HULL OF A TOUR: Riding through the Deep South

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The rain gods opened a brief window on Friday night to allow a send-off ceremony and photo opp at Legendary Marine in Destin, Fla. Although all of the riders attended, only five of the nine bikes scheduled for the first leg scooted in for the launch ceremony, with the others rolling up at Pensacola Harley Davidson the next morning.

Despite the wet weather, the mood was electric as team Legendary Marine toasted the Hull of a Tour crew with a festive captain’s party at the yacht club, including a terrific poem crafted and recited by senior broker John Burns that had everyone howling. Dinner was at the famous Harry T’s at HarborWalk in Destin Harbor.

Kickstands were up at daybreak under blessed sunshine and a brisk 48-degree temperature. Clad in leathers, we happily revved up the engines and were off. Our ride took us through the tip of northwest Florida, Alabama and into Mississippi. By midafternoon we rolled into Natchez, a quaint town with plenty of history on the banks of the mighty Mississippi River.

Our tour is relaxed in that once we hit a location, riders are on their own to plunder and discover on their own or with a group. My motto is, “It’s Your Ride,” so although I’ve organized the event, I want everyone to call it their own.

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A group of us toured Longwood, an amazing historic landmark with unusual byzantine influence that remains unfinished in its pre-Civil War state, with five of the six stories of the imposing 30,000-square-foot mansion looking as they did in their day. Others toured downtown Natchez. We met up for dinner at the highly recommended Fat Mama's Tamales, where a Kentucky Derby party was in full swing and the place was loaded with Natchezites in Derby regalia. We cheered with the crowd and watched the big screen as Orb came galloping through the finish line.

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Although I never hit the rack before midnight, it felt good to crawl between the sheets by 10 p.m. in anticipation of our next leg to Dallas. I slept with visions of chrome dancing in my head.

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Thanks to the “Boaterz n Bikerz Across America: A Hull of a Tour” sponsors joining presenting sponsor Kenton Smith Marketing, including Legendary Marine, Marinas International, South Coast Yachts, My-Villages, Southeast Marine Sales & Service and media sponsor Soundings Trade Today.

Wanda Kenton Smith is an award-winning, 31-year marine industry marketing veteran based in Destin, Fla. She is president of Kenton Smith Marketing (www.kentonsmithmarketing.com) and president of Marine Marketers of America. She will file occasional reports on her tour across America.

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