Aurora Restoration Project Part 2
by Christopher Wilson
When I found the Aurora / Wappen von Hamburg in mid 2008, I found her on Craigslist of all places. I wasn't looking for a ship but she kept popping up when I was doing my searches. I was not a ship person or even a boat person for that matter but was intrigued by seeing a cruise ship on Craigslist.
My goal was to just tour the ship as kind of a day trip / adventure. So I contacted the owner and he gave me the contact information for the watchman. Soon after I arranged a day to travel out. I got the cameras ready and finally after much anticipation the day arrived. I was on my way to the California Delta for the first time. It was a two hour journey from Santa Cruz but seemed worth it to tour a big dead ghost ship.
I arrived to the delta to find a man who appeared homeless in his mid 30s waiting for me at a small marina a mile or so from where the ship was moored. He welcomed me but was not the nicest guy one could meet. We jumped in a dirty old Boston whaler and headed to the ship. He asked for gas money on the way over and mentioned I could tip him also so that he could buy dog food.
As the ship came into view I seen lots of rust. The rust gather my attention more so then the beautiful lines. The entire hull looked like hell. So I started taking pictures as I originally set out to do with no real intent to buy a ship but to observe.
We finally arrived and we had to climb multiple unsafe ladders up another derelict boat and across a plank about eight inches wide and 10ft long and a long drop if I lost balance in order to board the ship. Finally I was aboard.
My first observation was the piles of debris on the decks and trees growing from the rotting decks and old sun rotted mattresses scattered all over the place. There were maybe 10 55 gal oil barrels scattered around and piles of junk and debris everywhere. It looked much like a homeless camp closed down and let to sit for a decade. I finally entered the ship from the grand stairway entrance. My first observation was that this was not just a standard ship but she had fascinating stairways and metalwork. Unfortunately when you looked down there was garbage everywhere. I had never seen so much garbage outside of a dump.
The watchman who had to be one of the most disgusting people I have ever met, had a dog. Maybe a 2 year old pit bull that loved to play. He also loved crap everywhere on the ship. Every step aboard I had to avoid stepping in dog crap. I don't think this watchman ever cleaned up anything. I finally made my way to the A deck suites. These were awesome aside from being filled with garbage and having everything dog chewed including cushions, mattresses and emu thing made of wood. I continued to take pictures.
I looked all over the ship. She was dirty and rusted but she was complete for the most part. She was creepy to put it lightly.
The decks had leaked for years destroying many areas of the interior and this didn't exactly go well with all of the trash. The watchman had one room that he slept in and it was defiantly not any better then the rest of the ship. He was a slob.
Over the next couple of hours I started paying attention to the craftsmanship of the ship rather then the junk everywhere. She was built like a fine yacht. Each weld was precise and every area looked as if a fine artist had designed it. It was much like finding a Rolls Royce abandoned in a field out in the countryside.
This ship had seen better days. When I entered the lounge. It was almost as if I could see the past and all of the fine entertainment on the main stage, just small glimpses in my mind. I am not one to put a lot of thought into the supernatural but if there are ghosts I would bet this is where you would have found them.
I finally had enough for the day and climbed back down the multiple unsafe ladders and back onto the Boston whaler and back to the marina. It was an interesting trip and I seen more then I thought I would see. I was impressed in many ways but saddened in more ways.
much much more to come.....
I have so much more detail I can bring to this story. Could write a book or make a documentary even. Our group gets it first however.