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Professor Toro: Back (storage) Rent Weighs on Ship Owner

October 10, 2013

Professor Toro: Back Rent Weighs on Ship Owner

Gerry Kehoe, everyone's "favorite" entrepreneur, has made the news again, this time in Port Townsend, Wash., where his Western Flyer vessel sits and collects storage fees.

The Peninsula Daily News up there along the lovely Washington coast reports that the boat, made famous by the duo of John Steinbeck and Ed Ricketts, has been on blocks at the port since July and that Kehoe considers it impolite of port officials to expect to be paid for their hospitality.

The derelict 72-footer was raised from its undersea spot near Anacortes three years ago. Kehoe bought it and said he plans to use part of it in a restaurant he is putting together in Oldtown Salinas.

Builders of the boat are appalled by that plan, fearing the classic craft could be converted into a nautical salad bar or somesuch. The builders and Monterey County residents are exploring a possible purchase to protect the boat's historic value, but no deal has materialized.

Kehoe, of course, is the controversial Floridian who has dangled impressive construction contracts in front of Salinas officials for years, including hotel projects downtown, but whose performance has never quite matched his sales pitches.

In a recent email to the port director, Kehoe wrote, "We would ask you to review benignly the $2,000 rental fee (per month) for the rear area of the Port (as this is higher than the rent on a four-bedroom house)," according to Daily News staffer Charlie Bermant.

"This is a historic vessel merely parked there on a long-term basis (and) is not using any of the wide-ranging amenities of the port," Kehoe continued.

The port agreed to drop $200 in late fees if Kehoe would pay the back rent of $10,000 by Oct. 20. Kehoe was told rent is required because the space the boat occupies has access to power, water and other amenities sought by paying customers.

"With the commercial fishing fleet returning from Alaska, all our spaces in the yard are in demand," Kehoe was informed.

In an earlier email to port officials, Kehoe complained media interest was hampering his efforts to make things right. He cited "continual threats" from the press to report about the matter and disclosure in two newspapers of the amount owed.

"The hype perpetrated by your media prevents us from taking the appropriate action with this important vessel and therefore (the vessel) is there until the hype dies down," Kehoe wrote, according to the newspaper.

Port officials said Kehoe will receive an impound notice in the near future if he doesn't pay up. The arrears could be taken from an initial deposit he put down.

                              — Professor Toro