Nelson pirate ship gets second chance

Nelson's now-famous sunken pirate ship was righted on Tuesday afternoon.

Captain Gary Ramsbottom threw his arms up in victory just before 3 p.m. when the crew he was working with successfully pumped water out of the hull and set the replica vessel right.

Ramsbottom was relieved to see the vessel he calls Obsidian, after the black volcanic rock, floating again.

“It’s a huge weight off my shoulders; I’m just real happy,” he said. “When you have a boat like this, you want to see it dancing on the waves, not sitting on the bottom of the lake.”

The 22-foot vessel ran into trouble on January 26 and began taking on water, eventually leaning to one side. A week ago Ramsbottom had hoped, with the help of local boaters, he’d be able to pivot the ship upright and pump enough water out to float it to the nearby marina by the Nelson Prestige. But there was more water than expected in ship’s hull.

On Tuesday he made a second rescue attempt with the assistance of local barge owner Clay Jones. Ramsbottom and the crew on the barge tied ropes around the ship and with the help of the barge’s crane, set the ship straight. They then pumped the water out of the hull and brought it to the marina. The whole operation took just over two hours.

Since getting the boat above water, Ramsbottom has replaced a broken bilge pump, which he expects was the reason the vessel went down. The pump should have turned on to push water out of the hull when the water level got too high.

“I’ve got that fixed, that was the easy part,” he said, noting he still has to repair water damage inside the boat. He wasn’t sure how long it would take him to get it back to its post on Kootenay Lake, near the Chahko Mika Mall parking lot.

A few folks have offered to launch fundraisers to help Ramsbottom with the cost of fixing the boat, though nothing has been confirmed.

Ramsbottom, a filmmaker, built the model pirate ship with the idea of using it as a film prop, but that never came to be. Instead it’s been moored in Kootenay Lake since 2010 and has become something of a local landmark.

When the ship went down, news spread like wildfire over social media and Ramsbottom received many calls from people offering to help him with a rescue mission.

“I want to thank everyone for their support,” Ramsbottom said. “I’m used to just doing things myself, so I was amazed how willing people were to chip in and help. I really felt the love this community has for that little pirate ship.”

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