Remembering Captain Lucas Smith, A Captain’s Captain. June 22, 1971 ~ July 20, 2011

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Losing a friend is always tough.  It’s tougher when they are young and have so much to live for.  That was Lucas. He died tragically on this day seven years ago, July 20, 2011.

Following his untimely death, there was much written about Lucas, and for good reason – everyone that knew Lucas McDowell Smith loved him.  He was that kind of guy.  Full of confidence. Energy beyond comprehension.  Always smiling. Loyal. Would give you the shirt off his back. You knew he would always have your back!  Lucas saw all people as equals.  Period.  His memorial was attended by friends of all ages, genders, colors, and levels of education and income.  None of that ever mattered to Lucas.  And everyone in attendance could tell you their story about the guy.

Andy Paras of the Post and Courier and Sully Witte of the Moultrie News knew Lucas, and wrote the following.  To give you perspective, I’ll let others tell you about Lucas through the stories written after his death.  In closing, I’ll only tell one, but to me, it told volumes about him.

The Moultrie News, July 21, 2011.  LUCAS in Moultrie NewsHe was an old-school boat captain and businessman who squeezed adventure out of every living minute. She was a charming free spirit from Kentucky along for the ride.Together, Lucas Smith and Cara Lee Donohue, known by her friends as Carly, soared high above the waves Wednesday in a device best described as a flying boat — a rubber raft connected to an engine and a parasail. Continue reading.

The Patch.com Editorial Staff, July 28, 2011, Updated October 19, 2011 Last Goodbye to Dewees Crash Victims Shem Creek was a place dear in the hearts of Carly Donohue and Lucas Smith, the pair killed a week ago when the light sport aircraft they were operating fell from the sky off the coast of Dewees Island.On Wednesday, at the same time the crash occurred a week earlier, friends and relatives of both Donohue and Smith gathered to pay final respects at Red’s Ice House on the banks of the creek. Continue reading.

Lucas and Carly were everything wonderful that was written about them. And more. He was a husband, father, son, and great friend to all that knew him.  He was an entrepeneur.  A boat captain extrodinaire. He didn’t just dream, he lived his dreams.  The Osprey is a prime example of that.  Carly was a much loved and loving daughter.  A sister.  A proud aunt.  She was the Osprey First Mate.  Like Lucas, she  never met a stranger.  Two weeks prior to her death, she made such an impression on two Korean tourists that they stayed in Charleston to attend her funeral.  She was a wonderful young woman living life to the fullest.

I met Lucas through my daughter and son.  The generational difference between us meant nothing to Lucas.  I like to think we learned from each other.  When I needed advise or help with our old Cargile Cutter Cruiser, “SunSmiles,” Lucas was always there.  When he wanted to talk, I’d get a call and the voice on the other end of the line would say, “Let’s get some wings at lunch.” I’m glad I never had to turn down one of those invitations.

Once when I flew with him, we had to make a soft landing off Morris Island, when a throttle cable snapped. We – or I should say he – made a temporary repair by using our only tool, my nail clippers, to remove the cover of a carburator and jam the float wide open.  Say what you will, but it got us home! That was Lucas. Calm. Knowledgeable. Resourceful.

I’ll forever remember my cellphone ringing one day as I sat at my computer.  “Are you online?” he asked excitedly.  “I am now,” I replied.  “Hurry,” he said, and gave me a URL to sign into.  Up came the eBay page with the image of a boat, with a “Buy it now” price of $25,000.  Printed on the ad was the word, “Sold.”  He bought it for a fraction of the price.  I got the word, “What” out of my mouth before Lucas interupted with glee, “I JUST BOUGHT IT!”  For Lucas, it was another dream accomplished. The boat went on to become The Osprey, his dream party boat.

Somewhere in heaven, I have no doubt he’s looking down on all of us, and smiling. Some day we’ll meet again.  Until that day, when situations arise, and decisions must be made as we cruise “Slow Dance,” I’ll just have to ask myself, “What would Lucas do?”

I know he and Carly are “Resting In Peace, sailing on the ships of heaven.”

Fair winds and following seas, Lucas. Fair winds and following seas.

1/1/11 Osprey cruise

“Red Buoy in Fog,” photographed on the last New Year’s Day cruise with Helen, Lucas, little “Luke,” and friends, aboard the Osprey

Belhaven…and the Angry Albemarle

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 Saturday, July 7, 2018

Today is our first “weather” day of the trip.  Our friend, Steve Earnhardt says, “there are old sailors, and there are bold sailors, but there are no old, bold sailors.”  We were warned about the potential for the winds on the Albemarle and other North Carolina sounds.  This morning we awoke to the Nor’easter winds’ fury across the Albemarle – and we’re in the reasonably protected harbor of the Alligator River Marina.  Barring an unforeseen break in the weather, Slow Dance will spend the next couple of days “waltzing” on her ropes, here at the marina.

Belhaven, NC.

The Belhaven Marina was our first experience with “fixed finger piers” vs. floating docks.  I’m happy to say that Kate adapted well to “fixed,” which was a good thing, since so may Eastern NC and Chesapeake Bay marinas have “fixed” finger pier dock systems.

Kate the Mate’s “happy place”

I have to admit that when I first pulled into the Belhaven Marina, I had reservations about making reservations there for the night.  The minute the marina’s general manager, Gregg Baker met us at the dock, my concerns began to evaporate.  To me, it’s an old style, neighborhood, small town kind of marina.  Its ambiance, along with Gregg’s service and hospitality, and the marina’s amenities resulted in it achieving the Marinas.com Boaters’ Choice Award in 2017. No marina we’ve ever visited had more personal touch than Belhaven.

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Two marina bath/showers with Navy and maritime decor

  • Complimentary bath towels
  • Complimentary soap, shampoo, and lotion
  • Complimentary use of washer and dryer
  • Down home ambiance
  • A marina that far exceeds customer service expectations!

We left looking forward to our next visit to the marina and Belhaven.

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Leaving Belhaven, next stop, Alligator River Marina

With the exception of one storm cloud, our trip from Belhaven to Columbia, NC and the Alligator River Marina was beautiful and uneventful.  Some of eastern North Carolina’s rivers are so expansive you begin to wonder if you’ve ventured into the Atlantic.  From Beaufort, we cruised parts of the Neuse, Pamlico, Alligator Rivers, as well as the Alligator River – Pungo River Canal — a 20-mile long “ditch” connecting the Pungo and Alligator Rivers.

Entering the long, straight, scenic canal

Overnight or over-weekend, that is the question! Go away wind and whitecaps!

At least we have something in common with the other three cruisers in the marina. Chesapeake, we — Slow Dance, Ocean Dancer, Spirit, and Grace will be there…sooner or later!

Fair-er winds and following seas