Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Virginia C II


This is where it all began - as far as my maritime career goes. Dad acquired this boat in 1978. He found it sitting in Merrit Island Florida where it had been languishing out of service - for a few years. She was built in 1962 in Biloxi Mississippi. At 86 feet overall length, 5 foot draft, the hull is 3/4 inch mahogany, double planked. Power is 2 Detroit Diesel 16-71 engines.

There's a lot of history to this little boat. One of the neatest things about her is that she saw service as ferry in Cuba in her early years. We had been told that by the previous owners, and it was always part of the story that goes with the boat (all old boats have stories). Well, low and behold, a friend of ours was watching a documentary about the Cuban revolution and the Bay of Pigs invasion, and sure enough there's the boat, loaded with people in some harbor in Cuba.

Besides that little tidbit, there's tons of personal history around her too. In 1978 I was 12 years old. I'm now 45 and this boat is still here! The following year, 1979 she went from Boston down to Miami to work the winter season. At 13, I was able to make the trip from Savannah Georgia to Miami. Right around this time is when I began to learn how to stand a wheel watch - there was no auto pilot - and to make engine room checks. Somewhere between Boston and Savannah one of the fuel tanks split open, and Dad tried to salvage almost a thousand gallons of fuel out of the bilge by filtering it through rags back into other fuel tanks that were still functional. The result was stuck injectors that got progressively worse as the trip went on. When we got to Miami the problem was that there was no throttle control. My job was to go down in the engine room and shut off the fuel supply when the engineer's call signal went off. I imagine that was a pretty tense moment for the old man, shape up for the dock, say a prayer, and shut her down. At the end of the season I made the trip all the way back to Boston, pretty cool for a young kid!

Yeah, so I learned all those things that make up the skill set of a mariner, and then I learned a whole lot about working with the public too. I learned how to pretend I was having a good day even when I wasn't. I learned how to tend bar, sling burgers, all that sort of stuff.

Over the years she ran countless trips between Boston and Gloucester, and became a familiar sight at the Studio Restaurant in Rocky Neck. Besides that she did a lot of Whale Watching on Stellwagon Bank, and many evening party cruises. She made the trip to Newport RI a few times to carry spectators for the America's Cup Races.

We took her down to New York in '86 for the Statue of Liberty centennial and the Tall Ships. That was a fun trip. We spent a week in Newport with the Tall Ships, then went down to NY and ran trips from Hastings on Hudson down to the City for a week. A lot of memories there. I looked around for some better pictures, but this all I could find so, well, ya................... ~ Al


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