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Aurora Restoration Project Part 8
by Christopher Wilson

8 1

Smeagol was a disgusting man to say the least but aside from his hygiene he was very comical to watch. Almost everything he did was riddled with accident. I don't believe he was an alcoholic or at this time on any type of drugs. He was generally a clumsy person.

It was early evening and dark outside on a moonless night. Smeagol boarded the ship with his dim dollar store flashlight with batteries that were near dead. He focused on the kayak for a few moments and instead of yelling hello like most people would do, he decided to sneak around to try and find out who was on the ship. He was afraid and we could hear him tripping and fumbling around on the decks.

The ship was dark and we were busy working. Finally Smeagol shows up behind me and says, Dude....what are you doing here? Before I could respond Within about 5 seconds Jeff decides to show up jump out and give a loud surprising growling yell right behind Smeagol. Smeagol dropped everything and ran in circles few a few moments while he was screaming in the highest pitch that a man or woman could ever scream and then after fell to the floor and huddled into a fetal position crying.

Jeff and I looked at each other. Ummm

I walked upto him after a few moments and shined my light on him while Jeff was laughing hysterically, I said, are you ok. He didn't respond. I told him it's ok it's just us, do you want me to help you up. He said, no and swatted his hand at me in the typical go away fashion.

After about an hour Smeagol was back to normal and defiantly a bit humbled by this experience.

Jeff was always one for a good joke and had pulled this one off well. What we didn't intend was for Smeagol to start telling his ghost stories about his other experiences on this ship. I guess this experience had triggered his memories of how he spent many nights in his cabin with his dog and listened to voices, music and walking in the halls etc. These stories went on for a couple of hours while Jeff shared his past ghost experiences with him. I couldn't listen anymore so I went to bed.

I am typically not one to believe in ghost stories but over my time on this ship from 2008 until now I have heard a great many of people's experiences aboard her from both people that used to occupy the ship and people that have volunteered. I could go on for hours telling those stories but will hold off at least for now.

Smeagol spent the rest of the weekend aboard the ship blabbering and getting in the way while Jeff stayed friendly with him but at the same time tossed in comments like to him such as , Man, go clean up all your dogs sh&$t and help out. But getting this Smeagol to work was impossible.

The weekend came to a close and we kayaked back to the car and headed back home. It was time to get busy and try to gets some funds together to make things happen.

Over the next weeks it was extra cold and rainy outside. I had decided to migrate to my girlfriends apartment in Union City for a few days. Her name is Jin and she will be in coming stories a great deal. Her response towards the ship at the time would be typical to if you purchased a giant piece of junk project car or truck and placed it in your front yard. She didn't try to stand in my way but she didn't fully understand my reason for doing it. She was supportive to whatever crazy ventures that I wanted to do wether she liked it or not.

During these cold wet days, we began working on important stuff like ways to privately fund some initial small projects and I was thinking about my next moves with the city.

I planned my next trip to this city and decided to include Indy in the next meeting as I felt at the time that he could assist in landing this location. He was happy to join me as this location had multiple docks and he had the stuff to fill them up. The thought at this point was to share rent on all the docks and take them all. I just needed one. He needed the rest.

We had spoke again with the City Manager and he had put in a good word or two about the project.

We were now on the agenda for the next council meeting. Still was only a slight chance at best but at least we were on the agenda.

Jin had joined us on this trip. So after the meeting Indy got in his car and traveled home and we decided it was time to show Jin the ship.

We took the short drive out of town and pulled up to the shore next to the ship and I could see that Jin was a little bit stunned on the size and condition. Excitement wasn't really the look on her face. We blew up the kayak and paddled across.

We crawled from the wobbly kayak onto the crusty derelict boat tied next to the ship. Then up the dangerous ladders and across the plank and fearing death at every moment, ok maybe not that bad but still dangerous. Those actions alone were not the best introduction. Thank god that Smeagol was not around to help improve her initial impression.

She stepped onto the decks and looked around. She toured the hallways and found herself in the lounge and looked all around. She stayed away from the lower areas of the ship as they were dark. After only 20 or so minutes of exploring , Jin was in. It was great to have her immediate support. She could also see the potential of what this ship could be restored back into.

Now for weeks of waiting..... and waiting

For the next weeks Jeff and I traveled out to the ship a great deal. Jeff turned into a fisherman and loved the experience of bringing back cabins from years of neglect. It started to come to the point that he was at home on the ship. I was no there just yet. Especially with Smeagol and his dog being present all of the time stinking up the place. He was much more tolerable now but was still a cancer to the ship. He maybe showered once a month wether he needed it or not.

Things progressed with both the ship and the city very slowly but moving forward. As a backup I toured other locations as possible locations.

I came into this venture blind and not knowing a thing about ships and politics. I began to learn quickly. Lots of people loaned advice and ideas. I stuck to what felt sensible to me.

My thoughts have always been, People are just people. It doesn't matter if they are part of a group or just individuals. If you can find a way to show them what you see and feel then you can change anyone. My job was to change the way people felt about this ship. How do I do that? I was working on it.

Over the next days conflict was happening between Smeagol and Indy. Word was that Indy owed Smeagol some money and was not paying him. It was not much money but when you have nothing then even a little counts.

Smeagol was in a rage and asked me about it. I told him that I had no idea but could ask. But it had nothing to do with me.

Smeagol began doing awful things to try and coax money from Indy. He had went to the city and complained about money owed from Indy. He went as far as to badmouth the condition of the ship and tell them that they shouldn't allow it to go to the proposed docks. He went absolutely nuts and got the attention of several council members. He really just wanted to get his money that was owed to him.

I received word about his antics from the city manager that was kind enough to give me some insight on the matter.

We were in trouble.... The city would never allow this controversy.

It was time for me to take action and put in some overtime.

More to come.....

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