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From Maine to Bermuda - Four generations continue their Grady traditions

by Grady-White 27 Feb 13:02 PST
Four generations continue their Grady traditions © Grady-White

RJ and Andrew Shea's love of the water began at an early age through their parents, Bob and Tracey, who both grew up boating in New England. Later, they traveled the world to different port cities during Bob's 25-year career in the Navy.

As the boys grew, Bob began teaching them all things boating and eventually purchased a small boat with a 40-horsepower engine for them to learn how to handle a boat on their own.

"Once I felt confident in their ability to manage the boat by themselves, I'd let them go out on the water without me," Bob recalls. "Little did they know, I always had my binoculars, watching what they were doing."

The boys learned a lot on that little boat, but it was the annual family reunion the summer they were 8 and 10 that gave them the "Grady itch". That year, Tracey's sister and brother-in-law, Betsy and John Brink, bought a 1998 Tournament 19 they named On the Brink. Their daughter, Amy, and the Shea family were instantly mesmerized. For Tracey, it was the beautiful lines of the boat. For the boys, it was the strong 150-horsepower engine that effortlessly pulled them out of the water when skiing.

"That was the summer of Uncle John's ski school," recalls Andrew. "The little boat we had struggled to pull us up skiing, but when Uncle John hit the throttle on the Grady, we'd pop right up on top of the water."

Other memorable times boating together as children include their annual pilgrimages to the deepest part of Damariscotta Lake, where the 13-mile-long body of water reaches depths over 100 feet.

"Once we got in the right area," says Andrew, "we'd start looking at the depth finder and everyone would cheer when it flashed 100 feet." They'd throw out the anchor and enjoy a picnic and hours of swimming. "Really, if we're on the lake we're doing just about everything on the boat including lunch and dinner," says Tracey, who now spends summers at the house they purchased on the lake. Since Bob is still working, he joins her for long weekends, and the boys, their wives, and the grandchildren continue to come as often as they can.

Both boys have always dreamed of having the same fun with their children on a Grady-White, and RJ has already started! Nine years ago, he and his wife, Sammy, who also grew up boating, moved to Bermuda. As soon as their move was complete, they fulfilled their dream of owning a Grady-White when they bought a Freedom 205. That boat served them well as they got to know the area, and later when they first started their family. Of course, as planned, RJ and Sammy quickly acclimated their daughters, Charlotte (4) and Lily (2), to boating and anchoring out along the pristine beaches of Bermuda. It's no surprise, the rest of the family loves to visit and spend time on the boat with them. A few years ago, RJ, Sammy, Bob, Tracey, and the girls were all out on the boat together when Sammy proclaimed, "RJ, I think we need a bigger boat." That was all RJ needed to hear, and he quickly contacted AP Marine and ordered a Freedom 275. Bob went to the factory to see the boat being built, and then two years ago, when the whole family went to Bermuda for Christmas, RJ and Andrew picked him up from the airport on the boat they named Shady White. "That was the best airport pick up ever!" Bob said.

After owning three other boat brands, Bob and Tracey bought their own Grady-White with Andrew and his wife, Kelly, as partners three years ago. Having dreamed of owning a Grady since that first summer on John and Betsy's boat, it was exciting to take possession of a new Freedom 215.

The first time Andrew, a Naval Academy graduate and 10-year Navy veteran, used the boat, he exclaimed, "Now this is a proper boat!" Bob remarks that the quality and the ride is as exceptional as he expected and that he's glad Andrew and RJ talked him into the Yamaha 250. Of course, they both wanted the extra power for skiing! Bob also went to see this boat being made at the Grady-White factory. "As a retired Navy officer and now a chief financial officer, I was so impressed with their commitment to training their employees, the goals they set, and their reading program," Bob said. "It is all a huge part of how Grady-White continues to set the bar high for producing quality boats that please their customers time and time again."

Andrew and Kelly currently live in Indiana where Andrew is about to complete his MBA, but they have already started preparing for their move back to the east coast. What was the first plan this Navy sailor put in place? A boat of course, and none other than the Grady-White he learned to ski from.

"I've already started talking with Uncle John and Aunt Betsy about taking over On the Brink when Kelly and I move back to the Boston area," says Andrew. "This boat has certainly spanned the generations of our family and we want to continue that with our children."

Bob and Tracey are excited about their future boating plans. Once Bob retires, they'll spend the summers at their Damariscotta Lake home together where they plan to enjoy excursions on the lake and other nearby bodies of water.

"That's the beauty of the 215," says Bob. "It's easy to trailer, in fact Tracey also trailers the boat, taking it to the ramp and putting it in and out of the water." Andrew and RJ look forward to treating their families to the same fun they experienced growing up. Though the boys are grown, Bob still finds himself standing on the dock with his binoculars. "The first time Kelly took Andrew out skiing I found myself in familiar territory, on the bank with binoculars in hand making sure they were alright, like old times." Bob said fondly, recalling all the great memories their whole family has made living the Grady Life thus far, and thinking of the new adventures yet to come.

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