Aurora Restoration Project Part 21
by Christopher Wilson - Published March 13, 2016
I have dedicated the last eight years of my life to making sure this rare gem of a ship is protected and will always move forward. The photos that I have added is the first section of white paint added to the ship. The second photo is the entire ship painted all but the waterline. This was late 2009 to early 2010
Our crew at this time was working hard to not only improve the exterior ascetics but to make the interior shine once again. In the midst of all of this I received a call from Peter Knego about the History Channel interested in filming a segment of a popular television show onboard the ship. I couldn't turn that down.
I wanted to make public everything that we have been doing and I wanted to toss this in the face of the local newspaper reporter that made us look bad at every turn. I was excited. We needed this kind of exposure and it was a great opportunity to meet Peter Knego.
For the next weeks we cleaned and painted inside the ship trying to give her back some of the dignity that she had lost over the years. We didn't want the History Channel to look at her and tell a bad story. She had enough bad stories over the years and it was time that she once again shined.
The big day came. Peter showed up in his rental car hours prior to the history channel and brought a massive amount of historic documentation on the Aurora that he had been gathering over the years. I couldn't believe that this mans relationship and knowledge of this ship was far more then mine. Peter actually held a place in his heart for this ship and he was saddened to see her so neglected over time.
He did however see the massive amount of work that we had been putting into this ship in a short time. He seemed very impressed by our efforts.
Later that morning we met in town with the crew from the history channel and had lunch. The locals in that small town got to see a big Hollywood film crew for one of the first times in there small town that was just a speck on most maps. Furthermore they got to see that this crew was headed to the Aurora.
We sat at breakfast while I signed paperwork that the film crew needed in order to do there job. We discussed what they wanted to film and finally headed to the ship. Jin and the crew members were setting things up and were working for days to make things presentable. They had the lounge looking fantastic with drinks and food on the bar. Lighting now lit many areas of the ship for the first time in nearly 20 years.
Unfortunately...... What the History Channel was looking for was decay. They were looking for a decrepit old ship to show just how rust decay would destroy a ship over a timeline. Peter didn't know us well at this time and had no idea that we had done so much work on the ship.
The History Channel crew didn't get to see exactly what they were looking for. They may have even been a bit disappointed that she was looking as good as she did. Just the same they used the ship for the segment and took a massive amount of footage all over the ship and most of her areas.
First up, Peter was interviewed on the dock with the ship as his backdrop. He was very professional and ready for film. He had great and elaborate answers for all questions and told the story better then anyone else could have. Peter was a rockstar that day.
Now it was my turn to be interviewed. I knew exactly what I wanted to say and had this under control. Or maybe not. Once that camera was pointed at me all the sudden I had two left feet and stuttered and stumbled for the first 30 minutes. After that I came around and felt much better. Unfortunately the filming only lasted 20 minutes. So by the time I warmed up to the camera it was all over anyhow.
The entire day was engulfed by this amazing experience. I had my crew onboard and some of my friends. Jin was very professional and was accommodating to everything Peter and this crew needed. At the end of a long day of filming we took many pictures with the film crew and Peter Knego for this historic day.
For the next days I stood just a little taller when I went into town. Something amazing had happened and we just made an important historic moment in the Aurora's history. I couldn't have been more proud and thankful for this opportunity that Peter had brought to us.
That day we were able to keep away all of the bad elements that had been lurking for the last months. There was no crazy watchman yelling from the ship in front. There was no jackass newspaper reporter. Just positive vibes and lots of them.
After this day ended we continued making things better and better. We figured that she was clean and we would keep things that way from now on. The morning after filming I was on the decks of the ship when a small car pulled up and out popped friendly jackass bobblehead reporter.
He had heard about the History Channel coming to the Aurora with a world famous ship historian. He wanted the story and he wanted it bad.
I told this reporter that he had already caused us enough damage and he needed to go. I had nothing to say to him now or ever again. That was such a great feeling.
The next months would bring more trouble and challenges but this time it was different. I had a renewed pride in what I was doing. My tank was full and I was ready for any trouble that was thrown my direction.