Old dogs and old boats have character. Guess that’s why I love both. Built in 1977, the Cargile Cutter, SunSmiles was an “older” boat. And to see her was to know she had character. From the moment I first saw a Cargile Cutter Cruiser, I knew I would someday own one. That someday came in the spring of 1999 when our family made the decision to move back to the Lowcountry of South Carolina.
In researching the history of the boats, I tracked down the late Allen Cargile, designer and builder of Cargile houseboats and the Cargile Cutter Cruiser. Allen was a wonderful man that welcomed the opportunity to help me find “the right Cargile” for me. Our discussions ultimately led me to the 30-foot Cutter that I found on Clear Lake, outside of Houston, TX. Once restored, we christened “her” SunSmiles.
For nearly fourteen years, she gave us many smiles and fond memories. Whether serving as my floating office; cruising to a weekend at Beaufort’s Downtown Marina; anchored on a quiet creek off the ICW near Sullivan’s Island, or taking our son and daughter-in-law on their honeymoon cruise from Charleston to Morehead City, NC, SunSmiles never let us down.
In recent years, time spent with grandchildren quietly took precedent over weekends of cruising the ICW. Earlier this year when approached about selling her to a family in Portland, OR, I was torn. Parting with the old girl that had been in our family for fourteen years was no easy decision. But the potential new owner didn’t want just any boat, he wanted SunSmiles. More importantly, he wanted her for all the right reasons. He knew Cargile Cutters. When he was five years old, his father had purchased one. He had many fond memories of the days his family had spent aboard his dad’s Cargile cruising the Mississippi. His search for a Cargile Cutter led him to an internet picture of SunSmiles. He knew immediately it was the Cargile he wanted his young daughter to grow up on. He wanted her to be able to one day look back and fondly remember her days spent with dad and mom aboard her SunSmiles. As a father and grandfather, I understood.
Sadly, on March 21, 2013 at approximately 6:05PM, a hurricane force wind interrupted that dream outside of Laramie, WY. That evening, a wonderful old boat was lost by two families. The reasons the Lee family wanted SunSmiles, and the reasons my family sold her, are far more explainable than the reason she was destroyed more than two-thirds of the way to her new family. I guess some things just can’t be explained.