Artist Matthew Long spent days carving 23 tons of sand into a sculpture of a tall ship to display on New York City's waterfront.
Then, in seconds, it suffered the fate of sand castles everywhere.
Long, a 57-year-old sand sculptor, arrived at Manhattan's South Street Seaport on Saturday morning to find his creation partially demolished and covered in boot prints, "about a size nine."
"There were footprints all over the sand, and I was cursing under my breath," he said. "It was devastating _ such a hard, sinking feeling after days of carving in the hot sun."
Laughing at his own cheesy humor, the Staten Island resident added, "It took the wind out of my sails."
He said he'd worried about leaving his work sitting outside on a Friday night near the bars in the district, but hoped a guard patrolling the area would keep it safe.
On Saturday, Long was trying to reconstruct his vandalized creation _ a promotion for his line of sand sculpting tools and for an exhibit at the South Street Seaport Museum. "I'm trying to get my mind back into the groove."
When completed, his creation will be 10 feet high and occupy a 20-by-20 foot space.
The effort started Wednesday, when a truck hauled the tons of sand from the New Jersey shore to lower Manhattan.
His mammoth tall ship, surrounded by sandy renderings of lower Manhattan buildings, was coming to life again by Saturday afternoon.
"I know I'm going to pull it off," said Long, whose work worldwide has been featured on television's "Travel Channel."