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Family reclaims Spa Creek yacht yard and marina


When her late husband first approached her nearly 50 years ago with the idea of running his own yacht yard, Carmella Petrini acknowledged, she was less than thrilled.

"I said, 'Don't you dare. I'll never get you away from those schooners and we'll never get to go out to the movies or anywhere,' " Mrs. Petrini said.

But Edgar Petrini opened his yacht yard anyway, and Carmella and their children helped him run the business.

After he died in 1982, Carmella and the children, Edgar or "Tiger" as he is better known, John and Clara, continued until 1985, when they decided to lease the business out.

But the Petrinis soon realized they missed the yard.

"It was a great life because it simply wasn't a business," Clara Petrini said. "We didn't realize that until we gave it up. We missed out on a lot we didn't think we would miss out on."

But the Petrini family has reclaimed their old life and the patriarch's business.

In January, they reclaimed operation of the yacht yard.

Located on Spa Creek, the family business is a full-service yacht yard and marina offering bottom cleaning and painting, along with repair and detailing.

Mrs. Petrini said she and her husband built the yacht yard together in 1947. But Mr. Petrini's love for the boating life began long before the couple met.

In his youth, Mrs. Petrini said, her husband had a schooner built. A serious bout with tuberculosis in his early 20s motivated him to make a promise to himself: if he recovered, he would own his own shipyard some day.

By the time the Petrinis, who were married in 1939, were in a position to buy some waterfront property, there was little to buy.

They came across a 50 foot "over-wooded" lot, one they immediately decided would never do. But because the lot was the only thing available, and Mr. Petrini was determined to have his yacht yard, the couple purchased the land where the business now operates.

Starting was not easy. They didn't have a dock for their boats, and neighbors would often file injunctions to keep them from bringing boats up to their back yard.

Eventually, the Petrinis put in docks and turned the business into a success.

The decision to reclaim the business was not something that Mrs. Petrini wanted to do, she said, saying that at 78 she is too old.

"Sometimes we don't have a choice," she said. "I was forced to take it back."

Mrs. Petrini said the company that had leased the yacht yard for seven years often did not pay the rent for the property.

But other family members were more than happy to reclaim the business.

"I thought it was a very neat idea," Tiger Petrini, 46, said. "This business meant a lot to my father. And it means a lot to us."

John Petrini, 42, who had played keyboards for artists ranging from Al Jarreau to Peaches and Herb, said he wanted to return home and be a part of the family business.

"My father never stopped us from doing what we wanted to do, even though I think it might have hurt him that we didn't stay here and work.

"We all went in different directions. But now we're back here," he said.

Added Clara Petrini, 30-something:

"I missed not walking down on the docks. I missed the old customers who were more like friends. Now the four of us are trying to do the job [my father] used to do. He's a tough act to follow."

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