How We Bought Our Boat and Got Started in the Charter Business

Christine Smith, along with husband Jeffrey, finds a diamond in the rough to turn into a tour boat in one of the most beautiful places in the world.

David B Blog 1

I came to boating in the spring of 1998 when I bought my first boat with my soon-to-be-husband Jeffrey. The boat was the main ingredient for the dream we had committed ourselves to as a way to build our life together. We were in our late twenties; full of energy and the belief that we could make our dreams come true. Like so many people before us, our plan was to find an old boat, rebuild it, and share it with others by offering charters.

Although I grew up in the suburbs of Seattle, loved tidal pools and being near the water, I somehow had never found my way to boats. That all changed in 1996 when I met Jeffrey. He was twenty-six and had just landed a job as a captain on a passenger ferry that ran between Bellingham, Washington, and Victoria, British Columbia. He captivated me with a plan that he’d been working on since his days as a deckhand on the windjammers in Maine. His idea was to build a big schooner and run it as a business, like the boats he’d worked on in Maine. I fell in love listening to him. Most of my daydreams floated around the notion that I wanted to someday own a bed and breakfast in the San Juan Islands. When he first learned of my dreams he asked me, “Does your bed and breakfast need to have a foundation, or could it float?” With that one question and a smile, our dreams came together and two years later, after lots of searching, we found the “perfect” boat.

It was a diamond in the rough for sure, with sixty-five feet of rotten and weathered wood, peeling paint and an antique engine. We shook hands with the owner, exchanged money and signed some paperwork. After that we were the proud owners of a nearly derelict former cannery tender, built in 1929. Her name was David B, and she was priced just right – fifteen thousand dollars. That was May of 1998 and my initiation into the world of boats.

Our restoration of the David B took eight years, and in 2006, we achieved our goal of starting a charter boat business. Nowadays, our charters are usually between three and twelve days. Our focus is on nature and wildlife tours, as well as educational cruises that help yacht owners and bareboat charterers refine their skills. From April to October, you can find the David B cruising the waters of the Salish Sea, the Inside Passage and Southeast Alaska. In the off-season we spend our time at home in Bellingham making upgrades and doing maintenance to the boat.

I look forward to sharing my experiences both as a tour boat operator in some of the most beautiful places in the world, but also as a boat owner that faces the same challenges and obstacles as everyone else who has put their dreams in motion and found themselves on a boat.

Check out Christine's book about rebuilding the David B- More Faster Backwards.