CHESAPEAKE BAY, MARYLAND – If shooting clay pigeons and drinking rum in the morning makes you a pirate, there were a lot of skull and cross-bone characters around the Chesapeake Bay in late 2017.
Ned and Lorrie Dozier of Riviera and Belize dealer Grande Yachts International in Maryland managed to combine shooting and rum in an entirely safe environment at their Experience event on the Bay.
Chesapeake Bay is the largest estuary in north America, stretching about 320 km (200 miles) from its northern headwaters in north-east Maryland to south-east Virginia.
The “pirates” gathered at the 2017 Riviera Yachts Experience at the Harbour Inn marina in St Michaels, about half way along the Bay.
The town of St Michaels, on the eastern shore of the Bay, is a vintage port with origins dating back to the birth of the American colonies.
With 14 Riviera and Belize motor yachts, including a full line-up of Sport Yachts – a 6000, three 5400s, a 4800, a 4700 and a 3600 – as well as a 445 SUV, 47 and 40 flybridge models and a Belize 54, the flotilla filled the Harbour Inn marina.
For those able to join the Experience on Friday, a 20 nautical mile run north into the picturesque Wye River and to Pintail Point in the early afternoon was rewarded with a clay pigeon shooting competition.
Rick and Vonnie Youngs volunteered their Riviera 5400 Sport Yacht, Paradise, to ferry everyone to Pintail Point for the shoot, a run of about 45 minutes.
“We had 17 people on board and it was great fun getting to know them,” said Vonnie Youngs. “Once at Pintail Point, we were given golf carts to get to the site of the shoot. We shared ours with two gentlemen who were a lot of fun. Their wives came along on board Paradise but didn’t want to shoot.
“The return trip was very social, with lots to talk and laugh about.”
On Saturday morning the pirates ate a hearty breakfast at the Harbour Inn and then set off on a special tour.
They were soon in their element with a private guided tour and tasting at the nearby Lyon Distilling Company, a micro distillery that first opened its doors just four years ago with a signature line of rums paying tribute to the rich traditions of the Chesapeake Bay Eastern Shore.
“Christine and I are not really rum drinkers,” said Greg Hill. “However, the tour was fascinating. We saw how rum is made and aged. It is a totally hand-on process at this distillery. We also learned some of the history or rum making.
“We certainly came away with a much greater appreciation of rum. And now there are two bottles of rum on board our 4800 Sport Yacht, Contrails.
Fred and Carol Schober travelled two hours from their home port in Baltimore aboard their 5400 Sport Yacht At Last to join the Experience.
They, too, were impressed by the distillery tour.
“We have been to St Michael’s many times but never had the opportunity visit the distillery in the past,” said Fred.
“It is a start-up business and it is very clear they take great pride in their work.”
The festivities continued on Saturday evening with a boat hop on the marina. Everyone made special dishes and kept the Inn’s bartenders busy moving up and down the dock, “especially when we had 28 people on board Contrails,” said Greg Hill.
“We fired up the grill and a cooked shrimps in ginger sauce on skewers. They were a great success with everyone.”
Rick and Vonnie Youngs’ 5400 Sport Yacht was also part of the boat hopping cocktail hour.
“Everyone contributed some hors d’oeuvres and we loved meeting new people. We all enjoyed comparing the different style of the Riviera Sport Yachts that were side by side,” said Vonnie.
For Fred and Carol Schober, the evening celebration was a particular highlight of the weekend.
“We are new to the group,” explained Fred. “We were immediately made to feel very welcome. There were a number of families who knew one another well and they made sure that we new members of the group were embraced.”
On Sunday the weary pirates dispersed to return to home ports across Chesapeake Bay.
Fred Schober summed up the group opinion.
“Ned and Lorrie did a great job in organising the weekend. This was our first and we are already looking forward to next year’s Experience. We made many new friends and we will continue to stay in touch with them and are excited to join them again in 2018.