Boatology

I first set foot in Buzzards Bay at the age of 6. Within a year of that day I was boating on these beautiful blue waters and never looked back!

Here is the history of the boats that came with me on my journey…

The Humarock Husky (AKA The Dory)

Our Humarock Husky

This was my first boat. My father Clyde bought it in 1960 or so. We didn’t even own a place in Mattapoisett yet, but hey, we had a boat. I assume it was built in Humarock (a village in Hull or Scituate).

It originally had a 5 1/2 HP Johnson, then I talked Clyde into putting a 9 1/2 on it — which made it fly. After I left home, I think he went back to 6 HP, which is what she had until he sold her. I loved this boat.

At the age of 7, my grandfather George took me out and decided to make the 7 mile trek across Buzzards Bay and the Cape Cod Canal without telling anyone. I think Hilda may have given him a earful over that.

The best thing about this boat was that I got to drive it around all by myself at the age of 8-9.

The Thunderbird

A Thompson
The Thompson – A Classic Wooden Lake Boat

Not content to go 20 MPH in the Dory, I convinced Clyde to buy a bigger boat. I remember driving around with him looking at used Thompsons, but I think he knew they were lake boats that wouldn’t hold up to much on Buzzards Bay.

The other problem with the Thompson was that they were wooden hulls and I think Clyde knew fiberglass was the next new thing. Grady’s and Whalers were too expensive. I remember looking at MFG’s and Chrysler’s of all things (they also made outboards for a while).

Eventually we ended up at Russo Marine in Weymouth buying a 15’4″ Thunderbird Ute from Larry Russo Senior.

Thunderbird ute 2
Me in front of the seawall in the under powered Thunderbird (40 HP). Unbelievably, that’s my grandmother Nana sitting in the front seat. She couldn’t handle the ladder at the pier, but managed to climb aboard over the seawall!

The problem with the Thunderbird was that Clyde didn’t want to spend the money for the Johnson 55 HP that it actually needed, so he put a 40 HP Evinrude on it instead. It was a dog. I remember going out for a ride with Bud Fischer and having him hang over the side and declare “Clyde, you know this isn’t even planing!”

Fortunately, I didn’t have to suffer the embarrassment of an under powered boat for too long. In 1967 or so, he went hog wild and bought a Johnson 85 HP. And with that, The Thunderbird was officially over powered!

It was kind of a trimaran with a big center hull and two much smaller side hulls. This provided all the launch a 13 year old needed to take air flying from wave to wave. It wasn’t fun until the prop came out of the water and made the engine howl at redline!

The Ute was a hoot!

The Sunfish

Having been born in Nova Scotia, Clyde always loved sailing. In the 60’s, he rented a Bullseye for a few weeks and also a Corinthian. Both were classic sloops capable of handling the typical afternoon blow of Buzzards Bay.

When I was in high school, Clyde was making good money and decided to buy a Sunfish on a total whim. It originally had a yellow sail, but that got torn away in a hurricane and replaced with a green one.

Although Clyde owned two real sailboats later in life, I think he enjoyed taking off by himself with a couple of cans of Milwaukee’s Best and a cigar.

I took my first sailing lesson in 1960 from Rhoda Hinckels in a Beetle Cat. Back then, there was a very active Yacht Club at Point Connett and they raced Beetle Cats every Saturday and Sunday.

Today, they still race, but now it’s Sunfish, not Beetles…

I think I really learned how to sail in our Sunfish and my brothers may have raced her over at Point Connett after I went to college.

I recommend a Sunfish for anyone who wants to learn how to sail, just make sure you know how to swim first!

The Banana Split (C&C 25)

The Banana Split Under Spinnaker

By 1978, the company my father worked for since the 1950’s had finally gone public. With “a little change in his pocket”, and old knees that were growing weary of climbing into the Sunfish, he decided it was time for a serious sailboat.

I was working hard at DTS and studying my butt off for my MBA at Northeastern, so I wanted to cut loose and have fun on the weekends. The problem was that I could barely afford a new car, so I certainly wasn’t buying a boat. Instead, I started bugging Clyde once again to get us a new boat.

