Randy and Abby Crow flock to the Whaler lifestyle, using their 270 Vantage and 170 Dauntless to unlock the full potential of Fort Myers.
When the universe gives you a cool last name, you may as well have a little fun with it.
Boaters Randy and Abby Crow have taken theirs and created a whole lifestyle, one centered around good times with family and friends and celebrating the great outdoors.
A hub of activity for the couple is their home in Fort Myers Beach, Florida — specifically, the converted garage they call the Crow Bar. Outfitted with TVs, colorful signage and a wet bar, the garage-turned-beach-hut overlooks the Crows’ swimming pool and, beyond it, the system of canals that make the area such a boater’s paradise. Raised up on a lift, their 270 Vantage sits ready to launch on a moment’s notice.
As Michigan residents, the Crows had been vacationing in Florida for more than 20 years when, in 2011, the opportunity to buy a home there presented itself. A friend told them a neighbor had decided to sell her 1957-style beach house, complete with original shag carpeting and green linoleum. “Just like the Brady Bunch house,” Randy describes.
They poured three years into renovating the place, adding the pool and the Crow Bar, while keeping the vintage charm that drew them to the cottage in the first place — right down to the pastel-blue paint job with bright white trim. “Everything nowadays is getting monstrous and stucco,” Randy says. “We wanted to stay true to the beach vibe.”
They also worked to ensure things were as boat-friendly as possible. As Randy explains, “We’re less than five minutes from the Gulf — how perfect is that? We built the boat house so when we want to go, we can do just that: get up and go.”
With the Florida house all ready, Randy says he then “got the hots” for their first Whaler, a 2014-model 270 Vantage. They had tested other brands, but friends in the area kept recommending the Whaler lifestyle. By the time he stepped aboard the Vantage, he was sold. They christened it Rockin’ Crow.
In 2017, the couple moved into a newer version of the same model, this time with Mercury Joystick Piloting, dual 300-horsepower white Verado engines and “all the bells and whistles.” Recently, they added a 170 Dauntless to their collection and named it (what else?) Rockin’ Crow Jr. Originally intended as a ﬁshing boat for their son and grandkids to enjoy, the 170 has proven a great vessel for Abby to practice her captaining skills.
“Both boats handle so well,” Randy says. “For someone new at it, it’s great for getting the conﬁdence levels up. The 270 Vantage is a good manageable size, and it’s stable enough to handle any current. You’re not going to end up soaked.”
“Boating in Florida is a diﬀerent animal,” he continues. “In Michigan, you could boat in a straight line. Down here, everything’s a turn here, a turn there. You have to contend with the currents, the tides, the winds. You could get into shallow water. So it’s great to have boats that make things easy.”
Abby raves about the safety of the Vantage, with its deep sides and thick coaming. “You never have to worry about the grandkids as it’s a very safe boat! It really handles the waves no matter what.” She also appreciates that the dual console layout makes it easy to talk with family members in all parts of the boat. “Since there’s no center console, you feel more connected,” she says.
“Everybody has a place to sit and you can still talk to each other,” Randy concurs. “We like taking friends up the river into Fort Myers to walk the shops and grab lunch. They can’t believe how comfortable the trip is.”
Proximity to downtown isn’t the only perk of the Crows’ nest. Being located so close to the Gulf, fantastic ﬁshing opportunities are also just a hop, skip and a thrust of the joystick away. Randy loves taking his son, Steve, and 10-year-old grandson, Carson, to the reefs oﬀ Fort Myers beach or the area’s back bays in search of ﬁsh.
“My grandson… From the time he wakes up until the time he goes to bed, I’m not kidding, he loves being out there,” Randy says with a laugh. “At his age, we’re ﬁshing for anything that’s biting when he gets his mid-winter or spring break. With summer coming up, he called to remind me, ‘We’re coming down and we’re going to do some SERIOUS fishing!’”
The Crows enjoy taking all of their grandkids — Carsen (10), Camryn (7), Barrett (4) and Gunnar (5 months) — to explore nearby destinations including Marco Island, Pine Island, Sanibel and Lovers Key. The tiny village of Matlacha is a favorite, with its super-colorful architecture and easygoing pace. “The water is SO blue, then all of a sudden this funky little ﬁshing town appears,” Abby describes. They’ll pack sandwiches and make a day of it, stopping to swim and play, and making sure each little one has a chance to “sit on papa’s lap.”
Whether they’re cruising into downtown or exploring farther aﬁeld, the Crows value the strong sense of community they get from other Whaler owners. They’ve enjoyed docktail parties hosted by their dealership, MarineMax, and frequently run into fellow customers. “Rarely do you encounter another Whaler where somebody isn’t waving to you,” Randy says.
True, they get plenty of warm-fuzzies from non-Whaler owners, as well. Their eye-catching home, the Rockin’ Crow duo and coordinating crow-themed “No Wake” signs all add up to an irresistible photo opp for the many boaters who pass by on their way into town.
The Crows still have a home back in Michigan, where they own a full-service marketing agency, RCP Marketing, and Abby works for Source One Digital, which specializes in retail, decor and sports signage. Randy also records voice tracks for clients for TV and radio commercials. The Gear Group is their promotional products and apparel company. That all helps explain how they’re able to decorate their Florida property and hook up their guests with crow-themed swag including Crow Bar cups, coasters, T-shirts and koozies. “Things to put a smile on the faces of family, friends and passersby,” Randy describes.
Abby heads back up north regularly to meet with clients, conduct tours of the print shop and do press checks. Thanks to technology, though, they’re able to conduct most of their work remotely — even as remotely as out on the Vantage. “Abby worked on the 270 the other day,” Randy says. “It’s such a quiet boat. You can slow down to an idle and answer calls, answer clients’ questions, then back to boating we go!”
They consider themselves very fortunate to have found and embraced the Florida boating way of life. “We really never thought we’d own a house a block from the beach, or own one boat down here, let alone two!” Randy says. But like their namesake, the Crows have truly taken to their surroundings — and have watched their boating dreams take wing.