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By Suzette Cook
In the middle of the night, S/Y Tree of Life Owner and Capt. Paul Morse and his First Mate Grant “Skip” Wood will wake up and run to the deck to check the mooring at the same time.
“We read each other’s minds,” Morse said about his friend and colleague Wood. The two first started sailing together in the 1970s and now have shared more than 40 years of ocean travel together.
“Skip and I sailed together in the ‘70s out of Newport on a schooner called the Bill of Rights,” Morse said. “He was the first mate and I was deckhand working for him, getting my ass kicked by him.
“Skip is old school,” Morse said. “The best schooner mate on the coast.”
Now the roles have reversed.
Five years ago, Morse bought the 90-foot custom schooner built by Cove Island Boatworks in Nova Scotia. It was originally commissioned by home builder Ron “Kelly” Kellogg to sail his family around the world in. Kellogg spent eight years with his family doing just that.
“Cove Island did the hull, the rig and the deck,” Morse said. “And then Kelly had a custom home building business and he had his guys do the interior.”
The yacht interior features custom-milled Hawaiian Koa wood, mahogany and teak.
“So the interior is really unique,” Morse added.
Morse hired Wood to be his first mate.
“Here we are 40 years later doing it again,” Morse said.
Wood said the secret to maintaining their friendship and good working relationship is having good communication and being able to laugh together.
“We have a good sense of humor,” Wood said.
Morse said when Tree of Life launched Sail Magazine listed her as one of the top 100 sailing yachts in the world.
“Now they build them a lot bigger,” he said.
“I purchased her five years ago and mostly keep her between Nova Scotia and the Caribbean on the east coast but hope to do longer journeys in the future.
Suzette Cook is editor at The Triton. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org