Monday, July 19, 2010

More on "Half" and the boat...

My father had several boats (in succession, not all at once!) beginning with “Melody” in 1933, and ending with “Serenata.”

She's the only one I remember, since we had her in the 1950s. A 54-foot Annapolis, she was a great bargain, according to my father. The previous owner's steward, coming aboard one night when the boat was unoccupied, thought he smelled gas. He lit a match. He was right. It was gas. The entire bow was blown out. My father customized this “bargain” to the tune of $90,000. He put radio speakers in every cabin, there was a television and phonograph in the lounge, plus all the latest electronic equipment, ship-to-shore telephone, radar. On the afterdeck, we carried a 15-foot inboard mahogany-decked dinghy named “Irregardless.” (“Irregardless of what you've heard, I can build you an inboard that small,” he was told by the boat builder who finally undertook this challenging task.) There was also an automobile on the afterdeck: a custom-built, half-sized antique curved dash Oldsmobile weighing 400 lbs., whose license plate read “HALF,” in answer to the inevitable question. It could be swung over the side on davits, so that the family could putt-putt around various ports of call. The boat was moored at millionaire sportsman Briggs Cunningham’s private dock near the Pequot Yacht Club in Southport, Connecticut. During the winter, “Serenata” would be docked in Palm Beach. Summers we'd cruise Long Island Sound and up the East Coast shoreline to Nantucket, Martha's Vineyard and Maine. Our captain kept the boat stocked and ready to go, so there was never a delay in departing. My little Boston Terrier usually went along too; Captain Huggins having assured me that he was “a seagoin’ dog” and wouldn’t fall overboard. It was a heavenly getaway for all concerned.