Aurora Restoration Project Part 18
by Christopher Wilson - Published March 4, 2016
Summer of 2009 had to be one of my favorite times with the Aurora. We had lots of characters with lots of problems but not everything was an uphill battle just most. I still had some good and talented crew members and some friends who come to help.
My original agreement with the City Council was to only work on the interior. Although I was itching to work on the exterior hull I kept my word until one day when the City Manager come to me and said that the council isn't seeing any progress on either the Aurora or Indy's boats docked not far from me.
I explained to him our agreement and he gave me the green light on doing exterior work but the Coast Guard must approve our technique. Sounded good to me.
The next day we had a crew meeting with my remaining crew and my friends who volunteered as crew for a while. We decided to whitewash the ship. Basically scrape the loose paint and rust off and put new paint over the old paint.
I gathered some help and headed to the local hardware store to buy some farm equipment paint. We made a deal with the hardware store and shaved a few dollars off the cost. We now had enough paint to start with. This would change everything for this fine ship.
There was so much rust around the waterline that would need to be addressed so we rigged a pollution free tent on a small boat to move around the ship and take off the heavy rust. It looked goofy but the Coast Guard seemed to like it and thought our technique was original and genius at the same time.
The Germans were very smart and built the hull extra thick around the waterline. We exposed no holes and the metal thickness was for the most part tolerable.
Our new super crew began work. We used my friends boat that we had towed up from Emeryville as a platform for paining the upper hull. It worked great. We could get a section of about 75 feet done each day. Paint costs were through the roof. Managing to make money on this scale while spending almost all my time here was tough.
Just when all was going well. Indy, one of our favorite characters needed a watchman for one of his boats at the docks. Indy was not in town so he asked if I could set up his new watchman on his 170 ft boat. I agreed and waited for his new watchman to arrive.
A couple of hours go by and two guys who appeared in their mid thirties that both just barley met Indy's four tooth minimum. They obviously had problems. Both seemed to scratch a lot and my guess is that meth or worse was a big roll in the life of these guys. They looked bad.
I called Indy and said no way, he told me to just get them on the ship because he needed watchmen. I told him no way in hell were I going to let these guys back on the property that I was paying for and he had better agree because I wasn't going to let this happen. He was upset but understood.
This wasn't the end of these guys. That comes later in the story.
A couple of days later Indy sent yet another guy to us. This guy was only slightly better and we allowed him on Indy's boat. He then moved in and made Indy's ship his. He was a friendly enough guy but had a huge ego we will call him butch for this story.
For the next days we just minded our own business and kept painting. It's incredible how a little paint even if done completely wrong will change the way people look at a ship. First it was a giant rust heap and now she was on her way to being majestic, a mega yacht. I heard all sorts of terms used. It made me proud.
During all of our painting Butch would sit around on Indy's boat and drink. Then he would go to the stern of Indy's boat and scream at nothing as we all watched and wondered just what was he doing?? He literally just started yelling at the top of his lungs at absolutely nothing.
Many of the towns people witnessed this and didn't know just what to think. This guy obviously had issues.
Occasionally he would stumble over to the Aurora and invite himself aboard and try to hold conversations with me and other members of the crew. He offered to help but we didn't want this guy doing anything for us. He was embarrassing.
The entire community watched as we made big progress. The ship was looking fantastic for the first time in years. We whitewashed all of the rust and had gotten rid of so much garbage. She was certainly no longer the same decrepit ship that she was a few months ago.
Not far away and very visible from the docks was a nice and semi fine seafood restaurant. Occasionally we would visit this place to eat but as it turns out this was becoming the new hangout for our new friend Butch. He wasn't exactly liked at this restaurant. The stuff would cringe as he walked in the door. This was the start of one of our next big problems.
During our progress I received a call from a guy by the name of Xavier. He wanted to know a great deal of information on the ship. He told me that he had involvement sometime ago in this ship and still held part ownership interest in the Aurora. I had no idea what he was talking about but was concerned.
I just listened and took notes. This jackass was going to be yet another huge problem and will create many chapters to come.
It all seemed to be a trade off. Something wonderful would happen and then lots of bad things would happen that were out of my control.
Now the excitement really begins.
More to come.