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Frank and Judi Smith — Enjoying Every Minute on Their 31 PC

smith_daddyAs I sit on our boat in Emerald Bay, on Lake Tahoe, in the middle of September 2008, writing this article, I dread the thought that the weather is starting to change and the boating season is nearing an end. We will soon need to haul our 31 PC, Who’s Your Daddy, out of Lake Tahoe and to our home in Morro Bay, California, or to another lake that has warmer weather.

As I think back on the many boating adventures Judi, my wife of 45 years, and I have had, I discover myself smiling a lot. We purchased our 31 PC Formula from Tahoe Powerboats at the Los Angeles Boat Show in 2005. We wanted the largest boat that we could tow safely, ourselves, without having to depend on a commercial transport service.

I must say, however, if you tow 10,000 lbs. or more, be sure to check with your area of travel and department of motor vehicles to determine if a Class A license is required, or if a pilot car is needed. To attempt to tow if you are under-licensed could be a financial mistake if you are stopped, and costly if you are involved in an accident, especially if you are at fault. I was unaware of the added liability and requirements until I made inquiries at the local DMV and the commercial department of the California Highway Patrol in Sacramento. After studying the Class A license handbook, taking the written test and driving test, and passing the required physical examination, I was ready to legally tow our boat almost anywhere, and we could be on our way. A pilot car is only required on certain highways, and this can be smith_hangoutdetermined by using a permit service. We purchased all the pilot car equipment from a safety company in Sacramento. Judi now drives the pilot car, when needed, with all the flags, flashing lights and signs, warning oncoming traffic that an oversized load is coming. We stop at all open weigh stations, and traveling is a breeze as long as your Interstate permits are in order, your load is within your weight limitation and your load is under the height limits.

Usually, we start our boat camping and cruising in Lake Tahoe in June. After the 4th of July, we tow our 31 PC to Anacortes, Washington, to cruise the San Juan Islands, later crossing into Canada. The San Juans have certainly been our favorites. Friday Harbor, Rosario Resort on Orcas Island and Roche Harbor have everything any boater of any size could ever hope for. We towed to Anacortes and started our island hopping with Who’s Your Daddy, in 2006 and 2007. Both years were exceptional and the weather was near perfect. We met several nice people, and of course they were all boaters. When we arrived at Roche Harbor, we found out that we had just missed a Formula Rendezvous. Hopefully next year we can join them. This year, 2008, we decided not to go, as the weather forecast was a little unsettled and having to deal with the extreme tides or winds can be very challenging.

We have so much fun boat camping. This summer we spent a lot of time on our boat in Emerald Bay. We usually enter the bay on Thursday and stay until Monday or Tuesday. We have spent so much time there I am expecting the tax assessor to send tax bill for the area we camp in. We only return to our boat slip and home long enough to recharge and get supplies and groceries. I had extra batteries and a solar panel added to allow us to stay out longer. What a life! I wish everyone could experience what it is like to wake up every morning and see all of the wildlife and the serene beauty of Lake Tahoe. Our only night visitors are beavers, muskrats, raccoons and an occasional bear that will leave tracks in the sand, or a little mud paw impression on our bow. So far, they have not tried to board our boat entirely, just to smell and touch it. I attach motion detector lights from our radar arch and shine them down toward our bow and the beach to try and get a photograph, but as yet it has not happened.

Last year, while beach camping in San Carlos, Sonora, Mexico, I hailed the skipper of the only Formula that I have ever seen in Mexican waters. He and his wife were cruising close to the beach and, without a doub, it was the best looking boat in the area. Their boat name was But Of Course, and I wanted to meet them as their boat was a 40 footer. I wanted to learn out how they entered Mexico and if they had to get a facilitator to meet them at the border and deal with the necessary permits and check points. I did see his massive boat trailer and truck he towed with. I felt good knowing there was someone else out there that was as crazy about boating and enjoying life to the fullest as Judi and I. We tried to connect with them at the marina but just missed them. They had already left to cross the Sea of Cortez to La Paz and then on to Cabo. I was able to get his e-mail address, and we have exchanged messages. Hopefully, sometime when we are in the northwest waters cruising, we can hook up and cruise through the inland passage to Alaska. To this day, we have not yet met, but wish them well, and all of the many others who are able to tow some of the larger boats to other waters and experience boating at its best.

At this writing, I am trying to persuade my “first mate,” Judi, that we need to tow our boat from Lake Tahoe to Lake Powell in Arizona where the air and water temperatures are still warm. Years ago, we towed our Sea Ray to Powell and had a great time with our two children, Frank, Jr. and Shelby. Thinking of our Sea Ray, I have to tell you a funny story. We loved our Sea Ray so much, we kept it for 30 years. It always looked like it came off the showroom. The enormous amount of teak wood was refinished yearly, and the entire boat was detailed continually. When we decided to buy another boat, we went to the boat show at the Cow Palace in San Francisco, and another at Pleasanton. We wanted to see the Formula boats, but they did not have a display. That day we actually bought a 30-plus-foot Sea Ray with the understanding that within three days we were going to the Los Angeles Boat Show to specifically see the Formula boats, and if we liked the Formula better, that our check would be torn up and the deal cancelled. The area manager said, with confidence, that he would honor our wishes. Two days, we were at the L.A. Boat Show, standing on the swim platform of our new Formula making that call to the Sea Ray manager. The Formula’s design, detail and finish work far exceeded that of the Sea Ray. The manager was a man of his word and told us our check was in his shirt pocket and he was tearing it up as we spoke. I am so glad he was a man of his word as after seeing the Formula and being so impressed with the Tahoe Powerboat dealership and their presentation of the product, I had to buy it. I can remember years ago when Thunderbird Formula was produced in Paso Robles, California, close to where we live. I should have bought one then.

Our 31 PC has all of the finery and amenities anyone could hope for and is certainly the largest boat that we can tow anywhere in the country, and with just a little effort.

We want to thank the Formula designers and engineers for their futuristic design and forethought in development and producing their final product. After the sale, Steve Tester and Karen Reinhart handled concerns promptly. Their knowledge of Formula boats and all accessories is amazing.

The photos accompanying this article reflect the good times and friends on many Formula boats in the Lake Tahoe area. These particular friends we look forward to seeing there every summer. They all have great families and enjoy boating as much as we do.

Best of boating to all, and may you have nothing but pleasant launchings and haul-outs at the ramp!

Frank and Judi Smith