Bluewater Boathouse Hosts Garage Sale of the Year


CORONADO - There are garage sales the world over, but nothing compares to Thursdays and Saturdays in Coronado. The trend began during World War II, when military wives held garage sales to supplement their income. Since then it’s become a tradition, with hoards of garage sale hunters ravaging the island weekly in search of that special deal.

On Saturday, June 28, some of those treasure hunters found themselves in garage sale heaven. The new owners of the Coronado Boathouse (now Bluewater Boathouse), after a whirlwind remodeling of the restaurant’s interior, realized they had filled several shipping containers with items used to decorate previous incarnations of the structure - Boathouse 1887 and the Coronado Chart House before that.

At a recent garage sale, held in the parking lot of the Bluewater Boathouse, items such as these America's Cup half hulls (top) and teak hulls of ancient square rigged sailing ships and traditional schooners (below) were priced to move. Lucky shoppers went home with some terrific pieces of history from the old Coronado Chart House and Boathouse 1887. All photos by Joe Ditler.

Locals stumbled on to the garage sale of the century as Bluewater Boathouse owners sold off much of the former restaurant’s décor last week. Bluewater is now open for lunch and dinner and owners invite the public to come down any time to tour the facility and say hello.

In the parking lot it was like a feeding frenzy as Bluewater threw open doors to the shipping containers revealing floor-to-ceiling nautical-themed décor and furniture.

The items included chairs, tables, half hulls, ship models and even antiquated urinals from the original Boathouse. The historic photos, framed in exquisite, antique wooden frames, were also part of the merchandise. Some called it the garage sale of the year.

Young Valeria Herrera, visiting from Mexico City, found the garage sale at Bluewater Boathouse to her liking.

This intricate ship model of a 19th century privateer, a tops'l schooner, sold for $50 and that included the case.

“We had a list of Coronado residents who had expressed interest in the items,” said Jimmy Ulcickas, founding partner of Bluewater. “To us, many of the items had to go to make way for our new remodel. We quickly recognized the old photos, furniture and ship models carried great emotional cache with residents on the island. We are pleased that they stepped forward and demonstrated that interest when they did.”

Ulcickas and his team of designers kept several of the old photos, as well as a selection of the traditional Boathouse chart tables, to be used in later stages of design.

Co-founder and owner of Bluewater Boathouse, Jimmy Ulcickas, poses with one of four urinals believed to have been installed in the original Coronado Boathouse, built in 1887. He plans to auction them off to benefit a local charity. They had been on the walls since the Chart House opened in the late '60s as flower pots.

Bluewater Boathouse manager Erin Briggs directs interested buyers from one of the many chairs being sold.

Alan Hansen was looking for a table he and his wife Janie had particular emotional ties to. “We got married in Western Samoa, and had just returned to Coronado,” said Hansen. “We had dinner at the Chart House our first night back. Serendipitous as it may seem, the table they sat us at just happened to have navigational charts of Western Samoa imbedded in the resin top.” Another man said he was looking for the table he proposed to his wife at.

“Most of the tables and framed photographs were chipped or damaged,” said Ulcickas. But that didn’t matter to Joe Balla, who worked at the Chart House as a young man (early ‘70s) and now is a successful commercial real estate broker and philanthropist.

Many of the photos and century-old wooden frames sold at the Bluewater Boathouse garage sale portrayed early days at Coronado's Tent City (1900-1939). 

“I couldn’t believe it,” said Balla, who found out about the sale while dining with his family at Bluewater Boathouse the night before. He ended up buying 50 Chart House captains’ chairs, four old resin-top tables and the entire collection of bar stools. He plans to use the sentimental furniture in his conference room in Del Mar; in a Coronado home he is currently remodeling; and in the family condo in Hawaii.

Some of the tables were constructed and designed by legendary surfer and shaper, Carl Ekstrom. Over the decades, they had become part of the Chart House legend world-over.

Tables like this - with varnished nautical charts on top - went quickly. Many people had favorite memories associated with specific tables, and searched to find that item to keep in their family.

Four antique urinals, believed to have been installed in the original 1887 Boathouse, were saved to be auctioned off later as a benefit to a charity yet to be named. The heavy, porcelain urinals had been used in recent decades as wall hanging flowerpots inside the building.

The historic landmark, now called Bluewater Boathouse, is one of six nautically themed restaurants famous for their sustainable seafood. They serve up to 40 varieties of seafood and shellfish.

Keith James is seen here shopping for photos and ship models to decorate his new cigar shop in Coronado.

Bluewater Boathouse opened to the public Friday, June 27, and business has been brisk. They are open daily for lunch and dinner. To make dining reservations call (619) 435-0155. For more information visit, or follow Bluewater Grill on Facebook at

This article was created by Joe Ditler and Part-Time PR. To find out how to raise the profile of your business or product, write, or call (619) 435-0767.

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Tags: business, community, people

Comment by eCoronado on July 9, 2014 at 10:14am

Ugh!  One of the few things didn't know about before it happened!  Would have loved a 'map table', captain chairs and some framed photos.  Any chance there is anything left?

Comment by karin mather on July 14, 2014 at 9:13am

So sorry to have missed this event.  Would have loved to have been there. Let's hope Bluewater becomes a better neighbor & lets the locals know wheat they have planned. I feel like I missed a moment in history.

We enjoyed lunch there recently & enjoyed our meal.

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