Aurora Restoration Project Part 34
by Christopher Wilson - Published October 3, 2017
Not a day goes by without more stressful challenges. The story to this point is late 2010. There is still so much to write. The current events however seem to be heating up in her current location. I may soon begin telling stories of more current events just so we are all on the same page when things start happening. Is it all worth it. The simple answer is of course it is. I feel a force beyond my own to keep this ship alive at all costs. The most unfortunate part of this undertaking is that many will not see my perspective and vision and very few will actually join the fight. I hope this story helps people see what it's like to be in the drivers seat of a historic ship project despite the many challenges.
My stay in San Francisco was becoming increasingly stressful as each day passes. I didn't really want to loose all that I had worked for but I had to make myself more mentally prepared that it could all end. Mr. Potter didn't seem to want me gone just yet for one simple reason. He could see the value of my presence. With the help of my crew we were making good progress in getting vital projects and impossible tasks done such as the complex mooring system. He also liked that I brought reasonable ideas to the table. It was clear that this was no long term situation. I felt as if I was working for Mr. Potter and paying him for the privilege.
For a short while Mr. Potter and I managed to tolerate each other or perhaps he just left me alone to do what needed done. Never the less he let up on annoying me for a while as he had bigger fish to fry dealing with his own drama. I spent the coming next weeks getting better acquainted with Mr Potters general manager James. He was a very quite person that kept to himself for the most part. I was starting to see the entire picture much more clear thanks to James. Of course Mr. Potter was not giving James the entire picture either but James was intelligent and could see what was really happening.
During this period I received a call from the coast guard wanting to come do an inspection on the ship. I didn't know what the inspection was about but of course I agreed and welcomed them to come by anytime. The next day several coast guard vehicles rolled up and five of them were ready to take the tour but had to wait for someone else. I figured they were waiting for another fellow coast guard member but was I wrong. The Port of SF wharfinger came rolling up on a bicycle. This was the same guy that met me at the breakfast place weeks earlier to discuss the Aurora. The Wharfinger called the coast guard to come and inspect. The Wharfinger invited himself along. I wanted to be as cooperative as possible and had nothing to hide.
I walked around the ship with the Coast Guard as they went directly to the engine room as if this was a known problem. Flashlights were in every last area of the bilge looking issues. The spent the next 45 minutes looking at ever lower area of the ship but mostly focused on the engine room.
After they found nothing they were a little more loose and talkative. I found myself standing in the engine room with the Wharfinger and a few of the Coast Guard crew including the one in charge. They didn't look very pleased with the Wharfinger. With attitude the senior Coast Guard member of the group pointed his flashlight into the bilge and looked with a somewhat annoyed face and said to the Wharfinger, I have looked all over the entire ship and see nothing. He looked at the Wharfinger with upset eyes and said, do you see anything? The Wharfinger was silent for about 20 seconds while he looked at his feet and then the Coast Guard said once again but with a bit more conviction, Do you see anything sir? The Wharfinger said, no I guess not. The Coast Guard then said, Well then let's not waste anymore of our time on false information.
The Coast Guard then escorted the Wharfinger out of the ship and the Wharfinger did what he could to save face but the Coast Guard was not happy with him and let him leave with no smiles or handshakes. I was able to spend the next few minutes chatting with the Coast Guard crew. They were very nice to me and told me that they were called out by the Wharfinger for oil leaking from the ship and that it was reported that the engine room was flooded with oil and water. Apparently the Wharfinger flat out lied to them in hopes he would find a reason to attack the Aurora. At first I had all the respect in the world for the Port of SF but after this incident I lost some of that.
From that point forward I knew that the Port was not going to be an ally. They just wanted the Aurora gone along with all the other ships at the Pier and would do whatever it took to make this happen even it it meant jumping over some moral and legal lines.
I felt that I was clearly in over my head. It was just a matter of time until things became out of control. I spoke with both Mr. Potter and James with the details and asked for some advice for future incidents. Mr. Potters answer was simple. Fix the giant roll up door at the back of the Pier and lock it up so that the Port couldn't enter. So fallowing his direction that's just what we did. Now the Port had no access to the end of the pier. It was explained to me that while they were in a legal dispute the Port had no right to be nosing around. This was later confirmed.
Over the next days we continued working on the mooring system and getting the Aurora more and more secure for the coming winter weather. It was incredibly hard to work with so much stress stacked on my shoulders but we pounded through and continued to make progress both on the ship and on the mooring system.
I realized that it was only a matter of time until things started going bad. I had no choice but to keep going.