Posted by: nauticalchronicles | March 15, 2012



Peter and Mary’s Excellent Vacation

As you will recall Peter and Mary were temporarily living in Leominster with The General and his wife, Deb. This was due to the loss of their winter home and cherished 50’ Carver just before Christmas, to a sudden fire. After their beloved “Out Of Service” was declared a total loss, they made a short trip to Florida in search of a new vessel with broker, Norman Norman in Fort Lauderdale. At Able & Son Marine in Stuart, he showed them a 1979, 48’ Tolly Craft CPMY Pilothouse Motor Yacht which they loved. Through Norman, they made a full-price offer on the new beauty subject to a professional survey of the boat. They had planned to take delivery of the T-Craft next month or early May, and drive it up the coast, arriving at Cove Marina by May 15th.

The new T-Craft

Well…Peter and Mary just returned from Florida; their plans had changed. Louise and I got together with them this past weekend to get an update on their latest boating adventure; it goes like this.

The General and Deb grew tired of providing temporary housing for Peter and Mary in late December; their friendship was wearing thin. Always astute, Peter recognized this growing rift between the couples and, wanting to preserve their relationship, made plans for a two month vacation in Florida. They arranged to spend January and February in the warmer climate, leisurely returning to Salisbury in their new boat in late March or early April. As luck would have it, the survey of the Tolly Craft turned up several deficiencies which needed to be addressed. The owner agreed to the repairs which could all be done by Able & Son Marine, but which would take several weeks.

Since killing bugs in January and February is not, annually, in high demand (his slow months), Peter was able to have his nephew run UCM Pest Control during those months. Mary had just completed editing the mid-winter edition of “Reptile and Bird Talk” magazine leaving her schedule free until spring. They planned to stay with Bob and Rachel for two weeks, Benny and Kay for one week, Peter and Cyd for another two weeks and finally, catch up with Alan on his 54’ Hunter Sailboat “Amenity” which he was sailing to the Bahamas for a week in February. Having solidified their plans, they purchased two, one-way tickets to Fort Lauderdale on Delta for January 3rd.

The General and Deb were ecstatic. They cheerfully drove Peter and Mary to Boston Logan Airport departures and wished them well on their journey; they were looking forward to seeing them again at Cove Marina in May.

Upon their arrival at Palm Beach International (their flight to Ft. Lauderdale was cancelled due to high winds), they rented a red Chrysler 200 convertible, called Norman to check the status of repairs to the boat and headed to Stuart to see the progress for themselves. Satisfied that all was progressing well with the T-Craft, they headed to Boca Raton for their new temporary housing…with Bob and Rachel.

Bob and Rachel had retired in 2009 and so were able to spend much time with their new house guests. Peter and Mary spent two lovely weeks in Boca seeing the sights and lazing on the beaches. Only two minor incidents occurred during their stay: Peter developed a serious case of sun poisoning on his arms and legs due to his splotchy application of sun screen, as well as a sunburn to his head due to over-use of the convertible and under-use of his hat.  Mary became dehydrated, possibly due to over-consumption of alcohol and over-exposure to the sun, requiring delivery to the emergency room at West Boca Medical Center and an overnight stay for intravenous fluid replacement. The weather turned sour on the final four days of their visit with Bob and Rachel, allowing them partial recovery from their ailments and requiring the top of the convertible to remain up and covering Peter’s head.

They next drove to Deerfield Beach to stay with Benny and Kay. Their lovely home is situated on the Intracoastal Waterway and within walking distance to the beaches. They also have a lovely pool and hot tub. Again being retired, Benny and Kay were able to spend much time with Peter and Mary, introducing them to the Fort Lauderdale Water Taxi system, the Lighthouse Point Marina located near the Hillsboro Inlet, Flanigan’s Irish Seafood Bar & Grill, The Whale’s Rib, Ocean 234 Restaurant and, of course, the now famous Elbow Room on Lauderdale beach. Incredibly, the week went by too quickly and with no incidents save the night they stayed in the hot tub too long drinking Bacardi Gold & colas. Finally, they bid farewell to their friends and headed for their third temporary housing location on the west coast of Florida.

When they eventually arrived at Peter and Cyd’s place in Tampa (a seven hour drive), they were pretty well beat up from the sun and the wind, driving the entire day with the top down. Their stay on the Gulf coast was memorable and, again, without serious incident. They were able to visit Busch Gardens, Disney and Epcot Center; they made trips to Sanibel and Captiva Islands as well as Naples, Marco Island and Fort Meyers. They searched Venice Beach for sharks’ teeth, and spent time swimming in the warm Gulf waters. They even rented jet skis from Channelside Watersports in Tampa (Peter and Cyd opted out of that adventure). The two weeks they spent with Peter and Cyd flew by, and before they knew it, they needed to meet up with Alan in Fort Lauderdale.

Alan had called them on Friday indicating they needed to be aboard his sailboat by Sunday night and leaving for the Bahamas Monday morning if they were to take advantage of favorable weather conditions crossing the gulfstream. If they waited, weather forecasts predicted deteriorating conditions for Tuesday and Wednesday, forcing a postponement of their trip. Mary was looking forward to the boat trip since, prior to power-boating, she had extensive sailing experience. Peter, on the other hand, had no experience sailing and was apprehensive of the upcoming experience.


