What an awesome community this is.
Within a week of publishing a story about the mysterious, abandoned yacht at the old Kaiser Shipyard — including my desperate plea for tips after a monthlong wild goose chase — I received no fewer than three dozen calls and emails from readers.
Of those responses, a few stood out — one in particular. On Nov. 2, I received a call from a man named Jerry Miller who claimed to have managed the fiberglass department at Christensen Motor Yacht Corp. from 1983 to 1991.
If you recall from my first foray into this mystery, the old boat still haunting the Columbia Business Center was linked to a 1990 fire at Christensen Shipyards that destroyed the 125-foot vessel Emerald Isle. That would have been during Miller’s tenure, and the first words out of his mouth sure caught my attention: “I built that boat,” he said breezily. I like to think I stayed equally as cool, as if I hadn’t immediately started bouncing up and down in my desk chair, earning a weird look from our features reporter.
“We had a fire in 1990 and that boat filled up with water,” Miller continued. “The overhead sprinklers filled the boat up with 5 or 6 feet of water … the fire department was there, they were so afraid the boat was going to tip over and knock over the boats next to it.”
Then, when I thought it couldn’t get any better, he mentioned a chainsaw.
“I said, ‘Give me that chainsaw. I’ll go underneath the boat and cut a hole in it.’ ” As the person who oversaw the boat’s construction, Miller said he knew how to drain the vessel while causing minimal damage.