Bertram Yachts' 50th Anniversary Was One Helluva Party, Despite The Weather!
The human pinball hits Miami! That’s what I was feeling like when I picked up a rental car at the airport to drive to Miami’s Marriott Biscayne this past April. I was coming off a couple of long, hard-travelin’ weeks, during which I’d racked up a few thousand frequent-flyer miles, rattled through a train ticket, rented a sprinkling of automobiles, tested some boats, and slept in a succession of motley hotel rooms. But now things were lookin’ up, what with Bertram Yachts’ 50th anniversary bash on the docket for the evening.
Heck! I figured all I’d have to do to participate was glad-hand some folks at Sea Isle Marina behind the hotel (where a bunch of Bertram owners were docking their boats) and then head for the appropriate ballroom, find a chair, kick back, and nod through a speech or two. With any luck, there’d even be food, like, for example, those lovely little crab-stuffed mushrooms that so often grace waterside f’tes these days.
“Yum,” I reminisced to myself as a big ol’ raindrop whopped the windshield, presaging a veritable April deluge. Uh-oh! Would this put the kibosh on the meet-and-greet behind the hotel, the anniversary’s kickoff event? I drove on, envisioning storm-tossed desolation, complete with tattered Bertram flags, slippery docks, and beleaguered Bertram owners, fans, and employees (former and current), scurrying for cover. Dang!
So much for dark imaginings. As I approached the sign-up tent, two old friends yelled with singin’-in-the-rain gusto, “Hey BillÖBill Pike.” I’d first met Pierre and Anita Pierce at the 1988 Bertram-Hatteras Shootout, a glamorous affair, especially to a young merchant seaman only recently converted to marine journalism. In a blue shirt with Moppie (the name given to all Bertram’s company boats over the years) embroidered over the pocket, one-time Bertram company captain Pierre raised a glass to the recalcitrant elements and grinned indomitably.
But the fun had only begun. Within minutes I felt like I’d been flat-out assimilated into a community of boat owners so super-enthusiastic they made me forget I was wandering around getting wet. For example, having cruised his 25-year-old 33 Bertram Sportfish down from Annapolis for the event, with son Max and friend Dave Decker as crew, Robert Shapiro genially and spontaneously offered: “Come with us for the Bimini start in the morning, Bill. Come on!”
Gerardo Santiago, a Puerto Rican dentist from Naples, Florida, was equally stoked. He virtually begged me to tour his decades-old Bertram 31 Zero Cavity, newly painted, refurbished, and repowered with Yanmars ‡ la Florida’s “Mr. Yanmar,” Richard Mastry of Mastry Engine Center. “Listen, I’m tellin’ ya,” he proclaimed to Mastry and I while paternally patting his dashboard, “In Puerto Rico, back in the day, Bertram was the ruler of the seas!”
Then there were the Scholls, Tom and Cathy. After maintaining a Bertram 50 Convertible for 18 years in the Keys, they’d recently upgraded to a big, bodacious 570, with a cockpit seemingly custom made for their two highly acrobatic English Labs. “One more time,” I laughed as the dogs jumped for biscuits beside the fighting chair.
And the rain? Yeah well, it eventually morphed into an afterthought I guess, along with all my pent-up human-pinball agitations. But I was a tad tired from my travels, so I hit the trail around midnight, with long-time Bertram test-boat driver Sammy James’ story about doing 278.43 mph in a top-secret “government boat” still ringing in my ears. James and the rest of the cast of thousands kept right on keepin’ on, however. And hey! Nary a rain check amongst ’em!