Back in those days, the only real sailboats in that class were the J-24 and various C&C’s.

The J-24 was a real nice sailing boat, but really didn’t offer any kind of cruising option. I started hunting around and a sailing friend who lived in Marblehead turned me on to The Banana Split.

The owner was a serious racer and he was stepping up to a bigger class. Since he primarily raced it, it had a lot of nice sails and the interior was barely used. Speaking of the interior, it was very well suited for overnighting for a couple. Up in the bow, was a head and sail locker with a curtain for privacy. The main interior had a table that converted to a double berth.

Our Honeymoon Cruise

Susan and I were married on August 16, 1980. Neither of us (or our parents) had a lot of money for a fancy wedding, let alone a honeymoon, so we had a modest wedding in my parents back yard and went on a low-budget honeymoon cruise in the Banana Split.

We left on a Monday with a plan to stay in Padnaram the first night. After that, we’d go wherever the wind took us!

The sail over to Padnaram was perfect. We picked up a mooring and dined downtown. By honeymoon standards we were living the dream on a pauper’s budget.

Day 2 didn’t go so well. We woke up to drizzle and 20 knot winds. The Banana Split had a 6 HP outboard kicker and to get out of Padnaram, we had to head directly into the wind and waves. This also meant that I’d have to man the helm and the young Mrs. Horne would have to hoist the sails by herself for the first time!

Before we left the mooring, I went over every detail with Susan and she was confident she could do her job. We headed out and I told her it was time to set sail and she started hauling up the mainsail. This was her first time ever raising the sail and she (okay, may be me) forgot to close the little trap door that kept the sail clips in the track up the mast. Suddenly, the mainsail was flapping all over the place, connected to just the boom on the bottom and the main halyard!

To make matters worse, the waves were now so big that the outboard prop was coming out of the water every 5-10 seconds. I could no longer hold my heading and we turned around, gathered in our sails, and headed back to Padnaram for another night.

We reclaimed our mooring and later hailed a launch to take us back to town. After lunch, I called my brother Barry and asked him to come and pick us up. Barry would have nothing to do with it – “You’re on your honeymoon, I’m not picking you up, deal with it” he said.

Day 3 (Wednesday) we woke to sunshine and a brisk northeast wind. With the new wind direction, exiting Padnaram was a breeze (no pun intended) and we were beating down to Cuttyhunk in minutes.

It was one of those perfectly clear August Buzzards Bay days and with a 20 knot wind blowing over the port stern, we reached the outermost Elizabethan Island in no time.

Cuttyhunk was magnificent; warm, sunny, and totally isolated from society. In fact, the storm on Tuesday knocked out the phone lines, so I couldn’t even call Barry to thank him for not picking us up in Padnaram.

I’d love to post a few photographs, but we had borrowed Clyde’s 35 MM SLR and not knowing what we were doing, we exposed all the film trying to change the roll.

Back then, Cuttyhunk was a bit of a destination. Both the Allen and the Boswell House were open taking in guests and serving dinner (BYOB). After a great dinner at The Allen House, we went back to The Banana Split and listened to the Red Sox game on our transistor radio.

The second day on Cuttyhunk (Thursday) was just like the first so we decided to stay and try The Boswell House for dinner.

On Friday, we decided it was time to go, so we left the slip and tried to power out of the harbor. Once again, the little outboard keep popping out of the water and we turned around and headed back to Cuttyhunk.

By now, we were low on booze and the battery in the radio had died (no more Red Sox games before bed.) Our second dinner at The Allen House was fine, but it was time to go.

Over dinner, I explained to Mrs. Horne how we could escape the very narrow channel without using the engine by close tacking our way out. It would mean coming about every 30-40 seconds, but the tide would be high in the morning, so we’d be able to get very close to beach before turning.

Cuttyhunk Channel
This map doesn’t do justice to how narrow the channel leaving Cuttyhunk really is…

We were 25 miles downwind from Mattapoisett. Tacking all the way home meant we’d need to travel 50+ miles at 5 knots — close to 10 hours of sailing.

