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Guns Aboard the Smart Way: TrawlerFest Seminars Compare Local Laws


Gun sales in the U.S. are at record highs, and a large percentage of Americans carry firearms aboard their boats when they go cruising, whether in home waters or down island. In both cases, they face an array of different laws as they move from state to state or country to country.

TrawlerFest has partnered with the Annapolis law firm of maritime attorney Todd Lochner to create a unique resource for boaters who have made up their minds to go forth armed. PassageMaker magazine is not advocating or opposing guns aboard, having no wish to enter into that divisive dockside argument at this particular moment in American history.


We only wish to recognize that firearms on boats are a reality and to educate those boaters who have made the decision to carry because—as attendees will learn—an accepted practice in Georgia could cause legal problems in Massachusetts, for example.

Nearly every TrawlerFest on the East Coast has a seminar on the Great Loop and nearly every TrawlerFest in Florida has a seminar about cruising to the Bahamas and the Caribbean. At TrawlerFest-Riviera Beach, Jan. 26-31, we offer both under the titles “The Great Loop & Amazing Side Trips” and “Bahamas & Beyond.” To each of these seminars, we have added a module “A Primer on Gun Laws Along the Way.”

On Thursday, Jan. 28, beginning at 8:30 a.m. and going throughout the morning a team of experts will talk about multiple aspects of cruising down island led by veteran liveaboards Chuck Baier and Susan Landry. One of the experts is Greg Singer an associate in the Lochner Law Firm. He will offer a summary of how gun laws work in the Bahamas and Caribbean.

On Saturday, George and Patricia Hospodar will the Great Loop seminar concluding with an summary of state gun laws by Todd Lochner himself. He recommends shipping firearms ahead rather than carry them through some jurisdictions.

In both seminars, attendees will receive a hand-out summarizing these presentations on a state-by-state and country-by-country basis. This is a unique resource. Until Lochner and Singer did the research this information had never been compiled in an at-a-glance format. Frankly we were surprised and grateful that a busy law firm would dedicate so much of its time to help our cruising audience.


Lochner also presents an important module in one of TrawlerFest’s “team-teach” seminars. He talks about “Staying Two Steps Ahead of the Taxman” in the “Boat Buyer’s Survival Guide,” which happens over two mornings, Thursday and Friday, Jan. 28-29.

And Singer offers his legal opinion on how cruisers can go to Cuba legally during our Cruising Cuba seminar, led by Cheryl and Don Barr all morning on Friday, Jan. 29. Cheryl Barr, a Canadian, is author of the Yacht Pilot’s Guide to Cruising Cuba,” based on 18 seasons of cruising Cuba on her father’s boat.

The TrawlerFest boat show and seminar series happens at the Riviera Beach Municipal Marina Tuesday through Sunday, Jan. 26-31. The boat show runs Thursday through Sunday, Jan. 28-31, and includes booths displaying marine products and services. For information about TrawlerFest-Riviera Beach, call 954.703.4789 or send an email to

The best value is to purchase a VIP pass which allows entry into any and all of the seminars (except the diesel and “Hands-On Boat Handling” seminars) for a set price, which also includes admission to the show and evening social events. For example, you could attend three of the four seminars mentioned above (two conflict) as well as have a choice of several others over the six-day event.