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Ghost Ship On The Seacoast

A couple who hoped to start a security business for this year’s World Cup has run into financial trouble as they also work to repair a large boat docked on New Hampshire’s Seacoast.  Andresa and Marcelo Nunez’s boat has now become something of a mysterious legend to those who have seen it drifting in Hampton Harbor.  NHPR’s Sean Hurley brings us the story.

When the tide is out you can walk from the end of Tuttle Avenue across the marsh grass and come down over the wet sand to take a closer look at the Guest List a 70 foot boat that broke its moorings in Hampton Harbor and beached itself in February.  

Local people have different names for it.  Some call the ghost ship. Some the "papier mache' boat" for its lack of engines, radar antennas, anchor, signs of life.  Because it looks more like a movie prop, hollow and unfinished, Alicia Preston says the early rumors were cinematic.

Some of the fun rumors were it was about intended to be blown up in a Denzel Washington movie. I actually tweeted at Denzel to come get his boat.

Preston's cottage at the end of Tuttle Avenue is maybe 50 yards from the bow of the Guest List.

It is aimed directly at my house and that's why it was freaky. In my family room which is in the back of the house, the side is all glass and you'll sit there at night and glance over when you're watching TV and you'll just see this boat and it looks like it staring at you, like game on! You know?

But all kidding aside, Preston's worried.

As it got closer and as the storms would get fierce in the high tides would come we actually got concerned that it might hit the house in a big enough storm. We've had docks, big docks come in, so we were concerned actually that it could be a danger to our home.

On the stern of the Guest List someone's tied a rope with a foothold and with a little effort you can climb aboard.  With the permission of James Patenaude, the co-owner of Hampton Harbor Boatworks - who, as he describes it, is babysitting the Guest List for its owners - I take a closer look.

There's no bridge, no galley, no wheelhouse or helm. The inside is mostly not there.  Bare wood.  A taupe rug covers half the main floor, the rest is plywood.  An unfinished bathroom, a kitchen cabinet, temporary stairs leading up and down.  Jim Patenaude explains.

That particular boat was an old wooden Navy gunship. The previous owner before this couple bought it - he fiberglassed over the wood and started on the restoration. The inside was all gutted and he started wiring it and basically building it out like a house.

If everything had gone well for the current owners, it might eventually have become their family home.

Andresa and Marcelo Nunez. They are the owners of the boat. They're originally from Mexico and they had a house in Miami. They sold their house in Miami to use that money to invest in a security business and also buy this boat.

They hired Patenaude to outfit the Guest List with engines while they went to Brazil to start up a company that would provide security during the World Cup.  The Nunez plan - install the engines, take the boat to Miami, remove the engines and live on the boat with their three children and the money from the new company.   But the World Cup business didn't pan out and then-

When they came back from Brazil the guy they bought the motors from had gone out of business so they didn't have the motor.

With no engines, and no better viable place to anchor the Guest List, the boat would have to stay in Hampton Harbor through the winter.  Which  became the new problem. The original deep mooring was near the bridge that runs between Hampton and Seabrook.  Concern that rough winter weather might drive the boat into the bridge meant that the Guest List would have to be moved into the shallower harbor where the small boats are anchored.  Patenaude says the bost was moored with three separate chains, but still it broke free.

When it beached itself this strut went through the floor and caused a little fiberglass damage to the bottom that allows water to come in. So when the tide comes in it fills up with water. Tide goes out the water drains out.

After making a temporary fix in the hull, Patenuade's Boatworks is ready to tow the Guest List to Newburyport for repairs.

It was supposed to be this upcoming week but we're waiting for a check from them cause nothings gonna happen until everybody gets paid up front.

But whether the Nunez 's can afford the towing fee or even still want the boat is not yet clear.  For now, Alicia Preston sits on her porch and gazes over the harbor.

And I have a beautiful sunset here. And instead of my beautiful sunset I stare at this when I sit on my porch. It's a boat set!

A "boat set" that Preston fears may never set.