We left about 6:30 AM and successfully tacked our way into open ocean in about 30 minutes. We then started beating our way toward New Bedford and got back home around 4:00 PM.

Yep, The Banana Split was a sailing machine, but not a real cruiser.

Aquarius (Pearson 35)

Built in 1973, Aquarius still sails proudly out of Mattapoisett (photo from the summer of 2016)

 

In 1982, my father Clyde retired and bought his last boat and this time he really got it right. It was a 10 year old Pearson 35. If you know anything about Pearson, you know that they have always made very solid boats; boats ideally suited for Buzzards Bay’s wind and sea.

I think different P35’s were rigged differently and Aquarius sported a very large mainsail. In fact, we had to put the first furl in just to balance the helm on a typical day on Buzzards Bay.

This was also the first boat that Mrs. Horne sailed from day one. Although my parents were 30 years older,  we really enjoyed many overnight cruises together around Buzzards Bay.

Clyde and I holding poses and making way in Aquarius

Aquarius sported an Atomic 4 inboard, but her power was very flaky. The first few years some guy named Bill “Fairweather” maintained the engine. He was a mechanical disaster and many a cruise was scrubbed when the engine died.

Eventually, my mechanically gifted brother Barry took over as “Chief Engineer” and I can’t remember another failure after that.

The steady flow of engine failures provided a perfect platform for my father to teach me how to roll with the punches while boating.

The fact is, a 10 year old ocean boat is a terribly unfit platform for both mechanical and electrical systems. The sea air and water are corrosive to every wire, screw, nut and bolt. These components all weaken over time and with Buzzards Bay’s constant pounding of 2-3 foot chop, it’s not a matter of if, but when they’ll fail.

The point is, unless you have cash required to buy a brand new high end boat every few years, system failures go along with boating like Gin & Tonic.

Nantucket Ho!

We were heading toward the treacherous currents of Woods Hole for our big 3 day vacation to Nantucket when the Atomic 4 failed to start. About the same time, the wind also died and with that Nantucket was no longer an option.

Clyde was unfazed; he had me drop the anchor and strap the inflatable to the stern quarter and start the 3 HP kicker. This was enough to push us along at 2-3 knots and get us back to Mattapoisett by cocktail hour.

Clyde was determined to make the most of our big vacation and chomping on his cigar, he concocted a new plan. Rather than heading home dejected, we’d go to the Town Pier in Mattapoisett Village for the night.

Right after we tied up, Clyde then found a pay phone, chewed out Fairweather and shamed him into coming over right away to fix he engine. While he worked, we walked to town and enjoyed a great dinner at the old Mattapoisett Inn.

The next morning we were off again and made landfall in Nantucket by 2:00 PM where we enjoyed a precious vacation never giving a second thought to our flaky Atomic 4.

The four of us weathered and savored many adventures together aboard Aquarius. To a certain extent, I think the ease with which Aquarius handled everything the sea threw at her and the way Clyde effortlessly shrugged off adversity, made me forget just how treacherous Buzzards Bay could be.

This is not a fashion show!

Waiting for a wall of rain to hit Aquarius in Vineyard Sound

Probably the scariest moment came one day as we were making way from Vineyard Haven to Cuttyhunk via the Atlantic Ocean side of the Elizabethan Islands. It was about a 5 hour trip and we were about halfway when the skies turned gray and the sea suddenly calmed.

All of a sudden I spotted a wall of heavy rain heading our way and told everyone to get on their rain gear. As Clyde and Susan were debating the most attractive combinations of coats and pants, a bolt of lightening hit the water about a quarter of a mile off the bow.

“Screw the fashion show, get up here and drop the sails, we’re about to get slammed!” I screamed. They did, but we still had sails up when the 50 knot wind hit us. Of course, we persevered and the whole experience made the Jack Daniels in Cuttyhunk taste all the sweeter.

