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Fully Engaged At The 1,000 Islands Charity Poker Run

The Internet blew up yesterday. OK, that’s a wild exaggeration just for effect, but it is fair to say that social media in go-fast boating circles buzzed with the news of the engagement of Chad Shutter of BRP Marine Custom in Denver, N.C., and Ashely Gerthoffer yesterday at the 1,000 Islands Charity Poker Run in Clayton, N.Y.

Well-known in the high-performance marine community, the couple has been together for more than nine years.

When this photo was taken today during the 1,000 Islands Charity Poker Run lunch stop in Alexandria Bay, N.Y., Chad Shutter and Ashely Gerthoffer had been engaged less than 24 hours. Photos by Matt Trulio/speedonthewater.com.

“Coming to the 1,000 Islands with my family when I was growing up always provided some of my best memories,” said Shutter, who like Gerthoffer was raised in Upstate New York. “Where can you find more beautiful freshwater boating? I figured it was a good place and time and, hell, Ashley’s been great over the years putting up with me and my work schedule. This industry tends to not leave much time for a personal life as I’m usually stuck working long hours at the shop.”

Schedule conflicts prevented Shutter’s mother, father and brother from being in Clayton this weekend for the surprise proposal. (Even the Cullen family, his relatively nearby friends, couldn’t make it.) But with 100 high-performance powerboat owners and their friends in town, Shutter and Gerthoffer were far from alone in sharing the joy of their engagement on the famed 42-foot Statement Marine V-bottom called Saddle Up and owned by their friends, Shane and Vicki Franks.

Back at the docks after yesterday’s outing in the 42-footer on the St. Lawrence River, Shutter had a small parting-gift for Gerthoffer—and he set her up to find it. With the Franks looking on, he asked her to grab a microfiber towel to clean his sunglasses.

“There was a box under the towel with a ring in it,” she said. “I opened it and he asked me to marry him—I was stunned.

“I said yes,” she added, her voice slightly cracking. “There were tears.”

For Chad Shutter and Ashley Gerthoffer, the Saddle Up V-bottom owned by their friends Shane and Vicki Franks was the perfect engagement spot.

“Everything happens for a reason,” Shutter said. “The Saddle Up boat had a lot to do with my thought process on this. I worked at Statement for a long time and I’ve known that boat—and its previous owners who we miss very much—since it was new and did a lot of work on it.  By random chance, two years ago after Shane and Vicki bought it, we happened to run into the boat at the fuel station on our way into Lake Cumberland for the State Dock run.

“After striking up a conversation with the two of them, we spent the weekend hanging with them and since then Shane and Vicki have become like family,” he continued. “They truly are some of the best friends and customers that you can ask for. So it kind of sounds dumb, but I really wanted them to be part of the proposal. It’s kind of one of those things when everything, minus the rest of my family being here, comes full circle—to be in the Islands with the Franks on Saddle Up.”

Shutter claimed that his Upstate New York friends and BRP customers including Kelly O’Hara, Bill Sestak and Myron Kocan strongly encouraged him to propose during this weekend’s event.

“They egged me on,” he said, then laughed. “I also have to thank my dad, who made the drive up here, for helping me. I hate that my mother wasn’t able to make it but she is back in the shop taking care of things.”

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