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The 2020 TrawlerFest-Florida features six seminars that are the very definition of seamanship. Weather sense, boat handling, navigation, medical preparedness, anchoring , line-handling all these are subjects that are vital to cruisers. These skills and techniques will make you safer and more confident on the water, and consequently you'll find greater enjoyment out there. Plus, taking one or two of these courses might actually lower your insurance premiums. 

TrawlerFest is March 3-7 at the Marriott Hutchinson Island Resort and Marina in Stuart. There are more than 30 seminars; here's the seamanship line-up:

Anchor Like Your Life Depended on It with Rudy & Jill Sechez. Anchoring sounds easy: Stop forward motion, lower the anchor, back off, set the anchor, let out enough scope, then belay the rode and maybe attach a snubber, too. But, if this is all there is to anchoring, why do so many crews have trouble setting their anchors and why do so many boats drag or break free? Read about your teachers.

Nautical Know-How: Rules of the Road & Essential Knots with Bob Sweet.
Half the course is about law and custom; the other half is about the mechanics of securing your boat. These topics are not as disparate as it may seem at first glance. A solid familiarity with both is absolutely essential to enjoy your time on the water safely. Marine author/illustrator Bob Sweet is your instructor. Sweet will use illustrations to make learning easier and, for the knot portion, attendees will learn with actual lines and cleats as well. Here’s a taste of what you will learn.


Boat Handling Illustrated with Bob Sweet. This course, combined with “Boat Handling on the Water” will develop skills in close quarters maneuvering and docking, not to mention the confidence gained from having been taught by some of the very best instructors in the business. Bob Sweet is the author of several marine titles including Powerboat Handling Illustrated and The Instant Handbook of Boat Handling, Navigation and Seamanship.

Offshore Essentials with Jeff Merrill, CPYB. Traveling between ports requires understanding and knowledge of some fundamental skills to ensure a safe trip. This two-morning course is designed to be both an introduction and a refresher for owner operators and their crew. Yacht broker and all-around boat guy, Jeff Merrill will cover basics of weather forecasting, route planning, watch standing, engine room checks, pilothouse navigation/electronics operations, and much more. 

Weather and Forecast Resources with Chris Parker. Learn the best weather apps and how to access them from a variety of devices. Veteran weather router Chris Parker details which weather products (and which parameters) are essential and how to access them via computer, mobile devices and other hardware. You’ll get a look at these apps and websites in real-time so you can compare options. 

Survival at Sea with Capt. Bob Arrington. Forget anything you may have seen in Robert Redford’s movie “All Is Lost.” Surviving a crisis at sea happens because of preparation, the right gear, seamanship skills and a good attitude. Trainer Bob Arrington will discuss heaving to, storm anchors, drogues, ditch bags, MOB recovery methods, liferaft deployment and communicating with rescuers. 


Each of these courses earns its attendees a "certificate of completion." We can't guarantee it, but, depending on what type of insurance and which underwriter, posession of a certficate could help lower your premiums. It's worth checking with your carrier.


In-Water Boat Show: Thursday to Saturday, March 5-7, 2020. Show runs 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. Thursday, Friday & Saturday.

Seminars: Tuesday to Saturday, March 3-7, 2020.

Tickets: General Admission is $15 in advance, $18 onsite. Seminar tickets include General Admission to the boat show on the day of the seminar.

Location: Marriott Hutchinson Island Resort & Marina
555 NE Ocean Blvd, Stuart, FL 34996. Parking is free.

Questions? Contact us at or (954) 761-8777


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.