Among the many perks of boat ownership is the natural camaraderie among fellow owners of a specific make and model. Meet the Rosborough RF 246 Owners Group. Founded in 2001, the group has 1,300 members spanning owners and enthusiasts of the RF 246 Sedan Cruiser, affectionately named the “Rossi.”
The Rosborough brand's 25-foot “trailerable trawler” was first produced in Nova Scotia and later sold to Eastern Boats of New Hampshire. It has a long history of being used by the Canadian government as a workboat in the harsh seas around the Maritime Provinces.
The February 2020 Rosborough Rendezvous was held at Burnt Store Marina, south of Punta Gorda, Florida. The marina’s name is misleading as it is actually a large, gated community of homes and condominiums with 525 wet slips and bountiful amenities for boaters and visitors.
One owner, Otto Cuyler, deserves an honorable mention for trailering his boat the farthest to attend, 1,400 miles from his home base in Rochester, New York, on Lake Ontario. Numerous others drove or flew down for the event. Model years of the twenty-two boats in attendance ranged from the 1990 Tardis to the newer 2019 Pronto, loaded with nice options.
Rossi owners, like any trawler enthusiasts, add various modifications and alterations to their boats. Many had their interiors and cockpits decked out for the occasion, welcoming visitors to linger and admire the owners' ingenuity. “Docktails” and pot-lucks provided all an opportunity to mingle, greet old friends and make new ones. Sixty guests attended dinner at the marina restaurant adjacent to the event. Presentations and open discussions followed on the last day.
Weather cooperated for the rendezvous as a handful of Rossis motored out to Cayo Costa State Park for some beach time and a game of horseshoes. With the right technique, one can sit these low-draft boats just off the beach by dropping anchor, backing up and planting a 4-foot auger in the sand with a stern line.
Each crew had different stories to tell as to how they use their boats. Like many Rossi owners, John and Susan Coppedge began their cruising history in a sailboat. Although they divide their time between the Northwest, Florida Keys and elsewhere, they have a special affinity for the waters of the Northwest. They have voyaged as far north as Glacier Bay, Alaska, and report that they can be self-sufficient on their Rossi for two weeks at a time. Accomplish such a feat, Susan explained, requires managing the Five Basics: battery, gas, water, food and pump out. They started a blog named after their boat, Mighty Wench, primarily to keep concerned loved ones in the know on their whereabouts while cruising. Their blog has become a popular resource for the trawler community.
Reflecting on the hardship of weather in the Northwest, John quipped with a smile: “If it’s rainy, you turn on the windshield wipers. If it’s cold, you turn on the heat. If it’s foggy, you turn on the radar.” (They went through three sets of windshield wipers on their voyage to Alaska and back.)
So, coming from a sailing background, why did they opt for a Rosborough? According to Susan, she didn’t want to venture through the Pacific Northwest in an open sailboat. They also liked the layout of the Rossi, and the price point was attractive. Trailerability was also key, Susan added, without having to get permits.
John Hauck, age 81, is considered a legend among Rossi owners. He has that wanderlust gene deep in his bones and has been on more adventures later in life than most can dream of. For instance, in his fifties, he circumnavigated the continental US in a small, one-person Kolb ultralight aircraft. Then he made three trips from his home base in Titus, Alabama, to Point Barrow, Alaska (and vicinity) and back in the same wisp of plane, often camping under his wing along the way. Point Barrow is the northernmost point of the North American continent. Such a feat was one of endurance, considering that the ultralights cruise around 53 mph. With a headwind, a pilot might envy the cars passing them below—that is if the pilot even sees a car in the wilderness below.
Later, Hauck's passion for aeronautical adventures turned to maritime. Cruising in his Rossi, Grumpy, he has explored most of the great river systems east of the Mississippi. He says he prefers the calm, fresh water of a river and “the thrill of discovering new people, new things...it's all about what is around the next bend.”
He keeps piloting his Rossi as far up to the headwaters as possible, or, as Hauck puts it, “until I hit a rock or hit bottom.” At age 80, he completed the Great Loop in his Rossi, single-handed. With a Dometic freezer on his deck filled with provisions, he can go many days without a trip to the grocer. Hauck admires his boat as “very capable; tough. She was designed for the heavy elements of the North Atlantic.”
As the rendezvous came to an end, the crews aboard each Rossi packed up and went their own ways. Some motored out together, friends anew, to explore new anchorages. Others rolled back home with their boats strapped tightly to their trailers. Hauck summarized the event this way: "It was good to be in the midst of so many Rossis and Rossi enthusiasts, all with a common interest in what we do and how we do it. Thanks again to all the folks that made it happen. All Grumpy and I did was show up and enjoy.”
Robert Russell has been piloting aircraft for the past 50 years and only recently began piloting boats. He keeps his Rosborough RF246 in Cape Vincent, New York, where Lake Ontario flows into the St. Lawrence River.