Posted by: nauticalchronicles | February 9, 2015



Cove Princess

Ultimately, this is a story about a boat. But it has to start as a story about our marina…Cove Marina, Salisbury, Massachusetts. For nineteen of our twenty years boating, we have begun our journeys from here and, more or less, have ended each voyage back here, at our marina.

He bought the marina in 1995. Prior to his purchasing the marina, the clientele at Cove was made up mostly of go-fast boats and late-night loud, wild parties which have made for some memorable stories on the docks, but which also made for some serious interest on his part in…changing the clientele. One of his first actions as a new business owner was to change the marina sign to: “COVE MARINA; A FAMILY MARINA”.

During the two years prior to our arrival at Cove, he had made the changes necessary to begin recognizing his vision of a “FAMILY MARINA”. There were more families, more building of friendships and there was more, generally accepted boating fun. There remained some outrageous dock antics, parties, and barely acceptable activities. “A” and “B” docks became noted for large boats, their owners and families. They were considered and considered themselves “stand-offish” from the “C” and “D” dock smaller boat owners (owners of smaller boats; not necessarily smaller owners); owners of cruisers and small fishing boats, who were still prone to more partying (when my mate and I appeared on the scene, we of course headed for “C” dock!)

During our 18 year tenure at Cove, we have seen him sometimes quietly, sometimes not so quietly, change his marina to what we all now recognize as a true family marina. There is no longer a disparity between the docks. It is a place where everyone gathers and interacts socially; where we all stay at night and meet at night to socialize; where many children (and now grandchildren) participate in boating activities and social events; where the docks are seldom void of boaters coming, going or just “messing about with boats”. At the office, he has an assortment of life jackets available for children of all ages and pets of all sizes; he provides a playground and grassed yard area which are both well-used. He and his wife Deb even created a small, fenced pet area with free “doggy doody” bags and a very-real fire hydrant. The only discord now is: “OK; who didn’t clean up after their dog?” We counted 23 dogs this past summer on our side of the docks alone. The entrance ramp (we have only one) is often the scene of pet greetings and confrontations; this provides us with constant entertainment and enjoyment.

Somewhere along his journey of marina development, he found that he had more available time on his hands; he decided to purchase and restore a damaged, broken, impaired, old wooden boat…and this is where the boat part of the story begins.

She is a 1957, 18’ Chris-Craft Holiday (traditionally, boats have been named after women; my mate took exception to my announcement today that this should be true, especially for “old wooden boats”!) and her name is “COVE PRINCESS”. The restoration process, only now that she has been restored, can be described as a true labor of love.

DSCF0551  1957 Chris Craft

Some great things were happening in 1957: Eisenhower was President, the ’57 Chevy was produced, American Bandstand premiered, Buddy Holly & the Crickets recorded “That’ll Be the Day” and Elvis recorded “White Christmas”. “Maverick”, “Perry Mason” and “Leave It to Beaver” were introduced on television…and Chris-Craft was continuing its tradition of crafting fine wooden boats.

1957 Chevrolet Bel Air Coupe  1957 Daytona Beach

Time Line:

“1861-74:  The Company that is now referred to as Chris-Craft, was started on Point du Chene, in Algonac, Michigan, a small town on the St. Clair River. It was here that Christopher Columbus Smith built his first boat in 1874 at the age of 13. These “Smith-built” boats were referred to as “punts” or “skiffs.” With his reputation growing as a master boat builder, Chris joined with his brother Hank in 1881 to begin producing boats full time. As demand for their dependable hunting craft increased, the duo started building boats in rapid succession, laying the ground work for their future as builders of “standardized runabouts.” (History Timeline; Chris-Craft website:

During World War II, Chris-Craft built over 10,000 landing craft for the war effort, and a Chris-Craft was one of the first boats to land US troops on the beaches of Normandy. In 1960, the family moved the company from Michigan to Pompano Beach, Florida; in 1981 the family sold the boat division.

