Gypsy Rose, the pirate ship that hosted parties and sailed for years in Captain Ron's Bar & Grill's cove on Lake of the Ozarks, went on an unplanned trip to Davy Jones' Locker last fall.

The iconic boat was moored at Captain Ron's docks when the Lake of the Ozarks endured a massive downpour, on Oct. 10. Areas of the Lake received high winds and five or more inches of rain in just over 24 hours. The deluge was too much for the boat, according to Tim McNitt of Atlantis Dive & Dock Salvage, who helped recover Gypsy Rose on Monday, Oct. 14.

Atlantis, along with Lake Tow, utilized massive airbags to lift the boat, but the job—as is sometimes the case with raising huge, sunken boats—got a little dicey.

“It was leaning pretty hard,” McNitt said. “I was kinda worried about it rolling over.” But the recovery crew’s combined skill brought the boat back above the waterline once again.

The vessel is a total loss: it'll never sail again, said Ron Duggan, owner of Captain Ron’s Bar & Grill at the 34 Mile Marker. However, Gypsy Rose will get a new lease on life as a landlubber: the boat will be brought ashore, crews will swab the decks and then renovate the boat, transforming it into a beachfront playground.


A Voyaging History

Before it set sail on Lake of the Ozarks, Gypsy Rose gave tours on the Mighty Mississippi River, Port St. Louis. The boat's Captain Tim Woodson noticed a boy on one of the tours kept calling him "Captain Ron," so he finally inquired about this apparently popular captain down on Lake of the Ozarks.

Meanwhile, "Captain Ron" Duggan had been wanting a pirate ship. “We flew to Panama Beach to check out one down there,” he told LakeExpo in 2011. But the issue was transport. The dream ships were all too fat to haul through the highway corridors from Florida, Texas and the South, up to the Ozarks. That prompted Ron to draft plans with a local boat builder for an 80-foot pirate ship to be built at the Lake. But before she could be built, the economy turned south and the project ran aground.

A commercial artist and Coast Guard Captain, Tim Woodson had built Gypsy Rose because, as he told LakeTV in 2011, “I wanted to build something really unique… so I decided to build a pirate ship. We started from scratch, found an old Carver… met Barnacle Bill, he’s a retired pattern maker, and his brother Jimmy, a retired carpenter… so all three of us, and my wench Martha, who lets me call her that when we’re in our pirate outfits … we all put it together. It took us about 11 months and it was just a great labor of love.”

Gypsy Rose’s popularity on the Mississippi had given Captain Tim reason to build another, larger vessel, so he called Ron.

“At first I thought he wanted to rent a slip and sell tours… I feel bad I put him off at first,” Duggan recalled. But Tim was persistent, and he drove to the Lake to meet Ron. “We sat at the table, and he laid out all these pictures of the ship,” Duggan recalled. “I asked, ‘So, what do you want?’ He said, ‘to sell her to you.’”

Duggan's eyes lit up.

And thus Gypsy Rose came to Captain Ron's to spend its final decade. The boat hosted kids and adults for nine summers beginning in 2011, with actors in pirate garb and accents, and gunwale-mounted “cannons” that could be fired and made enough of an explosion (sans cannonball, of course) to leave children with magical memories. It even featured in a(n admittedly ridiculous) dramatic yarn about the founding of Captain Ron's and the Shootout.

This summer, kids will still get to enjoy Gypsy Rose—in fact, perhaps more than ever—as the transformed playground perches upon the sandy beaches of Captain Ron's.


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