“As soon as I opened the doors that used to be here, in rushed a gust of air, stirred up propane, hits the lamp and explodes,” Wilkinson explained.
Wilkinson was badly burned on his face, hands and feet after a propane leak caused the explosion. He said he only planned on staying at Wrightsville for several days, but now he's stuck for months.
“I was still kind of in emotional shock. It was difficult, and I kind of kept myself going like a stone across it so I wouldn’t sink in, because I thought if I have to experience and face all the emotional impact of this all at one time I’m going to plunge into a depression,” he said.
Wilkinson said he has only owned the boat for about a year, and spent last summer restoring it. He was working his way down the east coast to meet up with his son, who lives in Florida. He said a group of boaters in Wrightsville have let him stay on their boats, and offered to help with repairs.
“Something about it brings back a spark of hope where this can back to where it was,” Wilkinson said.
He added that he's looking forward to charting his course with his son once repairs are complete.
“And we can finally get on with it, and I’ll be a little more careful with the propane,” Wilkinson laughed.