Aquarius was a great boat and I think she taught me the value of a well built boat. More importantly, it was the perfect platform for Clyde to teach me how to deal with life’s curve balls.

The 26′ Boston Whaler Outrage
Twin 200 HP Mercury Optimax (My First Boat)

Susan, Kitten, and me at Kingman Marine.

2000 was a very good year for the Horne Family. We were living in The Bay Area, I was doing very well in my job, and able to take a 6 week sabbatical in Mattapoisett for the Summer.

With a few stock option bucks burning a hole in my pocket, I decided to go to a Boat Show at Jack London Square in Alameda California just to look around.

I had always loved a boat show as a kid and once I got inside, my imagination started to run wild. Before I new it, I had found the Boston Whaler exhibit and I started grinding numbers in my head. Within a week, I was on the phone with Larry Russo Jr. negotiating to buy a Boston Whaler 26′ Outrage without a seatrail or even seeing it in person.

My 6 week sabbatical began the last weekend in June and that’s when I had Larry deliver the Whaler. The ramp in Mattapoisett was closed for repairs, so I asked Clyde to join me for the launch and the delivery home from Wareham.

Before I get into the ride, a short, but very sweet story…

I was always at the forefront of digital music and having missed Father’s Day, I decided to give my father a home burnt CD with songs that I thought he’d like (mostly Johnny Cash).

The first song was “Across the Wide Missouri” by The Kingston Trio and Clyde immediately said “That was my favorite song in the 50’s, I wore the grooves out of the record”. I never knew that, but I knew that I loved the song and suddenly I knew why; as a kid I must have heard Clyde playing it over and over again.

Anyway, I digress. The brand new Whaler was beautiful sitting on the trailer. And since the last outboard I’d been on was our 15′ Thunderbird, it also looked huge. It was kind of a crappy day, but she actually ate up the 2 foot head sea chop all the way back to Mattapoisett. It was a great day for me and my dad.

Does anyone know where the love of God goes when the waves turn the minutes to hours…

– Gordon Lightfoot The Wreck of The Edmund Fitzgerald

My fuzzy childhood memory never recalled a day that was too rough to go out in the 15′ Thunderbird, so why worry about the size of the waves in my huge 26′ Whaler?

Our first trip on the Whaler came with our dear friends – The King Family. It was a typical early July day on Buzzards Bay – bright sun and fairly calm in the morning, so we decided we’d go to Martha’s Vineyard.

All went well until we were pulling into Vineyard Haven looking for place to tie up when the VHF started blaring a very panic’d women screaming Mayday. Kay immediately got nervous and her anxiety was picked up by Mrs. Horne and the girls.

No problem for us, but no dockage in Vineyard Haven, so we moved on to Oaks Bluff where we discovered the town mooring and the launch. We had a great day and headed back to Mattapoisett around 2:30 – a near fatal mistake.

The Whaler had a big bow and the girls (Karli and Natalie) were sitting up there as I took her up on a plane heading out around East Chop. Suddenly, I see both the girls go flying in the air as I hit my first 4 foot wave; then another, then another, and all the women start screaming.

I slowed down to stop the pounding just as the 4-5 footers turn to 6-8’s. I’m not even doing 12 MPH and we’re taking green water over the entire boat ever 15 seconds. All three bilge pumps are running nonstop and we still have 6 inches of water standing near the stern.

It’s probably 70 degrees out, but it’s blowing 30 and we’re soaking wet, so everyone’s freezing. Fortunately, I remember buying Clyde a heavy hoodie at The Black Dog store, so I grabbed it and put it on. I was still scared, but at least In was dry.

Now, my instincts took over and despite cries from all the girls to turnaround or call get on the VHF and call the Coast Guard for help, I focused on steering up and around each crashing wave and I said “Don’t worry, I’ve got this, just hang on and duck when the waves hit”.

At 12 MPH, it took about 45 minutes to reach Woods Hole, but like Gordon Lightfoot’s lyrics, it felt like hours. The funny thing was when we got to Buzzards Bay, the wind was still howling, but waves were only about 3′.

