I had dreamed about owning a Marshall catboat for well over a decade. When I finally got up the courage and funding for “Marsaili” in October 2011, it was a very special day for me. You can read more about it in my blog “Marsaili and Me.” So here I was, heading back to that beautiful boatyard on Padanaram Harbor. I was to interview Geoff Marshall, the owner of Marshall Marine in South Dartmouth, MA.
I arrived about 30 minutes early for our appointment so I could get some photography work done with the morning light. The air was crisp and quite windy. I bundled up and surveyed the yard for pictures. The yard was crammed solid with catboats of all sizes hauled out for the winter. I snapped a couple of photos, but continued my search. Down by the water was Marshall’s giant boat lift. It loomed in the morning sunlight as if it frozen solid the minute the last boat was hauled waiting to be revived by the warm rays of the spring sunshine. It had an ominous, yet hopeful look that I hoped to capture. I snapped a handful of shots and was happy with my results.
The wind was picking up and the cold air passed through me like knives. I lowered my head and briskly headed in the direction of the office for our interview when THUMP. On the bottom of this giant lift, i-beams form the base support of the structure. On the front side of the lift, those i-beams protrude about 2 feet and I had managed to walk face first right into the end of it. The iron did not give much, but my face did. I could feel a warm trickle of blood making its way down the side of my nose. I could not help but think that this was not a great start to my day at Marshall Marine as I wobbled over to the office.
I walked in and immediately felt the warm air on my now battered face. Geoff was kind and welcoming as always. He mentioned that he had walked into the lift a couple of times as well. Whether or not he was telling the truth or just trying to dull my feeling of idiocy, I did not care. It worked and I immediately felt slightly less idiotic. We proceeded with the interview. As it has been the dozen or so other times I have dealt with Geoff, sitting down for a gam was a pure pleasure. I love to hear of his knowledge of Marshall boats as well as his fondness for the catboat community. They are a tight knit lot and Geoff is the unspoken godfather.
After the interview, Geoff took me around the shop to show me all of the projects they are working on. Business thrives at Marshall in the wintertime as everyone gets in line for tune-ups, upgrades, and repairs. All the while, new boats are being produced and sold at a decent clip. I spoke with a number of folks at work in the shop and again was treated with smiling faces and handshakes. The passion of boat building is alive and well at the quintessential catboat builder and nowhere was it more evident than in the folks that are doing the building. A couple of them even asked me how Sea Pup was doing (Marsaili’s former name) and I was flattered that they remembered.
I wrapped up the interview and went on my merry way telling Geoff that I would see him at the Catboat Association Meeting in a couple weeks. As I got in my car to drive off, I fondly recalled that day in October when Marsaili and I drove off the lot together. It was a day I will never forget, similar to each day that I drove off with a new boat.