Posted by: nauticalchronicles | January 25, 2012



An Update

Do you remember Peter and Mary Smith? We’ve mentioned them before. They are the General’s boating friends at Cove Marina; they live on a 50’ Carver Californian on “A” Dock in the summer and in Rye Harbor during the winter; the boat’s name is “Out Of Service”; Mary is an editor and Peter kills bugs…

Well, we can all learn a lot from their mistakes. Anyway, they had another “accident”; specifically another boat fire. We always thought this might happen while they were living onboard in the winter because of their funky and probably not-up-to-code heating system on the boat. Interestingly, that wasn’t the issue in this case. They have a small portable butane stove, maybe 14” by 14” square and maybe 6” tall. It works well for cooking items in a frying pan or boiling water for hard boiled eggs, noodles and such. We guess they were making breakfast because the accident happened in the morning. The small butane tank fits into the front of the stove. There are very short legs on the stove and a grill on the top; it’s easy to mix up which side of the stove is top and which is bottom. We guess they got the upside and downside mixed up. When Mary put the stove on the table and clicked the flint to ignite it, the flames came out ok, but downward toward the table top, causing the fire to start there, in the galley at the table.

Being the prudent mariner that he is, Peter was able to quickly get the fire extinguisher and turn it onto the stove and table; it wasn’t enough, however, to quench the fire. Mary was on the bow side of the now blazing fire in the galley and couldn’t get out to the stern; Peter was on the stern side and unable to get to Mary. They knew that the inferno was now too much for them to handle…and decided to abandon ship. Mary went into the V-berth and out the hatch over the bed; Peter scrambled out onto the rear deck and up to the docks.

As they watched the fire consume their boat, they considered how very lucky they were…they both escaped unharmed. They were also lucky in that no one was aboard the boats nearest to them and that there was only minimal damage to those neighboring yachts. Unfortunately, the volunteer Rye fire department was not able to get to the docks to put the fire out; their hoses wouldn’t reach down the length of the dock to the boat. Tow Boat US responded in a spectacular fashion and the captain was able to pump continuous streams of water on the now fully engulfed vessel minimizing the risk of a fuel explosion. He was also able to tow the boat out of harm’s way, away from the docks and into open water eliminating the chance of fire spreading to the dock and other boats. The Carver was declared a total loss and was set on dry dock pending the insurance investigation and eventual demolition.

Peter and Mary have lost most of their personal belongings as well as their home on the water. Fortunately, they still have their storage unit in Salisbury which, to hear them talk, is loaded with items they couldn’t fit on the boat; it should help them get a new start. Peter would have been fine temporarily staying in his pest control office which is very large and equipped with bathroom and shower, but Mary refused to live there due to the disarray of the place and the horrible, permeating smells from chemicals, cigars and general dereliction of maintenance.

Since they are such close friends with The General and his wife, they are staying with them in Leominster…temporarily we guess (although it’s now been over a month). Peter agreed to put Butch, their German Shepherd, in extended doggy daycare as Butch and Bella don’t get on very well together; when looking into Butch’s eyes we can tell that he would like to have Bella as a mid-morning snack. Life in Leominster has been manageable but wearisome for the General and his wife; not so much for Peter and Mary.

The General and Deb did get some relief two weeks ago; Peter and Mary went to Florida on a boat-searching vacation.

Peter contacted a broker in Lauderdale, Norman Norman (believe it or not, that’s his real name) who scheduled several showings. Apparently they traveled from Sanibel Island, Port Charlotte and Fort Myers on the West Coast to Miami, Fort Lauderdale and Stuart on the East Coast. They stayed in a bungalow in Hollywood near the beach though they didn’t have much time for sunbathing or partying due to the schedule Norman had arranged for them. The search was aided tremendously by the fact that they knew what they were looking for…another Tollycraft.

This time, they decided they could afford something built between 1975 and 1985; in the 50’ range; maybe with diesel engines (diesel fuel is not quite as flammable as gas). And this time, they are planning on having it longer than one day like the “Penn Yan” and longer than the two years they had the other “T-Craft”. They have not yet decided whether to change the existing name, “Beachcomber”, to their old name, “Out Of Service”.

We heard it was quite a grueling boat search; the weather was hot, the days were long and the broker, Norman was pushy; Peter mentioned that he didn’t care much for Norman, but the boats being shown to them were all contenders. In Stuart, the site of their last showing, they found the boat they were looking for. Their soon-to-be 5th vessel will be a 1979 Tollycraft CPMY pilothouse motor yacht, 48’ in length with TWIN DIESEL motors; and for the asking price of only $99,000!

                                The new T-Craft

Since this new boat is less than 50’ in length, Peter and Mary will be able to return to Cove Marina in the summer and remain docked in their old slip. We don’t think they will be returning to Rye Harbor next winter, though we’ll have to wait and see.

We know they made an offer on the boat and are now waiting for a response from Norman Norman. In the meantime, they have returned to Leominster to begin planning for the return trip from Florida to Massachusetts in their new boat. This trip, much to the dismay of The General and his wife, may not occur until late April or early May. According to The General, this gives a whole new meaning to the concept of “temporary housing”; he is now thinking that Peter may need to clean up his pest control office to Mary’s satisfaction. Either that or maybe add a heating system to their storage unit in Salisbury and live there for the remainder of the winter although that idea may create more of a risk to them than a solution…

The General is asking for volunteers to help with temporary housing.

Meanwhile, we will try to keep you updated on the continuing plight of Peter and Mary. We can’t wait to hear about their trip up the coast from Stuart in the Spring, assuming nothing happens between now and then. Remember…we can learn a lot from their mistakes.

Captain Robert Brown

First Mate Louise

the little man



  1. Why am I smiling thinking about the Tow Boat, Capt that is? LOL Thanks Bob

  2. I have the pictures!!!!!

  3. Quickly; strongly reccomend they purchase a Pig farm in Arizona! No rustlers, good eats, and lastly no winter water hibernation, or propane stoves!
    There is absolutely zero chance that new vessell will ever see “A ” dock this summer. Dark clouds follow this couple.
    Kudo’s two you Captain Bob; another tour de’ force.

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