When Tim Barton and Doug Gray established the Barton & Gray Mariners Club, they intended to create a much simpler and more affordable alternative to yacht ownership. As sailors, sport fishermen, and fans of all things that float, the two were painfully aware of the challenges of boat ownership and operation. As businessmen, they were also aware of the burdens that come with starting a business without healthy cash flow. So, they decided to go up the market—splashing a Hinckley Picnic Boat in Nantucket and Palm Beach while charging premiums to their original members.
Rather than a product, they created a market—welcoming yachting to a demographic that, up until the Barton & Gray Mariners Club, had no avenue for enjoying the coastal lifestyle. The club’s members are largely landlubbers—folks with little to no yachting experience, but eager to experience yachting.
Given the backgrounds, the founders built the club’s entire schedule around dayboating—not overnights, not even full days. “Members are ready to call it a day after three to five hours. The sun, the swimming, the dining, and, of course, the wining, takes its toll,” says Gray. “Plus, as a member, you know you’re going out again soon, so why spoil it?”
Fast forward more than 12 years, the club is running thousands of outings, aboard close to 40 Hinckleys in 23 harbors, for hundreds of blissful members. In the beginning, it all made sense—Nantucket, Palm Beach, Newport, and Naples. But the firm’s popularity grew in New York City, Miami, Boston, Chicago, and Washington, D.C.—it turns out yachting in a major metro area is equally as fun as in the resort towns, islands, and enclaves the rest of the fleet operates in. Barton explains, “As with all hospitality brands, we just listened to our members, and when they said ‘put a Hinckley in NYC,’ we did. And now we have more than five Hinckleys operating in and around Manhattan.”
Gray adds, “Turns out there is much more to do with boats when it’s this easy—town car to the city from Greenwich is awful. Helicopter? Too noisy. Your own Hinckley? That works.”
Above all, Barton & Gray has evolved into providing more than Hinckleys for dayboating. Members now have access to an impressive schedule of exclusive events that keep the party going all year—from the Masters to the Opera House Cup, and the South Beach Wine & Food Fest to the Newport Folk Festival. Barton explains, “Every year we add more events, more yachts, and more harbors, and the members keep us up to date on where we need to be next.”
What’s next? “Annapolis and Boca Raton this year, then we will look to the West Coast, Caribbean, and Mediterranean. Should be a fun ride, and your readers should join us,” says Gray with a wink.