We got home safely and after hot showers and a change into dry clothes, we enjoyed a great dinner at The Mattapoisett Inn.

After all our trips back and forth to the Vineyard, we only saw similar monster waves once. We were on Mean Kitty with Natalie’s girlfriends from San Diego. I did some research and discovered that it regularly happens when we get the right wind and tide change.

Cape Cod happens to be the point where the North Atlantic meets the Gulf Coast currents. This is why the ocean is always 10-15 degrees colder inside Cape Cod versus Buzzards Bay.

It’s also why the tidal currents in Woods Hole and the Cape Cod are so wicked.

Anyway, if you look at the shape of Vineyard Sound, you can see how it’s kind of a funnel between Tisbury and Woods Hole. And this is exactly where we hit the monster waves.

After we got Mean Kitty, we started going to Edgartown instead of Oaks Bluff. I also discovered that I could avoid most of the monster waves by heading straight out of Edgartown toward Hyannis for a few miles before turning west to woods hole.

The Whaler wasn’t really a Buzzards Bay boat, but we sure had a lot of fun with the kids tubing around Aucoot Cove.

By 2007, the Mercury Optimax’s were starting to fail on a far too regular basis and it was time for a proper Buzzards Bay Boat.

The Mean Kitty
Hyrdrasports 3300CC – Twin 300 HP ETECs

Our New House in Mattapoisett

We moved into our new house in Mattapoisett in June of 2007. We were enjoying the post 9/11 stock market boom and as I said, the Whaler was becoming highly unreliable. I had become a regular on thehulltruth.com and had literally spent the last 2 years picking out the next Horne boat.

All the offshore boys liked Yellowfins and Regulators. I did too, but they were a little more money than I wanted to spend and there weren’t any dealers nearby.

I discovered Hydrasports at the Newport Boat Show where I met Ocean House Marina. I figured out that the Whaler wasn’t a Buzzards Bay boat the hard way and I wasn’t going to make that mistake again. I was not going to buy a new boat again without a seatrail in rough seas – easier said than done!

Hats off to Ocean House, they had a 2900CC at the show and agreed to give me a seatrial if I could make it to their place Monday morning before they hauled the boat after the show.

If you boat out of Lake Winnipesaukee or even the inside of the Cape, you probably don’t need a seatrial. But if you call Buzzards Bay homeport,  you absolutely must get a seatrial.

Anyway, I was really impressed with the 2900CC and was ready to order one after the seatrial. I have to commend the integrity of the Hydrasports dealer network, because the owner of Ocean House refused to give me a quote; he said that I had to go see Mike at Eagle Marine — he said “He’s the dealer for your area.”

I loved Mike and Heidi as soon as I met them. Mike is as straight a shooter as they come. I’m not sure how he prices his boats, but the quote he gave me for the 29 was way under “sticker”. In fact, it was less than pretty much all of the used 29’s on the market.

He also volunteered to sell my Whaler and if it sold before my new boat came in, he’d write it up as a trade-in to help me save sales tax.

All was good until Mrs. Horne discovered that Hydrasports also made a 33′ center console. “If we’re getting a new boat, why just move up three feet? I want the 33.” she said.

Mike gave me a quote for the 33 and it was only about $25,000 more. Ocean House pushed Yamaha’s and the 250’s were perfect for the 29. Mike sold Yamaha’s as well, but he said the 250’s weren’t powerful enough for the 33 and the 350’s were too heavy. He said the ETEC’s were lighter and really were fine for a 33. He also arranged for a seatrail on a 33 with 250 Etecs. It ran okay, but topped out at about 40 MPH, which was slower than the Whaler and after the Thunderbird, I wanted nothing to do with an underpowered boat!

While I was still researching, Evinrude announced a 300HP V-6 which weighed hundreds of pounds less than big Yammies. They had already tested it and it topped out at 52 MPH.

That sealed the deal for me and the order was placed for Mean Kitty.

