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TrawlerFest-Riviera Beach Offers Cruising Answers at Town Hall Session

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Security in the Caribbean, cruising Cuba, cruising Downeast Maine, cruising the Med, circumnavigation strategies, relationships on board, which boats are best for what--we’ve got some people with answers.

The only afternoon seminar during the boat show portion of TrawlerFest-Riviera Beach in Florida. will be a town-hall event. In it, our panel of veteran cruisers will field audience questions on a wide-range of topics, sea stories resulting.

The venue is the new municipal marina at Riviera Beach. The “Cruising Perspectives” seminar happens on Saturday, Jan. 24, starting at 3:30 p.m.

Circumnavigator Bruce Kessler can discuss what it’s like to spend months and months treading bluewater. Milt Baker, owner of a Nordhavn 47 and an American Tug (and a bluewater veteran himself), has a unique perspective on the advantages of full- versus semi-displacement. PassageMaker Editor Peter Swanson cruised the Caribbean on financial fumes and has delivered boats on both coasts. Veteran broker Jeff Merrill can advise on how to choose the right boat. And Steve Zimmerman can discuss repairs and boatyards from the point of view of both a cruiser and boatyard owner.

 Peter Swanson, Steve Zimmerman, Bruce Kessler, Milt Baker and Jeff Merrill

Peter Swanson, Steve Zimmerman, Bruce Kessler, Milt Baker and Jeff Merrill

Bruce Kessler is a native of Seattle and has been messing about in boats all his life. A well known Hollywood director, fishing and boating have been his passion since he could barely walk down the family dock o Vashon Island. His first boat was a 26-foot sport fisherman, but he moved up the line, eventually convincing Delta Marine--then a commercial fishing boat builder--to build him a 70-foot trawler yacht, the first Delta 70, which he named Zopilote.

 Click the button to buy tickets to TrawlerFest-Riviera Beach!

Click the button to buy tickets to TrawlerFest-Riviera Beach!

He and his wife Joan completed a 35,000-mile west-about circumnavigation aboard Zopilote from 1990 to 1993. For the past 17 years, the Kesslers have owned and cruised a Northern Marine 65 named Spirit of Zopilote. Bruce was founder of the highly regarded FUBAR (Fleet Underway for Baja Rally). Bruce and Joan have cruised well over 100,000 miles.

Milt Baker grew up on the water in Norfolk, Virginia, learned to sail as a kid, and made the U.S. Navy a career, serving in the Atlantic and Pacific and Vietnam, retiring as a commander. Over the last 45 years he and his wife Judy have owned a long line of cruising boats ranging from a Columbia to a Nordhavn 47 in which he and Judy crossed the Atlantic in 2007.

Milt and Judy founded Bluewater Books & Charts in Fort Lauderdale and were its hands-on managers fro 1986 to 2000 when they sold the company and retired to go cruising again. Milt and Judy have cruised a little over 100,000 miles. Milt is a contributing editor for PassageMaker.

Steve Zimmerman is not just a cruiser but the owner of four boatyards in Maryland, Virginia and North Carolina. Zimmerman marine, begun 34 years ago, is solving mariner’s problems and getting them back under way. However, Zimmerman’s success in an inherently difficult enterprise is based not just on problem solving prowess but an ability to communicate with customers in a way that engenders trust.

Building on more than 30 years of experience in the yachting industry and a lifelong sailboat racing background, Jeff mostly recently was a top producing sales advocate for the Nordhavn brand of long range trawlers. He’s sailed (and trawlered) all over the world helping over 100 buyers enjoy the trawler lifestyle, logging more than 14,000 miles in hands-on training with clients all over the U,S. and in faraway destinations ranging from Japan to South Africa and Alaska to Panama.

Merrill recently struck out on his own by opening Jeff Merrill Yacht Sales in Seal Beach, California.

Peter Swanson is editor-in-chief for PassageMaker. He's got 50 years on the water and about 14,000 miles in trawler passages, including an epic delivery from Florida to California. He grew up on Cape Cod and worked at New England newspapers for the first 20 years of his professional career before embarking on what he likes to call "a long downhill slide" that landed him in Florida and the Caribbean and, of course, a job at PassageMaker magazine.