Key West Vibes, Horizon USA Owners’ 2024 Rendezvous

2024-06-05

The 2024 Horizon Yacht USA Owners’ Rendezvous gathered in Key West, Florida, bringing together 20 owners, 15 yachts and more than 120 guests for delicious food, adventurous excursions and three, fun-filled days of socializing and dancing.


With last year’s Mystic Seaport Owners’ Rendezvous 2023 in Connecticut a dimming memory, it was time to get into Rendezvous mode once again, this time in Key West, Florida.

Described as Ernest Hemingway’s muse, Key West’s rich history and present-day flair was the perfect location for the 2024 Horizon Yacht USA Owners’ Rendezvous. Home to America’s only living coral reef, the infamous Duval Street with iconic nightlife, and breathtaking sunsets, attendees were in anticipation of an experience to remember.




With 14 yachts already in place, the owner of the E98 Do It Now was looking to make a grand entrance to the Rendezvous by being “fashionably late.” However, the Horizon staff sought to surprise the Horizon owners and guests with a signature “Key West” inspired welcome. As the yacht maneuvered into place to dock stern-to, the “welcoming committee” on the dock included two very well-known local drag queens to assist in their docking needs. After helping secure the yacht, the glamorous couple entertained the crowds on the dock and on the boats taking pictures and playing it up, as is the norm in Key West. This set the tone for the fun that lay ahead. With the perfect entrance flawlessly executed, guests had time to explore the Perry Hotel & Marina in Stock Island prior to the afternoon’s welcome event and the traditional gift bag presentations.





The Perry Hotel & Marina excelled themselves by managing to dock the 15 Horizon yachts all in one location to make for a grand Horizon presence. With 20 sets of owners in total and more than 120 guests, everyone was in for a weekend of fun activities, excursions and of course some excellent food and drinks.




To kick off the festivities, guests made their way to the Key West themed pool area for the welcome reception, complete with henna tattoos, locally inspired hors d’oeuvres, refreshing cocktails, and live music. Both new and long-time Horizon owners mingled and shared stories of their adventures on the open waters. It is great to see owners and guests who have never met before becoming fast friends, and as the owner of the FD100 commented after the meet-and-greet: “You meet these folks (other boat owners) and it’s like you’ve known them for years.” As new relationships formed and others enjoyed catching up, excitement filled the air. With the fun just getting started, the guests returned to their yachts to get ready for the evening’s events. Within a few short hours, the guests boarded trolleys to Duval Street, in Downtown Key West. Here, they were welcomed with more live music, world class cuisine, and a captivating vantage point from a private rooftop terrace of the action on Duval Street. Celebrations for the guests continued into the night with dancing to the sounds from the band, Jutt Huffman, as Horizon’s staff busily prepared for the next day’s adventures.





Saturday brought about more eagerness and opportunities for exploration. The Rendezvous guests were presented with the choice of visiting the Dry Tortugas by seaplane, enjoying a jet ski tour, a Paint and Sip at the hotel, or journeying to Duval Street to explore the local sights. Those guests traveling to the Dry Tortugas, one of America’s most treasured National Parks, boarded one of four seaplanes scheduled throughout the day, to land at Fort Jefferson. During the ride, the pilot pointed out wildlife such as pods of wild dolphins, sea turtles, schools of tarpon, and even a giant manta ray. Some other points of interest included Mel Fisher’s Sunken Ship, the Marquesas, and several other islands and channels along the way. As the seaplane glided to land, passengers gingerly stepped directly onto the captivating shoreline. Tasked with the decision to explore their new surroundings, participate in a snorkel, or simply relax on the beach, the island and its rich history was at their disposal. Joining the tour of the Dry Tortugas was Horizon Yachts Interior Design Project Lead, Megan Johnson. Taking a brief hiatus to recharge her creative talents, Megan relished the chance to observe sea life up close. For those who chose the jet ski tours, it was an adventurous day with the winds kicking up a slight chop, everyone came back feeling like they had been in a serious workout and really enjoyed the educational aspects of the tour. Many of the guests visiting the Rendezvous this year had been to Key West before, and these adventurous tours allowed them to explore different areas they had not seen previously. For those guests who preferred a more relaxed day, they chose the Paint and Sip at the hotel and the finished artwork display was impressive and inspiring. After an eventful day that exceeded expectations, guests returned to the hotel to begin preparing for the evening events.




