Erin Zammett Ruddy - Author. Writer. Blogger. Survivor.
  • Au Revoir to the Rusty Belles

    June 29th, 2016

    “The cure for anything is salt water: sweat, tears, or the sea.”—Isak Dinesen

    FullSizeRenderFor 31 years the Rusty Belles provided a short-cut to that cure for our entire family. A lot of sweat, a lot of time on the sea and, in the past few weeks, a lot of tears as we mourned the end of our incredible run. Less than 24 hours after her launch on Memorial Day weekend, a glitch with one of the stern lines on our new dock caused her to be held under as the tide rose. The image will be forever burned in my memory.

    We got her up and out quickly but the experts ultimately agreed it wasn’t worth putting in the time or money to get a 31-year-old boat (even one that was so impeccably maintained by my dad) seaworthy again. And so we had to say goodbye to our beloved Grady White. We are all devastated by the loss. It wasn’t supposed to end like this. It may seem silly to say, but the Rusty Belles was a part of our family. A big part. The glue, in fact. No matter what was going on in our lives, or where we were all living at the time—Knoxville, Boston, San Diego, New York City, England—we always found a way to get home and get out on the boat. Because once we were underway, everything else seemed to fade away. We could leave our worries in our wake, if only for a little while.

    We were out on the boat on September 12, 2001. We went out during the thick of our cancer treatments, we had big talks out there and celebrated anniversaries and birthdays and engagements on the water, brought all of our newborns for a ride, we water skied and tubed and clammed and barbecued and fished and camped out with friends and watched countless 4th of July firework shows and, perhaps my favorite memory of all, we danced to Paul Simon’s Graceland album under the spotlights as we drove back into the harbor so many summer nights when we were just little rusty belles.


    Before she had a hard top or a name!

    Anyone who ever went out on the boat with us—and there are a lot of you—knows how special she was. And how much she will be missed. The Rusty Belles was our cure. Thank you to our parents for bringing her into our lives in 1986 and for raising us as boaters and for helping us raise our children as boaters. There is no greater joy, or solace or escape than being out on the water. And we will be back out there very soon. RIP, Rusty Belles.


    June 15, 1986; The first season on the Rusty Belles


    May 1, 2015; the last season on the Rusty Belles, with the original crew. We didn’t know it would be our last summer on the boat but fortunately we cherished every trip out there–and we always knew how lucky we were.


1 responses to “Au Revoir to the Rusty Belles” RSS icon

  • Erin:

    Having spent many hours with your family and yourself along with my children, James, Kieran and Court, we celebrate the many years of service the Rusty Belles has provided.



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