My daughter Natalie (Kitten) sitting in The Mean Kitty at Sandwich Marina the day we took delivery…

We took delivery Memorial Day Weekend of 2008. As big center consoles go, she was a nearly perfect day boat for Buzzards Bay. She did do 52 MPH with the original props, but the torque was a little flaky and after the first season, I swapped them out for a set that didn’t top out quite as high, but held plane over a longer range of speeds.

Mean Kitty was a very exciting boat in that she only had two speeds — fast and really fast. In fact, many times I’d be just on plane at 33 MPH and look down and see my mileage had dropped to 3/4 mile per gallon. I bump it up to 38 MPH and it would actually run more economically.

She was a 13,000 lb. 24 degree deep vee which matched up really well with the steep. short chop Buzzards Bay is famous for. It was actually possible to stay on plane in 4-5 footers as long as you picked your way from peak to peak. Here’s an actual story that I posted at The Hull Truth in the summer of 2008 about the biggest wave I’ve ever seen in Buzzards Bay:

Mean Kitty Hits the Wall (of water that is…)
The Hull Truth – July 31, 2008
Yesterday I took my new HS 33 down the Cape Cod Canal for lunch at the Aqua Grille and gas for Kitty ($4.50/gallon). Anyway, great ride down the canal (from Buzzards Bay) and lunch was delicious. We headed back around 1:30 and that’s when the fun began.

Before we got to the Sagamore Bridge we encountered 3′ chop. I had to ignore the 10 MPH speed limit and hit the throttle to keep everyone from getting wet. I’ve never seen this before. The canal is well guarded and there weren’t any big boats churning up chop.

We went through a few more of these choppy areas before we got to the Mass Maritime Academy. I was thinking to myself “the mouth of the canal is going to be brutal today.”

Once I got past the 10 MPH sign, I took it up to about 30 MPH and headed into the abyss. It was quite surreal as we took that 1-2 mile run out into Buzzards Bay; as the waves steadily grew from 3 – 5 footers to bigger. On both sides of us we saw boats of all sizes turning around and heading back. Just before we cleared the sand bar we passed a 50′ sportfisher that was struggling to hold 20 knots into the sea.

Now we’re all alone and every wave is at least 6′, very short cycle, very steep faced, and coming from multiple directions and the stereo is playing Toby Keith’s Whiskey Girl loud enough to drown out everything else.

We’re jumping around, but staying in the water. I remember everyone’s advice to hold my speed, so I’m still doing close to 30 MPH into these 6 footers.

Then from nowhere jumps a 12 footer. It breaks over the bow (which is riding high) and over the windshield and tee-top. Enough water is forced through the 6″ slot between the top of the windshield and the bottom of the tee-top to completely drench everyone from head to toe. It felt like we hit something, I looked down at the instruments and the engines were revving over 5000 RPM and our speed was dropping.

I’m not quite sure what happened with the engines, but I simply powered down and powered back up and everything went fine. As it turned out, that 12 footer was the last of big canal chop and we quickly found ourselves back in 3-5 footers doing 35 MPH again.

So, that’s the limit (for Mean Kitty anyways) that you might expect out of a 3300CC Hydra Sport.

The wind was only blowing around 20, so those waves were tide driven, not wind driven. High tide was at 10:30 AM and low was around 4:15 PM. We hit the abyss around 2:00 PM.

###

One of favorite Dock & Dine spots, the Fish Monger in Woods Hole

She was a great boat. but because she was open and wanted to run so fast, she was pretty much a 4th of July to Labor Day boat.

By 2014, we were all getting older and more or our friends seemed to be getting queasy running around the Bay at 40 MPH in 3-5 waves.

In the immortal words of Roy Scheider in Jaws – “I think we’re gonna need a bigger boat”…

Tenacity (2015 Back Cove Downeast 37)

By 2014, Mean Kitty was getting a little long in the tooth. She was still pretty and very fast, but the warranty on the ETEC’s had run out and like I said elsewhere, we were ready for a more adult boat.

I knew my next boat had to be enclosed (to extend the season), still fast enough to go on all the day trips we’d been enjoying on Mean Kitty, and something we could live with for a long time.

