Gilligan's SS Minnow to offer 3-hour Vancouver Island tours

Gilligan's Island fans looking for a slice of TV nostalgia might want to get stranded on Vancouver Island, where they'll soon be able to take a three-hour tour on one of the boats featured in the iconic series.

Gilligan's Island fans looking for a slice of TV nostalgia might want to get stranded on Vancouver Island, where they'll soon be able to take a three-hour tour on one of the boats featured in the iconic series.

"We're just trying to find a skipper and a helper," laughs Ken Schley, co-owner of the restored SS Minnow.

He and partner John Briuolo bought one of four boats used in the show two years ago for $100,000.

Schley said the boat is the one seen leaving the harbour in the show's opening sequence just before, according to the theme song, "the weather started getting rough."

It even has an old life preserver with SS Minnow emblazoned across it, as featured in the closing credits.

According to the Gilligan's theme song, "The tiny ship was tossed. If not for the courage of the fearless crew, the Minnow would be lost."

And much the same could be said the B.C. pair who rescued the 46-year-old Wheeler Express Cruiser.

Former owner unaware of boat's Hollywood history

The 11-metre vessel was almost lost — but not on a South Pacific beach surrounded by palm trees, a millionaire and a professor making radios out of coconuts.

Rather, it was in Parksville, B.C., where former owner Scotty Taylor had kept it since restoring the boat after it ran aground on a reef in northern B.C.'s Hecate Strait.

Its previous owner was taking the boat down the coast from Alaska when the mishap occurred in the stormy waters between the Queen Charlotte Islands and the B.C. mainland.

It was sold to Taylor with the promise he restore the boat. Schley said Taylor had the boat moored next to his own vessel for years and Schley had his eye on it.

"I knew it was The Minnow. Everybody in the marina knew it was The Minnow but it didn't get any fanfare," he said.

Unlike Schley, Taylor didn't know the boat's history when he bought it. He found out afterward, when the previous owner told him to look for the numbered Wheeler plaque above the door.

"He just liked the boat, he wanted to restore it, it was a nice looking boat, a wooden boat, a classic and he likes classic boats," Schultz.

Now, more restoration work has been done.

"I had a professional boat craftsman do it," Schley said. "It was definitely aged. There was a lot of wood rot.

"If we wanted to do tours or anything fun with it, it wouldn't have met any of the Coast Guard standards," he said. "We took the boat right down to the gunwales."

Restored from stem to stern

Mike Kent is that professional boat craftsman.

"We have gone through the boat from stem to stern and done everything that is necessary. The boat's had a rough life, so there was a lot of deterioration."

A photo of the show's cast hangs above the galley table.

Schley recently gave Gilligan's Island fan Todd Krainer a tour. The show had long finished production when Krainer was born, but he's still a fan.

"It's amazing," he said. "It's in way better condition than I ever thought it could be. It's just stunning actually the work they have put into this thing.

Schley and Briuolo spent about $200,000 on the restoration.

"It has definitely been a labour of love," Schley said.

But he says the partners are now taking the boat to special events for fundraisers and will start tours soon.

The series, which featured the hapless Gilligan stranded on an island with Skipper, the Millionaire and his Wife, the Professor, Ginger and Mary Ann, stopped production in 1967.