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Protesters rally to save sailboat

Newport Beach resident Dennis Holland has until April 30 to relocate The Shawnee, the 72-foot ship that he's restoring on his side yard, which is in violation of a city ordinance.

March 24, 2012|By Jenny Stockdale, Special to the Daily Pilot
  • Dennis Holland supporters, from left, Mitch Toles of Palmdale, George Pepper of Joshua Tree, Megan Doyle of Riverside, and Brant Johnson of Covina, protest by the Balboa Island Ferry on Saturday.
Dennis Holland supporters, from left, Mitch Toles of… (KEVIN CHANG, Daily…)

Dressed in festive pirate regalia, more than a dozen protesters rallied Saturday afternoon below the Ferris wheel at Balboa Fun Zone, supporting the side yard boat restoration project of Newport Beach shipwright Dennis Holland.

Holding pirate flags and picket signs while chanting "Save The Shawnee," the protesters — some coming from hundreds of miles away — attracted the attention of the bustling Saturday crowd, just in front of the ferry to Balboa Island.

Waving signage stating "Don't let mediocre minds destroy a great ship" and "Screwing someone legally is still wrong," the group collectively cited The Shawnee's historical significance as their reason for protesting the ordinance that requires Holland to move the boat off his property.

"It's good to see such support," said Holland as he got off the ferry from Balboa Island to attend the protest. "It gives me energy to keep fighting. It's loaded my musket up."

Holland, who is in remission from prostate cancer and sees the ship restoration as a form of therapy, noted that he doesn't know what will happen after April 30, the date Orange County Superior Judge Gregory Munoz issued a preliminary injunction against him to have the ship removed from his Holiday Road home. After that date, he could incur fines of up to $1,000 daily, or possible jail time. 

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"I'm going to let the city figure that out," Holland said. "The thing is, she really can't be moved. I hope they reconsider all this because I'm going to go down fighting. It's my responsibility to save that boat and take care of it. I've been involved with her since 1953. I've been in love with her since then. That's a pretty long-time romance. I can't just see her get destroyed."

Since 2006, Holland has been restoring this 1916, 72-foot ketch in the side yard of his West Bay home, and estimates that he'll need at least another three years to complete the project. Prior to that, he spent 12 years building from scratch the Pilgrim, a 118-foot 1770 schooner replica that now sails as The Star of Dana Point, though he resided in Costa Mesa at the time.

City officials note that Holland has been in violation of a city ordinance requiring him to obtain a permit and give a completion date for the project since 2009.

Christine Lampe, known in the pirate world as Jamaica Rose, was the protest's organizer and the editor of No Quarter Given, a magazine and clearinghouse for tall ships, pirates and nautical history.

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