PLYMPTON, Mass. (AP) _ Plympton would be proud to be home to an 85-foot yacht commissioned by Adolf Hitler, town officials say, but the vessel that touched off a stir in nearby Plymouth may never reach Massachusetts at all.
Charles T. Sanderson III, of Kingston who purchased the German yawl Ostwind last week for $1, wants to display the boat in a military and maritime museum he is developing at a former concrete plant in this town 10 miles inland from coastal Plymouth.
But his associate, Richard Swete, said Thursday that the yacht is in such serious disrepair that it may not be worth transporting from its present berth in Jacksonville, Fla.
″She’s mired in the mud down there and the tide flows in and out of the hull,″ Swete said. ″Whether it’s even worth it to get it here is certainly questionable.″
The yawl was commissioned in 1939 by Hitler to promote Nazi supremacy in racing, according to Horace Glass, of Lebanon, N.H., who spent 12 years and $178,000 trying to restore the boat in Jacksonville before selling it to Sanderson.
Glass said Hitler apparently used it about a dozen times to entertain and once was photographed on board with his mistress, Eva Braun.
″That’s where the rumor began that it was Hitler’s yacht - he ordered her built and he used her as a pleasure boat,″ he said.
Initial reports that Sanderson planned to moor the yacht near Plymouth Rock, where the Pilgrims landed in 1620, set off an uproar in Plymouth, which bills itself as ″America’s hometown.″ Plymouth officials decried the rumored plans as an affront to the Jewish community.
Glass said he was amazed by the reaction because he had received only praise from the Jewish community in Jacksonville for trying to restore the ship.
″Look how much money the Jews have spent trying to keep the Holocaust alive in the minds of the public. That’s for one purpose only - so that people don’t forget,″ he said.
Sanderson said Wednesday the flap could have been avoided because he never planned to keep the ship in Plymouth.
″I am genuinely upset about the furor and the confusion this story has caused,″ he said. ″It never was my intention to emphasize Hitler’s connection with the Ostwind, and I don’t want Plymouth people to think I would harm them in any way.″
Selectmen in Plympton, meantime, say they would welcome the ship in their town, adding they have heard no negative reaction from residents.
″I think our board’s feeling is that it can have infamous things as well as famous things in our museum,″ said Selectman Dave Barrow.
Residents ″would rather have a museum there than a concrete plant,″ he said. ″They would prefer something like that than concrete gravel trucks coming out.″
Swete stressed that Sanderson hopes to house a variety of military and maritime relics in the museum, including the General Arnold, which sank in Plymouth Harbor during a 1778 storm, and memorabilia from the seven Arctic expeditions of Admiral Richard E. Byrd.