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Aurora Restoration Project Part 12
by Christopher Wilson - published 12 February 2016

12 1


There were only days left until the move and I had a lot to deal with before we were ready. Gollum was on the top of my list. He was making a power play to either put me into submission or make me go away and leave his precious ship.

Needless to say, I am not one to play that game. No matter the outcome, one should never allow themselves to be bullied. I did not.

Since these are actual and accurate events I choose not to go into detail about the removal of Gollum. Let's just say that he soon became happy to leave and I have not seen him since. I last heard that he found another precious in the form of an old Greyhound bus and is now happily annoying someone else.
Now back to the story. Gollum was gone and we could now concentrate on events leading up to the move.

Jeff needed help moving his non-working 36-foot project boat from Emeryville to a marina near the location that the ship would reside. I was happy to help. We had to borrow a work boat from Indy. It was a Boston whaler with a 135hp Honda. We were in for a journey that neither of us had ever imagined.

We picked up the Boston Whaler at Indy's dock in a marina located in Richmond at approx. 10 am and headed to Emeryville marina. After fueling the Whaler, we began rigging Jeff's boat for the move.

We left the Emeryville marina at roughly 1pm with no clue of the time this trip might take.
We just knew that we had to be back by the next morning to tow the Aurora. Neither of us were boat people but we were intelligent and learned quickly. The wind that day was at an average of 15mph and the water was rough chop. Maybe not the best day for a tow but the job needed to be done.
We began our journey to the mouth of the delta and quickly learned this was not going to be a quick trip.

We were towing against the current and that never helps. We ran into our first issue after we passed under the Richmond Bridge. We were maybe 100 yards past the bridge when we decided to kill the engine and retie the rigging configuration. This process took a few minutes and we found ourselves no more than50 yards from the bridge. The current was moving us fast.

Jeff attempted to start the Whaler back up and it wouldn't respond. It was completely dead. Now we were closing in on the bridge fast and headed right for a bridge support. I was starting to get nervous and I knew if we hit then it was game over and it would be likely that his boat would not survive and the Whaler might be pulled under.

30 yards to the bridge. No response from the Whaler and we are desperately trying to resolve the problem before bad things happen. 20 yards.

Here's where inexperience plays its role. Did you know that most boats have a kill switch hooked to a little curly plastic wire? We didn't know this information until moments before potential tragedy. Both of us were steps away from panic.

I looked down and had seen that this kill switch had been disengaged and quickly reconnected it.

Jeff turned the key and the Whaler started right up and we were able to move just enough to avoid the bridge support. It took a while to calm down and get our hearts to stop pounding. If we would have hit them this story would have likely never been told.
We were now back on course. It was taking much longer than we thought to fight the current and get to the mouth of the river that would lead us to the delta. We would only have the sun for a short time longer.
Neither of us knew the rules of the water. We didn't know shipping channels or depth sounding. We knew GPS and nothing more. We were in for a nightmare.

The waters were very rough, the current was strong, the winds were high and the sun was going down. There was no place to pull over and call it a night. We had to push forward.
Soon it was pitch black on a moonless night. The winds started to calm but the waters remained rough. The fog quickly set in. Not a good feeling. Tankers and container ships don't make much noise other than a fog horn.

This evening would be fun.

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