In 2012, my good pal of many years and marine industry colleague Jim Krueger and I had kicked back and were having a casual conversation over a motorcycle ride lunch when I dropped a hint about a boaters-and-bikers tour.
Wouldn’t it be cool to get some of our industry friends together and plan an epic ride? He enthusiastically agreed and that encouragement was all it took to spark the fire.
During the next several months we diligently researched possible destinations, with Jim taking the point on route planning. I worked the creative side. A logo was designed, a Web and Facebook page were produced, sponsorships were pitched and publicity gears were put into motion.
In May 2013, Jim and I introduced the first in our series of boating-and-biking excursions, aptly named “Boaterz and Bikerz of America: Hull of a Tour.”
Why, you might ask? Aren’t there dozens of motorcycle tours out there? Yes, but to my knowledge ours was and is the only series that combines the best of open-road motorcycle cruising with boating. It’s our ride, and it’s designed exclusively for boating industry folks and their friends who share the thrill and passion that drive us.
Our inaugural Hull of a Tour took us on a storybook 3,000-mile adventure that started in the Panhandle of Florida in Destin. We departed from the yacht club at Legendary Marine and traveled across the country over nine blissful days, splashing down in San Diego, where we celebrated with our hospitable hosts from South Coast Yachts, who treated us to a leisurely afternoon cruise aboard two pristine Beneteaus — power and sail.
The tour itself was a dream ride, everything we had hoped for and much more. Not only were the sights and sounds spectacular, but it also was amazingly varied — from the hot white sand of Florida to the Derby Day celebrations in Natchez, Miss., to the fun cruise on a 90-foot party boat at sunset hosted by Marinas International in Dallas, to a stunning mountain climb with snowfall in Taos, New Mexico, to the desolate highways of the parched Mojave Desert, and other points between. Perhaps the best part was the friendships forged on that ride that will last a lifetime.
Last year, Jim and I planned and promoted Hull of a Tour 2: The Freedom Ride, a nine-day, 2,000-mile journey from Sarasota, Fla., to Washington, D.C. Freedom Boat Club came aboard as our presenting sponsor, and five of the clubs up the East Coast hosted us for great boating activities and special events, including a boat ride in historic St. Augustine, dining in Savannah, Ga., and Myrtle Beach, S.C., plus the command performance of the Blue Angels in Annapolis, Md., as we relaxed aboard a fleet of boats and watched precision flying at its finest!
The Freedom Ride had historically themed stops in Gettysburg, Pa., where my beloved American history teacher gave us an emotionally rousing tour of the battlefield, followed by an exciting excursion along the Shenandoah Skyway, where we exited to visit Jefferson’s famed Monticello in Virginia.
But the highlight of the Freedom Ride had to be our group participation in Rolling Thunder, which pays tribute to military POWs and MIAs. It’s the largest gathering of its kind during the Memorial Day weekend.
We waited for five hours in a Pentagon parking lot to join the million-motorcycle-ride, which rolls through the National Mall in salute to our nation’s military heroes. I still struggle to find words to adequately describe the profound patriotic swelling I experienced here, as well as during our visit to Arlington, Va., on Memorial Day. Unforgettable.
Before our tour concluded last May, many riders were already asking about the 2016 plan. Jim and I decided to return again to the wild, wild West, but to head north and spend more time exploring the vast terrain from Washington to California.
Hull of a Tour 3 “Pacific Coast Rush” is right around the corner, launching July 23-30 from Seattle to San Francisco, with a swing out to Big Sur along the legendary Pacific Coast Highway. This 2,000-mile trek is going to be simply awesome!
So what’s ahead? Well, a dozen motorcycles ship out from three points in Florida this week via an independent transport hauler we’ve hired, with download in Seattle. Our boating-and-biking adventure starts with a hospitality brunch cruise hosted by sponsor Alexander Marine on our opening day.
We are all eager to board a 78-foot Ocean Alexander and toast our ride along the shores of Lake Washington. We’ll be joined by riders from Washington state, Ohio and California. Jim has planned a route that is absolutely breathtaking!
I’m grateful that Freedom Boat Club is back as our presenting sponsor, along with newcomer Regal Marine as our platinum sponsor. For the third year, Soundings Trade Only returns as our media sponsor, and my company, Kenton Smith Marketing, serves as the event producer and publicist. We couldn’t do it without the generous support of our sponsors, and we’re all grateful for their contributions to this event.
Starting July 22, I’ll be sharing daily blogs from Pacific Coast Rush right here from this perch. I hope you’ll read along and share virtually in our adventure. Better yet, why not hook up for a day or two and ride along or meet us en route? And if you’re on the West Coast and have a boating stop of interest, please reach out. It’s not too late!