<< Previous    1  [2]  3  4  5    Next >>

No one remembers what happened to the refugees. The Agoo authorities hauled their boat farther up the beach, smashing the keel and the rudder. For the next five years the boat sat abandoned on the beach, visited only by kids and the blowing sand.

Meanwhile in San Fabian, a group of retired American servicemen, all over 65 years of age, planned a small and private clubhouse. Their idea was simple - patch up the refugee boat in Agoo, tow it to San Fabian in the south-eastern corner of the Lingayen Gulf, a distance of about 13 miles, then up the San Fabian River about half a mile, drag it up under a tree, erect a cover, and hey presto - an instant bar and clubhouse.

Among the architects of the plan were Don Powers and Wally Brooks; Bob Jackson, a Supply Sergeant who had worked with Wally in the Air Force; and Bonnie and Kuga Sison, local businessmen.

In January 1991 they approached the mayor of Agoo who was more than happy to be rid of the boat, more so when the group offered him $500 for it. They decided to call their acquisition the Saigon Queen, and set about preparing for her final voyage.

Proceeding with the care of archaeologists Don and his team dug and scraped day after day, their spirits buoyed by obvious progress and copious crates of beer. The excavation proved to be a far bigger job than they had first thought. Although only 40 feet long the boat had massive depth and bulk, measuring over 12 feet from the keel to the highest point on the bow.

Above the sand, where the hull had been exposed to the elements, its one inch thick teak planking gaped open, the caulking having dried and fallen out. They replaced this with a local caulking made from ground coconut husks. As they dug deeper they were surprised to find the caulking almost intact.

They removed and stowed the superstructure - this would later form part of the kitchen - and repaired the keel. Then, using railroad jacks, painstakingly raised the boat onto rollers cut from the trunks of coconut trees.
<< Previous    1  [2]  3  4  5    Next >>