54 HunterAmenity

Peter lucked out. They arrived, per schedule. They boarded and settled in. Alan had cajoled an experienced sailing friend to make the passage with them. The crossing was exceptionally pleasant with perfect winds and reasonable seas (reasonable for the gulfstream); Peter and Mary, with no sailing skills being needed from them, spent the day drinking champagne from stemware and talking with Alan about old times up north.

After securing dockage at the Old Bahama Bay Resort & Yacht Harbour on the west end of Grand Bahama Island, they visited the Tiki Bar and danced the night away to the island reggae sounds. During their stay, they visited the casinos in Freeport; Alan did well but Peter and Mary, not surprisingly, lost over $500 in the first half hour they were there. Leaving Alan to acquire his fortune, they made their way back to the streets for some touristy shopping and to the beach for some sun worship.


West End

Their week’s visit with Alan was exciting and relaxing. On the return voyage, they were again favored with fair winds and waters allowing for a nine hour crossing. They spent Sunday, their final night, aboard “Amenity”, making plans to close on the purchase of their new boat; they had spent enough time in Florida and were anxious to begin their trip north.

Monday morning, bright and early, they bid farewell to Alan thanking him profusely for their adventurous week. They rolled the top back on the Chrysler and headed for Stuart. On the ride, they spoke with Norman Norman; he was to meet them at Able & Son Marine in Stuart to close the deal; he had spoken to the dealer and had been assured that the boat was “in the water and ready to go”. Peter and Mary were looking forward to signing the papers and spending the night on their new boat, preparing for a Tuesday morning departure. They had decided to change the name from “Beachcomber” to their old name “Out Of Service” hoping it would finally bring them some luck.

They arrived at the marina around 10:30 am; Norman was already there or, at least, they saw his car in the lot. As they approached the office, John Able Sr. and Norman were standing outside the doorway deep in conversation. Peter gave them a hearty “Good Morning!” They turned to face Peter; John Able Sr. actually had tears in his eyes; Norman just shook his head slowly. During the early morning hours, while tied to the dock, “Beachcomber” had sunk. Three quarters of her were below water with only the tower and partial bridge showing; it was listing badly to port due to the cleated lines holding on the dock; air bags had begun lifting it out of the water, but only to save the dock…the boat was gone. Mary fainted; Peter picked her up and put her on a nearby park bench using his jacket as a pillow. He sat down, put his head in his hands and began crying. This was the last straw; the one that broke the camel’s back.

John Able Jr. came running with a first aid kit. He was able to rouse Mary with smelling salts; he gave Peter some tissues.


The sinking

John Able Sr. said it would be several days before they could determine the cause of the accident. Able & Son Marine had obviously missed something. Norman Norman wrote out a check for the deposit he held and, lamentably, gave it to Peter and Mary; he said he would continue the search for them if they wanted. They said, “Don’t bother”. They returned to their rented convertible, check in hand, no boat, no destination, no airline ticket for home; and no home to go to.

Our boating friend Brian recently said, and I quote: “There is absolutely zero chance that new vessel will ever see “A” Dock this summer; dark clouds follow that couple”. We thought he was being overly pessimistic but he was right. Louise and I will surely miss Peter and Mary this summer if they don’t return in some type of vessel, however, as it stands now, they have gotten their deposit back from Cove Marina; slip #A-42 is once again available; call if you know of someone looking.


length overall is what

But obviously this is not the end of the story. Peter decided they should not “throw money away” by buying flights home (to what home?). They decided to purchase a motor home, drive leisurely back while making a stop in Syracuse, NY to visit friends. They settled on a 2006, 34’ Admiral SE with two slides and were able to close the deal in two days.


Admiral RV

The plan worked well until, after leaving Syracuse, a sudden snowstorm made driving difficult on Interstate 90. Just east of Utica, somewhere between Herkimer and St. Johnsville, visibility degraded forcing the RV into the median strip. Eventually, a tow truck arrived. Unable to hook up to the motor home in the blinding snowstorm, Peter and Mary were taken to the nearest toll station where they remained overnight listening to the PA system’s weather announcements repeated over and over, “18 degrees and blowing snow”, “18 degrees and blowing snow”. By noon the next day, they were back on the road headed for the Hampton Beach State RV Park in New Hampshire.

And that’s where they are today; living in the RV, back to work and with no talk of future boats. Oh, and one more post script: Butch, their German Shepherd died while in doggy day care in Leominster, of natural causes…old age.


Captain Robert Brown

First Mate Louise

the little man



  1. LOVED it!!!! I always am disappointed when I come to the end! Though this time I was more sad given the passing of the pooch! Anxiously awaiting the next adventure!!!

  2. Hilarious. Your story telling is of ancient lore. You crack me up. Lynn Z

  3. My heart goes out to them.. They seemed to have had a great vaca until that happened.. so sad..

  4. Wow, how can one comment on this? Double/triple bummer 😦

  5. Wow! This couple needs some better luck! Hope they find a lucky shamrock today!! Glad they have such great friends to take them in for a while!!! Love the stories. Keep them coming, Bob.

  6. When will Peter and Mary visit Judy and Mitch? Another great entry, Bob! Love reading them!

  7. Truly sad but, a door closes, a door open’s! I wish them well and discovering a new venture, On the road again.

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