The 16th-century replica ship Sea Lion is coming home to Chautauqua County, and it could be as soon as this weekend.
Westfield Supervisor Harry Ward, who is a member of the town's Sea Lion Restoration Group, said Friday the sailing vessel has been released to the group.
Ward added that ideal weather will hasten the vessel's return to Barcelona.
The Sea Lion has been moored in Buffalo Harbor since Jamestown's Sam Genco and his World Dive Team raised the vessel from the bottom of the harbor recently.
The Sea Lion sank when a storm hit the Buffalo area in January 1999.
During the recovery effort, divers removed ballast from the boat so it could be raised. Because of this, the ship's sponsors are keeping a wary eye on Lake Erie weather before towing south to Barcelona.
"We're going to tow it with a couple of other boats that we have available to us, and it's all basically dependent on the weather," Ward said. "We're sort of making plans to do it (today), but, the weather doesn't look really favorable so we're just going to try to keep everything at the ready."
"It can be moored out in Barcelona with no problem at all because of the water depth, and we can hopefully get it up on the pier before before the snow flies," Ward said.
Ward believes the Sea Lion's presence in Barcelona, which is along the Seaway Trail, presents tourism opportunities. This is important to raise the money that will be needed for the Sea Lion's upkeep, which has been a major problem in the past. G