Classic Cruisers Club: Kevin Fairbrother

Having completed the Loop in his Offshore 48, this classic trawler owner still lives aboard, cruising extensively up and down the east coast.
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Kevin Fairbrother has been boating for 30 years, having caught the bug from his brother. He has owned a range of small boats, from an 18-foot bowrider to a 28-foot Wellcraft Coastal. Today, he lives aboard his Offshore 48 Yachtfisher and cruises extensively with his wife, Katie, their dog, Kilo, and their cat, Lima.

Name: Kevin Fairbrother
Age: 61
Home port: Fort Myers, Florida
Current boat: 1989 Offshore 48 Yachtfisher
Years owned: 9

BEGINNINGS

My brother purchased a 21-foot boat, and once I got out on the water, I fell in love with the feeling of freedom and the peacefulness. A friend of mine had a boat at the time, and I lived on a canal with Gulf of Mexico access. We made a deal: He could keep his boat at my house, and I could use it. He lost interest after a while, and I purchased my first boat, an 18-foot bowrider inboard/outboard.

Cumberland. Fav anchorage.

THE BOAT

Katie and I looked for our current boat for four or five years—too many boat shows and online. We kept a notebook with comments about each viewing. Among the things we wanted was ease of walking around the sides without shuffling our feet or turning sideways. We also did not like ladders for the upper helm because of our dog (yes, Kilo had input). And we wanted a propane stove. After seeing a 48-foot Offshore Yachtfisher online, we focused on that model and, lucky for us, there was one for sale about 10 miles from home.

COMMITMENT

We were fortunate to live on a canal where we could keep our new-to-us, 1989 boat. After a three-and-a-half-year refit, we took our first cruise in 2015. From Fort Myers Beach, we cruised south to the Keys, then up the Intracoastal Waterway. At the crossroads in St. Lucie, I asked Katie, “Should we turn left and go home, or go straight?” Without hesitation, Katie said, “Straight!” We proceeded north to the Chesapeake.

WISH LIST

Our Offshore had been neglected and struck by lightning. It was listed as “needs TLC,” which we found out means “tons of labor and cash.” We spent three-plus years repairing and refitting to make it ours. We make a list while we cruise for wintertime projects. I have already completed most projects, including adding an inverter and solar panels, and changing the heads to a freshwater supply. I’d like to make the doors airtight and install better insulation.

THE LIFESTYLE

After a day’s cruise, when we are safely anchored or docked and the logbook is updated, sitting on the sundeck is our relaxation spot, taking in our surroundings and enjoying a cold beverage. We also like sitting at the bow with the chairs tilted back to watch the stars. Our cat, Lima, and dog, Kilo, always join us.

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WAYPOINTS

When we arrived home from the Chesapeake, it took Katie two weeks to get me back into the house. I was hooked! We then put the house up for sale. It sold in July 2016. At that time, we moved to a marina in Fort Myers. In 2017, we cruised to Long Island Sound, New York, where we spent a few months, and then cruised back to Legacy Harbor Marina in Fort Myers for the winter. That’s when we learned of the Great Loop, which we completed in 2018.

In 2019, we cruised to Washington, D.C. Plans for 2020 were to cruise to Tellico Reservoir, Tennessee, but we canceled due to lock closures and weather delays. We cruised north to New Bern, North Carolina. There are many places we stop as we cruise north and south. We always anchor at the Cumberland Island National Seashore Park in Georgia, and at Bird Island near the border of North and South Carolina.

Camp Lejuene, NC. Anchoring

Due to our boating adventures, we now have friends we visit often in Southport, North Carolina; Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina; Annapolis, Maryland; and Oyster Bay, New York. We were half-looking for a homeport north of Florida, and on our third visit to New Bern, we decided this is the place. Covid-19 kept us here for the 2020-21 winter months.

We plan on going back to Long Island Sound this year, and possibly to Maine. At this time, we have no plans to stop cruising. We figure we will cruise until we physically cannot.

Cumberland island dinghy ride

NEXT BOAT?

We like the larger Offshores and Flemings. It would be a similar--looking boat, just bigger.

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