The Story of Bill Smith (Smitty) and his Arthur E Smith banjo.
My whyte laydie was stolen in the fall of 1975 and I got $800 from the insurance company. After searching the music stores and not finding any thing I liked, I decided to design a banjo that in the future would be regarded like the old banjos are today. I went to see the folks at AE Smith and described my dream banjo and sent $100 a month for the next 8 months.
Then Kate or Mark called me and said I’d better come to Indian Neck because they had something to show me. -It’s been my pride and joy ever since.
The Ship Wreck
Sarah and I were sailing from Maine to New Hampshire, and our sailboat struck a reef off Boone Island around 9 pm. She started sinking very quickly; Sarah suited up in wet weather gear and got into the dinghy that was tethered to the boat. She was terrified of being separated from me ( being blind from JD). The water on deck was now ankle deep. I crawled into the bow to get my banjo and as I handed it over the side to Sarah, she was very encouraged, thinking “well if he’s bringing the banjo, we’re going to survive. The water was now up to my calves; I got suited up and grabbed a compass and some flares and a couple cans of soda, which we later learned were beer. We were 5 to 6 miles off shore; we could see the lights but a storm was coming up and rowing became increasingly difficult. We rowed for 12 hours, singing songs back and forth to keep us going. By the time we got near shore, the waves and wind were so high that rowing just kept us in place. We had seen a couple of boats but not many because of the storm- even with the flares they didn’t see us. Then we saw a boat somewhat closer and Sarah stood up and waved her red rain coat at them. But the boat passed us by; Sarah slumped down. Then they turned and came back; at first they thought were some crazy kayakers out in the storm, but with Sarah’s frantic waving they had second thoughts and turned around, pulled us on board and took us into Portsmouth.
I asked them if they ever found the boat. They put on a concert with Andy Wolff and raised $5000 which they used to search. Going down to 120 feet, they didn’t find her and it was speculated that she had sunk into a very deep place, never to rise again.