a month ago if the Matthew McKinley could be part of this year’s Fourth of July fireworks festival, Stone ramped up his work to renovate the vessel.

“We are under the gun,” Stone said Tuesday while workers prepared to caulk and paint the Matthew McKinley.

He expects the vessel to be ready on time, thanks to the work crew.

The Matthew McKinley will be tied up to the public dock during the Fourth of July festival as a place to watch fireworks for friends and people who have helped fix up the vessel and create the Stone Cove Youth Camp.

After the Fourth of July, Stone and Suisun City officials will sit down to work out an agreement that could make the Matthew McKinley the sixth entertainment boat to call the Suisun waterfront its home. The Matthew McKinley is making its appearance three months after the small River Otter Water Taxi called it quits.

The vessel will be leased to the Stone Cove Youth Camp and part of its time will be spent serving as a classroom and gathering place for the campground.

Stone purchased the small, 5.4-acre tidal island in 2009, cleaned out a collection of refuse and derelict vessels, fixed up the dock and improved the island so that it could become home to a private, nonprofit youth camp. Stone said he expects the camp to be ready for its first youth groups later this summer.

The Matthew McKinley was brought to Suisun City in 2008 by Northbay Charters, the owners of the 100-foot-long Lady of Suisun, which only stayed a year before weighing anchor and departing for Oakland. After the Lady of Suisun left, the Matthew McKinley was parked in Whispering Bay, where Stone found her.

For more information about the Stone Cove Youth Camp, go to http://www.stonecoveyouthcamp.org.

Reach Ian Thompson at 427-6976 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ithompsondr.

Ian Thompson

Ian Thompson

Ian Thompson has worked for the Daily Republic longer than he cares to remember. A native of Oregon and a graduate of the University of Oregon, he pines for the motherland still. He covers Vacaville and Travis Air Force Base for the Daily Republic. He is an avid military history buff, wargamer and loves the great outdoors.

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