Three Men And An Epic Shakedown Cruise

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On the final night of their four-day adventure, Bryant and his friends stayed in Norfolk, Va.

You’ve all heard the one about the two happiest days of a powerboat owner’s life, right? But for lifelong boat owners such as Joey Bryant of Deale, Md., the “first day, last day” punch line really doesn’t apply. That’s because, despite the inherent highs and lows of vessel ownership, they simply can’t see themselves without a boat. So they take the good and the bad in stride.

But it’s the good, of course, that keeps them coming back for more.

A 50-year-old automobile towing business owner, Bryant has done exactly that for much of his adult life. He’s owned everything from a Formula 400SS to a Cigarette 38’ Top Gun. But his most recent prize, a Mystic Powerboats M4200 center console he took delivery of in March, is far and away his favorite.

And with his good friends Steve Felix and Brian Clark, he began the ownership experience of his new 42-footer powered by triple Mercury Racing Verado 400R outboard engines with a 720-mile shakedown cruise that started in Hilton Head, S.C., (Bryant has a second home in nearby Bluffton) and finished at his full-time residence in Deale on the shores of the Chesapeake Bay.

The four-day “boys trip,” which saw the outboards burn 640 gallons of fuel, included stops—some with overnight stays—in Charleston, S.C., and Wrightsville Beach, N.C., Morehead City and Beaufort, N.C., and Norfolk, Va. Though Bryant and company stuck mostly to the Intracoastal Waterway, they did run 75 miles in the Atlantic Ocean between Wrightsville Beach and Morehead City.

And while they did run the boat to almost 75 mph, they were in no rush to be anywhere. In fact, they were more concerned with simply enjoying the ride—and listening to music.

Said Bryant, “Hands down, this is one of the best boats I’ve owned in my entire life.”

“The stereo is killer,” said Bryant. “We listened to everything from Johnny Cash to Bruno Mars to the Rolling Stones. The music, the friends and seeing all the different sights on the Intracoastal Waterway—those were the most memorable parts of the trip.”

Bryant also delighted in getting to know his latest boat.

“We weren’t bashful about running it,” he said. “Hands down, this is one of the best boats I’ve owned in my entire life. I love the freeboard. The Chesapeake Bay can be rougher than hell, so I wanted something with a lot of freeboard. We never had any water spray inside the boat. The bow thruster is the best. It manhandles the boat around. I like the 11-foot beam of the boat and I like the five-foot-wide helm station. It tracks great and runs great.”

The M4200 exceeded his expectations, Bryant said, as did his experience with John Cosker, Greg Weber and Ryan Zvitski at the Mystic facility in Deland, Fla. But through his adventure with his friends, one thing repeatedly surprised the center console’s new owner.

“I have never had so many people ask me about something I’ve owned—people flock over this boat,” said Bryant. “I didn’t buy this boat for the ‘oohs and ahs’ but I’ve never had so many people come up and ask me about my boat. When we were getting ready to leave Hilton Head, one guy came up to me and said, ‘Hey, can I talk to you? I’m sailboater and I usually don’t care for powerboaters, but this is the most beautiful boat I’ve ever seen in my life.’ I said, ‘That’s OK, I usually don’t care for sailboaters.’ We both got a good laugh out of that.

“I’ve also never had so many people come and ask me how much something I own costs,” he continued, then paused to chuckle. “One little old woman asked me if it cost $2 million. I said, ‘Ma’am, if it did I wouldn’t be sitting on it.”

With the boating season just a month away, Bryant plans to use the 42-footer extensively this summer. But it’s unlikely he’ll enjoy it more than he did for four days with two friends who, like him, were in no particular hurry to be anywhere.

“The entire trip was a good-weather trip,” he said. “There were no violent seas anywhere. Because the top covers so much of the cockpit, we took turns getting out in the sun. We had an excellent time. It was perfect.”

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Matt Trulio is an award-winning journalist who has covered the high-performance powerboat world since 1995. He wrote for Powerboat magazine for 17 years and was the magazine’s editor at large until it ceased publication in 2011. Trulio is the founder, editor-in-chief and publisher of speedonthewater.com, a daily news site that covers the high-performance powerboat realm. He’s also the former editor of Sportboat magazine.

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