Inspiration struck Tim Rothwell on a summer day. While relaxing next to his pool at his Citrus Heights home, he realized: This would be the perfect spot for a pirate ship.
So, he built one – or at least one side of the boat, docked alongside its own kidney-shaped harbor. And Rothwell knows where every kid on the cul de sac will be this Halloween – taking a peek at his private pirate galleon.
“I’m all set,” Rothwell said. “I’ve got lights strung everywhere. It looks particularly magical at night. It’s really kind of romantic.”
Some DIYers limit their fantasies to Halloween decorating. Not Rothwell. His boat will “float” year round.
“Who doesn’t want to be a pirate when they’re growing up?” he asked with a big grin. “This is every kid’s fantasy.”
Of course, he’s quick to point to his inspiration: not Johnny Depp, but Pittsburgh.
“I’m a swashbuckling Pittsburgh Pirates fan,” he said as he surveyed his backyard boat. “We may not be in the World Series, but I have my ship. I’d bet there’s not a Pirates fan in Pittsburgh that has one of these in their yard.
“If I was a fan of some other team, I might have done something else,” he added. “If I was a (St. Louis) Cardinals fan, I could have built a big bird. But I’m a Pirates guy.”
Rothwell, 55, built the 10-foot-tall ship from scrap. A roofer by trade, he also does fencing and other carpentry. Most of the 28-foot-long hull came from discarded redwood fence boards and other miscellaneous lumber. The rest? Improvisation.
Big tubes that once held roofing paper became cannons that spew water. Dog pull-toys (from a dollar store) form rope rigging. Black iron hardware, made to give gates a vintage country look, instead add age to this timeless watercraft.
“I spent less than $200 on the whole thing,” Rothwell said. “All it took was a lot of imagination.”
When neighbors heard about the pirate project, they pitched in.
“I got these big ropes from the lady across the street,” Rothwell said of dock-worthy mooring lines. “They were used on the ranch of her father, L.J. Garcia. They were used to hoist bales of hay (into a loft), but they look like they were made for this ship.”
His personal schooner now comes complete with gang plank (over the pool) and kegs of “rum” (actually, they once held whiskey).
But what really catches second looks is the life-size great white shark head that crashes out of the hull. (Rothwell found the “Jaws” lookalike in a movie memorabilia catalog.) Mr. Sharky is surrounded by a mosaic of fish in all shapes, sizes and materials.
“I shopped everywhere I could find bargains,” Rothwell said. “If it was shaped like a fish, I bought it.”
Rothwell’s pirate ship sees its first Halloween sailing Thursday, and this captain has it all planned. His trick-or-treaters will remember his watery display.
“I like to be different,” he said. “I like to make people smile. I like to blow people away – in a good way. Most of all, this is about having fun.”
Call The Bee’s Debbie Arrington, (916) 321-1075. Follow her on Twitter @debarrington.