As the iconic Key West sunset dimmed in the distance, owners dressed in island chic attire and made the short trip to the hotel’s Matt’s Stock Island Bar & Grille. This is when the Horizon owners and guests who are new to the Rendezvous really start to feel a part of the family and that is a wonderful thing to see. The bonds that were formed reminiscing about the day’s adventures and what is still to come, will be long-lasting and sincere. Between conversations, guests feasted on exquisite dishes crafted with popular, local fare. The energy of the night was palpable and even with dinner winding down, many guests decided to continue the festivities back on their yachts. One of several parties taking place into the wee hours of the morning was aboard Skyline, a Horizon FD87. With an exceptionally large group, guests shared stories, jokes, and toasts and it showcased just how versatile and functional the FD Series designs are.




At first light on the final day of the Key West Owners’ Rendezvous, preparations were underway for the annual Yacht Hop. This is the time when aft decks become the focus, with incredibly well thought out and detailed decorations, signature cocktails are crafted, and a favorite appetizer is offered, all in the name of friendly competition. This year, Johnny Vance, the Perry Hotel & Marina Concierge, judged the entries for the Yacht Hop. Owners prepared for countless hours with bragging rights on the line. Although the competitive part was fun and enjoyable, the opportunity to visit other owners and guests and foster friendships was what most participants enjoyed the most. These memorable occasions created cherished memories from this spectacular weekend. Sara, owner of Horizon V68 Monaco, remarked, “Everyone does something interesting, and when you visit the various boats, you’re really meeting people.” Her husband John added, “You generally have about 10-15 minutes to go onboard, see the decor, try the signature food and drinks that they created for their yacht—and share what we devised for ours. You build relationships that turn into friendships.” As the final judging came to an end, most guests took time to rest and relax, while others carried on the aft deck parties and felt the need to “retry” some of the signature cocktails.




While the guests were relaxing, the Horizon team was busy preparing for the evening event “Havana Nights.” Due to Key West’s proximity to Cuba and its influences around the area, “Havana Nights” provided the perfect backdrop for a proper farewell. Guests were immediately transported to a Havana mindset while posing for a photo next to a 1957 Chevy. A custom Horizon Yachts photo wall featured Cuban inspired décor and fedoras adorning a Havana-themed back drop, which produced some tremendous pictures. Cuban elements graced the pool deck with offerings of a hand rolled cigar bar, Pilar Rum tasting, appetizers followed by a culturally inspired dinner, and desserts. With the dance floor calling their names, attendees gravitated to show off their moves to the Horizon family which was extremely entertaining.




As the sun set on this final day, Horizon Yachts USA, Roger Sowerbutts, took the stage. Planning and executing a flawless event of this magnitude was no easy feat and Roger delivered a heartfelt message of appreciation to the hardworking Horizon staff and Perry Hotel & Marina for its incredible hospitality. In addition, Roger expressed his deepest gratitude to the Horizon owners for their unwavering loyalty. Finally, with a figurative drum roll, guests learned of this year’s Yacht Hop winners in each category:
Best Overall: Horizon E88 Q
Best Cocktail: Horizon E88 Island Soul for their Lychee Martini, followed by the E84, Sea Fairy took an honorable mention for their Frozen Mojito
Best Dish: Mazel Horizon V68, for their incredible Charcuterie Board, followed by Kevin from Do it Now with an honorable mention for his Yellowtail Hitachi Crudo
Best Décor: The judge and the committee were torn between Monaco, a Horizon V68 and Sherri Lynn, a Horizon FD80. Both received a prize. Pilot Lounge E84, scooped up the honorable mention.


Upon conclusion of the awards, celebrations continued well into the night as guests soaked in the last moments of this year’s highly anticipated event. As the island grew quiet and everyone retired to their accommodations, it was abundantly clear that another successful Horizon Yacht USA Owners’ Rendezvous had reached completion. All that was left was the anticipation of next year’s event.
 

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