Scott Faulkner said aboard his lovingly restored 1939 Elco cabin cruiser at Three Mile Marina the other day that when he first came across the Mary Lloyd it was shrouded by canvas in Jim Bennett’s storage and maintenance yard next to the Springs School.
“I had always seen the bow sticking out — it looked to me like an interesting package under the tree that you wanted to open but couldn’t.”
Bennett had not long before sold him a 28-foot double-ended 1944 Navy lifeboat, originally meant to be rowed, to which a little deck house and an inboard diesel engine had been added. “It was a very sweet little boat,” said the well-traveled former commercial diver, magazine photographer, and parascending instructor (he’s been a pilot since he was 19). “It was named Patience, which was apt, for it could only do seven knots.”
The veiled Elco (standing for the Electric Launch Company of Bayonne, N.J.) — originally named Blue Skies, but which Faulkner renamed after his mother — had been left at the Bennett yard by an estate to settle an outstanding storage bill, he said, a transaction rather common in the boat world.
“I remember the day in 1992 I was told I could look at it — the carrot had been dangled — squirming up through the canvas draped over the stern and peering in. It was,” he said, brightening, “like discovering a long-lost love, something preordained! I was instantly brought back to 1939, to the days when they made things beautifully. I thought, ‘This baby’s got class!’ Of course I didn’t have the money, and so I went to the bank and got a cash advance on my credit card and bought it.”
An affection for boats had always been with him, he said in reply to a question. “I had 40 models in my room . . . square riggers, schooners . . . I loved the beauty of sailboats, it’s just that I never found myself owning one, it was always motorboats.”
And now, with the restored Mary Lloyd, he’s got the best of both worlds — much more comfort than a 30-foot sailboat would afford and the lines, white oak framing, cedar planking, and mahogany trim of the Great Gatsby era.
Moreover, “people pay how many millions for this view,” he said as a visitor and he sat in the shade of the Mary Lloyd’s ample salon deck at Three Mile Marina the other morning, looking out across Three Mile Harbor as a turtle popped up its head and a swan glided by. “A few of us are lucky enough to have it for a song. . . . These waterways and tranquil bays around here are some of the most beautiful in the world.”
“And there’s so much landfall . . . Connecticut, Rhode Island, the North Fork, Block Island, Fishers Island. . . . We’ve gone from Manhattan to Nantucket and to all points in between, but this wasn’t meant for blue water sailing. It’s a lake, bay, and river boat.”
Luckily, his English-born wife, Sara, likes living on a boat too. They met in 1997 at a party on an updated Narrows boat of the kind that plied England’s canals in the 1800s. He was at the time based in London and traveling the world as a magazine photographer. “It wasn’t until two years later, however, that we began going out. I was always enchanted, but never quite able to land the fish.”
“We were married right here in Coecles Harbor,” she said one recent bright weekend afternoon during which the Faulkners, with their children, 9-year-old Mali and 6-year-old Frank, took a few others out to celebrate Ed Gifford’s 51st birthday.
“We weren’t anchored,” said her husband, who is licensed to marry people himself nowadays. “I turned the key off. Justice Hannabury, who has since died, said it would only take a couple of minutes. We had six or seven aboard — everyone else was at the Ram’s Head dock nearby. We had a party afterward at the Chequit.”
This is the first year that the Faulkners have offered charters, figuring that the Mary Lloyd might as well pay for itself. He has a Coast Guard-certified “six-pack” captain’s license that permits up to a half-dozen guests. Half-day, full-day, sunset (“the most beautiful to be seen on the East End”), or wedding cruises are being offered. “Catering for any occasion, formal or informal, can be arranged,” their Web site, marylloydcharters.com, says.