Just because Rob Etre got into boating late in the game doesn’t mean he hasn’t jumped in with both feet. The 58-year-old Mamaroneck, New York, resident loves cruising with his family and friends, and proves that you don’t have to be born into boating to develop a passion for it.
Power & Motoryacht: How did you get into boating?
Etre: A buddy of mine, his name is Vince, owned a boat, a sailboat, and I used to go out with him on it. About six years ago he called me up and said he knew of a 27-foot Mako for sale at his yacht club. And he’s one of these fellas that’s always coming up with schemes and trying to get me involved. And I always say no, but this time for some reason I said yes. So we bought a 1988 27 Mako with a 150-horsepower motor. We scraped the bottom, cleaned the boat, and by that spring we had ourselves a powerboat.
A guy that worked for me, his daughter-in-law had a house on the water and I kept the boat there. As it turned out Vince was away most of the summer so my wife and I, and a bunch of our friends, ended up having a blast on the 27 Mako. We’d take it out on weekends, we’d take it to our club, we had a great time. But my kids were on me about getting a bigger boat. My older son especially, and he encouraged me to buy a 2007 31 Formula. Which I did, and we had that for four years. And then since you always go bigger, we started looking at more and more boats, 35s, 38s, a 40, then we finally settled on a 45-foot Formula that was delivered last summer.
Power & Motoryacht: That’s a pretty big jump, no? From a 27-foot open boat to a 45-foot Formula in a few years?
Etre: Uhhhhh, [laughs] yeah. The jump was mostly for size, convenience, and the IPS system and the convenience of docking and turning it gives. That technology is just incredible.
This is my first “yacht,” I guess. And we’re finding new places where we can go out and drop anchor and hang out. We’ve got the grill and we bring food and we grill and hang out for the day and it’s a beautiful thing. I didn’t get it for me, I got it for my three kids, and the grandkids—we only have one now, but we’re thinking of the future—that’s why we went all the way up to the 45, we’ll need the space, I hope! The kids love it too. The boat’s name is Family Affair. It’s for everybody.
Power & Motoryacht: What’s one of the things you’ve learned about boating that you didn’t foresee?
Etre: Man these things are a lot of work! That’s one thing I’ve learned. And man it isn’t cheap either. Those boatyards, they are happy to take your money. Because of that, I’m learning to do a lot of the maintenance stuff on my own, and that’s a learning process too. But I enjoy boating so much that I figured I’d learn to get more hands-on, it’ll make me a better boater and save me some cash. That seems to be the best way.
Power & Motoryacht: Getting into boating a little bit later in life, was it harder for you to learn how to run a boat?
Etre: Vince was a huge help. And I took a bunch of courses, and my wife took the Coast Guard course. It’s just being out there really. I’m learning something new every time. It’s like driving a car; the more you boat the more you know. I just always take care and realize that I’m still learning, so I try to be cautious and most importantly respectful when I’m at the helm.
Also, back when we had the Mako, my wife and I started talking about getting a place on the water. So within three years we had our own house on the water with our own dock. And that made me be in contact with boating everyday. And without that I wouldn’t have been able to figure this whole thing out.
Power & Motoryacht: Wow, so within a couple of years really, you went from not owning a boat to owning three boats in a row, and getting a house on the water, just for the boat?
Etre: Yeah, I went all in. I didn’t grow up on the water and never thought I’d get into boating, but here I am. It’s weird, I can’t explain it. I wake up in the morning and I look out my back window and I see my boat and I think to myself, this is unbelievable, how the hell did this happen to me? How did I get so lucky?
This article originally appeared in the November 2013 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.