SARASOTA, Fla. — These past few months have felt just like a lead-up to Christmas!
I’ve been the twitchy little tyke anxiously awaiting Santa’s arrival.
I’ve been counting down the weeks.
And the last few minutes.
Sleep last night was elusive.
Every time I shut my eyes, alas!
Chrome and fiberglass, and visions of bikes and boats, danced like sugarplums in my head.
I tossed and turned.
Tried counting sheep, but dang it, they morphed into motorcycles.
I was wide-awake, dressed and booted before dawn.
The Harley is packed.
The tank is full.
The sun is up.
Ho-ho-ho! I’m ready to go!
I’d like to welcome you to the official launch of this year’s Boaterz ‘n Bikerz of America Hull of a Tour²: The Freedom Ride!
In case you haven’t been following my news or the last week’s pre-event blog, I’ve organized Hull of a Tour²: The Freedom Ride, a nine-day, 2,000-mile boating and motorcycling adventure that celebrates the love of the open sea and the open road. This year’s event is sponsored by the Freedom Boat Club, Hurricane Boats, Soundings Trade Only and event producer Kenton Smith Marketing. It has attracted nearly 30 industry folks and friends from as far west as Minnesota's own Kristine Otte of Northern Wholesale, among others.
The tour route runs through scenic byways and highways up the East Coast from Florida to Washington, D.C., with historic venue visits and fun boating stops hosted by Freedom Boat Club franchisees in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and Maryland. Throughout the trip, new riders will join in and others will depart at official stopover locations.
Incidentally, this is the second Hull of a Tour. The first one launched in 2012 and traveled 3,000 miles over 11 days, from Florida to California. (Further information is available at http://www.kentonsmithmarketing.com/hull-of-a-tour.html).
Today the sweet sound of thunder began its gritty roll into Sarasota about 9 a.m., descending on the famous Marina Jack Bayside Park, nestled in the bustling downtown waterfront. Our title sponsor, Freedom Boat Club, treated our riders, support crew and well-wishers to a complimentary kickoff breakfast at this pristine Sarasota landmark marina location, surrounded by a sea of spectacular boats.
A group of motorcycles representing a variety of brands, models, colors, shapes and sizes each claimed its rightful spot in our VIP parking zone adjacent to the Freedom Boat Club docks. For an hour, riders had the opportunity to mix and mingle, check out late-model club boats and talk trip. At 9:30 a.m., the group gathered for our official launch photo, followed by a brief rider meeting conducted by our route planner and road captain, Jim Krueger of Regal Marine, who addressed today’s 6-1/2-hour ride to St. Augustine, Fla. Tonight we’ll toast our first day at the famous Gypsy Cab Co. for dinner and hook up with several other riders and friends connecting here.
I’ll be back on Monday with a recap of our weekend escapades, which will include a boat ride and a lunch visit to the presidential dining room at Flagler College, coordinated by Lisa “The Boatanista” Almeida and her partner, Kevin Seelig, of FBC-St. Augustine, followed by a leisurely ride to Savannah, Ga., capped off by a cookout at Bahia Bleu Marina hosted by our friends at FBC-Savannah, Tom and Brian McCarthy.
And, to conclude in the same whimsical spirit of wonder with which this blog began:
She sprang to her Harley,
To her crew gave a whistle,
And away they all flew
Like the shot of a pistol.
But I heard her exclaim
As they rode out of sight:
It’s a Hull of a Tour,
So hold on tight!