-The Unloved Boat-
This is one couple's idea of marriage therapy. It's the orbiter, a half car, half boat that Rick and Karen Dobbertin planned to take around the world. They hoped the voyage would spice up their marriage, but the two of them got more than they ever bargained for.
It was supposed to be the trip of a lifetime, a romantic voyage around the globe. Africa, India, Australia, the Caribbean. You only live once you might as well experience everything. The exotic trip was this man's dream.
Rick Dobbertin hoped it would put the spark back in his marriage, but Karen, his bride of one year thought it was just that ... a dream.
"At first, your like ... 'Sure, honey ... whatever," says Karen. But the 46-year-old master car craftsman wasn't joking and he had a plan.
Rick and Karen would try to become the first couple to circumnavigate the globe, not by boat, not by hot air balloon, but in what Rick calls 'the Orbiter.'
Once a milk tanker, Rick would spend 4 years, 14,000 hours, and the couple's life savings transforming it into a high tech land and water vehicle.
"People would say as a joke it has everything but the kitchen sink and I'd say it has the kitchen sink too," says Rick. Its got a 250 horsepower G.M. v-8 car engine, six B.F. Goodrich radials, an ocean navigation system, and dual steering. One for land, one for water.
On December 19th, 1993 with no specific course to follow, the Dobbertins bid a cheering crowd goodbye, embarking on the first leg of their trip. A drive from Syracuse, New York to Miami where the Orbiter would be launched into the Atlantic. "There were like 5,000 people there, and I think like 4,000 came to watch it sink." Says Rick. The faithful craft didn't sink, but within days Rick and Karen did hit rough waters ... outside and in. "You get salt water burns on your body and you are sunburned beyond recognition. I was sick the whole time," says Karen. Stuck inside the cramped and now overheated capsule; the lovebirds, on their fantasy getaway, were suddenly looking to get away from each other!
EXTRA asked Karen, "What would you argue over?"
"When something broke, he took it real personally," she replied.
There were internal fuel spills, radio malfunctions, and while they set a record as the first car to drive through the Panama Canal, Rick and Karen did run into trouble. "In Puerto Rico, we were stopped by the DEA and the FBI ... they thought we were Colombian drug smugglers, then when we got to Columbia, these Colombian guerrillas with their A-k 47-s and I thought ... here we go." The guerrillas let the couple go, but not without first posing for a photo. Their one year trip had turned into three and a half years of grueling togetherness.
By 1996, Rick and Karen were out of patience and out of money leaving them no choice but to come home. The orbiter was in pretty good shape, but the same couldn't be said of their marriage. When they got back, Karen filed for divorce. "Nothing panned out quite as we had hoped," she says. But what about the Orbiter? Who would get it? Who would even want it?
EXTRA asks Karen, "Would you go again? ... with Rick?"
"Definitely not with Rick!" But that's not even an option since Karen can't afford to buy Rick's share. Now this couple's one-ton, one-time love nest is on the auction block.
Asking price? $200,000.00! Low mileage, easy payments!
Could you be the a next adventurer? The orbiter is ready to roll! Contact Rick Dobbertin.Saturday April 3rd, 1999