Roatan’s Beauty, Truth & Wisdom

La Ceiba built ‘Pirate Ship’ Black Pearl and Gulf King resting in Oak Ridge.

 Old Ships Come to Rest in oak Ridge

A bit like two old friends tired and defeated and awaiting their fate, they sit quietly and motionless at the far end of Oak Ridge Harbor. They are next to each other, both tilting to their left side as they slowly fade further and further away from their glory days. Far are the days when each could move around with smooth sway and ride the waves with graceful ease, conquering the open sea.

And as nature would have it, time and wear & tear take their toll on all creature and creation, and these two unrelated boats, the Black Pearl and the Gulf King, are no exception.

Built in 2008 solemnly to serve as a tourist ship on the island of Roatan, the 88 feet long by 27 feet wide Black Pearl spent her short-lived heyday as an entertainment venue. She transported tourist around the island of Roatan sharing some of the secrets and fantasies of the island’s history, while delighting her guests with music and dancing all the way from the docks of Fantasy Island to the harbor of West End.

As part of the entertainment, her crew, including the captain, would dress in full pirate attire, bringing to life century-old scenes of pirates battles and pirates schemes. It seems like, as with her predecessors from hundreds of years ago, luck was not on her side.

Some locals believe that the deteriorating ship that has been parked in the same spot for the last three years, could be fixed and used as some type tourist attraction. “She is in bad condition but she is fixable if you could find someone that has the money to invest,” said a local business man. “She would make a great tourist attraction.”

The Gulf King 2, on the other hand, may have had a longer run as a fishing boat, but no history of glory here on the island. Hailing all the way from some port in the USA, he made his way to the island towed by another vessel, but he has never once made a fishing trip in his new and unfamiliar home. Made of aluminum and steel, he must have indeed conquered the deep sea while leaving behind a trail of triumphant conquest. With the absence of details or descriptions of past travel, one can only speculate about the Gulf King 2’s spectacular journeys around the Atlantic Ocean and beyond.

Authorities have not turned a blind eye on the disintegrating vessels that could disintegrate polluting the water and causing damage to passing boats. Jonathan Lainez, Roatan’s port captain, said that he has made a report about the Oak Ridge boats and six others abandoned boats on the island.

“The dive community should get involved and go to the owner. Sponsors could get involved and clean up the boat and sink it at a dive site,” says Shawn Hyde, a Roatan salvage operator with 20 years experience. “We would need SERNA and others to give us permits in order to sink them as a wreck,” says Nick Bach, of Roatan Marine Park.

Devoid of mast, winch and anchor, the essential equipment of a fishing boat, the Gulf King 2 is in a state of slow decay with iron rusts and flaking paint his most noticeable characteristics. After making stops at different shipyards around the island with no apparent solution to his ailment, the King has finally made his longest stop while awaiting his fate. “The fishing boat has a good steel bottom that could be recycled and used on other boats” said Norin Williams a former seaman who works as a taxi dorie captain.

As everyone and everything in the world has a purpose and could be of service to the world, so could the Black Pearl and the Gulf King. The former could possibly be a stationary pirate theme restaurant near the shore of Oak Ridge harbor where she now lays. The Gulf King could be sunk and serve as haven for marine life and a mooring for a dive spot.

“It would be nice if they could be re-purposed somehow. Otherwise, perhaps tow them out to the reef and sink them to make more reefs and a dive spot…, said Robert McNail. “To me, the way they are now, they distract from the quaint beauty of Oak Ridge,” he added.

The two boats that sit quietly in Oak Ridge Harbor, with a little creativity and effort, could play a more appropriate role as part of the landscape of the municipality of Santos Guardiola.