How long have you known of Bitter End, and when did you first visit?
For almost as long as I can remember. When I was about 10 my family made our first trip to the Virgin Islands (USVI/BVI). The trip was a family gift - My parents put plane tickets in a BIG box under the Christmas tree and my brother and I tore it open with great excitement. We took my Aunt and Uncle’s boat from St. Thomas on a week’s cruise and of course Bitter End was one of the stops. Back then boats were slower and it was bit of a haul from St. Thomas but we made it. Like all future visits to BEYC I remember we met up with friends there - The Young's who we cruised with back in CT. Amanda and I were the same age, and we thought the "golf cart taxis,” candy at the Emporium and being able to charge to the rooms were the coolest things ever (as I recall, we got in a bit of trouble for that one). Later in life I’d get to visit Bitter End a few more times - each time it was special and it felt like home in a way. Funny how certain places make you connected and feel at home.
How long have you known the Hokin Family and extended Bitter End crew?
I first met the Hokin family back in the late 80's - I was in junior sailing at Noroton Yacht Club with Justin and Lauren - they were a few years older but it was a small group and we were all sailing rats in those days. In recent years I’ve shared boat shows, events, and schedules with John, Lauren, Kerri and the Bitter End team and cruised with Lauren, Wendy and Richard. I still remember one great summer day sailing from Old Saybrook to Shelter Island on the Hokin’s Swan 59 BLUE FLAME: The breeze came up about halfway though; Richard let me drive, encouraged me as a matter of fact - As we made our way, Richard shared stores of the beginnings of the Bitter End - his parents and the early days... It felt special, but again, I think everyone feels special being connected to Bitter End and the Hokin family.
What attributes of BEYC most align with you and your sensibilities personally? And what are you most looking forward to doing when you return to Bitter End 2.0?
Water, water, water... Each time I’ve been to Bitter End by cruising boat, there’s something about getting there and taking your tender ashore. A drink at the bar, a walk down the docks to check out who and what else is there. Maybe a little Laser sailing during the day, a swim in North Sound, and a pizza at night. I regret never walking the trails to the backside of the island and getting more exercise in. Something saved for my next trip and enjoying the view at Bitter End 2.0.
What’s the cliff notes version of how you founded and built Soundview Millworks? And what are you most proud of with SVM?
I started Soundview Millworks with a childhood friend of mine -- he and I also met in junior sailing at Noroton Yacht Club. We wanted to create something cool, something of quality that we were proud to make, proud to give and build. When we came up with the nautically themed cutting boards, Rob said something along the lines of: I can build that, and I sort of thought I could sell it. And just like that, we were off. We both did everything early in the day – we had other jobs as well. I waited tables at night and Rob had a construction business. It’s been 12 years now; Rob went onto do different things but we are still great friends. Soundview has brought me a life full of people, stories, friends and connections. On good days I get create pieces that help celebrate the great moments of people's lives - Trophies for amazing events (the Bitter End PRO AM to name one), boards with monograms and wedding dates or a logo of special place - these are the moments in life worth celebrating and capturing - and I get to be a part of it - how lucky am I?
Do not miss Grant's handcrafted maple and mahogany serving and cutting boards—now available at Bitter End Provisions. Grant's nautical boards make an ideal gift for any sailor on your list! You can check them out here.