How three friends combined luxury appointments and serious fishability in Bahama Boat Works.
The way the three owners of Bahama Boat Works see it, if you’re going to be on the water, you should be in the finest fishing boat possible. Owners Bob Sparks, Scott Henley and Rob Thomson have dedicated themselves to making their Bahama 34, Bahama 37 and Bahama 41 the epitome of luxury fishing boats. All lifelong fishermen who hold the highest standards of craftsmanship, they had one thing in mind when creating and fine-tuning the vessel: quality.
The offshore center console craft has been described as the “Bentley of fishing boats,” complete with a proven performance hull and an engine built for speed and a smooth ride. The Bahama 34, Bahama 37 and Bahama 41 are geared toward experienced fishermen who aim for both style and power. As eye catching as the boats are from a distance, examining them close up allows for even more appreciation of the design, workmanship and purpose.
From its layout to its fit and finish, each Bahama craft includes a remarkable amount of clever details, like all hatches and doors having full liners. As Bob Sparks built the boats, he installed fully lined consoles that contain a spacious head and a full 13 feet of below deck storage length. Bob carefully chose each hardware component for its individual beauty and durability. The Bahama Boat Works crafts are even coated in the highest level of UV resistance available to protect its beauty. Every component is top shelf, from the most mundane unseen fasteners to the electrical wiring harnesses.
Owners of these fishing boats include some of the world’s most respected names, including golfing legend Greg Norman and football players Don Stallings, and royalty such as the Crown Prince of Dubai and Sheikh of Qatar. Most owners are repeat buyers, owning more than one Bahama in their lifetimes. The creation of Bahama Boat Works is a culmination of years and years of on the water experience and personal drive. Scott Henley’s own vast fishing experience allowed him input in perfecting the layout and the usefulness of the products. “It was important to us to make the boat fisherman-friendly, user-friendly and logical to the people who have boats,” Scott says. “The boats are unique products for the discriminating boat guy, for the educated boat connoisseur, for the person who desires the absolute best, not only in product and also in service.”
Scott remembers a phone call he received from a Bahama owner on July 4. The owner – who had previously purchased two other boats from Scott and Bob, and is looking to order his second Bahama – took his Bahama craft to the Bahamas for the holiday week and while there needed to change out a boat part. He called Scott, who then found the part in Florida and flew his own personal plane that same day to deliver the part and stayed to service the boat.
“What really separates them from their competition is the hands-on approach from the owners,” says Steve Moynihan, owner of the well-regarded yacht brokerage firm HMY Yachts, now in its 35th year of business. “It’s the attention to detail and the no-compromise service after the sale that is so unique.”
Childhood friends from northern Palm Beach County, Bob, Scott and Rob grew into avid fishermen who then segued their love of the sport into a business. “Growing up, if I wasn’t in the water, I wasn’t happy,” Scott says.
The fervent fisherman, who has won several tournaments, Scott eventually become a boat captain and sailed along the Eastern seaboard with multiple custom sport fishing boats. After years of captaining, running boat charters and rigging the world’s finest boats, Scott joined Bob Sparks and other partners to create Venture Marine, Inc., which built and sold high-end offshore open fishing boats in 1994.As Bob explains it, he got into the boating industry “as a matter of survival.”
Growing up in Lake Park, he was constantly building and repairing vehicles as a young boy, from push go-karts to skateboards. A self-described “blue-collar guy who just knows how to work,” Bob found himself in the construction business and then the boat manufacturing industry, pulled into the latter business after helping a friend build a flat-bottom boat.
Both Bob and Scott eventually left Venture Marine, Inc., with Bob starting Bahama Boat Works in 2004 in West Palm Beach. His timing couldn’t have been any worse. The devastating Hurricanes Jeanne and Frances blew in days later, tearing off the roof of Bahama Boat Works. While he had been warned to evacuate, Bob did the only thing that came most natural to him; He continued working during the storm. “I just kept it going and worked while the rain dripped on me,” Bob says. Scott joined him in 2006 as co-owner of Bahama boat Works, selling the boats and becoming a point of contact for customers, and relaying feedback for Bob’s next craft.
“I’m constantly building boats in my head,” Bob says. “I’m always working because I need to stay ahead of the competition when manufacturing. I’m always two or three boats ahead.”
A personal owner of two Bahama crafts, Rob Thomson saw the success his two childhood friends were having and came into the company this year to offer his marketing strategy. For Rob – an avid fisherman and boater – it has been a natural extension of a luxury brand of which he has long been a part. As managing partner of Waterfront Properties and Club Communities, Rob heads a high-end real estate firm known around the globe for representing sophisticated properties and clients. In the end, it only made sense for Rob to incorporate his business prowess and marketing acumen into a watercraft company as luxurious as his real estate one. “Rob was a big promoter of our company even before he came in as a co-owner,” Scott says. “And now his marketing will put us even more on the map.”
Through Waterfront Properties and Club Communities, Rob has a marketing and Internet reach that spans around the globe, reaching avid, high-end boat lovers from Jupiter to Dubai. And no matter where buyers come from, the owners emphasize they will be lifelong allies at sea, available immediately for the rare moments the high-quality craft needs servicing.
“Most times after the sale, our owners only call us to go fishing,” Scott jokes.