Bringing some ice cream cheer to Falmouth boaters
Boaters in West Falmouth Harbor are used to the sound of waves lapping against their boats or sails slapping in the wind, but this summer something new entered the mix: the musical dingle-a-ling of the ice cream truck.
Make that ice cream boat.
Sherry Brown and her daughter-in-law, Sierra Brown, both full-time employees of Cape Cod Healthcare, spent their off-days this summer selling joy in the form of ice cream from a boat that coasted around West Falmouth Harbor, Black Beach, Megansett Harbor, Fiddlers Cove and Nye’s Neck. They called the enterprise Sea Scoops.
“This was just a random idea we had,” said Sierra, 29. “We really didn’t have much time off; we just wanted to be out on the water.”
Sierra has been a medical assistant at Bramblebush Primary Care in Falmouth for three and a half years and is expecting her first baby in January. Sherry, 53, works in medical records at Falmouth Hospital and has been with Cape Cod Healthcare for 26 years. Despite the fact that the ice cream gig meant she had no days off this summer, she describes it as “fabulous.”
“We’re having a great time,” she said.
The women came up with the idea of Sea Scoops in April and immediately started working on supply and permitting so they could launch by summer, using their family’s 20-foot Mako. They partnered with Mark Lawrence of Polar Cave Ice Cream Parlour in Mashpee, who supplies the flavors like Coffee Oreo, Mint Chip, Cookie Dough and, Sea Scoops’ best seller, Cotton Candy. Sherry and Sierra put the ice cream in individual biodegradable cups. The ice cream stays cold thanks to a portable freezer that runs off an on-board generator. They also sell nitro-brew coffee in cans, bagged snacks, canned water, and, as an added bonus, pup cups -- ice cream treats for dogs.
Lawrence packs 200 individual cups of ice cream a week for Sea Scoops and he said he is impressed with what their approach to business.
“I think the concept they are doing is fantastic,” he said. “(The cups are) biodegradable…They aren’t leaving a footprint.”
They start each day loading the boat around 11 a.m. and stay out until at least 4 p.m. and sometimes 6. Most sales this summer were to the recreational boaters, although they did snag the 112-foot Dauntless yacht as a customer when it was moored by Black Beach.
The only bad news was this summer’s iffy weather, Sierra said. “But we still did well,” she said. “Ice cream makes everything better. If we had anyone out there…, they were buying.”
Sea Scoops also serves landlubbers and will deliver ice cream to events on land, such as birthday parties. Sea Scoops just did their first wedding.
This summer, they sold ice cream on weekends, as well as Mondays and Fridays in July when one of them had a day off from their CCHC jobs. But the business was successful enough to encourage them to buy a 20-foot pontoon boat, and they plan to be selling from two boats next season. That will require more staff, since there are always three people on the boat: one to drive, one to take the order and one to grab the ice cream. Tyler, Sierra’s husband, has been their captain for most of the summer, with Sherry’s husband, Jeb Brown, taking the helm occasionally. Fortunately, Jeb is also a boat mechanic and can troubleshoot when necessary.
Both women have deep ties to Falmouth. Sherry grew up on Martha’s Vineyard but married “a Falmouth boy” in 1988 and has been on the mainland ever since. “He came over with a boat and that’s all it took.”
Sierra moved to the Cape from Nevada when she was 7. She earned a degree in hospitality management and worked in restaurants before going into healthcare.
Her advice for anyone thinking about launching something new? Go with your passion. Ice cream also helps. Sierra prefers Coffee Oreo, while Sherry likes Moose Tracks (vanilla with a fudge swirl and mini peanut butter cups).
“I guess you don’t have to plan for everything,” Sierra said, “You just need the motivation and the time.”
And, perhaps, a wish to spread some cheer during a pandemic.
“We love to see these happy smiling, fun little children,” Sherry said. “As we go by, people are waving and smiling. They hear our music coming.”