Owner Profile: Steve and Aubrey Hitchcock
Published on August 12th 2020
Clearwater Beach, FL - When attorneys Steve and Aubrey Hitchcock moved to Clearwater Beach on the west coast of Florida in 2012, one of the first orders of business was to purchase a 2005 Sea Ray Sundancer 290 with twin sterndrives to experience the boating lifestyle in one of the best cruising areas of the country. Recently, when they were working at home during the COVID-19 shutdown, they saw people out on the water having fun and had an idea.
“It suddenly occurred to us we could just as easily be working out on the water instead of being cooped up at home,” said Steve. “Our 15-year-old Sea Ray had served us well over the years but occasionally, small maintenance items would crop up that would make us cancel our plans at the last minute. In addition to working while on the boat, we wanted a new boat that would give us the confidence to do everything we wanted like take overnight trips to more distant cruising areas. Besides, I would rather make payments than pay for repair bills.”
Although Steve and Aubrey liked their Sea Ray, they also did “due diligence” by exploring many different brands but when they went for a ride with Patrick Roark of MarineMax aboard a new Sea Ray Sundancer 320 powered by triple Verado 250s, they knew they found the perfect boat for their lifestyle.
“Its advanced technology really impressed us, said Steve. “The joystick system made docking incredibly easy and it had features like Skyhook, which is like a virtual anchor. We were amazed by its excellent performance. Its ride was incredibly smooth and it impressed us with how quiet it ran. Even when on plane we could hold a normal conversation. It was equipped with a generator so it had air-conditioning in the cabin and even in the open cockpit, which we didn’t know you could do. It had a comfortable cabin for overnighting but still had a huge bow lounge, which was Aubrey’s favorite feature. It checked off every box for us.”
The end of the sea trial was the clincher, though. “When we started back in, Patrick saw a pair of dolphins nearby and slowed down to entice them to surf in our wake,” said Steve. “The next thing you know, they were putting on a spectacular, Sea World-worthy show right behind our boat (click here to see it). I jokingly accused Patrick and MarineMax of keeping them in a pen just to show off for customers. When we bought it, MarineMax even gave us a special bottle of Champagne for the christening of Legal-Ease.”
“We almost always take our two rescue beagles, Fuzz and Misty, along with us when we go on the boat,” said Aubrey. “They start crying when they see us packing up our boat gear to make sure they go too. They especially love to ride up front when we go fast and make their ears fly like Dumbo’s. One of our first trips was to the sandbar at John’s Pass and even though Misty is deathly afraid of other people, being on a boat made her more comfortable. We enjoy going to waterfront restaurants like Caddy’s Indian Shores and the Clearwater Yacht Club and there are lots of dog-friendly restaurants in St. Pete we plan to check out. Since our new boat has a grill, we can even cook on board and eat at the large dining table in the cockpit. Our older boat got pretty hot in the summer but between the air-conditioning and large rear shade, our new boat is a comfortable place to work or play. It’s roomy enough that we were able to entertain another couple on board while still managing to practice social distancing.”
“Our new Sea Ray 320 has given us the freedom and confidence to explore the west coast of Florida,” said Steve. “Since it has outboards, we can get closer to shore at the barrier islands for swimming and watching the sunset. There are so many great places we want to cruise to like Caladesi Island, Tarpon Springs and Egmont Key. Later this year, we plan to head south down the coast to Venice, Naples, Marco Island then run down to the Keys. ”
Steve was always trying to get me to drive our old boat,” said Aubrey, “but the dual throttles were always kind of intimidating to me. Even though this boat has one more engine and is bigger, it’s easier to handle; the joystick makes all the difference. I plan to take MarineMax’s Women on Water program to learn how to drive it even better.”