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My Life in Boats: On board 40m Serenity with Tim Smith

6 April 2023 • Interview by Grace Trofa

The fun of yachting is in making lifelong friends, Serenity’s owner tells Grace Trofa

Where I grew up in North Carolina, my friends were not into boating, and you do what your friends do. My wife, Rosemary, and I had a small boat at our house on Hilton Head Island but nothing like a yacht until I was in my late 30s. I was out with friends in Fort Lauderdale at the Marriott (now Hilton), where one of the guys kept his 70ft (21.3m) Hatteras. I started hanging out on the boat, then chartered it a couple of times, and when he moved up to an 80ft (24m) Hatteras, I chartered that boat too. Then I was hooked. I said, “You know, I kinda like this, maybe I’ll get one.”

So, in 1997 I went to FLIBS with my son. We looked at about 40 boats and found one I liked, a 100ft (30m) Broward. I kept her for three years, built another one, a 118ft Intermarine, sold that and built an 80ft (24m) Hargrave, and that brings us to my current yacht, the 133ft (40m) IAG Serenity. She was built for charter and is a wonderful boat, with six staterooms, four dining areas, an elevator, and a large swim platform. She has more features than any other boat I’ve had so far, but that’s not to say I won’t get one bigger.

I am a civil engineer and real estate developer in Raleigh and have many projects in North Carolina. I was going to buy another house in Fort Lauderdale, but after Covid-19 the prices tripled and I couldn’t find anything I liked, so I thought, “Heck, why don’t I buy a boat instead?”

We plan on keeping Serenity in the Bahamas for the winter season. I have two grandchildren who love the boat, and, yes, I had to have a big water slide and they can’t wait to play with the pigs in the Exumas.

The older I get the more I want to spend time on board enjoying my life. Come summer Serenity will head up to Newport and dock at Forty 1° North. I have been going to Newport since 1998 and have wonderful friends there.

From Newport, we cruise to Nantucket, Martha’s Vineyard, Block Island and Mystic. Serenity is my vacation house. We tow a 35ft (10m) Scout; we call her a tender, but she’s really a fishing boat. One of my most memorable experiences was scuba diving with Jacques Cousteau’s son, Jean-Michel. I grew up watching his dad on TV and that’s where I developed my love for scuba.

I haven’t had any negative experiences in yachting. I went into it knowing that it costs a lot of money and crews will be a problem, but once you know that, you learn to deal with it and I’ve been lucky.

Years ago, together with other investors, we set up a business called North American Yachts and Shipbuilding and built two boats in Italy. One of them, the Genesis 153 Argyll (now Focus), received a lot of press because she was the first to be accessible for wheelchair users; she was a wonderful boat with a Ralph Lauren interior. Her Canadian owner kept her for 18 years before selling her. In the yachting industry, you make lifelong friends, more so than in any other business. When you have a boat, you get to meet other boat owners and it becomes like a fraternity; it’s the best part of owning a yacht.

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