New Brunswick

Otters in St. John River causing pirate-themed boat in Fredericton to sink

Dwayne Craig's homemade pirate ship, the Captain Kidd, sits on a homemade mooring in the St. John River in Fredericton. There were no problems until otters discovered it.

'I got to give them their 2 weeks notice is all there is to it," says Dwayne Craig

Dwayne Craig and Buddy aboard the Captain Kidd. (Lauren Bird CBC)

Dwayne Craig's homemade pirate ship, the Captain Kidd, sits on a homemade mooring in the St. John River in Fredericton. 

It's been there for two months, near Carleton Park. It's a small pontoon boat with a cabin Craig built himself. 

Despite the tattered pirate flag on the roof, Craig said he hasn't had any trouble leaving the boat there all summer. 

But a group of otters recently discovered what the Captain Kidd has to offer.

"I actually stared one down face to face," said Craig. "Me and my trusty dog, Buddy, have been sleeping out there at night and we've seen them coming and going and splashing."

The otters have made a nest under the boat. Though Craig said he doesn't mind them being there, they've packed the space between the pontoons and the deck so tight with shells and seaweed — about 200 pounds worth — it's starting to sink.

The Captain Kidd is moored in the St. John River, near Carleton Park in Fredericton. (Jon Collicott CBC)

"They dive and then they come up under and over onto the centre pontoon, which is like a full 20-feet long. I think they got a lot of stuff under there by the looks of things."

From the river bank, the back end of the boat looks like it's dipping into the water. The stern feels lower than the bow for those on board.

"There's a lot of weight that they're packing in there … I got to give them their two weeks notice is all there is to it."

Craig said he cleaned the shells and seaweed out of the space but within two days it was packed full again. 

Dwayne Craig and Buddy on the banks of the St. John River with the Captain Kidd in the background. (Jon Collicott CBC)

"They've been busy," he said. "They're like beavers or something, the same type of idea. And the stuff you pull out of there, it's like a mat. It's stuff like that they get right off the bottom of the river, like clamshells, moss growing in it and sticks and seaweed."

Craig, a licensed cabinet maker, built the boat and almost everything in it, including an outhouse off the back.

Inside, it's an homage to piracy and Captain William Kidd. Models of old ships dangle from the ceiling and a mock sword is tucked away in the corner. 

Craig tried to level the boat by adding weights to the bow, but it wasn't enough to raise the stern.

Instead of finding a way to get rid of the otters, Craig plans to take the boat out of the water soon and he said he'll make some upgrades over the winter, including adding a little more floatation. 

"People have suggested I block it off, [from the otters] but I don't know. Maybe I'll let them live under there.… But it does kind of smell like seaweed."


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