This Year’s Best Christmas Present

13

As my family and friends can attest, I’m a gooey mess around the holidays. I’m emotional by nature and this time of year always brings out the sap in me. That Alex, my 26-year-old son, is in Peru and hiking his way up to Machu Picchu today and Anna Rose, my 21-year-old daughter, is spending Christmas in Maryland with her remarkable boyfriend’s family has left me a bit low. Neither will be home before New Year’s eve.

OK, I confess. I’ve been dragging a bit this holiday season.

But a letter I received from a reader yesterday via email turned me around. I’m ready to trim the tree, hang the lights and deck the halls, even though the halls did nothing to me.

For Randy Lohr, the people behind his 37-foot Outerlimits are as important as the boat itself.

Here’s the letter.

Good Morning Matt,

We exchanged emails in November 2014 shortly after Mike Fiore’s passing. I live in New England close to the Outerlimits factory and happened to read about Mike in one of my regional boating magazines. Through your articles in Speed On The Water and other industry information I learned more about what a remarkable individual Mike was and I was sorry to not have had the opportunity to meet him.

That brief introduction to the world of high-performance boating as well as the Outerlimits brand left a lasting impression on me and I’ve followed their progress closely since Mike’s passing. I’m very glad to see that the brand is alive and well. I’ve always dreamed of owning an Outerlimits and never thought an opportunity would present itself but late this summer I found a 37-foot Stiletto built in 1996—hull No. 6— that was within my budget and seemed to be in very good condition. I spoke with both Dan Kleitz and Jason Amaral about the boat and they agreed it was a great boat for the purchase price.

I finalized the purchase in September and as the boat was in Michigan I had the Outerlimits crew (Jason included) go out and fetch it the first part of October and it’s being stored at the factory for the winter. Some minor upgrades are planned but the engines (Mercury 540 Bulldogs) were just rebuilt and a number of other major mechanical updates were completed by the former owner so the boat, for its age, is in really good shape. My understanding from Dan is that the paint scheme, which is in excellent condition, is well known and as one of the early boats that Mike Fiore built and had painted I’m keeping it as is. Dan sent me a photo of Stalker when she was new and there are some others that Jason provided to me on the trip back from Michigan.

I started writing this email prior to Paul Fiore’s passing and was saddened upon hearing the news. When I bought my boat I was looking forward to meeting Paul and swapping stories with him. I went to the celebration of life service on December 7 and it was quite moving. Many of the participants who spoke in his honor closed their remarks simply by saying that Paul Fiore was a good man. You echoed those remarks in your commentary “How Paul Fiore Made Me A Better Father,” which was read at the service. The Outerlimits crew did a wonderful job staging various boats leading into and surrounding the reception area. It was quite a display of what Mike and Paul had accomplished. Amazing boat builders but more importantly good men and good fathers.

The service was a very fitting closure for a remarkable man who raised a remarkable son. God’s speed to both Mike and Paul and their families.

Sincerely,

Randy Lohr

You don’t become a journalist to get rich. Though it can have glamorous moments and my beat—the performance boating world—has more than most, you don’t get into it for the glamor. You do it because you want to report and inform, capture a bit of history and simply tell stories the best way you can. For me anyway, this job is a combination of all that.

The best reward is when a reader reaches out and lets you know your work made a difference in his or her life. It doesn’t have to be a big a difference—just a difference. That makes what at times can be a challenging profession worthwhile.

So thank you for the kind letter, Mr. Lohr. I already know it’s the best Christmas present I’ll open this year.

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