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Timing questioned in fundraising for Boston-area boat owner

An online fundraising effort to help replace the boat destroyed in a shootout between authorities and a suspect in the Boston Marathon bombing case has raised questions ranging from what type of boat it was to what happens when property is taken as evidence.

But one of the biggest questions asked in online forums on message boards was: Is it too soon to think about the boat?

The boat is a 1981 24-foot Falcon, possibly marketed as a Seabird since Falcon purchased the tooling from that company.

Larry Russo Sr., of Russo Marine, told Trade Only Today that he has been inundated with people asking whether he is going to step into an effort to help David Henneberry get a new boat, so he looked up the public registration information to see whether the Watertown, Mass., resident was already a customer.

“This is too raw, it’s too soon. We shouldn’t be talking about fiberglass right now,” Russo said.

A campaign launched Saturday by Craig Dunlap, of Texas, on Crowdtilt — a site that seeks to make pooling money simple — asks donors to give until $50,000 is raised to replace or restore Henneberry’s boat.

Henneberry, breaking days of silence, told WCBV: "It makes me feel wonderful that people are thinking like that, but it is my boat. People lost lives and lost limbs. I'd rather that [the money] go to the One Fund Boston. To buy me a new boat is a wonderful thing. I don't want that, really. They lost limbs. I lost a boat.”

Ajay Mehta, who is with San Diego-based Crowdtilt, responded to criticism that the fund was created too quickly after the attacks.

“It wasn’t like this was the most important cause right now. It was more about reaching out with a hand of support to a man who was unwittingly thrust into the spotlight,” Mehta told Trade Only. “It’s not like fundraising or charity. It’s just people can chip in if they want to.”

Watertown Police Lt. Michael Lawn told Trade Only that the boat is in federal hands. The FBI said it wouldn’t comment even generally regarding what happens with property confiscated as evidence because of the high profile of the investigation.

The Associated Press reported that Boston police and firefighter unions said they would give $50,000 to anyone who provided information leading to a suspect’s arrest. But even if there is a reward “it’s not really boat-replacement money,” Mehta said.

"Slip Away is slipping away, but I say it did its job,” Hennebery told the station. “It held a bad guy and is going away like a Viking ship."

Click here for the WCVB video.

— Reagan Haynes

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