Our Everglades Summer Rendezvous Series is only a calendar page away now! If for some reason you haven't signed up yet, or you can't make it to the event you wanted, fret not: your Everglades was meticulously built to take you virtually anywhere. So why not go on a rendezvous of your own? Last August, that's exactly what new Everglades owner Bill Hutchison did!
For Everglades owner Bill Hutchison of Rockport, Texas, it was love at first sight. When his neighbors in Islands of Rockport invited him to accompany them on their next trip to Galveston, he was immediately interested, but knew it would be in his best interest to upgrade his current vessel.
Bill Hutchison aboard his 253cc in Rockport, TX.
“I was so all-in, I made a trip to Gulf Coast Marine in Corpus Christi to see about upgrading my Sea Hunt 22BR for a larger boat,” Bill said. What was he looking for, specifically? “Probably another Sea Hunt. A larger engine, better wind protection for the driver, a head, and better fuel capacity.”
As it turns out, Gulf Coast Marine had just taken delivery of a brand new Everglades.
“Before we looked at the Sea Hunts, we saw the Everglades 253cc,” Bill recalled. “It was white, with a white Yamaha 300, and white t-top powder coating. It was beautiful! We boarded the boat and just loved it. I knew right then that I would not be buying a new Sea Hunt.”
Preparing for the Trip
Bill and his wife had some experience boating in the Bahamas and on Texas lakes, “but along the Texas coast, we don’t have island-hopping or other kinds of boating destinations. We take short boat trips to restaurants and bars, but a real “destination” trip is rare,” Bill said. So how did they prepare for the 200 mile trip?
First, Bill spent some time learning his new 253cc. “I put 20 hours on it, and had the engine serviced as suggested in the Yamaha manual. Then I put a few more hours on it, just getting accustomed to everything. I wanted to know the handling and the “feel” of the boat before we left, so I used it all that I could.” This meant getting acclimated to the gauges, VHF, GPS, radar, etc.
“I bought a beanbag for my wife’s comfort underway, but we never used it, as she sat next to me the whole time, a testament to the boat’s comfort,” Bill told us. He also purchased a pair of marine binoculars, mooring lines, fenders, and a set of tools, then made a copy of his Everglades manual just in case of need. “My wife planned all sorts of snacks, water, sunblock, etc., and I handled the beer. We also carried adequate rain gear, changes of clothes, and other personal items,” he added. “The 253cc has lots of storage space, so we were not at all limited in our packing.”
Charting a course through the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway, the Hutchisons set off with several other couples and their boats last August, bound for Galveston 195 miles away.
The group after crossing one of the bays.
Their route took them across ten different bays in varying conditions, and “the boat and motor performed flawlessly,” Bill said. “We stopped now and again after crossing a particularly rough one, for the other boats to recover and dry out. We had no such need in our 253cc. We were smooth and dry for the most part.” The group would also stop to picnic, or just to take a break and enjoy drinks on a sandy beach.
A leisurely afternoon spent rafting up.
But how was the fishing along the way?
“No luck fishing along the Port O’Connor jetties,” Bill said. “However there were several small boats there that were catching tarpon. Apparently, it is a spectator sport, as several boats would move in to watch the acrobatics when someone hooked up. When landed and released, the spectator armada gave great applause. It was really fun!”
"It was lots of fun to see so much recreational activity along the way," Hutchison said.
As they continued, they observed various fishing depots (pictured above) along the way, as well as cool places to rest, or get fuel. “For others!” Bill said. “I actually think I could have made it the whole way without having to refuel, but I didn’t want to risk the experiment.”
A shrimper hard at work.
Shrimpers were omnipresent, and bridges and traffic increased as they neared Galveston.
Hutchison hangs back to snap a photo of the group passing under a bridge.
With rest stops and fuel stops, picnics, etc., their trip was about 9 hours, which the group split into two days, overnighting in Matagorda. Bill and his wife even switched drivers.
Hutchison's able co-pilot takes her turn at the helm.
“My co-pilot had no trouble running the 253cc,” Bill said. “She was able to put in some good hours, because the boat is so comfortable.”
Passing under the I-45 bridge going onto Galveston Island.
Port of Galveston accommodates cruise ships from both the Carnival and Royal Caribbean lines.
Upon their arrival in Galveston, they stayed at Harbor House, the area’s only harborfront hotel, which offers boat slips for rental, and access to nearby landmarks.
The Harbor House Hotel and Marina at Pier 21.
Their return trip to Rockport two days later proved much quicker: “We stopped less often, made better speeds (averaged about 42 nmph in the canal, 32 nmph in choppier bays) and made it home in 7 1/2 hours.”
Verdict on the 253cc?
After a nearly 400 mile sojourn, what were Bill’s favorite features on his new boat? He gave us quite the list!
- "The aft lift-up access to below-deck equipment. This is an awesome feature that I have never seen before or since."
- "The electric windshield. The worst part of long rides is getting beaten to death by wind. This feature nullifies that concern almost entirely, and it was a big factor in our purchase."
- "The “heaviness” of the boat. It handles big and heavy, which I like for our use. Choppy bay or offshore conditions are very easily and smoothly handled by this boat."
- "The electric anchor. This speaks for itself!"
- "Fuel capacity and range. I carried about 25% more fuel than the other three boats in the trip."
- "Overall comfort and ease of access.”
It has now been a year since the Hutchisons purchased their new 253cc and made their trip, and they’re still excited about it. “The quality of Everglades is such a cut above the others we considered,” Bill explained. “We had a great trip, and our Everglades 253cc was a hit at every stop. I enjoyed lots of “that’s a really nice boat” comments along the way. This summer, we may go out to Port Isabell and South Padre Island!”
We can’t wait to hear about it, Bill!