While the winter settled into the Cumberland Valley, Gwen and Dale Hamilton, Lili and Tom Hudson migrated south to Stuart, Florida, to participate in TrawlerFest. Many of you in our Squadron are regular readers of PassageMaker magazine; this we know from Bruce MacDonald's member survey. TrawlerFest is the creation of PassageMaker “ it is more than just a boat show, it is "the celebration of the cruising lifestyle.
For two days prior to the start of the show, there was PassageMaker University. Despite the hyperbole of the name, PMU did offer a number of useful two day classes. I attended "Ship's Systems Stem to Stern, presented by Steve D'Antonio, technical editor of the magazine. The twenty students in my class came from as far as Quebec, Vancouver and Australia. Topics covered included diesel engine fuel systems and lubrication, cooling and exhaust, electrical and generating systems, plumbing and seacocks, running gear, damage control in emergencies, and fiberglass hull blister repair. Following the last lecture on Wednesday afternoon, we went aboard a Krogen 44 for an engine room tour to get hands-on direct observation of our classroom knowledge. Since only a third of us at a time could be accommodated belowdecks, this was an opportunity to get a first look at some of the boats being readied for the start of the show on Thursday.
A workshop on diesels taught by Bob Smith, expert on the Ford Lehman engines, got high marks. The course on boat handling for women kept a Krogen 48 busy all of Tuesday and Wednesday; the ladies aboard all agreed that Captain Patti Moore was great at teaching them how to operate and dock a large single screw vessel, and that the all-female environment was a tremendous confidence booster for them as well. Captain Nanette Kruze led a similar course on twin screw boat handling aboard a PDQ cat. The Wednesday evening cocktail reception and "graduation was a good opportunity to meet one another socially and compare notes.
Thursday's weather was not cooperative, as a front brought wind, rain and temperatures in the 50's. That morning, Lili and I went to the "Down One Side and Up the Other seminar on cruising from Florida to Baja California past Central American and through the Panama Canal. The originally scheduled speaker, Capt. Pat Rains, was unable to attend, so the PowerPoint presentation was narrated by Bruce Kessler, organizer of the FUBAR Odyssey (San Diego to La Paz); Bruce's knowledge base was obvious, but his unfamiliarity with Rain's materials hampered his talk somewhat. After lunch, Lili attended the Women's Roundtable discussion “ you'll have to ask her what was said.
It was a good time to tour some of the booths in the exhibit hall that afternoon until the weather moderated. The St. Lucie River Power Squadron kept two members at a table there, promoting their courses for the public. Claiborne Young did a brisk business selling his cruising guides. There were booths marketing dock lifts, insurance, engines, security and monitoring systems, boat loans, etc. “ nothing remarkable there.
By late afternoon the rain quit and the sun came out, though the wind was still somewhat chilly. It was time to hit the docks and preview many of the forty or so boats there; we would come back Friday for a more thorough look at a few that piqued our interest. A pleasant surprise for me was the presence of many of the designers and builders, including Jay Benford (aboard his Florida Bay Coaster 45), Eric Sponberg., Chuck Neville (with his gorgeous steel-hulled Neville 47), Steve Seaton. The irrepressible Reuben Trane had two examples of his Island Pilot 395 on display, as well as a cutaway model of his next project, a hybrid diesel-solar-electric cruising catamaran advertising "the first six knots are free. It is an intriguing concept, but I'm skeptical of the feasibility of solar panels on the foredeck.
Stuart is home to Kadey-Krogen Yachts, and they were everywhere one looked. From the Krogen 39 to the 44, 48 and 58, to older designs such as the 42and the 48 Whaleback, side-by-side comparison was easy. I was struck by how roomy and accessible the 39's engine room is, especially in comparison to the 44. Camano's new 41 attracted quite a few visitors, as did the new PDQ 41 power cat; both builders had their more familiar smaller boats on display, too. Endeavour had their 40' power cat nearby, permitting ready comparison. Although there were three used Grand Banks 42's for sale, not a single new Grand Banks, nor any Mainships were there, despite their prominence in the magazine's ads.
Friday morning the weather became more Florida-like; it was a great day to peruse boats. After breakfast with Gwen and Dale, they went north to Ft. Pierce to look at another boat, while Lili and I went back to the dock for closer looks. Benford's Florida Bay Coaster is huge! The craftsmanship and attention to detail of the Nova Scotia 47 caused us to linger and talk with its builder, who sells and is involved in the design of the Mariner Seville series, of which they had two examples there as well. By mid-afternoon it was time to drive to the airport, turn in the rented Taurus, and fly back to Nashville in January.
Lt/C Tom Hudson, AP