The M. V. Lotus motor yacht has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1987. It is now maintained by the Motor Vessel Lotus Foundation and is moored on Lake Union at the historic dock of the Center for Wooden Boats in Seattle.

You can still see it 2 or 3 times a year, crisscrossing Puget Sound, the waters of British Columbia or southeastern Alaska. The Lotus has a unique design.

Built in Seattle and launched in May 1909, it was at the time the largest private motor yacht on the west coast of the United States. The yacht could accommodate 10 people and a crew of four, with enough fuel to travel 1,500 miles.

Until 1940, the boat was owned by lawyer and businessman Maurice McMicken. He used the yacht to navigate the waters of Washington, British Columbia and southeastern Alaska. Immobilized for lack of fuel during World War II, Lotus was bought in 1951 by a family who moored the yacht on Lake Union and made it their main residence.

The boat was sold in 1961 to US Air Force officer Curtis Gruye, who restored it and operated it for the first time as a floating hotel.

Gruye sold the yacht to Gordon R. Newell in 1977 but bought in back again in 1982 and did an extensive restoration to make it operable. Lotus is now maintained by the Motor Vessel Lotus Foundation.

What can we see today?

Lotus is at the base of MOHAI (Museum of History and Industry) and is open for public tours. The entrance is a small, cozy lounge area. You can walk through a few cabins converted into hotel rooms on the main level and go upstairs and walk on the bridge.

Some interesting facts:

  • As of 1909, Lotus was powered with a “Globe” gas distillate (early diesel) engine that was state-of-the-art technology for its time.
  • The boat had one of the first telephones, and it had electricity before many Seattle homes.

The boat still travels in Puget Sound. It passes through the Ballard Locks that were built at the same time as the Lotus. –The boat goes through the locks specifically to clean its hull because passing from salt water to fresh water kills parasites. Lotus participates in many events of the city (July 4th Fireworks, Wooden Boat Festival), and still goes to Port Townsend.

You’re welcome to visit the Lotus for one night, for a reception or a tea party, and other events. The volunteers who maintain the boat will greet you and guide you on board.