Birds Underwater tournament

This past Saturday, a spearfishing tournament sponsored by Birds Underwater Dive Center in Crystal River raised $1,200 to benefit Bonnie "the Bait Lady" Van Allen, whose iconic bait boat sunk Aug. 30. 

Shown in this photo: Ted Harless, Van Allen's husband; Bonnie Van Allen and Cody Cummins, Birds Underwater manager.

It wasn't the first time Bonnie Van Allen's Live Bait and Ice Cream boat sunk, but hopefully the latest sinking on Aug. 30 will be the last.

Thanks to friends and fans of the spunky nearly 80-year-old Van Allen, whose iconic pontoon boat with the giant white shrimp sculpture on top has been a mainstay in the area for the past 23 years, a series of fundraising events have continued to raise the money needed to get Van Allen back in business.

Within a week's time, more than $20,000 was raised to pay for boat repairs.

Currently, there's an active GoFundMe page at, and this past Saturday, Birds Underwater Dive Center in Crystal River sponsored a fishing tournament to benefit Van Allen.

According to the Birds Underwater Facebook page, $1,200 was raised to help Van Allen with her lost income. 

Winners were: Jacob Brown, 1st place grouper and mangrove; John Uiterwyk, 1st place hog, and Brittany Slattery, 1st place sheep.

Contact Chronicle reporter Nancy Kennedy at 352-564-2927 or