Plum Island resident Charles Crowley had befriended Decker and was working with him to improve the equipment on his boat. According to Crowley, Decker was in his early 50s and a native of Germany who had been living in the United States for a while.
“Richard grew up on the Rhine River and worked on boats there,” Crowley said. “I don’t know exactly why he came to this country, but I think he was some sort of scientist.”
Crowley said Decker bought the Endeavor and had been working on it at a Haverhill marina, before putting it in the water about a month ago. At first he wanted to sail the boat to Hampton for the winter, then the plan changed to sailing down to Boston, Crowley said. That idea also changed because winter was coming and the boat didn’t have the necessary equipment needed to make the voyage to Boston, Crowley said.
At Cashman Park yesterday in hopes of somehow helping, Crowley said he got a call from Decker last night at 8:40 p.m. The call came in on Crowley’s cell phone, but he wasn’t aware of it until this morning.
“I feel terrible that I didn’t answer that call,” Crowley said. “I bet he might have been calling about his dog, Toleman.”
Ipswich resident Sally Thomson, another friend of Decker, was also at Cashman Park. She’d received a call from the Coast Guard because they found her phone number on Decker’s cell phone.
“He’s a sweet man,” Thomson said. “He lived with me for a year. He was living in his mobile home and he kept it at my place. When it got too cold for the mobile home, he came inside.”
Crowley and Thomson said Decker was very handy and while they knew him he worked odd jobs to support himself. He worked for people in the region, they said.