BELMAR, NJ — Two playground pirate ships have been pulled from the Belmar beachfront and permanently docked after eight years of exposure to the sand and surf.

Made from concrete and rebar, the colorful seven-ton structures were recently deemed unsafe by the borough’s insurance company, said Mayor Mark Walsifer. 

“The bottoms started to deteriorate from the salt water, and kids could get hurt … So we decided to get them off the beach,” he said during the borough council's December 1 meeting.

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Earlier in the day, onlookers along Ocean Avenue watched as the immense structures were hoisted by crane from the Eighth Avenue and 16th Avenue playgrounds and hauled away on flatbed trucks.

Photos taken by Ray Girgis of Belmar and posted on social media caused quite among people trying to figure out why the ships were being removed. While one commenter called it a “repo” and another a “magical flying ship,” others thought it may have had something to do with winterizing the beachfront or the state’s crowd-restricting coronavirus mandates.

Instead, many were surprised to learn that they were being removed only eight years after being installed as part of Belmar’s beachfront renewal, following the destruction left by Superstorm Sandy in October 2012.

“The salt air and sand took a toll on them,” Walsifer said. “We need something that will last us and be better on the beach.”

Currently, the borough is looking to replace the deteriorated ships by the spring, with an estimated cost of each hovering around $130,000, according to Belmar Business Administrator Edward Kirschenbaum.

Whether their replacements will be new ships — or something else — remains undecided as options are explored.

The borough also plans to replace two boardwalk bathrooms before the 2021 season, said Kirschenbaum, adding that the borough plans to budget $40,000 each year for maintenance at the borough's seven playgrounds. 

The borough spent a total of $9,000 to have Wall-based Atlantic Kritch Crane Service and Greg Lertch Demolition Excavating Demolition remove the crumbling pirates ships.