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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — A Brunswick County man says after years of work, Cape Fear Community College ruined his antique steamboat instead of restoring it.

“It went in a showboat. It came back a shipwreck,” Dominick Dellaripa said.

Dellaripa says he brought his 1960s steamboat to CFCC several years ago after instructor Ed Verge said he would restore the boat in the school’s boat shop.

“People that ran the boat building shop agreed they could restore the decking, and other incidentals on the boat at a reasonable cost, and it would be good training for the students,” Dellaripa said.

Dellaripa says he put a $500 deposit down to cover the initial cost, but when he finally got the boat back seven years later, he says it was a complete disaster.

“All the antique fastenings were removed. All the antique chalks and cleats,” Dellaripa said.

He says he has lost $500 in the ordeal, and worst of all, he says his boat is in pieces.

“It looked like they took everything apart with a sledgehammer,” Dellaripa said.

But Verge, who no longer works at the college, says they spent the $500 fixing the floor, engine, bulkhead and deck; renovations he estimates cost around $5-6,000. He says he did not finish the project because he and his students ran out of time, and did not understand the amount of work involved in this renovation.

In a statement, CFCC spokesman David Hardin said, “We are currently looking into his concerns to get a full understanding of the issue. Once we have more details, we will be working with Mr. Dellaripa directly to resolve the matter as soon as possible.”

Dellaripa says he wants someone to take responsibility for what he says is $20,000 worth of damage and missing parts. He says he also wants his money back.

Comment on this Story

  • Kathleen

    i would be very upset if this was my pride and joy. especially, to have a nice boat go in for some renovations and turned out like this.The school agreed that they could do the renovations at a reasonable cost. Any contractor who know’s their business knows what goes into a project and how long it should take. I find this school at fault. Mr verge states he did not finish this project because lack of time and the amount of work involved. This boat is in pieces a total ship wreck it is. If they agreed that they could do the job they should be held responsible for this mess. Good luck Mr. Dellaripa

  • titanboat

    why would someone think its a good idea to have an antique restored by well meaning novices..im sorry for your loss, but really? a full resto of that boat should cost upwards of 50K.

  • dominick

    they were going to refinish the deck, and put in a new floor timber, that is all! They tore every thing apart, things no way related to the deck or floor timber. Had no reason to dismantle the boiler safety valves! They created a $50,000 project out what was supposed to be a mere cosmetic situation. The college was showing off at it’s boat show fully built much more complex boats under supervision of “Master Boat Builder.” Their words not mine. So Mr. Titan Boat, that’s the deal.

  • Guest also

    Why in the world did it take 7 years for the owner to find out what had been done to his boat? Did he not check on the progress from time to time?

  • Guest9873

    As is the case with almost everything they do at CFCC, they they’ve dropped the ball. They’ve even still have “Master Boat Builder” listed as the “Lead Instructor, CFCC Boat Building Program”.

    Also, there’s a picture of Mr Dellaripa’s boat at CFCC way back in 2006 in a Star News article about boat building. The registration number on the boat in the article is the same as the one in the video for this story NC 5774 CV. The decking around the outside of the boat was still present, and the paint and registration numbers were still on the outside of the boat. That should substantiate that it was in CFCC’s possession when all that was removed, and that they turned it into the sandblasted mess that was shown later in the video. While it’s in the background behind Mr. Master Boat builder, at leat it still looks like a boat, and it apparently looked good enough at that point that it could be shown in an article about boat building.


    Even the “CAPTCHA” for posting this was appropriate: “half done”

  • Guest2013

    Who puts 500.00$ down on repairs then kicks back
    And waits seven years to check on project? You can’t
    Store a boat for seven years for 500.00. CFCC should
    check into what he owes them.

  • windy

    Who in their right mind would entrust a group of STUDENTS to do work on their valuable “antique” for a mere $500, and expect the boat to return in pristine condition, fully restored yet containing all the original “antique” details. The blame lies fair and square with the boat owner. Sounds like he was trying to get something for nothing, and is now crying sour grapes because it didn’t work out that way.

  • Guest-o-matic

    ..because you know ZERO about boats, why they float or how they move. This was a wonderful student project that could’ve easily been accomplished with a real “Master Boat Builder” as a leader, not a Volkswagen mechanic. You clearly do not understand the “basics” of marine restoration.

    The 500 clams was only a deposit on the scope of the project. The result of these years of work by CFCC is utterly embarrassing to say the least! Reprehensible is more accurate.

    CFCC, you need to make this right!!! Otherwise, cancel your “Boat Building” program now and go back to your “Underwater Basket Weaving” program. UBW101.

  • Guestomfg

    So why seven years? The boat must not have meant very much to you if you didnt check on it for seven years. They probably thought you abandoned it. Your fault.

  • jj

    “It looked like they took everything apart with a sledgehammer,” Dellaripa said.

    I look at the video a couple of times and saw no signs of any of the fittings looking like there were any hammer marks. It looks like to me he was hoping for CFCC to fund his project. I would have been taking the boat class and helping overseeing the project if the boat was mine.

  • Guest-o-matic

    If CFCC can’t do any better than that, they should go into the toilet cleaning business and attempt to be No. 2 at No. 2, because they sure as heck aren’t No. 1 at boat building!

    The students had no guidance. They had nobody to set goals, understand legacy boatbuilding, nor perform anything close to a restoration. This vessel was clearly robbed of it’s authenticity. The “Master Boat Builder” of this project couldn’t do a respectable job of gluing a toy, model JON boat together in a reasonable amount of time. Where does this “Master Boat Builder” crap title come from?

    This could’ve been a substantial project accomplishment for the boat building apprentices at CFCC. The results were a total disaster comprising of total lack of management and guidance! This is THE very reason there aren’t many competent craftsmen left anymore!


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