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Larry Graf, founder of Glacier Bay Catamarans and Aspen Power Catamarans, is the newest addition to the team that teaches the Boat Buyers Survival Guide seminar at TrawlerFest. Graf is on the marquee for the Seattle event happening April 23-27 at Bell Harbor Marina in downtown.

Graf, who has built about 3,000 craft in his long career, will be showing attendees how fiberglass boats are built, including topics such as infusion, coring and blisters. He will advise the group on how to evaluate the desirability of used boats based on their construction and how to spot potentially expensive flaws.

Larry Graf

Larry Graf

The Boat Buyers seminar is divided over two mornings—Thursday and Friday. Graf is up second on Thursday, following the renown boatbuilder Sam Devlin, who will discuss the importance hull design, which is where psychology and physics intersect in the boat buying process.

Like building a custom home, boat buying can be a stressful experience even when it is going well. Both Graf and Devlin and the other speakers that follow have the same goal—to help prevent our buyers from choosing the wrong boat or making expensive mistakes or both. 

Devlin, one of the world’s leading designers and builders of wood-epoxy boats, will discuss the importance of self-knowledge when choosing a particular make and model. Knowing how you will really cruise is essential to picking a boat that will satisfy your requirements. Do you really want a full-displacement ocean going design if you are still working and your principal use will be weekend runs to Catalina Island?

The first morning also sets aside an hour to address alternatives to fiberglass with Dylan Bailey on the topic of metal boats and Devlin, of course, on wood-epoxy construction. At the end of the morning, the instructors will take attendee questions as a panel.

Friday is “fine print” day. We begin with instructor Vin Petralla. Petralla, who is executive director of the Yacht Brokers Association of America (YBAA), prefers the term “yacht sales professional” to “broker” because he believes it to be more accurate. He’ll talk about how to find the right broker, how to avoid purchase problems and the elements of a good purchase agreement.

Following Petralla, John Posey and Max Salvater will take you behind the scenes of the yacht finance and insurance world and talk about how to avoid the pitfalls there. With 40 years in the business Posey of Total Dollar Yacht Insurance has worked both the underwriting and broker sides of marine insurance, thus uniquely qualified to reveal the secrets of both. Salvater of Sterling Associates is a lifetime boater who has worked in the industry for more than 30 years. His talk is about marine financing.

The final instructor is Dylan Bailey, who puts on his surveyor’s cap, to advise attendees on when to hire a surveyor, how to find the right surveyor and on the elements of a good survey report. 


SEMINARS: Tuesday-Saturday, April 23-27 at Seattle Marriott Waterfront

IN-WATER BOAT SHOW: Thursday-Saturday, April 25-27 at Bell Harbor Marina. Show is open 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

QUESTIONS? Contact Donna at

BEST VALUE: Every seminar except the diesel course and “Boat Handling on the Water” are part of our VIP package. Being a four- or five-day VIP gives attendees access to their choice of 24 other seminars. The cost is $449 for a four-day VIP pass and $549 for the five-day pass. Visit our ticketing site and do some math. You'll see how being a VIP maximizes your seminar buying power. 

Boat buyers must navigate a complex process.

Boat buyers must navigate a complex process.