Hauling Snuggawumps

Bill Marston at the helm of Snuggawumps. Photo courtesy Randy Randall

December 2022

By Randy Randall

Snuggawumps was Dad Marston’s 25-foot Bertram. The “Wumps” had twin MerCruiser engines and no trailer. Hauling the boat was our last official act of the marina season. This all took place years ago, before our launch ramp was paved, and the parking lot was gravel.

The plan was to pull the boat far up the launch ramp, just above the high-water mark, where it would stay for the winter. By now all the main docks and finger piers had been hauled and stacked. The fuel dock and some of the moorings had been brought on shore. The mooring barge and the work skiff were stored in the bushes. The only thing left was the Snuggawumps.

Dad had built a wooden cradle for the boat that we pushed down the launch ramp at low tide and weighed down with cement blocks while we waited for the tide to come in. We used some 10-foot sections of 3-inch iron pipe for rollers.

The marina winch truck did the pulling. The long winch cable stretched out over the back of the truck and down to the front of the cradle. Eventually, the tide served and we pulled Snuggawumps into place on the cradle. Then we all went to lunch and waited for the tide to turn again.

As it dropped, we used crowbars to lever up the skids and position the steel rollers under. You might imagine this was an “all-hands on deck” event. Every able-bodied guy was either shuffling rollers, helping run the truck or trigging the wheels. Dad took a strain pulling the Snuggawumps the remaining few feet up the ramp to where she would spend the winter. Only the truck tires dragged on the dirt. We used cement blocks for trigs. When all was ready Dad engaged the PTO and the winch turned and slowly pulled the Wumps up the ramp.

Our last task was to tie safety ropes to nearby trees. And that was it. Hauling Snuggawumps brought the curtain down on our marina season and marked the end of work for us – until one fall when it sank.

It had been a long day pulling docks, it was late in the afternoon and we were getting ready to haul the Wumps – our last task. We were all anxious to be done with the marina for another year; only the tide was wrong, and everyone was beat and Dad said it could wait. We tied the boat to the seawall and let it bottom out on the low tide. We’d be back when the tide was up.

But in the morning the Snuggawumps was gone! We couldn’t imagine. Then we spotted the top of the windshield poking just above the water. The boat had sunk. At some point during the night, one of the long mooring cables we left lying in the mud, had become entangled with the boat’s propeller. That cable held the boat down as the tide came in and water flowed in through the scuppers flooding the hull.

This was in November and the last thing any of us wanted to do was wade in that cold water, but we had no choice. We waited for the tide to recede, then bailed the boat dry, plugged the scuppers, made sure the cable was out of the way and waited for the boat to float again. The poor old Snuggawumps was a sorry sight when we tugged it up the launch ramp that fall. We’d dealt with the first freeze, bitter cold winds, adverse currents, and frost on the docks and now this. Just what we didn’t expect. By the time we had Snuggawumps all tied down and covered for the winter we were a very tired marina crew.

Frequent contributor, correspondent and friend, Randy Randall is co-owner of Marston’s Marina in Saco, Maine and a dreamer and waterman of the first order.