Photos by Lanewood Studio
Gary & Makala Bumgarner
Blessed Bums | 1998 Navigator 5000
When Gary and Makala set out to purchase a boat in 2014, they found exactly what they needed in this Navigator 5000 yacht. The construction is sturdy enough to be seaworthy while also withstanding rougher waters in the river while traveling. “For us, it was important for the boat to fit our whole family because we have three boys, who were getting older, and we just wanted a way to spend time together as a family. Plus, this model was a little more solid on the water,” Gary explains.
After purchasing it, they immediately upgraded the interiors and went to work making it their own. They replaced all of the electronic systems and put in new navigation equipment. “It had been pristinely kept by the previous owner, and one of the things he had done that we really liked was he ordered it with a custom upper helm that is larger and holds about 12 people. It’s nice; you don’t have to be alone while you’re driving,” Gary says.
For the Bumgarner family, this boat has been put to good use. From plentiful birthday parties and driving lessons for the boys to weekly date nights for Gary and Makala, they don’t waste any opportunity to enjoy it. “We like to have friends on it; we like to take it up to Ari’s restaurant or to Steve’s Landing. We used to go every Friday night and have dinner somewhere with friends. Makala and I still take it out for date night once a week,” he shares.
The family always docks it downtown near the aquarium for Riverbend, and they head over to Chickamauga for the huge neighborhood Fourth of July fireworks display. “One of my favorite things to do is take it up to Knoxville for Tennessee games,” Gary says. In all the years of participating in the Vol Navy, they’ve had some memorable names on the decks of the boat. “One time, I’ll never forget, I went to get some more ice and, on my way back, some guy said to me, ‘Hey man, Brett Favre is on your boat!’ He was in Knoxville representing Orca coolers and had seen a couple of Yetis on our boat and decided to come talk to us and hang out,” Gary recalls with a laugh. Phil Fulmer, Tim Tebow, and Booger McFarland have also stopped by while they’ve been docked in Knoxville.
However, none of that compares to one of Gary’s most important memories. “One of the best things I ever did was take the boat up to Knoxville, just me and Dad, and we spent the whole weekend together. He passed not long after that, and I’m so glad we got to do that trip together.”
The Bumgarners know the value of time spent together and don’t waste a moment getting to the fun times.