Christopher Columbus Smith 1861-1939

In 1861 when Christopher Columbus Smith was born, Abe Lincoln had just been elected, and the Civil War had just begun…and the Wild West was still wild. Chris’s son Jay eventually became president & CEO; in 1958 Chris’s grandson became president & CEO. The company remained in the family until 1981. Chris was considered to be “a founding father of power boating”, putting motors into boats at about the same time Henry Ford was considering putting motors into vehicles. Both men had the vision of standardizing and mass producing their respective vehicles. Chris died in 1939 at the age of 78, but his vision and his legacy have certainly lived on.

In 1971, Chris-Craft produced its final wooden boat; a 57’ Constellation. After production of this boat, Fiberglas was then and is currently being used exclusively on all new Chris-Craft models.

The “COVE PRINCESS” has been “mostly” completed. There are always things which can be done on her. We’ve asked him on numerous occasions what his plans are for her. He thinks he should probably sell her, but he certainly won’t get what he’s got into her. Is she listed, we ask? “No”.

My first mate has many ideas on how she should be used: boat rides during Yankee Homecoming week (proceeds to go to Susan G. Komen), put on display in the parking lot so everyone can see and enjoy her, T-shirts should be made (proceeds to go to the marina) or just maybe a trip to Squam Lake in Holderness, NH so that Katharine Hepburn can again ask Henry Fonda “how fast can this tub go?” (1981; “On Golden Pond”; 1950, 22’ Chris-Craft Sportsman). We know that this will never happen; “COVE PRINCESS” will never taste salt water or the briny water from the Merrimack River. She will only see fresh water, and then only once or twice a year, maybe at a show. My mate will be very lucky just to get a ride.

After his “labor of love” restoration of “COVE PRINCESS”, he thought getting another damaged, broken, impaired, old wooden boat (old being the operative word here) would be a good idea (all those who know him and know the amount of work needed to restore the “PRINCESS” question: HOW  could he think this was a good idea?). He found, what was left of, a 1928, 24’ Chris-Craft Runabout and he hurried to purchase her.

In 1928, Archie & Edith Bunker sang that “Those were the days…” and “Gee our old LaSalle ran great” And “Mister we could use a man like Herbert Hoover again” elected in November of that year (All in the Family theme song; “Those Were the Days”; by Strouse and Adams).  Amos & Andy were on the radio, scotch tape was first marketed, the first TV sold for $75, Mickey Mouse made his first appearance, Boston Garden officially opened and Louis Armstrong, Bing Crosby, Al Jolson and Duke Ellington were topping the charts.

1928 LeSalle Model 303 Convertable Coupe    Boston Garden

His 24-footer as we call her (there may be a “name-that-boat” contest this summer although he is leaning toward QUEEN OF THE COVE) has no “before and after photos”; just “before and during” photos; a labor of love in progress. Several of us, boaters from the marina, have been privileged to help with her restoration. And we all agree, while helping out, that this journey is absolutely nothing we would ever embark on ourselves…it takes a certain kind of individual to attempt this type of project, and even after all these years at our marina, we are still not certain what type of individual that is. What we do know is that there is a determination, a dedication, a vision and a definite way of doing things required to restore these classic vessels, and to own and run a marina.

length overall is what      1929 24' Chris Craft Triple-Cockpit Runabout

“Oh, and just by the way”, His name is Brian. He is the sole owner of his marina and we are very happy to be part of his marina family. We think, but are not certain, that “COVE PRINCESS” is for sale. The only thing we know for certain…she is in perfect running condition, and has a show-ready fit and finish; but she definitely needs a new trailer.

We think that the buyer will most likely have to pay for that themselves.

the little man

Captain Robert Brown,

First Mate Louise



  1. LOVE THIS! So interesting! You captured the ‘essence’ of Cove! Anyone reading this will want to change marinas! Great job, Capt Bob!

  2. Good story! Chris, owner and captain of “Slainte” 32′ Chris Craft at NEBC. See you in April!

  3. Great story Bob! Thinking of everyone at Cove down here in South Carolina and thinking of you fondly. Becky and JIm Vaughn

  4. Very nicely written!

  5. Bobby……as always, a masterful write up……Bill D

  6. The two pictures of Cove Princess show two different windshields! Which is correct?

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