Love At First Sight
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Dave and Susan Bullington of St. Charles sent me some pictures of their family enjoying their 1966 Chris Craft Cavalier. This is exactly the kind of love for the river, their boat and, most importantly, their family that we love to hear about here at "Rollin' On The River Magazine."
These are the words of this loving couple about their feelings for their boat. I hope you all enjoy reading them as much as I did.
-Chuck Keller, Publisher ROTR Magazine

HERS: I was just shy of starting kindergarten when she was introduced to society. Every introduction is unique and she was no exception. She was a mother I had longed for. I had looked for her many a day on the river starting from first memory.

She was what every child needs: stability and functionality, classing in a handsome perspective. She was slender but curvaceous. Her skin was smooth. Her nose was chiseled but not sharp, round yet delicate. Her transom was like that of the shoulders of a statuesque woman walking down the runway. She was not made to labor yet she could when called upon. Slow now yet sure when she sliced through the large wakes the larger younger women made.

Her skin remained smooth from the laminated plywood. She was heavier than the younger fiberglass boats but not stout. She was of muscled wood.

I wish I would have known her growing up. I looked for her without knowing what she looked like for years. I missed all that time. Going to picnics, swimming on the beach, sleeping on her bosom at night on an extended trip. Her 33 feet would allow a small family an intimate holiday.

Her best years were spent in a simpler time. The Vietnam war was raging but America was not at the mall just yet. Families still prayed at church together and at the table. Attention deficit was not an epidemic.

When I met her, my daughter and I were speechless. She on one of her rare occasions sat still with us in the cabin. We were both mesmerized with a feeling of security only a mother could give. I felt my soul mate and I were on an interview to ensure her care would be in worthy hands. When we left the interview I became anxious at the thought of not having her in our home. The adult child had found her mother.

We found a picture of her when she was young. The picture is in a frame in our front room with the rest of the family. The first year with her we had to do some noninvasive work on her heart and she was stable. I will never forget that first year. Spring, summer and fall we were with her almost daily frolicking in the water. I remember her first scratch. My heart was heavy with grief. The thoughtlessness of another woman after our extension of a friendly gesture. She left and her windlass caught the side of her face. She didn't even stop to tell us. You know who you are.

He fixed it without a scar. Only a soul mate would know. That was a gift for our first year together that cannot be bought.

I don't know how but it seemed as if all of the sudden her heart faltered. We had been pragmatic knowing full well it was when, not if. Unlike others, she still lives through her wood. It breathes forever if cared for. Now she is on the table. Dissection after dissection, the cancer in the body is found and excised. The old skin sloughed and renewed. Her joints revived with fresh caulk.

She will shine again in the river after her redress. She will sit still during the fitting. She will moan with pleasure during the massage of sandpaper followed by potions to make her glow.

She is not a mistress to inspire jealousy. She is a comfort to all that board her; a shelter to our household. Like a mother to her children she is not arrogant of her time tried elegance which allows her class to show. I wish I would have met her earlier.

HIS: The minute I laid eyes on both of them I just "knew." The way they carried themselves, their classic lines, the understated confidence that said "This is who I am". I may not be an expert but I know a rare beauty when I see one... Or two.

I had been dating my future wife for a short time when she happened to mention to me how she had longed to boat on the river. She told me of the hours she had spent sitting alongside the Mississippi watching the multitude of boats pass by. How she imagined herself sitting at the helm, the wind in her hair and the sound of the river giving way beneath her. It was the most touching story I had ever heard. I decided right then and there to find the "perfect" boat that would fulfill her longtime desire.

I first saw her in the classifieds. She caught my eye because initially I thought she was being advertised as a 66 footer and that seemed rather a large boat for these parts. Then I realized that '66 was her vintage not her length, and I was instantly intrigued. I agreed to meet the owner at the slip to take a look.

When I got there, I was struck by the same feeling of "love at first sight" that I experienced when I met my wife. I just "knew" that this was the perfect boat for us. Simple yet elegant, unique, classically understated. In short, all the same attributes that made me fall in love with my wife. I couldn't wait to show her this extraordinary find. As I had predicted, the minute she laid eyes on her she was smitten. The seller spent a great deal of time telling us all about the boat. She was hanging on every word. On the way home she asked me how I knew she would be so enthralled with a boat that was 40 years old. I told her I just "knew".

Buying that boat brought us even closer together. We truly enjoyed taking her out, fixing her up and generally spending time together on her. In fact, one summer evening we were sitting together in the salon, talking about this and that, and it struck me like a hammer. This was all meant to be. This was right. I just "knew." A beautiful, intelligent woman, the boat, the river, the soft summer breeze, the water gently lapping up against the hull... I never wanted it to end. I guess that's why I decided to propose right then and there, I just "knew." She must've known too, because the three of us are still rolling along the river today.