The Old Spirit of Sacramento

Sitting in what may be it’s final resting place,  the [Old] Spirit of Sacramento still attracts anyone driving down the Garden Hwy in Sacramento.  Believe it or not, this boat is on land. I visited in February, when the entire bay area and beyond was almost drowned in floods.

Originally named the Putah, (Eek! Haha.) this boat was built in 1942 by Berkeley Steel Construction Company.  It was put to work by the Army Corps of Engineers as a snag boat.  A snag boat would remove anything on the bottom of the river so other vessels wouldn’t get “snagged”.

*Not to confuse this boat with the Spirit of Sacramento;  I had to to dig up MANY articles to get this figured out, as both have had the same name, both are paddle boats, and both have sunk and/or capsized in the Sacramento Delta.  They look different, but because of the same name, they get confused easily.

In 1950, the [Old] Spirit of Sacramento was purchased by John Wayne (Yes, the original badass) for the film Blood Alley, co-starring Lauren Bacall.  After the film’s completion, it was sold to a businessman who renamed it the Mansion Belle and used it for river cruises until the 1960’s.

In 1991, Channel Star Excursions bought and renamed it The Spirit of Sacramento.  It was used as a dinner theatre boat until a fire destroyed the majority of the ship.  A Captain William (Bill) Barker bought what was left of the ship in 1996 for $120k and renamed it The Duke.  The Captain’s plan was to restore it and use it for dinner cruises.

Enter permitting problems and vandals.  Every time the Captain would get to about 90% completion, vandals would steal wiring,  break windows and spray paint the walls.  After a half a million dollars of work being put in and repeated vandalism, the ship sank in its place.

(Fun fact: Google earth shows its original location as Little Pocket, Sacramento on River Rd. This is where it sank. It has since been moved.)

Once it sank, nearby residents became increasingly worried that if it somehow got loose and moved downstream, it would wreck other boats.  The Captain then moved it to a private marina, where it is currently moored.


The Captain was working with the marina to re-vamp the boat and use it as a floating restaurant.  Unfortunately, the owner of the marina passed before an agreement could be made.

Until somewhat recently, the boat was afloat in the marina.  Somehow, the boat made its way up onto the land. By the looks of it, this area floods easily during the winter–it may have moved during a flood and when the water returned to its usual level, it left the boat, grounded.


Since the boat has been grounded, The Captain has nothing to worry about, it seems.  He was more concerned about periodic sinking while it was moored in the river.  So, until he decides on a game plan, the [Old] Spirit of Sacramento will remain in its place, among the grass on the shore of the Sacramento River, where it used to roam.

Please note: This is on private property. Please be respectful. If you choose to find this place, you’ll be amazed. The pictures cannot even begin to give you a sense of how enormous this boat is. It’s a beautiful dream that I hope the Captain can accomplish.



I found this boat by accident while obsessing over finding local derelict boats on Flickr.  I saw this and prayed it was still there. The only problem was finding where “there” was.  Thanks to my other obsession, Google Earth, I prowled around the city of Rodeo until I found it!

The Polaris is a 69-foot tugboat that ran aground at Lone Tree Point near Rodeo in April 2013.  The US Coast Guard responded to the accident; however, the owner declined any assistance.  Later, the Marine Officer issued formal notice to remove the boat, but the owner did not comply.  Negotiation between the original owner, subsequent owners, the district and the Coast Guard started but an agreement could not be reached.

An attempt at repairing the vessel was made, but turned out to be a failure.  Finally, the vessel was cleared of its fuel and any potential dangers to the water and moved to a cove in Rodeo, CA.  Contra Costa Sherriff’s Marine Patrol has moved to have the abandoned vessel removed, as it is considered a public nuisance.

*The above info was found on some meeting notes from the CA state Lands Commission

The Polaris can be found from two vantage points. One is in a derelict marina off Pacific Avenue.  I wouldn’t say it’s abandoned, as there are quite a few creepy people living on the premises. Knowing this, I would not go alone. And again, luckily, my fiance saw someone and started talking to him about the boat we were in search of.  He told us to “go on in!”. We talked through the marina finding all kinds of boats, cars and junk. Almost at the end of the walkway I saw it! Boom! Like it popped out and bit me. It was so much bigger than I had imagined.

The second, is if you go back out on to Pacific Ave, you can see a pathway leading out toward the water. Follow this and it will take you to the other side of the vessel.  On this side, you have access to what used to be a docking area, though the dock is in various stages of decay and had been burned in some areas. I would not wander on to the dock. But you can walk out on the rocks and go pretty far out when the tide is low.

Please note: Along this path it is clear that there are some homeless who have taken up shelter. Just avoid those areas and I’m sure you’ll be fine.

I do not know the current status of the process to remove this “nuisance” but my guess is it might be sooner rather than later. Happy exploring!Polaris 2




The Point Reyes Shipwreck

My first adventure! The history on this little gem is quite hazy; most say it’s a mystery how this boat came to this spot in Inverness, CA.  According to another story, they say that when the boat ran aground, the owner abandoned ship (pun intended).  As time passed, the land was sold and the new owners didn’t want to remove it, fearing they’d upset the local photographers.  Not to mention, this is a tiny, tiny town.  If you sneeze when you’re driving through, you’ll miss it.  I have no doubt that the owners knew it would create a draw for tourism.

Depending on the time of year you choose to visit, you may or may not be able to make it all the way out to the boat.  There was only a small stream to cross when I went in January 2015.  I’d say bring a pair of rain boots or shoes you don’t mind getting muddy or ruined.  If you don’t need them, then great!

One last thing: I returned to this boat a few hours later, after exploring the Point Reyes seashore, only to find a group of hooligans walking toward the boat with beer-in-hand.  I was absolutely livid because I KNEW what they were up to.  Sure enough, all three of them hopped onto the decaying boat and cracked open their beers.  This boat has clearly been here for quite some time, being exposed to the elements, graffiti artists and looters.  I do not think it wise to hop on for a ride.  Something this beautiful is meant to be observed and respected.

How to find it: It’s off Sir Francis Drake Blvd. in Inverness.  You can’t miss it from the road. There is a small dirt parking lot behind the local grocer where you can park.  Additionally, if you look up “Point Reyes Shipwreck” in Google Earth, you’ll get a great visual of where you’l be heading. Enjoy!