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THE TRAWLERFEST,
A DAY OF BOATERíS FUN

By

Karl John Sydor 

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A couple of months ago I received an email, which I shared with my friend,  Jack Kelleher, advertising the West Marine Trawlerfest in Stuart, Florida. I was thrilled because I live only a little over an hour from Stuart by car, and having read about previous Trawlerfests, I knew I would attend it. Jack and I decided to place Friday, January 23rd, on our calendars. We did not plan to attend the trawler seminars; we just wanted to see the boats that would be on display. Jack is a sailboat sailor and Iím a motor cruiser boater. Jack owns a 31-foot sloop and I have a 34-foot Californian LRC (Long Range Cruiser). Just so the reader understands upfront, this is not a report on the West Marine Trawlerfest; rather itís an article about a day that was just plain fun for a couple of boaters.

The week of the Trawlerfest, Jackís sister Betty was in town visiting from Philadelphia. Jack invited her to go with us, and although I had never met Betty before, she was very enjoyable company for this event. Even though sheís not a boater, she also had a ball that day.

The Trawlerfest is not just a boat show, itís really a three day gathering of fairly experienced trawler boaters for advanced trawler education, a boat show of some 30 odd beautiful trawlers, a tent for marine vendor displays, and I would think, plenty of boater camaraderie. Friday the 23rd, started out early because we wanted to be there when the show opened, thus, giving us as much time as we wanted to explore the trawlers.  We also wanted to go to the Stuart Maritime Museum before we headed home. After getting a little lost in finding the Stuart Cay Marina, we got there about 10 AM, just as registration opened for admission to the boat docks.

The Stuart Cay Marina is a great setting for this show, located approximately six miles from the St. Lucie Inlet by boat, and just off U.S Highway #1 on North Dixie Highway by car. Itís a well-protected marina and within walking distance to quaint ďOld Stuart.Ē  Whether traveling north/south on the ICW or east/west through Lake Okeechobee, cruising boaters find Stuart Cay Marina a convenient stop.

 We saw a plethora of both new and used trawlers. Many boat builders were represented including brokers and owners who wanted to sell their boats on the spot. All one needed was a checkbook with substantial cash in the bank account.  There were Nordhaven, DeFever, Kadey-Krogen, Grand Banks, used and new. The most expensive trawler was a beautiful 62-foot Nordhaven going for a shade under $1.7 million. Others included a PDQ 34-foot catamaran trawler with a base price of $267K; Kadey-Krogen yachts of various prices; a 1969 steel trawler that could be had for a mere $399K, a 36-foot Mariner trawler for as little as $209K base price; a 2000 43-foot Nova Scotia trawler that could be bought for $399K or less, depending on how much cash one could offer, a used 1980 double cabin 36-foot trawler being sold by its owner asking $160K, and many others.

We sat on a variety of fly bridges and enclosed pilothouses, lowered ourselves or walked into (on the larger boats) the engine rooms, admired the master staterooms and built-in amenities for the live aboards, and evaluated the layouts of the various galleys and salons. All were beautiful, each having its own personality to fit its size and style. There were definitely people at this show who were in the buying frame of mind. We spoke to some people who were serious about buying a boat into the several hundreds of thousands of dollars category.

Jack, as the owner and editor of Weekendcruiser.Com, was interested in this show from a publisherís point of view. As for myself, Iím always looking for ideas I can incorporate into my own boating life, not to deny the aspect of dreaming about owning one of these beauties (of course, the boaterís dream, a newer and bigger boat than our current one). I canít say I was looking for anything specific; I just love trawlers and enjoy the opportunity to crawl through and explore them. I think also, given the price of these beauties, it further justifies the money I am spending on my boat, besides its appropriate size and adequate amenities for my needs.

What I especially appreciated about this show was that it targeted the kind of boats I want to see and in a relatively small area, unlike the big boat shows that take two days to see because everything is so diverse and spread out. Not to put the big boat shows down, I like them too. Because this was a relatively small show, we decided that we probably wouldnít be there for more than a couple of hours. Were we surprised!

By 12:30 we were ready for lunch, but still wanted more. Lunch was almost as great an experience as being out on the dock with the boats. The restaurant and motel next to the Stuart Cay Marina was an easy walk, had the perfect indoor/outdoor setting to allow one to relax in between takes, have lunch and still enjoy the beautiful waterway scenery. Although the day started out pretty cool, by noontime the temperature was pleasant with just a light breeze, and allowed us to eat our lunch outside on the restaurantís wooden deck. Being from Philadelphia and experiencing its recent winter storms, Betty seemed to be taking it all in and thoroughly enjoying this special day.

After lunch we strolled back to the dock and did a once over on those boats we hadnít time to see closely. Jack and I really enjoyed boarding ďMariahĒ, a 1969, 62-foot yacht. This yacht is a throwback to the times when boats were designed for real boating men and not as the designer-yachts that are being built today. We only had to use our imaginations to see ourselves sailing this steel vessel on the seven seas. Its amenities werenít fancy, but with the passage maker appearance of this hull, one could dream about going anywhere with her. As for Betty, her heart was with the 62-foot Nordhaven with which she had her picture taken. Unfortunately, Betty had left her checkbook at home!

At about 3 PM we decided that; we needed to be on our way to the Stuart Maritime Museum. That was easier said than done.. After asking a number of people we thought would know, we finally found someone who gave us very simple directions, thus, we made it very easily. We werenít too sure what to expect in regards to the museum. Jack had met one of its representatives a couple of years ago and I had done some local reading about it, but neither one of us had ever been to it.

 

As it turned out, the museum is officially called the Stuart Maritime and Yachting Museum; it is on waterfront property and uses some of the dock space for boats on display. Its address is 3250 S. Kanner Highway, Stuart, FL  34995, and is open Monday thru Saturday, 11 AM to 4 PM and Sunday 1:00 PM to 5:00 PM.   We didnít realize it, but the museum was also having its own boat show that weekend. The dock and grounds held wooden speedboats from the 40ís and 50ís era. One gentleman had a boat that looked like the African Queen; the owner told us it was built back around 1984. It was in the water ready to sail, with its wood burning stove puffing smoke to build up steam pressure for its engine.

The museumís building is the size of a small house, each room filled with all sorts of maritime displays, including a library of books about boats, ships and the sea. If I were closer to Stuart, I would live in that museum, the books were of every nautical subject and all looked extremely interesting. For lovers of boats and the lure of the sea, this is a collection one canít easily find elsewhere. The museum is dependent on volunteers and financial donations. I will go back to this museum to spend more time at this rare treasure and delve through its archives.

If you are interested in attending one of these Trawlerfests, the shows are scheduled for all over the country, just look on the http://www.trawlerfest.com/  website for more information. This was really a great day and one that I would love to experience all over again. It would have been even better if we could have experienced a cruise on any one of the trawlers we chose! 

Next time, I would like take advantage of the seminars and learn more about these fascinating boats!!!!!!!!

 

 

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