Land ho! Man builds pirate ship in Front Royal

The skeletons of several pirates navigated their merry way to the front yard of Gary Knowles, in Front Royal. The display took Knowles three days to build. Jake Zuckerman

FRONT ROYAL – Travelers and old salts of the seven seas, beware: A trove of pirates has arrived in Front Royal on the hunt for buried treasure.

The fearsome skeletal seadogs are the creation of Gary Knowles, who built a detailed, massive pirate ship on the front lawn of his home at 612 Meadow Lane.

Knowles said the ship took him three days to put together. When his neighbors decided to replace the fencing around his yard, he used their old wood to build the ship. It reaches roughly 30 feet across, with the ship’s masts and Jolly Roger flag reaching as high as 20 feet into the Shenandoah sky.

“It just came to me to do,” Knowles said of the work.

A truck driver by trade, Knowles spared no nuance in his masterpiece. Shark fins line his front yard, which is littered with anchors, oak barrels draped in loot, treasure chests filled with skeletons of pirates past, fake mice and crabs, and the swords of fallen comrades at sea.

One seadog steers while another navigates from the crow's nest in Gary Knowles' front yard Halloween display. Jake Zuckerman

Arleen Keyser, a neighbor a few blocks over, marveled at the effort and attention to detail behind the work.

“It’s got everything you can imagine on a ship that’s been wrecked,” she said. “… He spent a lot of time on it.”

According to Knowles, the display took him three days to build.

Keyser added the neighborhood surrounding her and Knowles is a popular trick or treating area, where they expect to see roughly 500 or so candy seekers.

Although Knowles will have to batten down the hatches soon and take down the ol’ vessel, he said he builds an extravagant display every year, and landlubbers can return next year to see what he comes up with.

Contact staff writer Jake Zuckerman at 540-465-5137 ext. 152, or jzuckerman@nvdaily.com.