Two years ago today Smitty became ours!
We had sold our previous boat, Splash, a 1980 C&C 24 that we had purchased from my aunt and uncle in October after 4 great years of owning her. We remained boatless for a total of 2 months. During that time, we dragged our faithful broker, Shep, to see several Catalina 310s. [Side Note: We had met Shep several years before at one of the local boat shows and really liked him. He is a great guy and the best endorsement I can give him is that he will definitely be my broker if I ever buy another boat.] This followed at least 2 years of research (e.g. spending every waking moment on Yachtworld looking at boats and then researching the ones that appealed to me to ad nauseam), so I already had the C310 at the top of my list. Once my Bride had stepped onto Norm’s Place (yes that was the name when we bought her) she fell in love. We did look at other C310s to be sure this was the one but the boat was very clean and obviously very lightly used. Following a glowing survey, we signed the papers at Shep’s office on December 20, 2010.
We went straight from the signing to the boat. Popped a bottle of bubbly and celebrated our new boat.
So there she sat, on the hard in Warwick, Rhode Island. That winter was the worst for me due to the anticipation of getting Smitty in the water and learning to sail her. I found every excuse to go to Warwick and visit her. I worked in Rhode Island at the time and would make up reasons to visit job sites near the area so I could see our boat. I knocked out the list of items in need of repair from the survey on the weekends. I took home all of the books and manuals from the boat, downloaded missing manuals and committed all of it to memory. I couldn’t wait for the spring!
On Friday, April 29, 2011 she was launched! That day we got her all set up, conducted a proper renaming ceremony and introduced Smitty to our friends and family. We slept aboard her for the first time that night. What a great sleep on that walk-around queen with a real mattress.
The next day, we rigged the sails. Started the motor. And headed out for the first time. This was our first time handling a boat that was over 30 feet, hell over 24 feet; our first time handling a boat with a wheel; our first time handling a boat with an inboard diesel. We confidently backed out of the slip, headed down the river towards Narragansett Bay and ran aground. Yup, first time out and we ran aground. The funny thing is the first time we took Splash out we also ran aground. Luckily it was just a soft grounding in some mud just outside of the marked channel. We backed off and were back on our way. We had a nice sail down Narragansett Bay and back.
Our next adventure would be sailing Smitty back to Hingham to her new home. There were plenty of misadventures and fun during that trip. We “deployed” our anchor in the middle of Buzzard’s Bay while at hull speed. Watch squalls head straight for us on the radar with nothing to do but close the hatches and wait for them to hit. Got fogged in at the Sandwich Marina. Had to navigate our way into Plymouth harbor by dead reckoning in fog so thick you couldn’t see the bow [yeah, no GPS due to an error loading additional maps]. Finally making it back to our marina after 8 days to go 130.3 nautical miles. That was a fun trip that showed us how competent our new boat was; now only to get the crew so competent.
Over the rest of that year we enjoyed day sails, local cruising to World’s End, Peddock’s Island, Salem, Scituate, and other places. We learned how to raft up with friends to enjoys days on the anchor in a group. We logged about 600 nautical miles before that first year was done.
This last year we did more local cruising. Headed back south through the Cape Cod Canal to explore the Vineyard, Cutty Hunk and other Buzzard’s Bay spots. We rafted up for long weekends of fun with our friends and did a group trip with 8 boats up to Gloucester for Labor Day Weekend. We logged another 550 nautical miles this year. I was really hoping for over 1,000 but it didn’t happen. There is always next year.
We were essentially live aboards for this last summer. We spent close to every day on the boat from April through November. It was great! There is nothing like waking up on the water. You go on deck with your cup of coffee and watch the water. Then climb into the dinghy to take the dog to the beach for a walk. Head back to the boat to go for a sail. You really can’t beat it. Even the rainy days were great. You could curl up together, watch a movie, read a book or just talk.
We’ve had a lot of great adventures in our first two years with Smitty. She has treated us well and showed she is built to get us back to harbor safe, even when the seas are 8-12 foot breakers over the bow and the winds have kicked up to 40+ knots. So cheers Smitty, to more great times to come!