Saving Grace

The famous commuter yacht Thunderbird, designed in 1939, isnin danger from a chain saw or likely to be abandoned to rot on a secluded section of Lake Tahoeshoreline. Shemerely in danger of being "lost" to die nonprofit Thunderbird Lodge Preservation Society if  it defaults on the $1.1 million purchase note due at the end of 2012.

George Whittell, die original owner of die well-known lodge, commissioned this 55-foot mahogany yacht to transport his guests, a service still provided for fundraisers and special occasions. Thunderbirds sparkling superstructure, clad in stainless steel, and the intimidating exhaust note of her Allison V-12 aircraft engines have been a part of Lake Tahoescene for about 70 years.

When acclaimed marine artist Robert Webber heard about Thunderbird s predicament, he contacted Bill Watson, chief executive and curator of the society, and offered his talents to the cause. Webber, nationally recognized for his work in connection nationally recognized for his work in connection with vintage and historic boats, has completed a commemorative painting of Thunderbird for use in the societybid to keep the boat under its stewardship. All proceeds from the painting and the reprints will be used in direct support of the yacht. thunderbirdtahoe.org

Adventure in the Arctic

Three men aboard a 31-foot Monsun sailboat are attempting to chart a course into the record books. They hope to traverse a never-attempted route through the Northwest Passage. Their course will take them much farther north up the coast of Greenland, through a maze of deserted islands and ice, and around Alaska onto the West Coast of the United States.

The trio s vessel, Belzebub II, formerly a bruised and beaten boat that suffered from years of neglect, has undergone a complete overhaul worthy of this undertaking. From new decking and electronics to a reworked galley and a steel-reinforced hull, the refit has taken more than 2,000 hours.

The journey will take the crew, which is made up of a Swede, a Canadian and an American, between three and four months to accomplish. belzebub2.com

Boat Builder Happy to Be in Hot Water

When houseboat builder Adam Karpenske couldnfit a hot tub on his houseboat, he decided that lie would build another boat to accommodate it. Hot tub boating was born.

what living on a boat through wet Seattle winters will drive one to create,”Karpenske wrote. The approximately 12-foot boat with a teak deck and standard hot tub built into it is as simple in its design as it was in its conception. But the building process proved to be more difficult than anticipated. With nearly 4,000 pounds of water and a diesel-powered heater, the boat needed to be customized for maximum buoyancy and stability.

The hot tub, er, boat is powered by an inboard engine that is controlled from a joystick either inside the tub or in the cockpit.

Karpenskeshort-term goal is to have four boats on his native Lake Union available for rent this summer. Long term, he hopes to mass-produce his boats and sell them in all major ports across the country, hottubboats.com

Smart Charts

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), along with OceanGrafix, is testing the effectiveness of Quick Response (QR) codes on its nautical charts in the Tampa Bay, Florida, area. A QR code is a two-dimensional bar code that, when scanned by a smartphone, delivers real-time information.

For example, if you are boating in the Tampa Bay area, you can scan the QR code before you leave the dock and you ll receive tide tables, current direction, weather and any other pertinent boating-related information for that area.