Captain John's: New owners not yet ready to abandon ship

Captain John's, a floating restaurant that closed years ago and has since sat derelict in Toronto's harbour, has been sold to new owners who want to spare the ship from the scrapyard.

Derelict boat sold for $33,500, but will it be saved or sold for scrap?

Years after its last meal was served, Captain John's restaurant was sold by court order on Thursday. The new owners hope to find a way to save the ship. Failing that, they intend to sell what they can and scrap the rest. (CBC)

Captain John's has a new pair of owners at the helm who must now decide how much of the floating restaurant, if any, can be spared the scrapyard.

On Thursday James Sbrolla and his brother paid $33,500 for the 300-foot long derelict ship, which has been moored in Toronto's harbour for decades but has not operated as a restaurant for years.

Since serving its last dinner, Captain John's has been both a curiosity and an eyesore anchored at the foot of Yonge Street.

The ship was sold Thursday by court order in an attempt to recover back taxes and mortgages that accrued when the owner ran into financial trouble.

The sale requires that the boat be removed within three weeks.

Sbrolla is hoping he can find a business partner willing to take part in some kind of refurbishment of the ship before that deadline. But failing that, he intends to sell off what parts he can and scrap the rest.

Speaking on CBC Radio's Metro Morning Friday, Sbrolla said years of neglect has left Captain John's in anything but ship-shape.

"It looks terrible to be frank," he told guest host David Common. "It was a little weathered back in the 1990s. Today it would be a terrific place to hold a Halloween party, it's pretty scary."

Sbrolla said there's "tremendous value" in the metal on-board, particularly in the steel, copper and brass parts.

But there's also a few signature items — such the ship's lifeboats, anchor and steering wheel —  that could be sold off.

"I'm hoping someone can save the whole thing," he said. "If not, we'll extract the value that we can in terms of nostalgia, the pieces that can be saved, and the rest will go to scrap.

"We have no problem with moving it. It's a matter of how quickly can we make it an investment recovery project. We've got three weeks to figure it out."