Back Cove was on my short list, as was Hinckley, Hunt, Beneteau, Tiara, and Pursuit. The first boat that Mrs. Horne and I actually looked at was a Back Cove 30 at a Boston Yacht Sales opening house at The Chartroom (click here to read more about BYS).

Our Seatrial of the Beneteau 38 at Cape Yachts Padnaram

We also got a seatrial on a Beneteau Monte Carlo 38, which was a very pretty boat, but not a Buzzards Bay boat. The bottom was kind of flat, so it pounded in 3 footers and it was very tough to see around the stylish windshield frame.

Although we never seatrialed a Tiara or a Pursuit, we did look them over, but Back Cove kept looking like the boat company that had designed the best boats for Buzzard’s Bay.

As I discussed in my BYS piece, we seatrialed the 30, 34, and classic 37. I liked them all, but Mrs. Horne felt that we needed to got to at least a 37 if we were moving on from the 33′ Mean Kitty.

At this point, were still looking for an enclosed replacement for the big center console we had with Mean Kitty. Back Cove offered a version of the 37 called the Downeast, that boasted a very large cockpit and a flat fiberglass floor from stern to helm (which could be hosed down). We liked this because our younger guests still enjoyed swimming off the back deck.

We finally got to see a Back Cove Downeast 37 at the Maine Boat Show in Rockland!

The problem was that it was a limited production model and only about 10 had been built. BYS was trying to find one we could see, but there was nothing in New England. I contacted Lindsey at Back Cove and discovered there was going to be one at the Maine Boat Show in Rockland Maine so we decided to drive up and give it a look.

It really suited our goals perfectly. The Portland Maine dealer was selling the one we looked at, but after talking it over with Joyce at BYS, we decided to order a new 2015 from BYS.

One of many work in process photos sent by Lindsey Braun at Back Cove

This was really the first time we’d every had a boat built for us. Lindsey (at Back Cove) was great and emailed me work-in-process photos every week or so. BYS and Back Cove okayed Mattapoisett Boat Yard to do the commissioning and warranty work which made the whole thing even sweeter.

We took delivery in early May of 2015 and enjoyed a great first season essentially using it the way we’d used Mean Kitty.

Delivery Day!
(photo by Dave Kaiser, MBY)

That said, in June we overnighted for the first time at The Sakonnet Club in Rhode Island. It was very nice, but it’s a pretty quiet place and didn’t really represent the kind of cruising adventures we’d discover later.

We also found ourselves doing more Gunkholing in Hadley’s and Quisett. I had a nice Breedlove Dreadnaught guitar that I stored in the shower and that was all I needed for me and Rudy to start doing ad hoc concerts from the cockpit.

Although we only did one overnight in 2015, we did extend our travels to Newport and Plymouth. We also shared our experience of the overnight at Sakonnet with friends and by 2016, several of couple friends told us they wanted to go overnight too!

Susan and I christened the 2016 cruising season with an overnight to Brewers Marina in Plymouth and then went to Newport with Gail and Rudy two weeks later. That’s where we were when Joyce from BYS texted me to tell me about the Sabre 42 that was just about to hit the market and thus got the whole buying cycle for Vigilant started (more on that later).

We loved Newport and returned 3 more times in 2016. We also ventured to Block Island for a big adventure at The Block Island Boat Basin.

Peter, Mary Lee, and The Admiral demonstrating how 3 could sleep in Tenacity’s dinette in a pinch!

As much as loved Tenacity, we loved our friends even more. The second cruising couple on Tenacity really had it rough. Not only were they sleeping on the convertible dinette (with it’s very firm 4″ so-called cushions), but they also were awakened by the sun or me very early in the morning. All of this would have bee fine when we were kids, but at our age, we needed our pillow top mattresses.

Vigilant (2017 Back Cove 41)

In June of 2016, we were enjoying our first overnight weekend with Gail and Rudy. We were at the Newport Yachting Center (also for the first time), and out to breakfast at The Corner Cafe when I got this text from Joyce at BYS telling me about an incredible listing she just got for a 2015 Sabre 42.

