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MarineMax Moves to Newport

Marine Max, the giant boat retailer, has long had a major presence in the northeast and New England, thanks in part to its acquisition of the Surfside 3 string of dealerships a few years ago. But until this weekend, it never had an outlet in the heart and soul of New England boating, Newport. The retailing giant remedied that omission big-time this weekend when it opened its new office on the water there in Bowen's Wharf, arguably the heart of the Newport boat scene. Headed by Capt. Frank Brennan, an old dockmate of mine, the upstairs office will include at least one wet slip, with more available for both new and used boats. (They had just unloaded four new Azimuts from a freighter on this weekend.)

But the weekend was about a lot more than just opening a new office. It coincided with an Azimut owner's rendezvous that drew more than 50 boats. Part of the festivities was a surprisingly interesting and valuable presentation by Chef David Martin (from the first season of Bravo's Top Chef) who, surrounded by a "kitchen" set up for him by MarineMax,  focused on marinades and other preps that boaters can do ahead of time, off the boat, and then easily cook on a grill or the kind of scaled-down cooktop found in many galleys. Interspersing his directions with humorous quips and frequent sips of read wine, he was a hit and an excellent addition to the event.

The festivities climaxed when busses took attendees to the Greenvale Winery in nearby Portsmouth. While enjoying a spectacular view of Narragansett Bay and from amid nearly mature grape vines, guests enjoyed a meal personally prepared by Chef Martin that was accented by some of the vineyard's own wines and other that MarineMax had flown in all the way from California Meanwhile a string trio provided an eclectic selection of background music.

And then it was Sunday morning, with Chef Martin assembling one more spectacular repast, a breakfast buffet, before everyone headed home. With perfect weather for the entire time, the event was truly a cause for celebration.