The Grady Bunch
By Tom Neale, 5/1/2012
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"Having Fun Since 1988" claimed the large blue banner on the side of the YaBut's cabin. She was tied up at Camachee Cove Yacht Harbor, which we consider to be one of our favorite marinas. She wasn't alone, but part of a small flotilla of Grady Whites, ranging from around 25 to 36 feet. I'd noticed these fleets in past years while cruising in Florida and noticed a singular commonality: they were, as the banner said, having fun--a lot of it. You see it when you see them, and if you follow them off to a "talking channel" on VHF you hear it. They call themselves "The Grady Bunch" and they've been doing their thing since 1988. It was easy to pick out the boats, not just because of their make, but also because of a bouquet of roses on each.
|The Grady Bunch We Met At Camachee Cove.|
The Ring Leader was Bruce MacIntyre who owns Vero Marine Center (www.veromarine.com) which sells Grady Whites and other products at Vero Beach. His is the YaBut which, I am told, reflects a recurring comment of his wife in response to some of his ideas. Some, looking only at the math, might consider him to be a Senior Citizen--but not if they knew him. The same is true of various other members of the group, although age, if relevant, runs well into the lower numbers as well. There were two lovely young granddaughters in the group we met.
|Grady Bunch Boat Is Easy to Identify.|
The cruises don't necessarily involve long leaps. For example, they sometimes have "Secret Lunch" cruises. The cruise will be announced but not the location. "This," says Bruce, "is to make it impossible for anybody to cop out and come by car. This is about boating." When we met them at Camachee they were at the end point of the cruise. They'd been at the marina for 3 nights enjoying St. Augustine. Sunday morning they headed out, most bound back to Vero, around 175 miles to the south. They planned to do it in two days. Why rush?
Other cruises are more adventurous. There are regular cruises to the Bahamas, mostly to the Abacos, all the way out to Man O' War, for example. They've also gone to Bimini. For those who think these boats are too small for this trip, consider what the Bahamians typically use to get about. The key is to have the boat in good shape with proper safety gear, to be well briefed on navigation, and to fastidiously watch the weather. Don't go if it's gonna blow…or whatever.
Tom’s Tips About Cruising Groups
1. It is possible to plan trips to allow for boats of varying size and speeds. For example, have discretionary intermediate stops for slower boats but a stop for everyone, farther away, the next day.
North, South and East aren't the only compass points traveled. The Grady Bunch has also cruised across the state of Florida and explored parts of the Gulf Coast, including Captiva Island and Ft. Meyers Beach. To do this they "crossed the lake" which, translated, means taking the dredged passage from the St. Lucie River and crossing Lake Okeechobee to another dredged canal, passing through locks on each side of the lake. Many don't know that this route takes you on a surprising trip through Florida cowboy country. The passage runs into the Caloosahatchee River which opens just to the south of beautiful Pine Island Sound. It's a "whole ‘nother world over there" of cruising possibilities.
I'm telling you about this group for several reasons. The first is that, as you've probably figured out, I think they're a cool bunch of folks. But there's a lot more than that. Almost every day I hear people complaining about boating. It's too expensive. It's too much work. You have to have a huge yacht to have fun. There's no place new to go that's not too far. And on and on. It doesn't have to be that way, and these folks, along with many other groups into the same sort of thing, prove it. We met these members of the Grady Bunch visiting Camachee Cove this spring and really enjoyed talking with them. But most of all, we enjoyed seeing, once more, a real life real time reaffirmation of what you and I love to do.
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