Life moves at a high rate of speed for Ryan Dunbar and his young family. There may be a little dust in the Pawn and Gun shop world, but it doesn’t settle—not when you are doing it right. Much like the script of Pawn Stars, the real life Dunbar business began as a family affair. “You could say I grew up in a pawn shop as I’ve been there with my dad since I was seven.” The dynamic is fast paced and the story line a mix of high drama and subtle victories. With four stores in all corners of Hampton Roads, life is more hustle than sedate cruise.
And yet it is cruising where you are most likely to find Ryan when he finds a moment to settle. Family playtime traditionally occurs on the water and judging from the selection in the back yard, there’s always been something that floats. Today the new star of the show is a 2015 34’ Regulator who floats high on a lift straight out the back door. Appropriately dubbed, For Sale, this pale blue machine is the 3rd in what has been a string of Regulators, ever since he fell for the first. When asked what turned him on to the design, his simple response: “Research.”
Considering his business success relies on research, it’s a safe bet Ryan did his homework. “Seriously, I’d been banging around in skiffs or cruisers for years and felt like I didn’t know squat about center consoles. So I wanted to do it right. It was right after the recession hit (we’re betting the pawn business did pretty well through that) and there were some crazy deals around.” The question was ‘what was holding its value?’ The answer was obvious to him, and though the marine industry likes to talk about engineering, “fit & finish” and options, for businessmen like Ryan Dunbar, the market is the most honest indicator.
After all the research, the Regulator 26FS Nattie Girl joined the family and the Dunbars discovered the joys of the builder’s “legendary ride.” Wife Morgan, 8 year old Millie, and their great Mastiff Trigger all joined Ryan for many outings on what proved to be the most versatile and stable platform they had ever enjoyed on the water.
“I’d say hands down it’s the best center console built. The weight is perfect and she walks away from the competition. I mean that literally.” Serving up proof he described a day on the water with Stacey Riddle, a local veteran of the marine industry and best friend. At the wheel of a 26 Intruder with the same power and set-up in fairly rough conditions, the 26 Regulator “walked away from it. Stacey knows how to drive a boat, trim it and get the most out of it, the Intruder just couldn’t keep up.” Later comparing notes, the two agreed the Regulator handled better and could run harder and longer than anything else in its class.
With a growing family, (son Coley joined them a year ago) Ryan started looking at the 30-plus foot class, Dunbar searched out another Regulator deal and found a 32 that fit the bill. Though a good solid boat, he also kept a watchful eye on the market. When Regulator started delivering the 34 with triple 300 Yamahas Ryan couldn’t help but take a look. Liking what he saw this past January he suited up in a full Mustang survival suit, his snow-boarding gear and goggles and took the keys from Bluewater salesman Chris Hall IV in the middle of some of the wintriest conditions Eastern Virginia has experienced in years.
“I wanted the boat bad, and kept hoping to get on some Rockfish before the season was up, it wasn’t pretty but the boat was still awesome.” The winter nasties finally gave way to spring and the Dunbar family already loves the ride. Well, except for Trigger. “For Sale is going to have to take a gaff or rod butt or two to the deck before he gets a pass. Gotta keep the shine on as long as possible.” So until fishing season gets into high gear, you can find For Sale playing water taxi for the two-legged family members between the waters of the Lynnhaven and Rudee Inlets.