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Posted by: nauticalchronicles | October 4, 2011

IN THE BEGINNING

NAUTICAL CHRONICLES:
In The Beginning

Boating has been an adventure and a thrill; now it’s a passion. We could see it being a career if we don’t run out of time first.

I’m 62. My wife, Louise, is younger. For various reasons, 12 years ago we decided to “get into boating”. Don and Louise’s friend Debbie had taken us out, once, in his boat in the Merrimack River, and we became “infected”. Also, Louise’s father had always had a “water craft” of some type; his stories were so memorable that she thought it would be fun to buy a boat. The first step was to find it.

Having been automobile repossessors, we felt confident in our abilities to spot a “good deal”. We began our search by visiting boat dealers who handled repossessions. We quickly found a suitable craft: a 1989, 21’ Four Winns. We made, what we thought to be a skilled and outlandishly low-ball offer. To our surprise, it was immediately accepted by the out-of-state bank; they even threw in a trailer. Our confidence somewhat shaken, we closed the deal and brought it home. It was November.

I am from Ohio…central Ohio. There is not much water in central Ohio. Growing up, I never thought much about boats or boating. I firmly believed in my Zodiac sign which is land-based. My attempts at swimming & lifesaving merit badges had defined swimming, for me, as “staying alive in the water”.

Many years ago, I moved from Ohio to inland Maine (on a whim), then from Maine to inland Massachusetts (for work) and then from Massachusetts to inland New Hampshire (for political reasons). Finally, I moved to HAMPTON BEACH (for self employment). Until I was 50, my beach business, being seasonal, did not allow for extra-curricular summer sporting activity; again, boating had not crossed my mind. It entered our minds when I got a regular job with regular hours, benefits, weekends free & real vacations.

So here we are; November, 1996; a repo’d boat named “Half Mine” (half hers & half mine; the broken half always to be mine); stored in the side yard at the house; with no clue what to do with it come Spring-time. The answer…take a boating course. The course was informative, but it was like learning how to drive a car without ever having been in one. The instructions and terms were mysterious, foreign, overwhelming and frightening. But this did not quell our excitement (and anxiety) about the upcoming boating season. There is nothing so much fun as starting something new.

Don and Debbie’s boat, “Mudslide”, was docked at Larry’s Marina in the Merrimack River. Our new “Half Mine” managed to secure a slip next door, much to Don’s surprise. Someone from Larry’s launched our boat and got it into the slip for us. I was apprehensive from the 1st step I took onto the boat, in the water…it tipped back & forth; it was not as stable as it had been in the side yard, at home, on the trailer. Louise, of course, was more comfortable since she was “experienced” (besides boating with her dad, she had owned a small sailboat with four other families).

Heart in hands (and stomachs in mouths) we started the motor, untied the lines, put it in reverse & ventured forth on our first, never to be repeated, highly anticipated, boat trip…to the first red marker. OH S#$!T (something we’ve said many times since that first voyage). It didn’t steer like a car; it was “tippy”; we didn’t seem to have control of it; and how in the world were we going to get it back into that tiny little slip we had just left? It is hard to describe the trauma (and excitement) we felt at this first attempt at boating.

The following weekend, Don wanted to show us the “trick” to getting out of the mouth of the Merrimack River (we’ve since discovered, and been told, that the mouth has one of the most aggressive currents in the Northeast). There were at least 1,000 boats in the mouth that morning, with 4’-6’ waves, close together…and we attacked them all, at 4 knots. We didn’t know much about boating, but we did know that this was not comfortable. But rather than quit, we persevered.

The friendships we made that first season have been enduring and the experiences so numerous and memorable, nothing can compare. We learned, quickly, with our over-night trips to the Essex River above Gloucester, and to Portsmouth, New Hampshire, York and Kennebunkport, Maine, that our prized, 21’ cozy yacht (with no camper canvas) was not enough boat for our adventures. We needed a bigger boat.

We kept the Four Winns for that one boating season before finding the boat of our dreams…a 1989, 27’Carver Montego. It was to be a “go anywhere, stay anywhere, live-aboard” type of vessel. We were thrilled. It was our second season, our second boat, and we had changed marinas to be closer to the ocean. We were now at Cove Marina on the Merrimack River, closer to Newburyport with all its great summer activities. We were meeting new friends while still maintaining our old friendships.

