Great Cape Escapes

A Sea Ray Sundancer ferries owners Patrick and Susan Tyrrell around Cape Cod in style.

For Patrick and Susan Tyrrell, free time equals boat time. The Sea Ray owners live on Cape Cod, but Patrick commutes between there and Washington, D.C., where he works. When he unplugs on the weekends, he enjoys doing so to the fullest in the quintessential East Coast maritime setting.

“Seriously, I can go down and sit on my boat without ever leaving the dock,” Patrick says of their 500 Sundancer, “and it immediately decompresses me.”

The Tyrrells occasionally do just relish the yacht life right in their slip at the Hyannis Marina, a 10-minute drive from their home in Barnstable. “It’s a great entertaining boat,” Patrick says. “It’s very roomy the way the cockpit seats swivel and it opens up. It’s a social boat.” For that very reason, Susan is fond of hosting wine or docktail parties for her girlfriends.

The Tyrrells' Sundancer cuts a dashing figure.

But with such an exceptional ride, the Tyrrells would be remiss not to show it off all over the Cape. “Sea Rays are the most feature-rich, well-known brand,” Patrick says. “And they’re reliable.” The amenities make the yacht perfect for overnighting at posh destinations like Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard.

Typically the Tyrrells will call Nantucket Boat Basin home for a weekend, taking in the many great restaurants, shops and architectural gems. The Nantucket Historic District, with buildings dating back to the late 17th century, encompasses the entire island and is the largest National Historic Landmark District in the contiguous United States. Must-see buildings include The Old Mill on Prospect Street (built in 1746), The Hadwen-Wright House on Main Street (built in 1847) and the First Congregational Church on Centre Street, which offers a Bell Tower Tour for a spectacular view of the island. The original vestry was built in 1725.

Larger than Nantucket and equally popular as a tourist destination is Martha’s Vineyard, which boasts more boutique shops, fine restaurants, historic buildings and beautiful scenery. Craft beer lovers will want to hit up Offshore Ale Co in quaint downtown Oak Bluffs for a pub fare and a pint. Oak Bluffs is famous for its stunning, colorful Carpenter Gothic architecture, or what are often called “gingerbread cottages.” The community there owes itself to the history of a Methodist camp at Wesleyan Grove, which began as a tent community in the 1830s. As the camp grew each year, the beautiful cottages replaced the tents. A wrought iron Tabernacle built in 1879 provides the centerpiece of the community’s historical charm.

The town of Aquinnah is the site of Gay Head, vivid, multi-colored clay cliffs that provide a scenic view from the water. Visitors can enjoy the nearby stunning beaches or head out on a hilly bike ride if looking for respite from the hustle and bustle of the island’s commercial districts.

'It's a great entertaining boat,' Patrick raves.

No mention of Cape Cod would be complete without a nod to Provincetown at the tip of the peninsula. P-town, as it’s often called, has a lively arts and culture scene with galleries, theaters and shops selling artisanal goods. The town caters to writers, performers and artists of all mediums with its host of workshops and colonies throughout the summer. It also has great dining, from casual seafood joints like the Canteen to upscale options like the Red Inn—or everyone’s all-around favorite, the Lobster Pot.

Because they keep their boat on the south shore of Cape Cod, the Tyrrells tend to boat in that area, but they have ventured up through the Cape Cod Canal to get to Sandy Neck, a small arm off the north shore. “There are beautiful beaches out there,” Patrick says.

When the Tyrrells crave something low-key and close to their slip, they head to Baxter’s Boathouse right in Hyannis on Lewis Bay. “It’s your classic fish shack type with picnic tables overlooking the water,” Patrick says. He raves about the clam chowder.

Living on Cape Cod is reason enough to want to own a boat, but Patrick says he was nostalgic for a childhood spent on upstate New York’s Finger Lakes. His family didn’t own a boat, but Patrick grew up on friends’ ski boats. As an adult, he spent a few years ogling Sea Rays at various boat shows before finally buying a 2008 330 Sundancer. Later he upgraded to the 500 Sundancer, which he bought in Miami.

Hyannis Marina, the Sea Ray dealership on the Cape, takes care of all of the Tyrrells’ needs now. “The folks there are so great,” he says, “and the fact that you can have everything done there and that it’s a marina with nice amenities—it doesn’t get any better than that.”

The couple keeps a slip at Hyannis Marina.

Patrick and Susan are empty nesters. Their daughter, Meredith, works for Northeastern University in Boston; their son Austin, the youngest, works for Whole Foods on the Cape; and their son Hunter lives down in Palm Beach, Florida. The Tyrrells’ passion for Sea Rays actually inspired Hunter’s move: “I had never really driven a boat like this before,” Patrick says, “but Hunter was just a natural at it. And we said, ‘Hey, if you’re really into it, go to captain’s school.’ It’s kind of cool that my recreational thing has turned into a career path for him.”

The Sundancer has also inspired some adventures for the Tyrrells. In the short term, they plan to take jaunts up to Maine, hitting all the major ports of call along the way. And although he doesn’t have a retirement year in mind yet, Patrick has his eyes on a Great Loop tour for when he does hang up his hat.

The cockpit encourages long, peaceful afternoons.

Patrick admits that by then they might even have a new Sea Ray altogether. “Sea Rays have such a great sales network,” he says. “It’s so easy to move from one to the next. It’s really the classic Sea Ray story.” They made the jump from the 330 to the 500 so they could have the enclosed cockpit for longer adventures. “You have that sense of being outside, yet you are truly protected from the elements,” he says.

For now, Patrick and Susan love having a home base on the Cape for their kids to return to. When they put down their roots in Barnstable, Massachusetts, they bought a beautiful Cape Cod-style home built in the late 1800s and spent five years restoring the beauty. But as much of a haven as their home is, nothing delivers peace of mind quite like their Sea Ray. With the 500 Sundancer at their fingertips, they continue to spend as much time as they can on the water, making great escapes all over the Cape. Susan sure got it right when she named the boat Seabatical.

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