Wrecked Boat Removed from Hutchinson Island - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

09/19/05

Wrecked Boat Removed from Hutchinson Island

We first brought you the story of filmmaker Jennifer Spell and her next documentary subject back in June (Man Shipwrecked on Hutchinson Island). Charles Blanda had been stranded for weeks on Hutchinson Island after his boat, Jean, suffered a hull breach.

"Definitely better than being stranded in Jersey," he told us today. "Savannah's a beautiful city. And I enjoyed the sights as well as the people."

Now, Jean and Charles are off the island. "I'm at the end of the saga of Jean," he said. "And at the beginning of my next leg to get down to Costa Rica."

He sold the 92-year-old boat to a Tybee Island man and Monday morning, she was towed off Hutchinson. Spell has followed the tale with her camera through its ups and downs.

"It's not just a movie," she said. "It's how all these lives kind of started intertwining around this boat in efforts to save here. It's triumph of the human spirit. I think it's bigger than the boat at this point. But I guess we're all going to go down with the ship if she doesn't get up out of the water, I should say."

And that looked like it was going to happen earlier today. The new owner, Eldo Hartz, tells us they were initially refused at the dock of Thunderbolt Marine, Inc.

"We got here and they said no, we couldn't put it here," Eldo said. He told us he did have a verbal arrangement which wasn't being honored. We called Thunderbolt Marine, where management declined to comment.

But they eventually agreed to store the boat, for which Eldo has big plans.

"It would be to put it on Tybee Island, and restore her to original beauty and more and to use her as a maritime museum or a meeting space for boaters or maybe a living space or an office," he said. "A bar, maybe an oyster bar."

He says she'll be in a place people can enjoy her another ninety years.

Eldo has more work to do. He needs to arrange land transport to Tybee and of course, there will be lots of work to restore her.

If you're interested in the project, they've put up a website with contact information:

www.savingthejean.com

Reported by: Charles Gray, cgray@wtoc.com

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