In the spring of 1998, Bellingham couple Christine and Jeffrey Smith bought a 1929 wooden powerboat with dreams of restoring it and launching a charter company.
They figured it would take a couple of years to get the rotting, 65-foot David B back in shape. It took eight.
The project tested their tenacity, maxed out their credit cards and enlisted the help of family and friends to make their dream a reality. The couple’s odyssey is vividly detailed in Christine’s self-published book “More Faster Backwards: Rebuilding David B,” released late last year.
Christine and Jeffrey Smith will be giving a slideshow and talk from 7 to 9 p.m. tonight at The Center for Wooden Boats in Seattle as part of CWB’s Third Friday Speaker series, sponsored by Three Sheets Northwest.
“More Faster Backwards” is an entertaining tale of faith and fortitude that makes most boat projects pale in comparison. In it, Smith recounts the seemingly endless nights and weekends spent working on the boat, the couple’s ongoing money woes and the challenge of balancing work schedules with pressure to finish the restoration so they could start making money with the boat to pay off their debts.
They almost abandoned the project in 2004, after the Port of Bellingham started requiring all boats moored in its marinas to have insurance. After determining whether to have the vessel demolished or continue trying to save her, they pressed on and eventually finished the restoration, which included replacing all decks and beams, building a new trunk cabin and replacing or rebuilding all systems but the engine.
The ship finally made its maiden journey on a charter to Alaska in 2006, detailed in the book, and now offers seasonal charters and instructional cruises in Alaska and the San Juan Islands through the couple’s company, Northwest Navigation Co.
Christine and Jeffrey Smith’s talk is from 7 to 9 p.m. tonight in the boathouse at The Center for Wooden Boats, 1010 Valley St., Seattle. Snacks and drinks will be served and admission is free, though donations are welcome.