Aurora Restoration Project Part 35
by Christopher Wilson - Published October 5, 2017
I can't say that San Francisco was all that bad. Just a few of the elements that effected my life at the time. It did have its perks. Just one of the few perks that I quickly became fond of, I began to befriended those aboard the vessel Jeremiah O'Brien. This is a historic ship that is also located in San Francisco. This was a great project with great people and they shared an interest of preserving history for future generations. How could I not be attracted to that?
Perks like being able to come and help out and learn some things really helped time pass when all was bad at pier 38. They were a very generous group and gave the Aurora a number of materials including paint, ropes and various other usable items that they had an excess of. We did our best to return the favor any chance we could win labor and materials. To this day the Jeremiah O’Brien is still a solid group of people I am proud to call friends.
For a few solid months things were mellow as Mr. Potter had his own problems to deal with. I was thankful for the break. The investment group I had on the hook was attempting to negotiate with the Port of SF to bring the Aurora to a different pier in the city of SF in order to restore and open the Aurora as a second location for their already extremely successful business. They made it clear to the Port that they would invest whatever funds it would take to make the Aurora acceptable to the Port. They went as far as to acquire quotes from various ship yards. For a short time money was not an issue. This group had a great idea and wanted to roll with it.
Unfortunately the Port of SF wasn't ship friendly and would rather have empty piers. To this day I can't figure out just why they did not want ships within the Port of SF. This was the Aurora’s chance to be restored and turn into something amazing within the City of San Francisco.
The investment group knew full well that there plan couldn't work with Mr. Potter in charge but they believed in the project enough to extend a great deal of money and effort if a deal with the Port could be established. It was a waiting game.
The Port of SF soon started putting pressure on Mr. Potter. He didn’t seem to be afraid or worried as his pier manager and legal advisor James was doing an extraordinary job in his defense. He was doing such a fine job that Mr. Potter felt he was almost out of the woods in his lawsuit. It was strange however that the better of a Job that James did the more Mr. Potter would talk down about him to others. It took me a while to figure that scenario out.
A year or so prior to the Aurora coming to pier 38 Mr. Potter was in trouble and very close to losing his fight and his pier to the Port of SF and he needed all the help he could get. He found James who was well known for his legal skills among other things. James was somewhat famous for his work in the tech startup and software development world. He hired James but of course if James was going to help Mr.Potter he wanted a piece of the action when things turned around. He wanted to be a partner in the pier. Mr. Potter had agreed to paying him a discounted rate for a partial partnership with the pier. He went so far as to move his research ship Project and some of his belongings to the pier for safe storage. James was getting comfortable because he knew what he could do and what need to be done. James quickly turned things around and gave the Port little to no chance of winning.
So one day out of the blue Mr. Potter felt he didn't need James any longer and began to make things hard on him. This was easy to do with his bipolar disorder. Much like everyone else in Mr. Potters life he would use those he needed and quickly dispose of those he didn’t. So he gave James a very short time to move his things. This didn't work for James because he had an interest in the Pier and wasn't ready to give that up.
Mr. Potter became very comfortable with his current situation and fired James and hired a very inexpensive rookie attorney to take the place of James. He gave this new attorney false hopes as he did with James. Mr. Potter soon called a meeting with me and his attorney about renegotiating the lease for the Aurora. Instead of out original deal he wanted to now charge me $500 for the current month $1000 for the next month and continue to raise each month by $500 till we reached $10k per month. He also wanted no persons except my crew to board the Aurora through his pier. He also wanted to investment group off his pier and to not come around.
This was never our deal and I couldn't agree to these terms. I could see what he was doing. Soon I would be out of money and no more Aurora. No way was I going to agree to any of this. I left the meeting telling them I would think things over and come back with an answer.
Things became hard at this point because I could see that my future at pier 38 was not looking good. If I would have had the funds at this time at least knew I had a backup location in Stockton California. Problem was the cost of having her towed back up the delta was inconceivable after I spent so much on building a mooring system and paying for the move to pier 38 and the mooring system. Money was running low and I needed the time to replenish before the bad things that I could foresee would happen.
It’s difficult to see the beauty in things around you when you have trouble in your life. I could no longer focus on what a beautiful location I had any longer. My focus was strictly on getting my leg out of this bear trap. It was time to start thinking about what my next move would be.