Understanding The Family Business

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As you probably know from all the questions you get at the docks each summer, most folks have zero understanding of the high-performance powerboating world, much less why anyone would want to be involved in it. Don’t get me wrong—they are dazzled by your breathtaking go-fast catamarans, V-bottoms and center consoles. Still, they tend to walk away with one question.

Why?

And if you’ve ever tried to answer that question, you know how difficult—maybe even impossible—it is. Trust me, Jason Johnson, my fellow offshoreonly.com columnist and speedonthewater.com co-publisher, and I feel your pain. For the most part, our significant others and friends outside the go-fast boating community struggle to understand our passion for the market we cover.

But for Morgan Johnson, Jason’s eight-old-daughter, and Anna Trulio, my 20-year-old daughter, that changed last weekend. If you read Johnson’s offshoreonly.com column yesterday, you know that on Friday before the 15th annual Boyne Thunder Poker Run in Boyne City, Mich., Morgan spent a little time behind the wheel of a 32-foot Monterey runabout owned by John and Julie Tokar, who also have a spectacular Outerlimits SV 43 sportboat.

The night before Morgan Johnson got behind the wheel of a powerboat for the first time last Friday, she took a ride in a chairlift with her father, Jason, up Boyne Mountain.

“She was so giddy,” said Jason Johnson. “She definitely got bit by the boating bug. Now, she wants a boat.”

As for Anna, the light came on during the 18th annual Shore Dreams for Kids event in Seaside Heights, N.J. A soon-to-be Goucher College junior living and working in New York City this summer, she and her boyfriend were guests of Bob and Madelyn Christie, who own an MTI 340X sport catamaran, at their beautiful Seaside Heights beachfront home last weekend.

Thanks to their gracious hosts Bob and Madelyn Christie, Anna Trulio and her boyfriend, Dave Rowe (above), had the experience of a lifetime—and learned firsthand about the charitable side of the go-fast boating world—as volunteers at Shore Dreams for Kids last weekend. Photo by Tim Sharkey/Sharkey Images.

When Anna, who wants to work as a special education teacher after she graduates, heard Shore Dreams was happening, she was eager to volunteer. And she wrote about her experience in an article for speedonthewater.com.

“This weekend, all my questions about my father’s career were answered,” she wrote. “ They were answered by the smiling faces of children and adults with disabilities, as well as the smiles on the faces of their loved ones and caregivers—who often are one in the same.”

For Alex, my 24-year-old son who works in the San Francisco office of an international marketing company, understanding what we do and why we do it happened under far less joyful circumstances.

On summer break from the University of Oregon, Alex, who went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in journalism, joined us at the 2014 Lake of the Ozarks Shootout. With the horrific accident that led to the death of Outerlimits Offshore Powerboats founder Mike Fiore, what I had envisioned for him as a fun party weekend and a glimpse into the toy-store world I cover turned gravely serious.

“It was almost surreal—you hear about something your dad does for as long as you can remember, but I’d never seen you actually do it,” he told me. “How the weekend unfolded scared me, not in the sense of being scared or worried for you but watching that boat flip was something I had never seen.

“But watching you work was still a thrill because I know how passionate you are about your trade and telling the truth,” he added. “And it was the first time I had been on site to see that.”

Some educations come harder than others.

So now, with Morgan and Anna enlightened, that leaves the Johnson and Trulio clans with just one more kid, Johnson’s daughter, Colbie, to educate about our shared family business.

OK, she’s only four years old. But as you surely know better than we do, it’s never too early to start.

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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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