ST MICHAELS, MARYLAND – There may have been the delights of the village of St Michaels on the shores of Chesapeake Bay, or skeet shooting and a barbecue at the Pintail Point Resort. A hearty lunch at the Carpenter Street Saloon, or C-Street as it is known to the locals, might have been special.
The highlight of the annual Grand Yachts International Riviera Experience might have been sipping blueberry vodka cocktails while lounging on Adirondack chairs on the lawn at the charming heritage resort of the Inn at Perry Cabin.
Yet, for most of the 41 Riviera owners, families and guests, the highlight of the weekend was simply socialising on the dock of the St Michaels Harbour Inn marina.
St Michaels is on the eastern shore of Chesapeake Bay in the east-coast US State of Maryland. The town dates back to the earliest American colonies.
“The people make this weekend special,” said Adrian Corbiere. He and wife Mary arrived aboard their Riviera 445 SUV Rivin It Up.
Rick and Lauren Adams arrived with no expectations and were quickly delighted with the warm welcome.
“We don’t even have our new Belize yet,” said Rick. “We have owned boats before but never a Riviera or Belize so we were wondering what this gathering was all about. When we arrived we knew no-one. By Saturday evening we had a group of good friends!”
The weekend festivities began for many with a 20 nautical mile cruise north from St Michaels into the picturesque Wye River and to Pintail Point resort for a barbecue lunch followed by some not-so competitive skeet shooting.
Saturday morning began quietly for most.
Peter and Kathy Greenspun arrived aboard their Belize 54 Daybridge, Alibi.
“St. Michaels is one of our favourite destinations,” said Peter. “Good marinas, great food, shopping and ice cream shops. There is history here, including the Wooden Boat Museum and terrific restored homes that are generations old.”
Greg and Christine Hill’s arrival aboard their Riviera 4800 Sport Yacht Contrails proved a powerful point of focus for those still gathered on the verandah of the Inn.
“We were the last to arrive,” explained Greg. “Christine had been at a conference so we could not get away until Saturday morning. After a run across the Bay of about an hour, we arrived at St Michaels at 10 o’clock. Ned had saved a special place for us in the marina. Last year, it was a simple starboard-side docking. This time we found we would be stern-to between two other Sport Yachts. Snug. And we were directly below the Inn.
“It required some very careful manoeuvring, first positioning Contrails for a 90-degree port turn then a reverse starboard around the bow of a Riviera 5400 Spot Yacht, and then straight back. A few people were waiting to take lines and, as we tied up, we received a standing ovation from the crowd watching on the verandah.
“I could never have done that without the pod drive and Volvo Penta joystick system.”
The entertainment over, many of the guests joined event hosts Ned and Lorrie Dozier at C-Street.
Greg and Christine decided to explore the village.
“It is a quaint village,” said Christine. “We spent the day downtown. There are a lot of local stores, each one-of-a-kind.”
For many, the next attraction was a water taxi trip to the Inn at Perry Cabin, a heritage resort with manicured gardens and a lawn that stretches to the shore of the Miles River.
“The Inn is famous as the location of the movie Wedding Crashers,” said Adrian Corbiere. “Their blueberry vodka is Ned’s specialty, served as we lounged on the Adirondack chairs on the lawn.”
Peter and Kathy Greenspun agreed: “You can start and finish with the blueberry vodka cocktails! What an unbelievable scene and view. The Inn is spectacular and arriving by boat was perfect.”
Whether they had been sipping vodka, exploring the village or relaxing on board, all the guests returned to the marina late in the afternoon to socialise.
“Many of us already knew each other,” said Adrian Corbiere. “Fun was the real highlight. The St Michaels Harbour Inn provided a moving bar on the dock and we enjoyed talking with people moving between the Riviera cockpits.”
Greg and Christine Hill cooked shrimps on their barbecue.
“We were quickly the centre of the party,” said Greg.
Everyone then moved to the Harbor Lights room of the St Michaels Harbour Inn overlooking the marina for a dinner of either panko crusted rockfish or beef tenderloin with a signature salad.
The party returned to the marina dock and continued well into the night.
“Getting together on the dock was the absolute highlight of the weekend,” said Greg Hill. “We caught up with a number of people we had met the previous year and found some new friends.”
Rick and Lauren Adams quickly made friends.
“This is a group who seem to have nothing in common – except their motor yachts,” said Rick. “We have never experienced this kind of camaraderie before. There is something special about Riviera people and now we can’t wait to take delivery of our new Belize 54.”
Sunday morning was a leisurely time as guests prepared for the voyage home.
“I was glad the Sport Yacht beside us moved out early,” said Greg Hill. “It gave me a clean run out after the slightly scary arrival. It was fun to see a Riviera caravan as we left. There were three ahead of us and four more immediately behind. A great sight to complete the weekend.”