Posted by: nauticalchronicles | December 27, 2011



The General’s Boating Friends

Our friend, “The General” on “C” Dock, has noted (and rightly so) that “it’s difficult remembering all these Peters and Davids on our docks”.  He has said that he may need to cut back on his whiskey intake this coming season; he doesn’t remember any Marys except for the one at the Thirsty Whale; he needs to be more aware of who is on the docks (or what is on the rocks); he does however remember his other friends Bud, a Mr. Daniels, a Captain by the name of Morgan, a Mexican fellow Jose and a gentleman named Jack on “A” Dock.

Well, I’m here to refresh his memory about who is on the docks and who Peter and Mary are (and no, this is not the other Peter from “D” dock).

Peter and Mary Smith have the 50’ Carver Californian live-aboard style vessel on “A” dock, slip A-42 (it is the maximum size boat allowed at our marina).  Their boats name is “Out Of Service”.  She is a circa 1985 vessel with twin GAS motors that are rarely in good running order.  They love that boat but we’re not certain why.  They have become “attached” to it, literally due to all the hanging potted plants and flowers, not to mention the forest of weeds growing from the dock edges because of the bird seed overflowing the edges of their feeders.

 The Carver

They summer with us in Salisbury on the Merrimack River, and winter in Rye Harbor at the Rye Harbor Marina.  Living aboard in the winter requires them to put up an ungainly wood framework for their clear shrink wrap; they also have a stovepipe sticking out the side for whatever heating system they use (we don’t want to know).  Their winter neighbors stay as far from them as possible due to the likelihood of fire (their winter neighbors have also heard about some of their past mishaps).

They were 30-something years old when we first met them several years ago, and appear to be remaining at 30-something, probably due to their healthy life-style and diet. Trim and energetic, they like to dance, workout, run; they have kayaks on the boat which they use often (the girls on our docks ogle Peter when he’s in his wet suit). They have no children. The boat has a 12-speaker stereo system and is well-equipped for parties of which they have many; oh…the stories!

He owns UCM-Pest Control Services, a New Hampshire LLC.  The corporate motto is “We see ‘em, we kill ‘em”.  The logo is a bumble bee smoking a cigar and run through with a marine officer’s Mameluke sword; the bee has a tiny pink tongue hanging from its mouth.  He has several fairly weird employees whom we’ve only met in passing and, of course, a fleet of UCM vehicles (including a termite rig with his logo painted on the side).

Mary is self-employed as a copy editor and works for a number of local and national publishers.  She prefers murder and mayhem novels and has a vivid imagination.  She has also edited many short stories for boating magazines.  Unfortunately, due to the economy, her editing in the past year has been limited to pet-related publications (they have no pets) and Black Belt, a karate magazine (she studies Kempo).  She is able to do most of her work from her office on the boat but is forced to travel some and doesn’t like it (are you beginning to remember these folks now General?)

Most of us can’t understand how Peter and Mary are still boating after all they have been through.  Heck…most of us can’t understand how they are still alive.

The last time they took the Carver out was the day after a hurricane.  I know it sounds unlikely, but the river was calm and the weather was sunny and warm.  They had several relatives on board with them.  They thought they’d “take a peek” out the mouth.  Well…as they ventured forth, slowly, the surf at the mouth of the river began to build; as they “peeked”, so did one of the waves “peak”.  In boating parlance, two rogue waves, close together attacked them before they knew what was happening.  Their boat climbed the first wave, only to descend the other side and chop the second wave in half.  The Carver is a sturdy vessel and managed to survive the “green water” plunge with only a shattered windshield and a broken chair.  Peter was, miraculously, unharmed but his entire crew was saturated.  He was lucky no one was lost in this onslaught.  He was able, again miraculously, to rotate the boat on the crest of the second wave, without pitch poling or broaching, and surf back into the harbor with his frightened and soaked passengers. Needless to say, their vessel was “out of service” for the next several weeks (the windshield has been replaced; not the chair).  And this was just the last time they went out.

Peter and Mary have had 4 vessels; this Carver is their largest, and we can’t believe they still have it since they’ve not been lucky in hanging on to a boat for a very long period of time.