If the first year was an adventure, the second was thrilling. Our trips included: the Charles River for the 4th of July; DiMillo’s Marina in Portland, Maine; Martha’s Vineyard; The Dockside Restaurant in Gloucester; Kennebunkport; York; the sighting of the Emerald City, and the trip on which we were escorted by the 1,000 dolphins. It was astonishing how much we learned in those first two seasons, with the two blown motors, the loss of steering, the broken hoses & bent props…first hand experience was truly our best education.

Our new friend, Paul, never cared much for the Carver. He said he’d rather “have a bad headache than a Carver” (he had a 30’ Sea Ray Express). But we loved our boat…until our trip at the end of our 2nd season through the Cape Cod Canal to Newport, Rhode Island. It was a very rough trip with very rough seas and our light-weight Carver was no match for what we were asking of her. Paul claimed he and Deb were “drinking champagne in stemware”, while we were following him, holding on for our lives. We needed a bigger boat!

Since Paul had been soooo comfortable on his Sea Ray, we opted for a similar boat. Before boat shopping this time, we really did our homework. We knew, before looking that we wanted a 34’ Sea Ray express, somewhere in the range from 1984-1987; anything newer would be too expensive. We started the search; we found one at Great Bay Marina in Newington, New Hampshire. Unfortunately…it was not for sale. It was up on blocks & needed help, but it was a 1989. We tracked down the owner who said “it’s not for sale”. We made him an offer anyway…which he accepted. Our 3rd season was starting with our 3rd “Half Mine” and we were thrilled (Paul was so upset that we had a bigger boat than his, he immediately sold his 30’ and got a 39’).

The 34’ was perfect. We went anywhere, anytime; and what a great party boat with the full camper canvas & wide beam; rainy, dull nights stuck at the docks weren’t so dull anymore. For seven seasons, Louise & I took “Half Mine” from Northeast Harbor, Maine to Liberty Landing, New Jersey…and we loved every minute of every adventure. This was when our “boating pastime” went from an adventure and a thrill to a passion.

Just the other morning, while reading Northeast Boating, I asked Louise what her three most memorable boating adventures have been. She immediately said her 1st was the sighting of the Statue of Liberty while coming down the East River; her 2nd was our trip from Castine, Maine through the Eggemoggin Reach, and her 3rd was our bare boat charter out of Road Town, Tortolla, BVI to Anegada Island.

It amazes me how she and I can have such different ideas. My most memorable voyages, to date, have been the “rogue wave” that broke over our bow on the way out of the river one day, the “assault on Hogg Island” in the Essex River one night by Paul & I, and the day the dolphins traveled with us out beyond Cape Ann (discounting of course, our 1st trip to the red marker from Larry’s Marina).

Now, I’m 62 (Louise is younger). We had thought about buying a condo in Florida for retirement; but then we thought about a bigger boat for retirement instead. A year ago July, we found “the boat of our dreams” (for now), in Essex, Connecticut, and bought it; a 1991, 46’ Post Sport fish (we don’t fish). Almost immediately, the price of diesel skyrocketed and our on-water adventures took a nose dive…except for Provincetown; but that’s another story.

Captain Robert Brown
First Mate Louise Brown

the little man

just starting out From Ohio First HalfMine and First Docking

the christening our original mariner 2nd Halfmine

Two original mates Capt Paul with 1st Mate Debbie Bagpiper and 3rd Halfmine

4th Halfmine 1st mate Louise just relaxing

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Responses

  1. PUBLISHED AT LAST!!!! Good for you … Look forward to more tales of “trips of epic proportions” as told by The Captain and First Mate!

  2. and I was one of the sailboat owners and was also on the maiden voyage to
    putting the boat in the slip for the first time, yes, I almost got whip lash but
    it was well worth it. And the rogue wave that threw me and Deb W on the floor and crashed our appetizers, well that was scary. But my dear friends,
    you are filled with wonderful wet memories and I love the blog. Keep it going,
    and you’ll have a BEST seller and maybe a movie, with Chevy Chase of course, and the griswolds. love ya. LynnZ

  3. Wow, nice job! I can relate to some of the more hair-raising adventures we’ve had boating, but most of all, the great memories we have made with our family and friends. Looking forward to more! Lynne

  4. Nice Job, I have a “few” memories of events of “epic proportions” in archive if you need material.

    Dottie

  5. Cheers!! Great Job Bob! and Younger Louise!
    xxoxoxo C & J

  6. Great reading Bob keep them coming


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