Welcome Aboard!

A Sailor is Born
Nancy Gardner
OK. Here’s my story. You “real” sailors don’t snicker …. you asked for it! This summer, my friend Fitz, owner of a 24′ Columbia Contender, sailed and fished (he never caught a thing but had some very pretty lures!) with my roommate, Kathy. Since they insisted on leaving at some ridiculously early hour on weekends, I chose to sleep rather than sail.

They would start from the South River Bridge and head out to the Chesapeake Bay, traveling both north and south. Fitz’s strategy was to go in whatever direction the wind dictated; fast was the key.

His only requirement for someone to go along was that they must bring fried chicken! Not broiled chicken, but FRIED, greasy chicken.

Anyway, Kathy took a weekend sailing class in Baltimore and learned how to sail … not necessarily by the Fitz method! She even started getting excited about buying her own boat.

They finally talked me into going along on a Labor Day weekend cruise to Tilghman Island, across the Bay. Beautiful skies and a cooperative wind made it a great trip. The new charts I’d given Fitz saved us from running aground in several places where the 1965 charts he’d been using said there was adequate depth. NOT! It was fun but I wanted to do more than deliver food and drink!

I own a small computer business. After visiting one of my clients, Peninsula Yacht Services outside of Annapolis, I asked them to keep me in mind if they should run across any “deals” on boats as the season came to a close.

Well, they had three FREE boats – just pay $1 (they’d even give me the $1) and I could have my choice of a 22′ or 24′ fiberglass sailboat, or a third wooden boat they preferred not to offer for anything but parts.

I called Fitz and Kathy and we went down to take a look at the freebies that night, flashlight in hand. Fitz took the lead and flashed the light onto the emblem of the first boat. It was a Dolphin. And then the next, it was a Columbia 22.

We found a ladder and climbed aboard the Columbia. I think it was love at first site, since it was the same boat I’d heard so much about over the last several months. We couldn’t believe THIS would be one of the $1 boats. Yes, it was. So, $1 later, I got the title.

A friend, Bill called while driving to Annapolis on a business trip and I told him about the deal. He asked if there were any more….yes! So he bought the Dolphin for $1!

We were all very excited. Look for sails, trade for outboard, scrub scrub scrub!

Fitz felt a little outdone since he had paid a normal price for his 24′. So, he bought a 26′ Columbia! Kathy took this one step farther and left him a message saying I was about to buy a 28′, just to see if he’d jump for a 30′! His adrenaline hit the ceiling, but he didn’t buy one before we let him in on the joke!

Anyway, we now have our own little fleet. Fitz has two Columbia’s, a 24′ and a 26′, plus his houseboat and dinghy. Bill has the 24′ Dolphin ,and I have the 22′ Columbia.

The next chapter: Fitz sees and ad in the Annapolis paper for a 22′ Columbia for $1000. He suggested I call for parts. When I called, the price was down to $800. The very boat had been two slots down from Fitz’s new 26′ in the yard. We had already seen it. It was freshly painted, and was in great shape! It was the same white with blue trim that my 22′ was.

I made an appointment to see it and Fitz and Kathy came along. I tried a deal to trade mine plus $500, but the boatyard hand who had fixed it up didn’t want my boat. We settled on $600. Keep in mind, this new 22′ was now in the water and ready to sail. All we need ed was the cooler!

We thought of several mean tricks to play on Bill, who would be spending his Spring scraping and painting. But then I finally fessed up about my new acquisition. He bought my original boat and I doubled my money — $2! He too doubled his money on the Dolphin, selling it for $2!

So now, Bill and I have twin 22′ Columbias; Fitz has a 24′ and 26′ Columbia; and Kathy is waiting to buy her 30’+ Columbia sometime in the next year or so!

We’re busy lining up friends to crew and work. The big issues now are “what color should the t-shirts be?” and “where should we keep the twins?”
You asked for it. That’s the story!

This article appeared in the February 1998 C-Nuz 2 issue. albatross