TrawlerFest in Stuart, Florida

When the kids were still at home we’d take off for somewhere warm during their Winter Break…the kids have moved out but we are still heading for warmer climes.  I had an airplane ticket with Southwest that needed to be used before it expired.  We looked at the Southwest map and decided TrawlerFest was the destination.

Nothing exciting about the flights.  We live about 7 minutes from the airport so we Uber’d there at the crack of dawn, checked in our luggage (yay for free bags with Southwest), went through TSA PreCheck like virtually everyone else(!) but, hey, no removing shoes or shirts, I mean jackets, and laptops could stay in their bags.  Then we looked wistfully at the terribly long lines for coffee at Peet’s and Starbucks and got on the plane.  Oh, I have a confession.  When I went through the security line, shh, shh, there was still some water in my bottle!!!

(side note: flying home from Charleston, West (by God) Virginia, I forgot about the water bottle full of (horrors!) water and the security guy got completely bent out of shape!  I’m like, there are about 3 people in the entire terminal and you think I’m a terrorist?  Most of the time, the TSA people just give you the option to drink or toss the fluid but this guy?  I’m, like, stand down, dude!  Prolly the most exciting thing to happen all week.)

Happy days, the flight wasn’t but about 75% full so we had the row to ourselves!  Nice…

During our short layover in Baltimore (brrr!) we had lunch and watched the baggage handlers mistreat luggage.  One woman, in particular, dropped one bag on the ground and stood on it to reach the others in the cart (no, it didn’t have hard sides!).  Then she took another bag and dragged it on the ground over to one of the planes…dragged the cloth bag on the ground, literally.  Lesson = have a hard-sided bag to withstand being stood upon and get a bag with wheels.  You may be macho enough to carry your luggage through the airport but those baggage handlers?  They are saving their backs and shoulders and hating you for having luggage without wheels.  Don’t make the handlers hate you!

Arrived at West Palm Beach, got our rental car and drove about 40 miles north to Stuart, found our AirBnB in the dark.  Addresses were slightly out of order, naturally, so we drove past it a couple times before finding it, tossed our stuff into our comfortable abode and went out to find a restaurant for dinner.

Cody’s Roadhouse…best chicken with cheddar cheese and bacon, oh my!  Sooo good.   And I took 1/2 of it back to the AirBnB!  I love leftovers.


Had to find a store since I had AGAIN forgotten shampoo and conditioner!  What is wrong with me?  Found a WalMart and even though my blue sandals are stapled and glued together, I refrained from looking at shoes.  I am willing my sandals to not fall apart until we’re back from the trip!  Side note:  I bought 2 pair from Macy’s and I can hardly wait for sunny weather to wear them!!!!!!!!!   I do love shoes…

We also bought coffee, fake sugar, creamer, breakfast stuff and snack’ums.  And maybe ice cream.

First seminar of the day begins at 8:30, yeesh!  The hotel where the TrawlerFest is being held is only about 15 minutes away, so we have an early day but not a long drive.

The seminar is by Dr. Jim Chimiak, MD, with   Its a (not just for) divers insurance organization that helps get people out of emergency situations all over the world.  Like having EMT’s available when you are boating out of Indonesia or Antarctica.   You can even get one-time trip insurance and call them for advice.  The seminar itself is about safety and emergency situations, how to prepare for a trip, what to research ahead of time, (geology, ecology, sociocultural), what you’ll likely need and such.  So fascinating!

The next seminar was about cruising the Great Loop, which is what they call boating from Florida up to the Great Lakes and down a river to the Gulf of Mexico.  Its a big loop, see?  There’s even a website devoted to Loop cruising.  More info about this popular cruise here


They have an interactive map and you can click on links to EVERYthing!  

There is information about every marina you’ll come to, past ‘Loopers’ are area Ambassadors helping other cruisers find things to see and do, stores, repair facilities, etc.

We aren’t planning that kind of trip, being West Coast boaters, but its interesting, nonetheless.  Even if things don’t particularly apply to us, they do in a general sense.  The Great Loop is on our bucket list, though.  Someday…

The leaders went over the ‘must haves’ for equipment and such, differences in local boating rules, bicycles are helpful since Uber isn’t everywhere (what?!?) and so forth.

After the seminars were over we cruised to a local restaurant called the Dolphin Bar and Shrimphouse, right on the water…of course!  It was cool and windy but we sat outside anyway just on principal.  Yes, they had dolphin on the menu.  I had shrimp and grits!  I mean, who could eat Flipper, anyway.  I didn’t make a note of what Rick had…probably something like shrimp linguini or fettuccine.  Honestly, the guy is pretty predictable.


