¬ÝI always dreamed of one day owning a boat like the ones moored out there in the harbor. It was great being a kid in Marblehead in those days, and while I had no idea what I wanted to be when I grew up, I did know that I wanted to have a boat that I could cruise in to other interesting places.
Over the years, as I progressed through high school and college, I had a variety of summer jobs; but the best by a long shot were lobstering and driving the launch at the yacht clubs. I could not imagine my good fortune: riding around in a boat all day long, and getting paid for it!
It was during this time that I purchased the boat of my dreams, a 34-foot lobster hull built by Ralph Crowell, a local fisherman and boatbuilder. I called her Muscobe II.
Unfortunately, I eventually was forced to give up my launch-driving and lobstering careers in favor of a real job. And in the real world I soon learned that it was impos-sible to work, eat, sleep, and maintain a wooden boat with that much varnish all in one lifetime, so I was forced to sell her.
I immediately, however, began dreaming of someday duplicating this boat in fiberglass - one which offered the same performance, safety and good looks, but without the maintenance. Rather than the typical "Clorox bottle," I wanted a boat which you would have to look at twice to be certain it was not constructed of wood.
By 1984 I really had the fever, and though I wasn't financially ready to make the commitment, I began to think seriously about different boatbuilders. I knew I wanted a lobster hull and not just because I find them attractive, but because these boats have evolved over the past hundred years to "take a lickin' and keep on tickin'." I wanted a boat that could get offshore and back in a hurry, through rough water, and to provide a stable work platform while out there and one that I could take my kids out in and not have to worry if we got caught in some weather. And there's really only one place where such boats are built and at least of the quality I had in mind: Maine.
I had pretty much decided upon the type boat I wanted: 32-34 feet in length, with a flying bridge.
By autumn, 1986, I had obtained drawings and prices from three builders, and had whittled it down to two. Young Brothers and Duffy & Duffy. Both companies manufactured excellent, good-looking sea boats which were consistent winners in the annual Maine lobster boat races.
Still undecided, I called Young Brothers one day and, knowing what fierce competition existed between them and Duffy, outlined the price difference to them. Thinking I was playing Jimmy the Dunce with a hick from Maine, I said, "I don't know much about boats, but just how can Duffy & Duffy get so much higher than their base price, just by adding on some bunks, a head, dinette and galley, and a flybridge?"
The silence at the other end of the line lasted so long I thought we'd been cut off. Then came the answer I'll never forget: "It's pretty haahhd, I'd imagine..." The next weekend I was on my way to Corea to put a deposit on a new Young Brothers-33. I've never made the mistake of underestimating the intelligence or business acumen of my Maine friends since.
And on August 24, 1987 I took delivery at last of my own brand-new custom Young Brothers-33, MUSCOBE. If you're wondering about the name, the word actually has no meaning whatever to anybody but myself and an old college buddy of mine, Duke Blackford. Where I was raised around boats, Duke was raised around horses, and he knew more about them than I knew about boats.
Today he's a veterinarian, living in Oklahoma, and it was he who invented the word. Just about anything could be a "mus-cobe:" a nasty rodeo bull was a "rank muscobe"; a pretty girl was a "neat little mus-cobe." I used to kid him about using the word, and he called me "Marblehead" by way of retaliation, But soon I began to use the word myself and once, in fun, I told Duke: "You know, someday, I'm going to have a nice yacht in Marblehead Harbor, and you know what I'm going to call it?... Muscobe. I don't think he really ever believed me until years later he visited us and actually rode in her himself.
EDIT. NOTE: These are the voyages of the yacht Muscobe, to be told here in a series of articles. It is the opinion of the editorial staff, that our readership is in for a treat that could only have been generated by a childhood in Marblehead, and the dreams that accompany it.