At the conclusion of the 21st Annual New Jersey Powerboat Club Atlantic City Rally—her first-ever poker run—this weekend, Ellie Lyn Menshouse didn’t have much to say. But at six months old, she doesn’t have much to say about anything. However, her infectious, beaming smile and kicking arms and legs spoke volumes.
Longtime performance-boat owners, the Menshouse family (click image) tackled the Atlantic City Rally in their Monterey 378 SE sportcruiser. Photos courtesy/copyright Tim Sharkey/Sharkey Images.
Ellie Lyn had accompanied her mom and dad, Amanda and Tom, on the family’s Monterey 378 SE sport cruiser for the 60-mile run from Toms River to Atlantic City, NJ, in near-perfect weather conditions. Among the 30-boat flotilla, nearly half the fleet were cruisers or center console boats, though the latter were all sporting multiple high-horsepower outboards.
The trend away from the go-fast performance boats was something that Tom Menshouse, a 37-year-old who has owned eight performance boats from a 21-foot Thompson with a 302 Ford mill to a 36-foot Nor-Tech catamaran with twin 1,100 engines, said he saw coming.
“Poker runs aren’t what they were,” Menshouse said. “During some runs, I was the only big cat there. It’s no fun to run by yourself. Most of the time is spent socializing on board during a raft-up, and there wasn’t enough space.”
Purchased as a “winter home” in Florida, a 50-foot Sea Ray showed Menshouse the advantages of slower boating, but the boat was too big to use in his home waters of New Jersey’s Barnegat Bay. So while visiting the New York Boat Show and looking at various cruisers, the family fell in love with the Monterey because of its space and cabin configuration.
“I was a little hesitant, at first,” Menshouse said. “But the more I thought about it and looked at my life the way it is now, with my daughter and the next few years of boating, I decided it was the right path to go.”
Menshouse admitted to taking razzing from his go-fast boat-owning buddies. His standard response? “I have a seven-year warranty,” he said.
For a closer look at the action from the NJPBC Atlantic City Rally, check out the slideshow above.
The New Jersey Performance Powerboat Club was an early adopter of allowing boats of all varieties to join and participate in events.
“When we started 21 years ago, the perception was if you didn’t own an Outerlimits, Cigarette or Skater, you were not welcome to the club,” said Dave Patnaude, the NJPBC president. “We worked hard to change that perception.”
Both Tom and Amanda, who met at a poker run three years ago, admitted that they miss the adrenaline rush that comes from running 130 mph.
“But I don’t miss the aggravation of the breakdowns and all of the maintenance involved,” said Tom. “The amount of enjoyment you get out of it versus the amount of time you have to put into it—you’re really not optimizing your enjoyment.”
To emphasize his point, during the halfway mark in the run while slowing for a no wake zone, Menshouse said, “See, the fast guys are probably already at the Barnegat Inlet Bridge and their boating day is over. We’re still boating.”
For Amanda, who loves go-fast boating, and along with Tom vows to be back in a big cat someday, the added comfort level of a sportcruiser is attractive, especially with a baby onboard.
“Of course there is a difference in the experience of a fast boat and something slower,” she said. “But we are all still together and seeing all of our friends at the runs, so that doesn’t change. And that’s the best part of it. I call this ‘our family boat.’”
And family boating was the theme for this Father’s Day weekend event, starting at the drivers’ meeting where the club honored long-time member Anthony Sauta, who died in December, by laying a wreath in the water before the start of the day’s events.
“You all were Anthony’s family,” his brother said to the crowd that had gathered for the wreath-laying memorial to one of the club’s most beloved member.
Dean Mendrys was honored as NJPBC “Powerboater of the Year” for his volunteer efforts with the club’s Shore Dream for Kids and military veterans’ boat ride events.
Club founder Ray Patnaude (left) with his son and current NJPBC president Dave. Said the younger Patnaude, “When we started 21 years ago, the perception was if you didn’t own an Outerlimits, Cigarette or Skater, you were not welcome to the club.”
Club members and their families and friends enjoyed a pool party and barbeque at the Golden Nugget Hotel Casino Marina, the traditional breakfast awards ceremony and a Saturday fun run to lunch at Oyster Creek. And club history was made twice during the weekend, when a first-ever tie for second place was determined by the dramatic drawing of a single card, and little Ellie Lyn Menshouse became the youngest NJPPC poker runner ever.
At least so far—NJPBC is a family, and one that continues to grow.