thought you might like to see my overlong response to a yacht pub journalist
who wants to interview us about the loss of our wonderful boat, Hermione,
in the marina fire on January 7.
It may give you
a feel for our state of mind at the moment.
Dear Jim, thank you for your interest in our wonderful yacht, Hermione.
Mike and I have no problem talking about her. You might look at our old and incomplete website www.myhermione.com to get a feeling for her. There is also a video of her (and us) that’s being entered in a Florida contest…it was shot last spring at Useppa Island. We might be able to get a copy for you.
What kills us most … other than the fact that we took her 800 miles south to keep her safe for the winter, arriving just 6 weeks before the (just guessing)50-year-old structure burned up … was losing an irreplaceable piece of history on “our watch”.
In the past four years, with three trips to south Florida and two up to NYS and the Canadian border, we’ve had .. literally … thousands of people aboard. One of the reasons we bought her was because we’ve seen how much people are fascinated by these classic yachts … and we wanted to share our love and knowledge of classic yachting as well as our beautiful boat. We were mobbed at marinas and boat shows. And unlike many owners, we welcomed many, many people to tour our lovely Hermione.
It was a thrill to see little kids intrigued by her original brass throttles and gear shift controls. It was a thrill to have people as old as Hermione aboard and watch them take the wheel. Once on Bald Head, NC, a little boy and an older gentleman came by and read the banner we often hung from the boat explaining her convenance … from inside I heard him say, “Grandpa, do you think I could pat this boat? She’s exactly as old as you are.” It brought tears to my eyes. Sometimes we’d be having our first cup of coffee at 6 a.m. and someone would run out to ask us questions. We weren’t always glad to see them, but we were always glad they cared.
Hermione carried us thousands of miles past the unbelievable scenery of the ICW, which I refer to as the parallel universe. Sometimes it seems as if she knew those waters, as she followed the turns of the rivers…and we’re sure she did, as she’d cruised between Nova Scotia and Cuba when we bought her.
And every time we looked at her we were awed by her beauty. Cruising that boat (well, except in a heavy beam sea) was an extraordinary pleasure. She cut through the water and although a little thirsty, her two Chysler 318 engines (which we’d planned to replace and thank god we didn’t) quietly purred. Our last cruise … from the Erie Canal near Syracuse, NY, to Washington, NC, was a last minute decision, which turned out to be the wrong one.
We’d had other commitments (landwise) last summer, so we cruised up from south Florida to Brewerton, NY, where we docked her while we completed our other tasks. In his “spare” time, Mike replaced the stupid galley some former owner put in with a stunning galley that looked like it came with the yacht. It was late October before I came aboard, and we’d decided to stay up north after the frigid winter of last year, so we’d be closer to our summer cruising grounds on the St. Lawrence River.
We thought we’d take a leisurely cruise west toward Lake Erie, and then return to Brewerton, where we’d haul her on the railway and store her for the winter.
Mother nature foiled our plan. Due to torrential rains, the entire Erie Canal was closed for several days, and the eastbound locks opened, but the westbound locks stayed closed. Once aboard, we headed east, and then of course kept going toward North Carolina, where we felt she’d be safe at McCotters. Bad idea, as it turned out. And quite the irony as well.
One of the reasons we really appreciated Hermione is that both of us really love the water. On Hermione, you had the feel of a “boat” … low to the water and with glass windows all around us …and although she was 56 feet long, Mike and I could always see each other docking, which thanks to his incredible boat handling skills was always a snap. Sometimes I could envision seeing the whites of the eyes of people on the dock as he’d slide our old girl into a dock space that seemed no longer than she was or maneuver her into a slip that seemed impossible to reach (or exit).
In fact, Mike and I met on a Trumpy delivery, which is how we ended up buying Hermione. We met, literally, at the West Palm Beach airport, where I’d been asked to “pick up” the captain. He’d been the surveyor, project consultant and delivery captain for some friends of mine. I was their unpaid crew. I’d grown up around wooden boats of all sizes and had just sold my beloved (plastic) Hylas 44, so I was boatless. The rest, literally, is history.
For us Hermione was a life, an investment, a responsibility … and a business. We’ve spent four years traveling thousands of miles, upgrading the boat and restoring pieces that had been altered, building goodwill at resorts along the ICW…promoting the boat at shows and marinas everywhere … and developing the final marketing plan for this coming season. We had already been asked to handle three events in the 1000 Islands of the St. Lawrence River this summer.
Mike has worked on her daily since we bought her, or almost daily … he’s touched every piece of that yacht, literally. His beloved antique tools, along with several family heirlooms, the silver we’d won at shows and all the furnishings we’ve brought aboard here went up in flames that night. Yet we were the fortunate ones – we weren’t aboard, and although Hermione was home, we do have another place to live. Others were not so lucky.
We even had a man who planned to buy her whenever we wanted to sell her …who’s as devastated as we are. Between us, we would have insured that this spectacular yacht was in superb condition when she celebrated her centennial birthday. And we sure as hell planned to make her as perfect as the day she was sold, probably from Elco’s showroom in Manhattan, to a pair of vaudevillian actors.
Jody and Mike
Misty Rivers, Ltd.