When there is a darn chain of lakes in your backyard, it is kind of crazy not to be able to go out on it.  In the spirit of becoming more and more Winter Havenites, we have folded and gotten yet another toy.  After searching Craigslist for a couple of months and looking at a dozen or more candidates, we finally found the perfect pontoon boat. Well…perfect for our needs.  I mean - it kinda was made for us.  It says “Lake Life” on the side in sparkly glitter letters (which is my favorite) and it looks pretty darn good.  

You know the old saying, “The two happiest days of a boat owner’s life are the day they buy the boat and the day they sell it.”  They also say, “The greatest friend to have, is a friend with a boat.”  

Well…let me tell you, the Friday that Nando and I bought the boat, we felt really rich, happy, and our friend Sebastien,  “Well, proud to be our best friend.”  He had been nagging us to get a pontoon since he arrived from France (3 months ago) and we got one the week before he had to go back to Paris.

Anyway, we got the 24-foot behemoth on a Friday afternoon, took it directly to the boat ramp in Eagle Lake and cruised across the lake to the farm.  I called Sebastien, his other French friend Thomas, and Mom and told them to look out the back door.  There we were, majestically pulling up to our dock blasting Little Big Town’s “On The Pontoon.”  Nando and I had all our Winner Haven Apparel on looking probably like some sort of an over styled ad or commercial…It reminded me of the scene at the end of Pretty Woman when Richard Gere is standing up in the limo that is driving down the road waving flowers to give them to Julia Roberts.  

Yeah, Nando and I were feeling pretty good.  We boarded our mates and off we went for a sunset cruise all around Eagle Lake honking the horn and waving at our less fortunate landlubber friends that were stuck sitting poolside on their back porches sipping their Coronas.  Now, this boat has 2 built in coolers and tons of stowage.  The engine is a 90 horsepower and the boat capacity is 18 people, so… no matter what, when you pack that many people on the thing I don’t think you will be going anywhere fast.  I think you probably just hope it stays afloat.  We still have not opened the bimini top, but it looks brand new.  

Back to our maiden voyage…the test run was the Eagle Lake sunset cruise.  Then, we pulled the boat out onto the new trailer and we parked it in the driveway at the farm right next to the Airstream.  That night, we had a dinner party with a bunch of friends, and it ended with an after party on the Boat! We had a Champagne christening, music, dancing, drinks, lights and all while the boat was sitting on a trailer in our front yard.  We thought, if we are having this much fun within 12 hours of getting this boat both in and out of the water…1, Now we know what we have been missing out on and…2, We totally have to take this out on the chain for the Gator Crawl the next day.  

Being self-employed, Nando and I have a couple of rules that we kinda live by.  One rule being: We always have to justify what we are doing.  We love to have fun and spend Saturday afternoons kicking it with our friends and having a good time, but we need to be doing some sort of “work” while doing it.  Believe me, last year when we would say we had to go to “work” during happy hour at Old Man Franks, it definitely seemed like a stretch.  We had to advertise for our new company.  What better way to do it than to be out wearing your gear that you sell and throwing back a beer or two while doing it?  Sebastien literally sold our T shirts right off of his back for even more money than normal, because it was worn by a Frenchman.  

Now that the work/justification thing is established, what I am about to say next will make great sense.  

We got up early Saturday morning and transformed the Pontoon into another one of our “Mobile Shops” We put decals all over it with winnerhaven.com and “Gator Done”, which is one of our biggest sellers especially at the Gator Crawl.  We even put an industrial clothing rack on the boat.  We loaded all of our apparel in bins onto the boat and gathered up the other necessities for what we planned to do which was go out on the chain of lakes and “sell” shirts while hanging out and having the best time ever.  Perfect combo right!

