Spirit of America
Spirit of America (#) (1943-1980) 136-foot wood-hulled ex-WWII Minesweeper turned Playboy-type club, which operated out of Los Angeles Harbor for many years. After a fire on board caused significant damage, her salvage rights were purchased by Al Kidman, who was in the business of selling boats and parts. In the early 1980s, the vessel was towed to Scorpion Anchorage on Santa Cruz Island where Kidman's friend, William Petersen was living. Although the plan was to salvage her, she broke loose from her mooring and sank at Little Scorpion where her remains lie in about 65 feet of water. Red carpeting and a bathtub salvaged from her were used at Scorpion Ranch. This was the first of three minesweepers which ended up at the east end of Santa Cruz Island. » Reaper and Prime
In the early 1980s, feeling harassed after two decades of operations, Kidman was reported to have skipped California after he got into trouble with the Coast Guard for illegally docking a capsized barge in the Los Angeles Harbor. He allegedly left behind a harbor floor dotted with wrecks officials said he sank after salvaging them. "Al used the bottom of the harbor for storage. When he would need something off them, he would go out and dive for them." His file with the Los Angeles Harbor Master's office regarding his misdeeds is three-inches thick. [Los Angeles Times 4 December 1986].
In the News~
December 12, 1978 [IPT]: “Flaming yacht. A fire gutted this 136-foot cabin cruiser, Spirit of America, Monday night at Berth 200-B in Los Angeles Harbor. The blaze, reported at 7:46 P.M., was extinguished in 45 minutes by Los Angeles City firefighters. Damages to the cruiser, owned by Robert Borganson, were estimated at $250,000. No one was aboard at the time and the cause of the fire was not known.”
December 13, 1978 [LAT]: Investigators were searching for the cause of a fire that did an estimated $250,000 damage to a 136-foot diesel cruiser, Spirit of America, berthed in Los Angeles Harbor. No injuries were reported, but it took four land-based fire companies and four fire boats to control the blaze aboard the craft, which was carrying an estimated 6,000 gallons of diesel fuel in her tanks.”