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TrawlerFest 'Seminar Guy' Charged With Marital Malpractice in Florida


TrawlerFest "Seminar Guy" Peter Swanson was arrested yesterday and charged under Florida’s strict laws against impersonating a marriage counselor. Prosecutors said the seminar line-up at TrawlerFest-Riviera Beach was a naked attempt by Swanson to save couple’s relationships without a license.

Through his lawyer Mason Perry, Swanson admitted guilt but offered a “competing harms” defense. He argued that any violation on his part was far outweighed by the potential harm that cruising boaters might suffer without six key seminars being offered in late January at the Riviera Beach Municipal Marina.

“For example, your honor, is there any doubt that wives should know how to handle their boats as well as husbands?” Perry asked. “What if he has a health event while they're under way? Shouldn’t she be able to get the boat back to the dock safely?

Perry was referring to the “Hands-On Boat Handling” seminar held over two mornings on Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 30-31, with author-instructor Bob Sweet and two on-the water trainers. This course 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.

Sweet also offers “Basic Coastal Navigation for Husbands & Wives” on Thursday, Jan. 28, 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The seminar is a comprehensive “quick start” guide to navigation, emphasizing teamwork and sharing some neat tricks.

“What’s wrong with keeping marriages healthy by keeping boating couples in good physical shape?” Perry asked the court. “Jay and Karen Campbell are well qualified to dispense that kind of advice, even if my client is not.”

Rudy Sechez says it's important that a boat have a comfortable motion.

Rudy & Jill Sechez

The Campbell’s seminar “Fitness Afloat” will be presented on Wednesday, Jan. 27, 8:30-10:30 a.m. The Campbell’s fitness fanatics and full-time cruisers behind PassageMaker magazine's "Fitness Afloat" column. In each issue, they offer practical advice and illustrations for keeping fit on your boat. Jay and Karen will offer their fitness ideas, modeling fast boat-friendly fitness routines from beginner to advanced (younger to older), developed specifically for cruisers. In addition they will offer basic advice about diet and a healthy outlook through their "IDEA" program (Inspiration, Diet, Exercise & Attitude).

“Are you a boater, your honor? No. We’ll if you were, you’d know that besides docking, anchoring causes more recrimination between the sexes than almost any other event on the water,” Perry said. “I would like to offer into evidence Anchoring; A Ground Tackler’s Apprentice.”

The book is authored by veteran barebones cruisers Rudy and Jill Sechez, who will be in Riviera Beach to present the seminar “Anchoring for Couples” Wednesday, Jan. 27, 8:30-10:30 a.m.

Their discussion includes rope stretch, the role of chain, scope, tandem anchors, chafe, bridles, mud bottoms. As a bonus, husbands and wives will learn the Sechez method for throwing a rope.

“Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, let us discuss serious crime,” the lawyer said. “To wit: ‘Cruise as a Couple Without Killing Each Other.’ The seminar title says it all.”

On Wednesday, Jan. 27, 10:45 a.m.-12:45 p.m., authors and long-time liveaboards Chuck Baier and Susan Landry discuss what couples can expect when they go cruising and secrets to maintaining their relationship. Baier and Landry have been a boating couple for more 20 years. They live aboard a Marine Trader 34 named Beach House.

 Susan Landry & Chuck Baier

Susan Landry & Chuck Baier

“And then there are the children. Admittedly, they are surrogates for actual children, but shouldn’t they, too, enjoy their lives on the waterways?” Perry said, with just a hint of desperation in his voice. "This is about good parenting, people."

Veteran cruisers Chris, Alyse & Bert Caldwell, the latter being said surrogate, will discuss “Pets Afloat” on Saturday, Jan. 30, 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. Captains Chris & Alyse will present some of the finer points of traveling with companion animals during this informative and entertaining seminar.

When the verdict came in, the court assumed an air of solemnity. The judge read the verdict aloud. Swanson was guilty as charged, but TrawlerFest could go on as scheduled from Jan. 26 to 31 at Riviera Beach, Florida. "There's no reason that an entire class of people should suffer because of one miscreant's transgression," said Judge "Split-the-Baby" Solomon.


For information about TrawlerFest-Riviera Beach, call 954.703.4789 or send an email to