By Mike Bisceglia
Seacoast Scene, Wednesday, August 10, 2011
[The following article is courtesy of Seacoast Scene.]
In 1929, the "Gertrude Grace," a 29-foot double-ender, was the largest boat in Hampton Harbor. Captain Claude R. Gilmore filled his boat on weekends with passengers, anxious for a day of deep sea fishing. During the week, however, Gilmore and the Grace put to sea in search of lobsters. In those days, an all-day fishing trip was $1.50 per person, and lobsters sold for twenty cents per pound. And, for the record, there were no piers back then. Any outbound boat would simply have to slip away from a convenient river bank on an outbound tide.
"It was an amazing time," said Ray Gilmore, Claude's son. "First of all, the Mile Long Bridge was just outside our front door, and here at Hampton Harbor, my mom would rent Amesbury-type skiffs. Anybody could go out a few hundred yards and load up a cooler with ground fish in no time at all. Money was precious back then, so picking up a great meal for very little was just wonderful."
As the family grew, so did the business. Over the decades, the family business grew to include a pier, restaurant, and accommodations for the small S&G fleet.
The Great Depression negatively impacted the business. In short order, the war years brought fuel rationing. Through the years, however, Smith & Gilmore has managed to survive summer and winter hurricanes, as well as a major fire in 1999.
"It's a generational thing for many of our customers, a possible rite of passage. Our customers keep coming back. They bring their kids and point out their pictures on our walls when they were just children. Those kids, in turn, are pointing out their pictures to their own kids," said now-owner, Ed Gilmore. "It's marvelous. Our captains are licensed by the Coast Guard, and they are drilled in safety procedures. The customers know this, and they trust us to offer them a safe and delightful experience at sea. And, oh yes, we don't promise them a fish each, but we do bring them right to the fishes' back door!"
A recent half-day excursion to the Isles of Shoals certainly indicated that family fishing trips are not a thing of the past. No fewer than three families were present aboard the Sea Mist. Each family had at least one member present who had taken a prior excursion, and was now sharing that same experience with members of the next generation.
"This is a first for the boys," said Linda Brereton, of Newtown, CT. "I've been out numerous times. I've had a ball, and I've caught some pretty remarkable fish. Now, it's time for the boys to share in that experience."
Dave Blinn, the self-proclaimed "good-looking guy" of the Blinn clan, said, "The family decided to hold its reunion here. It makes sense. The older generations have gone out on these boats. They had great fun, and, in the process, they grew that much closer to the next generation. We're doing it again today, and we hope to be coming here for many years to come!"
"Some years ago, I caught my first big fish aboard the Sea Mist," said Tammy Craven, of Cumberland, RI. "I remember the day like it was yesterday. Now I want my cousin to share in that experience. There don't appear to be many wholesome things that a family can do together these days, but fishing is still one of them. I'd recommend a fishing trip aboard the Sea Mist to anyone. I know we're safe. I know the crew is knowledgeable. And, I know we'll have stories to tell about this day for years to come."
Since we retired, my husband and I were definitely looking forward to making this trip," said Joan McGauley, of Douglas, MA. "Then, at the last minute, he came down with the flu. Well, we'll probably come again soon, but I'm here. I'm fishing, and I'll tell him all about it when I get home!"
The cruise ended with all passengers having landed numerous mackerel. The big ones remained yet to be caught on yet, another day. The smiles and laughter from each and every one of the passengers, well, they were all keepers!