Dad found the 1962 Sumner Craft languishing in a boatyard. It had all of the requisites for a good family boat. There was enough room for a collection of fishing poles and beach paraphernalia and easily fit EVERYONE who wanted to go on a boat outing as well as those who were not so keen on it. Dad bought the bargain in the mid-70s.
The Sumner Craft was a 30 foot locally built boat. It was a lot of boat with no name painted on the transom. The big draw was the strong body. Epoxy fiberglass was layered inside and out of an oak planked hull. The powerful diesel needed constant attention, which, truth be known, was part of the lure. The rattling noise was problematic. You could not hear yourself think let alone engage in a conversation. The whole boat shimmied enough to feel like your teeth fillings were coming loose. It also reeked of that familiar diesel odor with the excuse that is how a diesel boat always smells. For more than ten years, Dad kept the Sumner Craft floating and running in some workable fashion. It was called The Boat.
Mom had other adjectives to insert between The and Boat. She held little love for The Boat. The noise exhausted her, the smell nauseated her, and the frequent engine repairs at sea had worn her patience. Dad insisted it was a good boat.
Indeed we did have some great trips and adventures on The Boat. A memorable trip was when Matt and I spent our first night on the V-berth bunk after our nine-hour wedding celebration. Dad added a cabin door for the occasion. We navigated across the Great South Bay to Watch Hill National Seashore with only a compass that had trouble finding true north. Despite being a bit tipsy, we eventually found the channel and docked the boat with few incidences.
The Boat perched on the front yard during the off-season. It was convenient and a cheap winter storage location. But what an eye-soar lawn ornament which further incest my mom. The last straw occurred when my sister got married at home. (sister number 3 of 4 who wedded in the backyard under the Truglio dome—another story) The day was perfect. The shade of the front yard trees and the color of the blooms were perfect for photographs. Mom said NO! The … Boat would be in the backdrop. Numerous ailments plagued The Boat that summer, keeping it from being launched. It also looked terrible since it needed varnish, paint, and polish. Someone said, (probably not the photographer) that the image could be brushed out of the pictures. Weeks later, the proofs arrived. Mom was livid to see that the ugly scow was the backdrop to her beautiful daughter’s photographs. She threatened to call a carting company and remove The Boat once and for all. In the middle of this rant, Matt, our two little girls, and I walked in. Dad sighed and turned to Matt.
“Do you have a dollar?” he asked.
Matt reached into his pocket and handed Dad one dollar.
“Congratulations,” said Dad, “You are the proud owner of The Boat.” Dad included the two diesel engines and a transmission that lived in the garage. A workable motor was possible.
Matt was giddy. He and our little girls ran to the front lawn to survey The New Boat. Mom looked at me with pity. She knew that, like my dad, Matt would work obsessively to get The Boat on the bay again. She also knew that he would plan and fuss over an aesthetic renovation.
“This will be the most expensive and frustrating dollar you have ever spent,” said Mom.
Stay tuned for The Boat Part 2.
Antoinette Truglio Martin is the author of Hug Everyone You Know: A Year of Community, Courage, and Cancer. The memoir is a wimpy patient’s journey through her first year of breast cancer treatment.