DANA POINT – A small 14 foot boat once owned by a longtime Dana Point liveaboard and active boater now sits in the backyard of a Capistrano Beach home awaiting its new owner.
Rita Hughes agreed to allow her good friend, Don Eckrote to work on the vessel in her home in 2011. Eckrote died in 2012 after a lengthy bout with cancer. He was 55.
Hughes is now left with a few options: Dispose of the vessel, donate it, or gift it to a passionate boater.
“It needs work but I don’t’ want to trash it,” Hughes said. “It’s structurally sound but needs cosmetic work.”
Eckrote and his wife, Judy, lived aboard a boat in Dana Boat Harbor for more than 20 years. The Dana West Yacht Club member was bitten by the boating bug at a young age when his parents purchased a Grand Banks slipped in Long Beach. Throughout his lifetime, the Certified Public Accountant owned a Columbia sailboat and power boats.
“He always enjoyed working on boats,” said Hughes who is also a member of Dana West YC.
The 14-foot boat formerly owned by a fellow yacht club member, once paraded through the harbor during Fourth of July festivities. Eckrote learned that the vessel was stored away and asked its owner if he could have the boat.
“The former boat owner gave it him so he could restore it to its old glory,” Hughes said. “Don always commented on how cool it was.”
Eckrote asked Hughes if she’d store the boat at her house where he’d work on it from time to time. Hughes remembered quickly saying yes.
“We had been good friends for years and years and friends help out friends,” she recalled.
Hughes would often spend afternoons out in the yard with Judy as Eckrote, a friend and sometimes Hughes’ husband, worked on restoring the boat. They installed a new engine and repainted the hull before Eckrote became too ill to continue work on the vessel.
“It was impossible for him to work on it,” she said.
Now, Hughes intends to help realize the goal of bringing the boat back to its glory days. She hopes to find a boater just as passionate about boat building as her friend was.
Hughes and her husband initially considered rebuilding the boat themselves but decided it’s best to gift the boat to someone else.
“I would like it to go to someone who would like a project to rebuild the boat, she said. “Don was 100 percent invested in boating.”
“He was such a good friend,” she said. “It would be a great project for somebody.”
For more information on the boat, email Rita Hughes at email@example.com.