Found a pic, there it is, his shrimp alfredo and my grits with shrimp….and my little libation, of which I can’t remember the name

Wednesday seminar = Admirals’ Roundtable.  That’s a slightly insulting term the male boat captains use for their wives, since Admirals outrank a Captain.  Hmmm.  Anyway, 5 ladies of various ages talked about their experience living about boats of various sizes and for various lengths of time – 4 years to 18 years…18 years!

Some of them had worked full-time jobs for a few years, living onboard docked somewhere and driving into work every day.  Two worked out of their boats, mostly online stuff, 1 was semi-retired, 2 others had boat-captain jobs – teaching people how to be boaters and delivering boats all over the world.  Living their dream.

This seminar was filled with ladies, some had boats and some didn’t.  We all had questions about what it’s like to pick up anchor and be so far from friends and family.  How do you do it while still working?  What did you do with all your stuff?  What worked and what didn’t?

1 Admiral – the retired one, probably all of 50 years old – she boats for 9 months of the year and then goes back to Idaho for 3 months, cramming all the family and friends stuff into that 3 months.

1 Admiral – in her 60’s, living aboard for 4 years, is again buying a house ‘on the dirt’ – stupid term for ‘on land’ – because she is a painter and there wasn’t space on the boat for that!

1 Admiral – living onboard for about 8 years, I think, in her 30’s, has 1 kid and dogs and homeschools her son.

The other 2 travel from boat show to boat show although they have a home marina, too.  They are the ones who deliver boats and teach new owners how to handle their boats.  One was in her early 50’s and the other in her 60’s…’ish…

What kitchen gadget couldn’t you live without?  How scary was it travelling overnight?

3 biggest takeaways –

  1. real wineglasses are important!  Forget plastic, you can find a way to store them without breaking – socks work great.  In other words, take what you really don’t think you can do without.
  2. learn your boat, how to do everything – in case of emergency, for one thing – don’t just depend on your hubby to do the hard stuff.
  3. keep a serrated knife in your pocket

Make that 4 things –

4. learn the meanings of whistles – not everyone uses a radio – so you need to know (or have a reference) what the different blasts mean

Oh, make that 5 things!

5. don’t be afraid, just be careful and prepare, prepare, prepare

My next seminar was called Dingy Dynamics.  I was hoping it had something to do with getting in and out of the darn thing without falling head over teacups into the water, but it was really more about how it can be stored, different types of them, common courtesies when docking them at a marina, what you should carry in them (registration, ID, emergency items) and so forth.  So I’ll be continue to be a klutz attempting to get in and out, I suppose – at least until I’ve done it a hunnerd times or so.

The Art of Anchoring –  I really thought I was going to be sleeping through this one, but it was truly interesting.  You’ll think I’m a dork but there are different shapes for different types of bottoms – mud, gravel, rocks…  What makes each one the best at doing what it does – design and structure – and what makes some of them not the best choice and WHY.

We had dinner in Fort Pierce, Chuck’s Seafood Restaurant, a landmark since 1961.  I had a caprese salad – tomatoes, mozzarella, basil – which I loveloveLOVE…drizzled with a reduced balsamic dressing or just a little oil and vinegar.  Buffalo mozzarella is the BEST.  Yes, its from the milk of buffalo’s, specifically Italian buffalo’s.  Creamiest ever.

Rick had…ta-dum!…his other, other favorite Chicken Parmesan…


We took a walk through the neighborhood, mostly older homes, about 35% were nicely tended and 25% were horribly messy or outright dumps.  Its not that hard to have nice landscaping in Florida!  The rains keep it green and everything grows, grows, grows seemingly effortlessly.

When we first started out on our walk, we saw a wake of vultures around a carcass on the road.  One of them was trying to get it off the road and up over the curb.  There was a kettle of vultures flying in circles waiting their turn. (yes, I looked up the terms for groups of vultures!)


Different names for sitting in trees, flying, grouped on the ground, etc.

We also saw a really big turtle near a fence, I got a bit excited until we looked closer and saw it was just the shell, which was then sad.  Still, Rick took a pic for me to post.  Not gonna show that photo to Myrtle, that would just be rude.


About 12″ long, bigger than Myrtle!


Look at him/her sticking his, or her, legs out to get warm!

Thursday, our first seminar was given by an author, Michael J Tougias.  He was so good, I bought 3 of his books.  The seminar was called Survive and Thrive, lessons from people who survived against all odds.  It was NOT a downer or scary seminar.  He told a tale of one particular ocean-voyage mishap and as he went he explained what was good and what was not so good when it came to emergency situations and making decisions during that time.  He is a great storyteller.  He has access to transcripts from the rescue vessels, meets with the boaters, rescue people (Coast Guard or private boats, too) and puts together riveting books from all of that.

