It is a miracle that no one was more seriously injuried or killed in the fire. I have spent hundreds of hours at McCotters and on one of the boats that was destroyed, Mercedes III. MIII was a 68', 1960, Grebe Motoryacht
. MIII had been painstakingly restored by Mary and Dallas Foreman over 6 and 1/2 years. When MIII arrived at McCotters in '04, she had been a derelict for years. The purchase price
was $1. The first time I saw MIII, I told Dallas he had overpaid! Little did I or my wife know that we would become linked to MIII in a very special way. My wife and I are sailboaters but we enjoy all types of boats. We, along with two other friends, became intrigued by the plans Mary and Dallas had for MIII. Over the last 6 and 1/2 years we worked at least one weekend per month helping to restore MIII.
Dallas recently estimated that he and Mary had between 7,000 and 10,000 hours each in the restoration
. Dallas estimated that my wife and I and our two friends had about 2,100 hours combined in the project
. MIII had been rebuilt from stem to stern. She was restored inch by inch and sometimes we did and re-did projects to get them right. Mercedes III had many "they don't built them like that anymore" traits. She was double bilge
clamped, "gill" ventilated, and "hogtied", just to name three. We had great fun doing the hard work of restoration
. She was rechristened on August 7th, exactly five months before the fire. The restoration project
was 98% completed. A little refit
and cleanup of the engine
room was all that remained. It was so sad to learn that Mercedes III had burned to the waterline on Friday morning. The important thing is that no one was more seriously hurt than they were and that no one died, but the loss of MIII and the other boats are terrible losses.
All the boats and their owners have great stories, but I know Mercedes III's story the best. It's amazing what otherwise sane people will do to be on and around boats. Someone asked me if I regretted all the hours spent working on MIII now that she's gone. I would do it all again for the learning
experience, the fun, the camaraderie and because boats are special. Boatwork is just different than other work. Mercedes III was one of, if not the last boat to burn. Her bow-stem is all that is left, above the water
in proud defiance. When I saw that her bow-stem never went down I was very proud of her, Mercedes III, a fine lady to the very end!