Gambling queen changes her ways

"A riverboat queen will kick her gambling habit in Langley and start a new life as a dignified cruise ship in the coming months.Arriving Wednesday by barge was the stripped-down boat called the Capital Queen. Owned by the Delta Steamboat Co. of New Orleans, the stately vessel immediately dominated the Langley waterfront and even part of the skyline as seen from the hill at Second and Park.The tall, 216-foot boat will remain in Langley throughout the conversion process, said Matt Nichols, president of Freeland-based Nichols Brothers Boat Builders. A crew of about 80 will rebuild the one-time gambling boat into a thoroughly updated cruise ship.When finished, the boat will become an overnight cruise ship destined for the Columbia River tourist trade, said Nichols. When the job was announced earlier this year he estimated the value at $15 million. On Wednesday, he said the boat will be in Langley for about six months.The riverboat wasn’t the only Nichols-supplied attraction on the Langley waterfront this week. Also brought in to the company dock was a former U.S. Navy floating barracks barge that is also destined for a new life.It looks like a small floating hotel, and that’s exactly what it will become. Nichols said the owner is Don Muhoven, an Alaska commercial fishermen who is making his first venture into the tourist industry.The old barracks building, which measures 125 eet long and 36 feet wide, will be refurbished into a self-propelled floating fishing resort. “It’ll have first-class staterooms, dining and lounging rooms,” said Nichols. The boat will also have its own sewage and water plants. The self-contained facility will be based in Ketchikan and be moved from time to time to where salmon and halibut fishing is best. Customers will come in on float planes, stay a few days and then fly out.Nichols said the barracks building will be moved to Freeland where it will take about six months to have it ready for its new life in Alaska. "

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