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Ketch Blue Moon
Fulfilling a dream
May 28, 2021

K
ent Murphy was 16 years old when he sent away for building plans for a Carolina Skiff Dory. He started his career on the water in Nantucket out of that dory with 60 crab pots. But the dory plans weren’t the only thing that arrived: he’d also bought plans for a 44 foot, vacuum packed balsa-core catamaran.

“I said, ‘I’m gonna build this boat when I graduate high school, and I’m gonna be a charter boat captain.’”

Kent Murphy.

Kent was accepted to King’s Point Federal Maritime Academy, only to find out he was red/green colorblind. He could not get a captain’s license nor could he attend the maritime academy. He put the plans away and became a lobsterman, and later a home builder, in Nantucket.

Kent had always been around and on the water. One of his earliest memories is of his father pouring a lead keel for a Friendship Sloop he was building in the back yard.

Some of his father’s friends were plumbers and doctors. “They’d drop off the lead pipes and he’d bring them down into the basement and drop them in a pile. Then his doctor friends had lead containers with radioactive symbols and throw them in a pile.”

Sandy the dog greets all guests.

Four years into the build, Kent’s father dug a hole in the ground and built a frame for the lead keel. Near the work site, there was a bathtub over an oak fire. They melted the lead in the tub. “And then he had my cousins who were older and bigger than me… keep tilting the bathtub up…into a pine box buried in the ground,” Kent said. “That formed the keel; it burnt the wood as it went in.”

Years later, as Kent was helping his father clean out his condo, he found the old plans for the catamaran. “Right then and there I got out of the building business and I started looking for boats.” Around 2011, Kent had found out he could get a charter boat captain’s license with restrictions for daytime charters only. After his career on the water, he had “35,000 hours sea time fishing.” Meeting the requirements for the restricted license posed no problems.

SV Blue Moon

Kent never did build the 44 foot catamaran. Instead, he acquired a large traditional monohull.

Kent and his partner Jacquie visited Oriental on that vessel. Blue Moon is a 69 ft aluminum ketch. “In the Chesapeake,” said Kent, “old timers call it a three sail bateau.”

Jacquie and Kent.

She was not Blue Moon when they found her in St. Petersburg, Florida, but Hannibal – a vessel once belonging to Scott Seamans, founder of Crocs shoes. The couple had been on a trip to Key West at the time. After getting the call she was available, took Kent’s father along to see her. “At 89, he was able to step on the boat, no problem,” said Kent.

All the amenties, including Kent’s mother’s china set.

“The way she went through the water, it was like she knew Judo,” he said. “She took the energy from the waves and worked it to one side or the other – went with it instead of against it somehow.”

This was going to be their charter vessel. She was hauled out for the survey and bottom paint. Kent and Jacquie made ready to sail her from St.Petersburg back to Nantucket. The lockdown began just before they set sail on March 20, 2020.

Jacquie cooks up fresh shrimp from the Garland Fulcher fish market.
A look inside at the cabin and galley.

Jacquie was concerned about the marinas closing to cruisers. What would happen if they needed provisions or fuel? They set sail for the Keys. “It was a ghost town,” Kent said.

Reminder of an encounter with a half-sunk shipping container or pumping station, 10 miles offshore.

“Everywhere we went, if we went in, was like that,” Jacquie said. They found there was no problem with getting fuel – they spent the majority of their trip sailing outside the coast. Blue Moon ended up in New Bedford, Massachusetts. She needed some work before being certified as a passenger vessel.

A custom made ship’s wheel from 3rd generation wheel maker Bob Fuller.
Personalized wheel hub.

“She’s for a purpose,” said Kent. “We fuss over her, but this is going to be a working boat. When we get her certified, there’ll be 30 passengers a trip, 4-5 times a day.”

Originally, they thought she’d been built for hauling exotic woods from South America, but a visit from another captain gave them a more intriguing story. They were on the hook when they received a visit from a woman named Jennie – a sunset cruise captain at an all inclusive resort in Key West.

In the 80s, when she was a gaff rig called Lucayan.

Jennie told them she’d sailed on the boat 30 years ago on its maiden voyage to the Bahamas. Then it was called Lucayan. The original owner David Crosby (not the musician) “built it to bring humanitarian relief to the Bahamas.” Back then, it was also a gaff rig vessel.

Kent has plans to change it back into one in the future. “I grew up on a gaff rig boat.”

The bare aluminum hull.

It’s not the only addition they’ve made to the vessel, though Kent allows that there wasn’t much to change. The wheel was custom made by a friend of Kent’s. Bob Fuller of Southshore Boat Works is a 3rd generation wheel maker. “He packed up the wheel, and carried it onto the ferry to bring it to us,” said Kent. The wheel hub was made by Bob’s brother and has the ketch’s name and home port stamped into it.

Blue Moon, Jacquie DeGroff and Kent Murphy’s charter boat, is named for the night they met.

Blue Moon wasn’t an arbitrary choice. It’s how Kent and Jacquie met – by chance, under a blue moon. The boat not only bears the name, but also a decal of the exact phase and position of the moon as it was the night they met.

Sandy rests her head while her humans eat.
Block and tackle, solar panels, windlass.

Kent and Jacquie (and Sandy) left Oriental, headed north onboard Blue Moon to Nantucket. There, Blue Moon will host chartering guests for the summer.

Kent and Jacquie and Sandy.
Related Links
Nantucket Blue Moon Charters

Posted Friday May 28, 2021 by Allison DeWeese


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