As I munched on my Portuguese egg breakfast, I had to make a major decision. Although, Tenacity was only 15 months old, the truth was that I was suffering from a mild case of Buyers Remorse; not because I didn’t love Tenacity, but simply because I was enjoying cruising with another couple and knew our boat mission had changed.

I also knew Mrs. Horne when it came to big purchase decisions and the second I revealed Joyce’s text and my thoughts, she’d either snuff out my dream or jump on board and want a new boat more than I.

Mrs. Horne: “Who’s the text from?”

Me: “Joyce”

Mrs. Horne: “What does she want?”

Me: “Well… One of her customers is going to put a boat on the market at a ridiculous price and she asked me if I knew anyone interested.”

Mrs. Horne: “Are you interested?”

Me: “Yes”

Mrs. Horne: “What; we just bought a new boat!”

Mrs. Horne: “Does she have any pictures?”

And with that began the shortest boat buying cycle in Horne family history. After breakfast, we fired up Tenacity and got to Falmouth Massachusetts by 1:00. I

As Sabre 42’s go, NOMORE was a beauty…

The Sabre 42 was a pretty boat and an incredible deal, but after mulling it over, we concluded that it didn’t really serve the new mission. The guests were still sleeping on a convertible dinette and there was only one bathroom.

The funny thing was that the whole 24 hour shopping experience had triggered the a conversation about buying a bigger boat.

When I was shopping for Tenacity, I had Joyce send me brochures on every boat Back Cove made. I grabbed the one for the 41 and started studying it in earnest. It fit the new mission to a tee.

Somehow, Back Cove managed to get two staterooms, two heads, and big cockpit in a 41…

The Back Cove 41 layout was actually perfect. It had two staterooms, each had it’s own head, and each had a door that, when closed, turned  them into mini en-suites.

It also had the galley up — which facilitated people getting up early for coffee while allowing others to “sleep in.”

I think I may have wandered on one a the Newport Boat show, but the memory was pretty foggy.

Anyway, when I called Joyce to tell her we weren’t interested in the Sabre, I told her that the Back Cove 41 looked like a better fit.

BYS did have a 41 stock boat on order, but the owner of BYS didn’t really want to sell it. Apparently, he’d already ordered a couple for stock and they were sold before delivery. The next one was going to arrive in May of 2017 which made it the perfect time to show prospective customers.

To make matters worse, the entire 2017 Back Cove 41 build schedule was sold out, so we’d be looking at 2018’s and 2018 prices. I told Joyce “oh well, we’ll talk about it in the fall.”

I think this where Joyce and Lindsey (at Back Cove) really shined. Four days after texting me about the Sabre, Joyce called me back and said:

“Dave, this is really crazy and I completely understand it if you think I’m crazy, but I just spoke to Lindsey and she told me they can build a 41 for January delivery if you place an order in the next week.”

“She also said that the prices were going up tomorrow at midnight, but if you signed a contract tomorrow, you can get a 2017 model at 2016 prices.”

Bill and Tina’s Back Cove 41 at Wentworth By The Sea

That was it, the buying cycle was off to the races. Within 24 hours, Joyce was at our house and we were signing papers.

Susan had never even seen a 41 and Joyce arranged for us to meet another customer of hers who owned a 41 — Bill and Tina at Wentworth By The Sea.

Their boat was a beauty and I think Susan was impressed that they were planning on taking her to the Bahamas for the winter.

That sealed the deal and the construction of Vigilant began.

We took delivery in April of 2017 and as of this writing (May 24th), we’ve already been out 6 days and one overnight.

In many ways, she’s a lot like Tenacity, but better suited for our family’s mission. Beyond the extra stateroom and head, the biggest difference is the stability that comes from her extra 6,000 lbs of displacement. Also, the hardback door, makes cruising on a cold day quite comfortable.

Vigilant also triggered my imagination to create My Buzzards Bay and share everything I can about the boating lifestyle here in Southeastern Massachusetts.

Dave