By Tom Serio
Since his father was a captain, dockmaster Bob Garey at the Hall of Fame Marina in Fort Lauderdale has been around boats all his life. Literally.
“I was two years old and went on a yacht trip with my dad, from Baltimore to Florida”, Garey said. Over the years, he learned how to operate a boat and handle lines. At 11 years old, he did another trip with his dad, and the rest of his family on a client’s boat. Garey has traveled to the Bahamas, South America, and even took two months off from school to cruise with his father on a 56 Hatteras to Caracas (he did bring his schoolwork with him though).
As he grew, Garey mated on yachts his dad commanded. “My dad captained a yacht in the Med, and it was a family affair. Dad ran the boat, I was the mate and Mom was the stew and chef”.
After his dad passed away on a trip to St Maarten, Garey became discouraged as his boating partner was no longer with him. “I couldn’t work for another captain.”
Garey opted to get into law, working on the admiralty side. But one day, he realized he couldn’t do it anymore. He loves the boating lifestyle. “Boaters are a happy group, very positive. In the legal field, everything is negative.” Garey explained.
Starting in the private sector, Garey spent 12 years as dockmaster at Lighthouse Point Yacht Club in Lighthouse Point, FL, moving on to the Royal Palm Yacht Club in Boca Raton for the next 6 years. At the Hall of Fame Marina for just a few months, he already knows he made the right choice “It’s a great opportunity here and the yachts are larger than at my previous locations.”
The worst aspect of the job for Garey is working in the bad weather. He’s done his fair share of hurricane preparations and stepping out in the worst part of a storm to help a yacht. “You just have to step up and get the job done” Garey added.
When not wrestling yachts into slips, Garey is an accomplished music writer and guitar player, recording his own music. You may hear it playing in the background in the office.
The amenities of the marina are also a big draw for yachties and Garey alike. “The location is perfect. We have the beach across the street, Los Olas Boulevard is close, only one bridge and 40 slips up to 155’”, said Garey. Belonging to the Westrec family of marinas, the Hall of Fame Marina has a famous neighbor. The marina encircles the International Swimming Hall of Fame, the world’s largest outdoor swimming complex.
Asked what he would be doing of not a dockmaster. Garey replied assuredly “I’d never go back to law”.