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California: Storms sink Big Bear Pirate Ship


Last weekend's snow and heavy rains ravaged Big Bear’s iconic Pirate Ship, which sank Friday night in heavy winds.

The popular tourist attraction, a one-third scale replica of a 16th century Spanish galleon, had been docked at Holloway’s Marina. Owner Loren Hafen said the fully winterized vessel was last inspected about 4 p.m. Friday, and a marina employee discovered it submerged at 8 a.m. Saturday.

Using scuba gear, Hafen inspected the hull Monday and found no holes or significant structural damage. He said damage beneath the waterline would’ve made pulling the boat out of the water for repairs far more challenging,

“The hull’s intact,” Hafen said Tuesday. “It was a real relief.

“My guess is that the batteries died and the bilge pump failed. We won’t really know till we pull it out,” Hafen said.

The attraction is a familiar sight to Big Bear visitors. Summer cruises on Big Bear Lake feature cocktails during 90-minute narrated tours ($19 for adults, $12 for children). It can also be chartered for parties.

Hafen said the vessel dates to 1968 and was a backyard project by a father and son in San Diego. After a stint as a tour boat in Newport Beach, it was brought to Big Bear. Hafen said he has owned it since 1998 and had not had a serious maintenance issue before this.

The owner is now searching for air bladders used to raise boats in these situations. Floating it could come as soon as Saturday, he said, but could take another week beyond that. He plans to have it repaired and refurbished by summer.

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