We all know that you can find anything on Craigslist. Chris Willson found out that “anything” includes a massive, antique, derelict cruise ship. Who could say no to that?
Man Seeking Ship is a feature length documentary film that follows Chris Willson and his ship The Aurora. The Aurora is a 293’ cruise ship, built in Germany in 1955 and originally christened the Wappen von Hamburg. In the intervening decades the ship changed hands again and again, serving as a passenger ferry, a luxury cruise ship, a relief vessel, a religious refuge, and as bait in one man’s elaborate scam. In 2008, Chris stumbled upon a Craigslist ad that seemed too good to be true: the now rusted and weathered ship had made its way to the California Delta and was for sale online. When Chris first saw the Aurora, he didn’t see the abandoned vessel for what it had become, but for what it could be again. He couldn’t possibly have known what was in store for him.
Chris’s eyes light up when he is envisioning the next big project for the Aurora and his excitement is contagious. He follows his interests with a stubborn and tireless passion, especially when a project seems insurmountable. And that’s never more evident than when Chris is working and welding on his ship.
He and a dedicated team of volunteers and supporters have tirelessly scraped rust from the decks, repaired electrical systems that had kept the ship in the dark for decades, replaced rotting railings and stairs, and are slowly but surely breathing new life into the old ship.
Now, in 2021, despite massive effort and progress, the restoration is far from complete. The scope of the work is massive and daunting, but Chris pushes forward. He knows one day everyone will see The Aurora the way he has always seen it.