Sea-battered ghost boat will cost $30,000 to fix
HILO » A 33-foot sailboat that was abandoned in Costa Rica seven months ago and apparently drifted nearly 5,000 miles before being discovered off Hawaii earlier this month will cost about $30,000 to restore, according to its owners.
Walter and Cristina Teper are determined to rehabilitate the Chaton De Foi, which had been their home for six years.
Thieves stripped the vessel of its electronic components, stereo and refrigerator.
"They ravaged it inside and out," Cristina Teper told the Hawaii Tribune-Herald. "We felt God gave it back to us, but not on a silver platter. We'll have to work for it."
The Chaton De Foi was spotted June 5 floating by fishermen about three miles off Milolii Bay on the Big Island. It was brought to shore and was reunited with Walter Teper.
"It's like the agony and the ecstasy. That's the only way I can describe it," he said. "(Cristina) was heartbroken, and when she saw the pictures, she cried like I did."
Walter Teper abandoned the sloop Dec. 2 after experiencing engine trouble and severe weather off Costa Rica. The mainsail broke, and the engine and generator had failed.
"I tried for a couple of days to keep the boat and get it back in, all to no avail," said Teper, a former New York City police officer and actor who has appeared in small roles on "ER" and "Matlock."
A passing container ship, the Northern Divinity, picked up Teper and took him all the way to South Korea.
The once-pristine boat is now scarred with salt spray, bird droppings and the other ravages sustained during its unmanned voyage to Hawaii.
"It's all we have," Teper said.
He said the boat is insured, but the policy only applies while the boat is within 100 miles of U.S. territory. Whether the insurer will cover the vandalism and theft damage remains to be seen.
After Teper returned from Korea, the couple eventually moved in with relatives in Jacksonville, Fla., but they continued to hold out hope for their floating home, which was lost at sea.
There was a reported sighting of it in February about 1,000 miles off the coast of Mexico, and then nothing -- until it was spotted off Hawaii.
Even without a lot of cash, the Tepers are hoping to make the vessel seaworthy again.
"We're faithful people. We believe in God and we hold on, and that's it," Teper said. "Material things are material."