Sometimes one of the best things about owning a boat is the ability to get away from everything and everybody for a purely personal experience on the water. But often exactly the opposite is true: Boating is also a social opportunity, a chance to make new friends and cultivate old ones, and to share a special, luxurious lifestyle.
That’s the theory behind MarineMax’s unique “Getaways!” program, which offers a series of group boating tours throughout the year, ranging from day trips to Southport to three-week adventures to the Bahamas or British Virgin Islands. Many of these are organized to match up with a holiday, such as New Year’s, St. Patrick’s Day or Father’s Day.
In many ways, our Getaways! are the perfect opportunity for the novice boater to get his or her sea legs during a safe, professionally managed event. All MarineMax customers are invited to participate, and a typical trip is an interesting mix of experienced boaters and first-timers.
These are packaged tours in which MarineMax takes care of everything for our participants, ranging from docking fees and fueling stops to booking dinners ashore and buying tickets for entertainment or sporting events.
Participants are free to “opt in” or “opt out” of any or all planned events. Want to make other plans instead of joining us for dinner one night? No problem. You pay only for what you want to do. Meanwhile, we buy the tickets and make all the other arrangements in advance. So once you’re booked, you’ll all set. We do the work, you have the fun.
It isn’t just the events ashore that we manage, of course. Because these are on-the-water trips, we captain the trip, too. Participating boaters meet at our docks at a specified time, and all the boats leave in a flotilla. Our licensed professional captain is at the helm in the lead boat, taking care of all the navigation issues.
The boater who may be uncertain about venturing into unfamiliar waters can leave those worries ashore. Our captain will steer around any hazards, whether a shoal or a navigation marker or a stray crab pot, and everyone in line astern can confidently follow the leader. We have heard from many of our customers that joining in our Getaways! was a great way for them to gain experience and confidence at the helm. Quite a few who are now seasoned cruisers first experienced the pleasures of boat travel on one of these group trips.
Another advantage is that participants can learn the ins and outs of particular destinations. They can meet the dock master, become familiar with the facilities, amenities and attractions on shore, and then be completely comfortable about returning another time on their own. In other words: Following the leader a few times then opens up the possibility of being “my own captain” for a new boat owner.
I can’t emphasize enough the importance of the friendships and camaraderie that these trips build among our customers. We’ve had more than one customer tell us that they got to know folks who lived close by, but they would never have met otherwise, and developed great friendships with them both afloat and ashore.
This isn’t just fun, it’s educational, too. When a lot of boaters are tied up in the same marina, it’s inevitable that they’ll swap advice, watch how their fellow skippers may troubleshoot a mechanical glitch or solve some other problem, and get inspiration about aspects of the boating lifestyle.
Seeing firsthand what it’s like to own a different model of boat goes beyond just inspecting it in a showroom, too. We’ve heard from folks who were considering upgrading to a particular model but changed their minds, choosing something different or bigger, based on what they saw about how other boaters made use of their vessels.
If you’re interested in learning more about our Getaways! in particular, or the boating lifestyle in general, come see us at MarineMax’s Wrightsville Beach showroom and marina or visit us on the web at marinemax.com/wrightsvillebeach.
Thom Cross is the general manager of MarineMaxWrightsville Beach. Headquartered in Clearwater, Florida, MarineMax is the nation’s largest recreational boat and yacht retailer. Focused on premium brands, MarineMax sells new and used recreational boats and related marine products and services as well as provides yacht brokerage and charter services. For more information, visit www.marinemax.com, find us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/MarineMaxWrightsvilleBeach or call (910) 256-8100.
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