Phin Hitchcock, the director of Fireside Ministries & Industries, said he plans to restore the boat and turn it into a stage for attractions at the market.
“(Fireside Ministries’) whole mission is restoration of people and places,” he said. “This is an object that needs saving and restoring. We want to use it for good.”
Hitchcocok was first attracted to the idea of restoring the shrimp trawler left abandoned in the water for several years after reading stories in The Augusta Chronicle about the problems abandoned boats were causing.
Hitchcock asked the boat’s owner, Ray Thompkins, to donate it to Fireside Ministries, a program started in 1992 when Hitchcock closed his nursery business and began work as a agricultural evangelist, planting gardens in local public housing and sharing the word of God.
Employees at Riverfront Marina and White Crane Co. lifted the 15-ton boat from the water, with the assistance of a diver. The effort took about one hour.
“When I first heard I thought it was a great idea,” said Chuck Young, a board member at Fireside, as he looked on. “Phin’s a real visionary.”
Hitchcock said he is required to submit a plan to the state before the boat can be moved to its new home at the market, where restoration will begin. He expects the restoration to take about three months.
The boat, which was taken behind the marina, will sit at the market on the lot next to the country store, also run by Fireside, and will serve as a stage for speakers and performers. Hitchcock said it will be a sort of “novelty” that adds to the market.
Young said it’s not only a positive for Fireside, but for the Savannah River too.
“I think people were glad to get it out of the river,” he said. “It was an eyesore.”