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Grand Banks converge on CT

This year saw the biggest turnout for the Grand Banks New England Owners’ Rendezvous

Sixty-three boats made their way to the 2004 Grand Banks New England Owners’ Rendezvous over the weekend of July 23 to July 25 in Essex, Conn. Nine additional Grand Banks Yachts were represented at the event, which Boatworks Yacht Sales hosted.

“We’re excited because this is the biggest rendezvous we’ve ever had on the East Coast,” Grove Ely, president of Boatworks, said at the beginning of the weekend. “We have a major effort planned here.”

Boatworks was recently named the biggest Grand Banks dealer in the world, he said. The rendezvous took place at Essex Island Marina, adjacent to one of Boatworks’ three Northeast locations.

“Grand Banks is practically like a cult,” said Ely. He says Grand Banks owners are very experienced. “That’s why we have such a good time working with them.”

Owners attended roundtable maintenance seminars and participated in small group discussions with industry professionals during the rendezvous. Representatives came from Boatworks, Grand Banks, H&H Propeller, H.O. Penn/Caterpillar, Jack Rabbit Marine (electrical), L&L Electronics, Mack Boring/Yanmar/Brewer Yacht Yards, and Ocean Options (refrigeration).

“This is a very important roundtable discussion,” said Ely, adding that Grand Banks owners know a lot about boats and have tough questions to ask. “These guys can answer all those questions.”

Another of the weekend’s events found the owners answering the questions.

An antique lamp worth $600 was on offer for the winner of a 50-question nautical quiz. “These guys are good, and that’s what we love about our owners,” said Ely, adding that Grand Banks has “owners” and “partners” rather than customers.

The organizers had a monogrammed bag for each boat, which contained maps, cups, mugs, flags, and T-shirts emblazoned with the slogan “Cruise Fast, Live Slow.”

“We’re trying to make every event look different, have a different feel,” said event coordinator Gail Stevens.

Friday night’s welcoming reception took place at a local art gallery, while other notable events included a reggae band and dancing teamed with a Caribbean buffet dinner Saturday night; Sunday’s clambake; and bus trips to golfing, shopping, a spa, a casino and Mystic Seaport.;