Livin’ the Postcard Life in Palm Beach County

Rich Bright

Palm Beach County isn’t just home to Rich Bright, it’s his paradise. Yes, that’s a cliché, but Rich actually lives what most people refer to as paradise.

The 50-year-old manager of The Buccaneer Marina grew up down the street from the iconic establishment in Palm Beach Shores and he’s been working there alongside boaters and fishermen for 32 years. He is as charming and unconventional as the waterfront property that holds a mystical reputation rooted in Florida fishing lore.

At a recent celebration marking plans to re-open The Buccaneer Bar and Restaurant that closed in 2004, former patrons recounted high spirited antics at the popular Palm Beach County venue and the warm camaraderie among local sport fishermen and other seafarers on global journeys.

marina manager rich bright

Their cherished memories sit at the center of Rich’s life. “If I kept notes for 32 years, I could write a book. I mean the things that have happened here.” One of his favorite recollections is about a seemingly preposterous bet made at the bar 25 years ago. “A guy bets everyone at the bar he can make them jump in the water. Then he goes to the end of the dock and starts throwing $100 bills in the water. Everyone at the bar jumped in the water.” The way Rich explains it, such raucous escapades are among the many reasons long-time regulars become emotional when talking about “The Bucc’s” return. “People love this place, it’s full of characters. Everyone has a story.”

As manager of The Buccaneer Marina, Rich is in charge of fuel sales, marina reservations and overseeing operations. He has been a steady presence for the boating community for decades. “My wife, Kimberly, refers to The Buccaneer as my home, and our house in North Palm Beach as my second home.”

Married for 22 years with three grown children, Rich credits Kimberly with expanding his world. Fittingly, he met her in The Buccaneer’s parking lot. “She’s a realtor and she asked me if I wanted to buy a house and I said yes.” Under her guidance, Rich got involved in Palm Beach County real estate. “She gave me the drive to become a real estate investor. If she hadn’t sold me my first home, I probably wouldn’t own properties today.”

There’s no question however, that in his free time, Rich prefers water over land. “I don’t think there’s anything else other than boating and fishing.” He especially appreciates Palm Beach County’s many waterways that allow for a close proximity to water sports.

Palm Beach County Marina Battle

Right now, one waterway close to his heart is threatened. Rich is embroiled in a community controversy and legal fight over development plans at The Buccaneer’s neighbor, Sailfish Marina. Out-of-state owners want to expand the Sailfish Marina’s north dock another 20 feet into the fairway between Sailfish and The Buccaneer. It is a fairway that is already considered too narrow by industry standards.

palm beach county marina

Rich believes the dock expansion will put boaters at risk and so do more than 800 people who have signed an online petition. The Buccaneer has alerted Palm Beach County Commissioners and filed a lawsuit earlier this year to try to stop the expansion. It’s also waging a public awareness campaign with television ads, billboards and a popular Tell Sailfish Marina No Facebook page.

Needless to say, there’s been a lot of tension between the two marinas normally associated with carefree days on the water. In his typical style, Rich is taking it all in stride. “The fight with Sailfish Marina is not personal, it’s all business and it’s about doing what’s right.”

So how does this easy-going waterfront manager cope with intense conflict in his normally peaceful universe? Well, he gets plenty of rest, “I go to bed early.” He also focuses on his 21-year-old daughter, Jessica. “She confides in me about everything, we are very close.” And he never loses sight of the beauty around him in Palm Beach County, “I mean…to think we all pay money to go away when paradise is right here at home.”

F – French fries or tater tots?  Both

R – Right brained or left brained?  Right brained

E – Email or carrier pigeon? Email

S – Sunshine or moonlight? Sunshine!

H – Homebody or party animal? Party Animal