Roger and Deborah Brown, Saltwater Joys 37VT12
Some 18 years ago, our youngest son and I decided to build a boat together. Matthew had wanted a boat, and I gave him the task of researching and finding a set of plans. I have to be honest in saying that I thought it would likely be along the lines of a cedar strip canoe, kayak, or perhaps a small row boat. You can imagine my surprise when he came back saying, “I want to build a tugboat!” And so the journey began.
This father son project was comprised of countless evenings and weekends working together. After four years, the day finally arrived when we launched Time TUGether, a 16ft tugboat built from the Berkerley Engineering plans found in Wooden Boat magazine. At the launch party I was speaking with one of our elderly neighbors who had watched us working painstakingly away at the boat over the years, and asked him what his biggest concern was. With a grin on his face, and a twinkle in his eye, he simply stated, “Dying before you finished.” We both had a good laugh but then went on to reinforce that this project was much more about the journey, and not the destination. The process was as important as the result.
One of our most memorable trips aboard Time TUGether was from Ottawa to Kingston through the Rideau Canal. Not only was it our longest trip in the tug, but it was our introduction to the world of the Lord Nelson Victory Tug. One evening as we approached a lock we saw what was a much larger version of our tiny tug. We slowly pulled alongside the Carla B 37VT05, a gorgeous 37’ LNVT. Sporting the exact same paint colors, it was as if our boat came with the instructions, “just add water.” When we met Carl and Laura Butterfield, we both knew that the owners were as special and unique as the tug itself. They were genuine, friendly and ironically as interested in our tug, as we were in theirs. We exchanged stories, coordinates and photos prior to continuing on our respective journeys. As a parting gift, Carl gave me a small square 12 inch stick painted red on one side, and green on the other, bearing the name Carla B. His skipperly advice was, “Remember: red, right, return. This will always remind you and you can think of us.” Needless to say I still have that stick more than 14 years later.
From that point forward, I became obsessed with the LNVT. I would spend countless hours researching, looking at photos, and trying to figure out how I could become the proud owner of one of these magnificent vessels. I will admit that the cost of the LNVT had me go down the road of looking into the Nordic, Ranger, and other such tugs, but my heart always circled back to the one and only LNVT.
After spending 35 years in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and approaching retirement, I came to the realization that it was time to turn that dream into a reality. While on Cape Cod this past summer, and once again browsing the LNVT site, I stumbled upon the sale of the Lady Hamilton 37VT12. From the moment we laid eyes on her, we knew it was right from every perspective.
As things were put into motion, the conversations with Dave Howell, and several other owners reassured us that we were in good hands as the newest owners of a LNVT. It goes without saying that a purchase of this magnitude can be overwhelming, but Dave provided advice, contacts, and photos, but more importantly the confidence we needed to solidify the sale.
Now with the title in hand, the Lady Hamilton will sail north to Grand Lake, New Brunswick, Canada, under a new name, Saltwater Joys. A good friend of ours by the name of Wayne Chaulk wrote a song entitled Saltwater Joys that speaks of the quiet pleasures of life around the ocean, and the simple pleasures of rural Newfoundland — our home province. There is an underlying theme throughout the song that suggests the rejection of the busy urban lifestyle in exchange for one that embraces simplicity. That, in a nutshell, is our quest as Deborah and I plan for our retirement and spending more time with the family, friends, and of course our granddaughter Emma. If you have a spare few minutes, the song is worth a listen.
Saltwater Joys no doubt has work to be done to bring her up to the standard she deserves, but as I have always said to my employees, “When you love your job, you never work a day in your life.” The time spent aboard will fuel the passion I have for the LNVT and all that comes with it. I certainly hope to become one of those owners whose pride in the tug can be manifested in the same manner as the LNVT sailing into a new port.
Hanging up my Stetson, high brown boots, and scarlet red tunic will be a little easier knowing that they will be replaced with a pair of worn Sperry topsiders and a t-shirt sporting the LNVT emblem. Our new journey will begin in ernest when she hits the water in Newburyport this spring. As we venture north I will be sure to remember: red, right, return......a big thank you to Carl and Laura.
Deborah and I look forward to meeting some of you at the East Coast rendezvous this summer in Plymouth, Mass.