(Editor's note: For the first time ever, the Boat Handling seminar at the Chesapeake Bay TrawlerFest will have both single and twin-screw vessels for training. The single-screw boat is the Beneteau Swift Trawler 34 above, provided courtesy of Annapolis Yacht Sales. Scroll down to see our GB 42.)
Having been a rag man, since I learned to walk, I was more than a little upset when my wife began urging me to purchase a power boat. Her argument–yes we had plenty of those–was that although she appreciated the experience of getting to a destination under sail (read that, as “time-consuming experience”) she preferred getting there much more quickly.
The experience of being there was becoming far more important to her than the experience of getting there. For me, it was truly an idea from the “dark side”, and at first, rejected the idea. For my point of view, asking a rag man to become a stink-potter is equivalent to asking a ranch hand of the early 1900’s who’d been riding horses for the previous 60 years to climb into a new-fangled motor car.
Despite the fact that both are means of transportation, the handling of those two modes of transportation is vastly different. The difference can be gleaned just by checking what they eat and what comes out of their tail pipes, and that’s just the beginning.
However, my wife kept pressing, and during the late winter of 2015, I decided to enroll in Bob Sweet’s Hands-On Boat Handling Seminar to be held at the spring TrawlerFest in Essex, Connecticut. I set two conditions with my wife:
1. She and our adult son both had to attend, and
2. That we not purchase any power boat until after the seminar. We all agreed and attended Bob’s seminar.
Simply stated, Bob Sweet opened all of our eyes to the ease and common sense of power boat handling. The seminar covered the fundamentals of how propeller action has certain characteristics that influence the handling of a boat in entirely different ways than sails do. Bob presented all aspects of docking, anchoring, power-boat maneuvering in normal conditions, and in not-so-normal conditions in a seaway.
He showed tried and true methods for doing all this with a full crew and short-handed. His presentation was not only based on descriptions of his own experiences, but with the use of great visuals that clearly showed numerous conditions in which boaters would find themselves.
As part of the seminar Bob arranged for on-the-water instruction in which all class members could participate in small groups. This element was outstanding, as it enabled my wife, my son, and me to prove to ourselves that we could accomplish the basics that we had just learned in the class room, at the helm of a 32 foot trawler.
The combination of in-class instruction and hands-on, at-the-helm applications made it an outstanding experience for all of us.
Since then, we bought a power boat, and the dark side has proved to be very bright indeed. Bob gave my family the final help we needed take action, knowing we could safely handle any small to medium sized power boat. We’ve had a great summer and know that we will have many more to come. To Bob Sweet, I and my family are eternally grateful.
Happy power boating!
(Ladd Thorne is chairman of Boston's Fortress Corporation.)