Skip to main content

TrawlerFest's Big Question: Are You Certifiable?


Most TrawlerFest fans are aware that our premier seminar, “Everything You Need To Know About Diesel Engines,” comes with a certificate of completion that can earn attendees a discount on their boat insurance. Less well known is that we’ve got four more certificate seminars at next month’s Riviera Beach event.

Led by PassageMaker Troubleshooter columnist Steve Zimmerman, “Care & Maintenance of the Cruising Powerboat” is an intensive, two-morning seminar designed to provide attendees with valuable information about all aspects of boat maintenance in cruising conditions. Zimmerman is uniquely qualified as an instructor by virtue of nearly four decades of boat repairs, culminating today in his ownership of four boatyards in Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina, not to mention the fact that he is an experienced cruiser.

Attendees will learn about fiberglass construction methods, maintenance, and repairs. General maintenance topics will include hauling, bottom paints, exterior wood care, and use of sealants. One full session will be devoted to marine electrical systems and basic troubleshooting techniques.

“Hands-On Boat Handling” 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.

Saturday is all class time, then on Sunday, the class breaks down into groups and goes out on the water to put what it has learned into practice. For live training, we plan to use our twin-screw project boat, a Grand Banks 42 named Arawak, and a single-screw vessel, so students can learn the differences in handling and maneuvering techniques.

Bob Sweet also teaches “Basic Coastal Navigation for Husbands & Wives. Sweet’s seminar is a comprehensive “quick start” guide to navigation. You’ll learn the essential skills from planning a cruise, through navigating it and checking along the way. You will learn how to use conventional charts with your electronics in a complementary way to ease your navigation tasks and ensure your safe arrival at your destination. You’ll also learn some neat tricks for adjusting your navigation along the way and making your task a lot easier. You will learn about tides and currents and how to adjust to them. This also is a great course for mates and crew who would like to share in the navigation.

 Weather router Chris Parker

Weather router Chris Parker

Weatherman Chris Parker, himself an experienced mariner, has been serving as a weather router for cruisers on the East Coast, the Bahamas and the Caribbean for more than 12 years. Parker’s lively and informative seminar “Weather Basics for Cruisers” is aimed at any one who wants the knowledge to make their own passage decisions with whatever information is available.

Topics include basic weather terminology and concepts such as temperature, wind and pressure and cloud identification. Parker reviews all the different free and paid ways to get weather forecasts on a boat. Everything from OCENS and Sirius, and the services provided by MFD-makers, explaining which is best for what set of cruising circumstances and what they cost. This includes a briefing on GRIB files and how to use them. Plus, he will touch on down island weather patterns and various ways to obtain forecasts.


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.