by Christopher Wilson - Published February 27, 2019
This notice from the Port of San Francisco was devastating. They hung hundreds of these all over the Pier, Placing them on car windows and entrances to buildings and of course the Aurora. I had spent a small fortune of just trying to get the Aurora to San Francisco in order to give her a fighting chance of a bright future as a top attraction to the waterfront area. Now I had to face moving yet again. This of course had nothing to do with myself nor the Aurora. It had everything to do with the lease holder of the Pier and a legal dispute between the Port and him. According to the Port of SF the Pier was not safe and had to be cleared of all occupants. Hundreds of tenants were displaced and the Port had no sympathy towards the damage they had just caused to the existing businesses that had invested massive amounts of money to create irreplaceable waterfront workspaces.
Nearly all the businesses and the people that were displaced stood against the Port going as far as to picket in front of the Port building to fight and keep the pier open. They had a great case and really Pier 38 was in no worse condition then just about any other pier in the Port.
Some of the very well off tech businesses even went as far as to offer to fix everything on the pier to safety standards at their own expense and lease the pier. There was another factor in mind however. That will come later in the story.
Anyone who knows ships knows well that they host a soul. Maybe this is just a myth but I hold it to be true. If you for any reason you do not feel the same then stop reading now your in the wrong group and the story is not for you. From the beginning I have always felt the heartbeat of this ship despite the years of neglect I could feel that her days were not even close to coming to an end. She just needed small boost to get back on track and thankfully I am here to provide just that at any cost.
Everything I had already worked so hard to achieve was at risk. All the tenants at the Pier were confused and shaken by what was happening. I was frustrated but yet satisfied to see Mr. Potter get what he deserved. I knew at least now that this guy wasn’t going to be the fate of the Aurora. The Port couldn’t be any worse then Mr. Potter.... or so I thought.
Over the next days the Port would send a guy down to check in on things and try to negotiate the timely departure of all the vessels located around the Pier. I was new to the game so I didn’t know the steps they would take to expedite getting rid of the vessels including the Aurora. I remind you that at this point in the story we were only a few days into this. This was new ground for me and I had never been in this type of situation before. I didn’t have a clue exactly what politics between the pier and the Port were.
The Port made us to feel like we had brought the Aurora to the Pier unlawfully despite having permission to bring her to the Pier on a long term lease with of course permission granted from the Port and full inspection and permission from the Coast Guard. We brought the Aurora to Pier 38 with all proper and legal permissions granted by all relevant agencies but somehow I was now in hot water.
I had used a large portion of my savings to build a proper and very expensive mooring system for the Aurora at the Pier and to pay for the tow from the California Delta to the Pier in SF. I was on a money crunch and had few options. I needed time to think things through and time was not a luxury that I had.
The next weeks would prove to be stressful as the Port began closing access to the Pier and this was our only way to board the Aurora. Needless to say restoration was put on hold at this point. We kept very good communication with the Port and managed to keep the Pier open to us for the time being.
All I could think of is what could I had done differently to avoid this? I never came up with a good answer to this question. This project had more of a chance at being successful then it did of failure. The potential investors were still onboard if we could negotiate another place within the Port to bring the Aurora. If We could have secured a new place on a long term lease within the Port this would have changed everything. But the Port was so frustrated with Mr. Potter and the protest to keep the Pier open that they didn’t want to negotiate with anyone.
Imagine millions of dollars being invested into the Aurora to create a five star attraction on the San Francisco waterfront. That’s exactly what would have happened if the Port had granted us a satisfactory location.