The next-to-last “Out Of Service” (they’ve kept the same name for all their boats) was a 1977, 30’ Penn Yan Sportfish (some pronounce it “pinion”).  We all remember (except maybe The General) how their story went regarding this vessel.  They were bringing the boat from the point-of-purchase in Boston back to Salisbury.  They had made their final inspections for this voyage and were comfortable with the on-board systems functionality; everything seemed to be working fine.  A short distance outside Boston, they were hailed on the VHF by the Coast Guard; apparently they were inside a restricted zone used for off-loading LNG tankers.  They made haste to exit the area, but not before two jets, dispatched from Hanscom AFB in Bedford to intercept them, dived on their boat indicating to them the need for added acceleration away from this zone.  So, they accelerated.  Just south of Cape Ann, they encountered engine problems…both motors quit running.  Their acceleration away from the LNG security area had most likely loosened the exhaust hoses allowing water to enter the engine room (we’ll never know for certain).  Unfortunately for them, the water had risen nearly to the flybridge before they became aware of their predicament (they certainly should have noticed how close they were getting to water level).  They barely had enough time to dawn life jackets before their new (to them) Penn Yan sank gracefully beneath them ending the shortest period of ownership they’d known.  Of course, they were successfully rescued by a Coast Guard cutter, probably dispatched by the same person who sent the planes to the LNG zone.  As Peter said, “where were the planes when we really needed them?” Their 30’ Penn Yan, “Out Of Service” was never recovered and is now home to various bottom-dwelling, aquatic sea creatures.

The Penn Yan (pinion)

Immediately after “the sinking”, they found and fell in love with a 1968, 38’ Tollycraft Tri-Cabin which also had twin GAS motors.  This is a vessel we can’t forget.  In the two seasons Peter and Mary had “the T-Craft” as they called it, it only made two voyages…one each season. 

The Tollycraft (T-Craft)

Talk about a vessel “out of service”; their first year’s voyage was from the Merrimack to Boothbay Harbor.  They actually made it to Boothbay; it was the return voyage which proved challenging.  Just north and east of Casco Bay, near Bald Head Cove, in a minefield of lobster traps, their T-Craft, with one of its props, hooked one of the pot buoy ropes with such force that the boat was spun, in place, hard enough so that the second prop also hooked another pot.  Both buoys hit the boat with enough force to shatter them and to make Peter think he had blown an engine.  As the boat was spinning around, in place, he immediately shut down both engines and began the lengthy process of determining how much damage had been done.  The boat of course continued to spin, subsequently drifting over several more lobster buoys and ropes, exacerbating his situation; he was hopeful that the lobstermen who owned these particular pots would not be coming to check on them any time soon.  However, he also needed to determine how to get out of this mess.  As The General will now surely remember, Peter did not tell us how he got out of the mess (and he never has); we only saw that they were towed back to the marina by Boat US, and we found out later that the damage was substantial enough to end that years on-water boating adventures (not however their on-dock adventures).

The next year, with all repairs made and the boat again boat-worthy, they planned their vacation trip to Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket and “The Cape”.  The boat fire occurred just south of Boston near Minot’s Ledge Light.  At least they were close enough to Boston for the Coast Guard fireboat to reach them; the fire extinguished, they were towed to Marina Bay for, what turned out to be, extensive repair work.  That’s how far they made it on their planned vacation; no Cape, no Martha’s Vineyard and certainly no Nantucket. Since this ill-fated voyage was taken early in the season, they spent most of that summer without a boat.  Later that boating season, for obvious reasons, they went to Boston by car and took the ferry to the islands for their vacation.  But in the end, it worked out well for them.  By mid-October, they had found the boat of their dreams. Incredibly, they found a buyer for the Tollycraft and immediately purchased the current “Out Of Service” Carver which remains here, each season on “A” dock. 

And now, after all this “refreshing”, if The General can’t remember these folks (who are some of his closest friends) and their antics, he really does need to cut back on the whiskey this coming season!  It’s a good thing The General’s not married; how could any wife put up with such forgetfulness and such whiskey drinking. Or wait; maybe he is married and he’s forgotten?

Captain Robert Brown

the little man



  1. Another great Story Bob..:)

  2. A great chronicle! I think most would have given up the sport after the Pen Yan (pioion) episode? Who is the ” General ” of C dock?

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