The rule was… you could come with us for the day but you have to have on Winner Haven Apparel and bring snacks.  We did have a waiting list and the 18 limit capacity was definitely difficult so, we chose our most fun friends and... just kidding, I think we had like 5 people with us.  That includes Sebastien and his French sidekick so they kinda don’t count because they do everything we do anyway.  It was more of a VIP kind of day.  We passed an impromptu Coastguard safety inspection thanks to Grady Judd and slipped her into Lake Shipp and off the Chain we went… 

On the Chain we saw an amazing ski show in front of Old man Franks, (OMF), with water skiers mostly from Wisconsin. People really do come from all over to barefoot and ski on these famous lakes.  Next we bar hopped and anchored at Tanners to listen to one of our favorite bands, Josh Blevins.  Last year, we gave every one of his band members our T-Shirts.  It is awesome when they are playing out and they actually wear them.   More advertising right!  So, we set up the clothing rack.  

We are not necessarily going out of our way trying to sell the shirts, we just have them available for sale incase someone sees this devilishly handsome Frenchman or tall, dark and handsome Nando wearing a cool T that they want to buy.  When they say, where did you get that awesome shirt, the boys can say, “Oh right over there on that Pontoon Boat Pop Up Boutique that says Gator Done on the front of it.”  The people we bought the boat from had no idea what was about to happen to their crisply painted white walled pontoon boat. 

The afternoon was coming to a close and the plan was to float on over to OMF for the Gator Crawl After Party.  We love after parties and had plenty of “Gator Done” shirts and camo-coats for sale.  Last year, we must have sold 100 shirts at this event.  The Florida girls like their shirts “cut up” so I literally have to keep scissors in my back pocket.  After the purchase, they put the shirt directly on and say cut down here, up here and off here.

Ok, so we go under the overpass and start to make our entrance, just in time for sunset, which is our fav. We are ready to kill it at this party.  The newly zip tied American flag attached to our water chariot is blowing.  We’re all looking super fly blasting TLC’s “Waterfalls.”  The OMF Dock is in sight, everything is perfect.  Then, the boat stops. 

This can’t be happening.  I look at Captain Nando and he says, “First mate, it doesn’t look good, I think I’m going to have to dock over here.” 

“We can’t, it’s yards from OMF!  We have to go there to OMF!” I said pointing.  Sebastien said, “Come on Nando, fix the boat. You can fix anything.”  Nando said, “It will start again, but I am not going to drive it over to OMF and make fools out of our selves with this Ghetto Pop UP Pontoon Boat leaking gas and possibly breaking down again or worse in front of the bar. We are going directly back to the ramp and taking it out of the water.”  He did a temporary fix on the gas leak, but the trim stopped working.  We were all crushed.  

Our super sale is off. The sunset is gone, the wind is picking up, and we’re puttering back to Lake Shipp.  Deflated and creeping back towards the boat ramp, shirts were flying off the rack in the wind. They were not flying off in the way we had intended, and we were missing lots of customers and fun.  

Needless to say, we made it back to the farm safely and the boat is sitting high on its trailer next to the Airstream.  Nando has been working on it and thinks it will be seaworthy again soon…. 

Until then, if our friends want us to be their “cool friend with a boat” they are more than welcome to come on over and hang out with us in it -in our driveway.  They just need to have on Winner Haven Apparel and bring snacks because we will be “selling.”  Xo Sally and Nando DC.

We are Nando & Sally Del Castillo. Style Ambassadors, Trend Hunters and Model Citizens.

As a husband and wife team, we do anything and everything we can that deals with Design. Our work is strenuous and humbling but the payoff is huge. We get to have fun doing it together, while leaving behind a stylish mark for others to enjoy. Between the two of us we have 35 years racked up in just the fashion industry alone. Through his modeling career Nando has worked with the highest designers in Paris, Milan and New York. I went to Kent State University for Fashion Design and Merchandising. We’ve worked in front of and behind the camera. When it comes to Style, Fashion, Set Dressing & Function we get it and know how it works. We are also huge advocates of travel, experience and statement graphic T’s. They represent where you are from, where you’ve been and where you are going. In addition to apparel we decorate and design boutique hotels, mansions and tiny houses. We’re based out of Winter Haven, (where Nando grew up), and Upstate NY, which is where we do the majority of our film work, Winter Haven has a magnetic pull so NY sees us less and less. We are here to share with Y’all some of what we think are stylish insider design ideas and fun side stories/adventures that happen along the way. Thanks for following along! Xo Sally & Nando DC

Buy online at winnerhaven.com


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