A full pirate ship appears in the Santa Clara shipyard for Halloween – Salt Lake Tribune | NutSocia

Santa Clara • With just hours left before the onslaught of Halloween revelers and trick-or-treaters, Todd and Shari Wood have to settle for a skeleton crew.

Todd, an aerospace electrical engineer, makes no secret of the fact that the ragtag crew he and his wife oversee to fix their Santa Clara home isn’t the best.

One of them, nicknamed “Drunken Duncan,” is three sheets in a hurry and unable to work. Another is “Wobbly William,” who’s too tipsy and stuffed on rum to do much good. “Leering Larry” looks at passers-by. Davy Jones stands 12 feet tall and – unlike his crewmates – stays upright but does little else. Then there is Barbossa. Unfortunately, he’s too busy adding up his gold doubloons to be relied on.

Rounding out the 33-strong entourage of slackers and scoundrels are Jack, the newest crew member, and Todd’s “pride and joy.” That would be Captain Jack Sparrow, too busy sipping rum and singing pirate songs and shanties from the comfort of a rocking chair to do his part.

Welcome to the pirates of Haunted Wood Cove, the pirate ship the Woods – with a lot of help from their neighbors and friends – built in the front yard of their 1993 Gubler Drive home. Loosely based on Pirates of the Caribbean, the response to the attraction is best summed up in a three-letter word:

“Wow!” exclaimed Debi Robinson, who lives in Ivins and toured the ship with her husband Greg. “We love this Halloween hangout with its over-the-top playful vibe. Who would have thought pirates could be shipwrecked in Santa Clara.”

Since opening on October 1, the Woods’ haunted ship has drawn 50 to 100 or more a night. An estimated 1,000 or more will load the pirate ship for Halloween, the final night of this year’s pirate show.

Visitors to Haunted Wood Cove are often greeted by a massive broadside of the ship’s six guns, which are recoiling, fiery red and belching smoke. The undead skeleton at the helm of the captain steers the ship of terror while the songs “Ghostbusters”, “Monster Mash” and Harry Belefonte’s “Day O-The Banana Boat Song” blare out of loudspeakers.

(Mark Eddington | The Salt Lake Tribune) Todd and Shari Wood, the creators of Pirates of Haunted Wood Cove in Santa Clara.

“Shari really made it out of the park when she came up with this year’s soundtrack,” Todd said.

To board the ship, visitors stream through the stern and disembark through the bow. From bow to stern, the shop is packed with action figures. Skeletons dressed in their pirate finest spin left and right, raising glasses and sipping rum, swinging from perches and firing pistols spewing steam and smoke.

Another pirate sits astride a cannon that fires and recoils. And lasers interact with smoke machines to create a swamp-like ambiance that makes it look like walking through swamp water.

“I remember a cute little girl walking towards the smoke,” Todd recalled. “She says, ‘I don’t want to get wet. Do I have to get wet?’ “

Luckily, the Woods didn’t bathe too much financially to build the ship and direct the show. Well, the electric bill can cause a little jolt.

“We don’t even look [at the bill]. We’re not talking about Fight Club,” he joked, determined to avoid arguments.

Growing up in the San Fernando Valley, California, Todd and his older brothers Kevin and Scott chose a neighborhood home to decorate each year.

“We would make cardboard skeletons and use fruit punch for blood and things like that,” he said. “We didn’t have a budget or money to speak of, so we scraped things together and made things out of junk.”

When he and Shari moved to Santa Clara from Simi Valley, California 12 years ago, they built a haunted graveyard, but the ghosts they fashioned from sheets and towels and the skeletons that emerged from the earth never really got off the ground away. especially with young people.

“It was too scary for her,” Todd said.

That’s when the Woods decided to build a pirate ship – one that would be fun, not scary.

“Our rule is no blood, no horror and no slashers,” Shari said.

Still, they had some terrifying encounters with Mother Nature. Stiff winds blew over the makeshift cannon and skeleton at the captain’s wheel that they mounted on their roof in 2015.

Three years later, they teamed up with a general contractor and friend, Ray Wirick, to build a real wooden ship with two masts and a real deck out front to walk on. But after a year, the hot southern Utah sun was scorching the boat and warping the wood at warp speed. It was also so heavy that it took 14 neighbors and a fleet of removal vans to move it. As it began to deteriorate, the Woods scrapped it and salvaged what was usable.

(Mark Eddington | The Salt Lake Tribune) People visit the Pirates of Haunted Wood Cove in Santa Clara. The ship was built by Todd and Shari Wood this Halloween season.

Her latest incarnation is actually a ship’s hull, which is much lighter and can be broken down into three parts. It’s made from plywood and styrofoam that the woods and their friends and family members carved and painted. Within the ship’s walls are the guts – or “brains” – of the ship, the six cannons, which are essentially smoke machines with PVC pipes on top, and air servos that trigger the screen door actuators to knock the guns back.

There are also skeletons with servos, self-contained electrical devices implanted in their heads to move them. There are also several Light-O-Ramas systems that control lights and sync to music. Everything is automated and set on a timer.

As for the skeleton crew and gear, the Woods pulled them together from online stores, flea markets, and the St. George’s Halloween Spirit store. “We get a lot of stuff in stock after the holidays,” Shari said.

The emergency crew’s lack of work ethic isn’t their only shortcoming. It turns out they’re not very good at looting and looting. As big as the attraction, the Woods’ pirate ship is free. That prompted a well-heeled St. George man last year to pull out his wallet and give the Woods all the cash he was carrying. And he insisted the couple set up a donation box and open a Venmo account so patrons of the pirate ship could contribute.

Although they began accepting donations in mid-October last year, the Woods set aside $1,200 that they could use to offset the cost of building and maintaining the ship. This year, they expect to raise more than $2,500, most of which they will donate to local animal rescue efforts. Todd and Shari are the proud owners of four rescued pets.

Until recently, most of the excitement surrounding the Woods’ pirate ship was generated by word of mouth. But when a woman by the name of Red Rock and Sunshine posted a video of the attraction to Instagram, it went viral, attracting 2.1 million views. Now Todd and Shari maintain Facebook and Instagram pages about the ship.

As a result, Haunted Wood Cove is no longer a well-kept secret. Still, for all the buzz and noise it generates, it’s hardly raised a complaint – but it did.

“A neighbor has complained that our ship is so popular that they now have to buy candy for any trick-or-treaters who come to the area,” Shari said.

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