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Beloved ‘Carrabella’ to return to port

Seven years after it burned down on Mother’s Day, the Carrabella “pirate ship” on the grounds of the Crooked River Lighthouse is coming back to life as a multi-purpose amphitheater.

Steve Allen, president of the Carrabelle Lighthouse Association, unveiled plans for the project to Carrabelle city commissioners Feb. 3.

He outlined how the 72-foot long Carrabella, under the leadership of city managers John McInnis and Courtney Dempsey, was bought and installed for $150,000 in 2007. It burned down in 2015 and ever since, a movement has been in action to resurrect the popular attraction.

“Kids brought in their piggy banks after it burned down and dumped them on our counter to start the fund,” he said. 

These piggy bank pennies have been supplemented with a $34,000 insurance settlement, more than $20,000 in individual donations, $5,000 in fund from the Tourist Development Council and thousands more from plays and assorted fundraisers, so that now there is enough to recreate the ship, entirely from pressure-treated wood, with the generous help of local artisans and craftsmen, Allen said.

“We’re going to be able to do an amphitheater, and replacement with a new playground is in the scope of that money,” he said.

Allen, trained as an architect, outlined in detail the phases of the project to put in a 42-foot Carrabella, complete with two 40-foot mast poles as the central axis and a 10-foot wide base, installed at 12.5 feet above sea level, the same height as the boarding dock abutting the lowest tier of the outdoor theater.

Docks4Less, G&S Concrete and Three Rivers Land Development are among those helping with site prep, to be followed by the construction and installation of the replacement ship.

“Slides, climbing nets and ship features including the helm, rigging, bowsprit, armaments, and portholes will be added to create a one?of?a?kind experience for visitors to the venue,” Allen said.

He said work will begin soon and he would like to see the project completed by this summer.

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