What are the takeaways from that seminar?

Good decision makers:

  1.  don’t like to be trapped
  2.  let information form the plan and are flexible
  3.  are not afraid to bail out
  4.  test the waters – no pun intended
  5.  ask themselves if there are other options
  6.  aren’t afraid of making a u-turn if a decision turns out to be unwise
  7.  choose an option that is reversible
  8.  don’t choose an option based solely on its past effectiveness – pause and think how this situation might be different than past ones.
  9. do the NEXT right thing – don’t dwell on the far future, which could be depressing, i.e. I’m never going to be rescued…
  10. break it down into increments – I’ll do this thing for the next hour, then reassess
  11.  try to resist emotion, think as a 3rd person
  12.  intuition is valuable
  13.  so is humor and positive thinking
  14.  don’t let the relative comfort of the status quo drive the decision – fear of change
  15.  rule followers don’t do as well in emergency situations (oh dear).  Don’t make decisions based on pleasing others.  Don’t let peer pressure make your decision
  16.  we can’t control our situation, but we CAN control our reaction to it.

BAD decision makers:

  1.  I’ve invested this much (emotion, time, money, effort), I can’t stop now
  2.  get stuck in a corner and can’t think their way out
  3.  go along with the crowd, even when their gut is saying to do something else
  4.  are afraid to bail because they don’t want to let someone else down or don’t want others to think badly about them.



View from the balcony outside the seminar room.

The next day we learned about navigation.  Pretty much everyone agrees that its dumb to only rely on electronic devices – gotta have paper charts, too.  A satellite sends out a tiny ‘bit’ of data that says ‘here I am, this is me’ and you need 4 of those to properly locate yourself.  We all know how dependable electronics are, right?  So keep a regular old compass and paper charts so you can fix your position.  AND they note where they are in a log every 15 min or so, especially during night runs and out of sight of land.

Weather.  That’s a biggie.  EVERYone says don’t have a schedule because you shouldn’t make ANY decisions that don’t consider the weather FIRST.  All schedules are thrown out the window tossed overboard when the weather threatens.  So many factors can affect your trip.  Life-changing factors…

Cruisers Roundtable gave us info on favorite apps they use for weather and navigation and more.  You name it, there’s an app for it.

Another interesting thing was that people each had a vote on decisions – like stay another day or push off, for instance.  If one person felt strongly that they should hang around the marina another day and let the iffy weather pass by, then they did.

There were lots of great people there.  Its true, you have an instant connection with boaters.  I’m sure that’s true of most groups like this, though, right?  Bikers, hikers, RVers, radio-controlled plane aficionados, golfers, fisherman (although they won’t share their best fishing holes, I suppose!).

Sitting and having lunch with a few of the couples, I realized I was really enjoying myself.  Huh, waddaya know… Still didn’t want to go to the cocktail party, though…but I had a great time at the dinner!

We’re going to have business cards made up to hand out to people – I noticed some were doing that.  Talk about an easy way to connect.  I noted some of the people we met, where they were from, what Yacht Club they belonged to, but a business card?  Easy-peasy.  Pic of Ms Maggie on the front and our email and blog info on the back!  One couple handed out their card.  I went to the blogsite and its all, except for their picture and a paragraph, literally the boilerplate verbiage that came with the blog site instructions!  One page says “this is the page where you introduce yourselves to your readers”…hahaha, goofballs…

There’s more to the event, but you are amazing for having read this far – or skimmed, perhaps…

We did make it to the beach!  Walked along the shore, feet in the water, collected some shells – where did I put those?

One thing Rick and I like to do everywhere we go is visit homes that are for sale, drive around neighborhoods.  So, on Sunday we went online and noted some Open Houses and off we went…

Only to discover that they don’t keep regular hours nor do they always have the Open House they are advertising…we’d arrive at a house to find no sign…hmmm…oh, well.  We were able to see a few.  Many of the front doors open outwards, not inwards, doesn’t that seem strange to you?  It was hot, so I got a Slurpee, too!

Back at the AirBnB, we, well, I, took a nap outside in our Adirondack chairs, so nice, and then we went to see Black Panther.  I loved the costuming and the music.  It was a very good movie!  We try to see a movie, at least one, on every trip.

The next day, the day we are flying home, we woke up late, I’d set the alarm but the sound was off, dang it.  We raced out the door, drove in squares trying to find the Hertz car return place and just barely made it in time for boarding >whew<

Here’s a lousy pic of these iguanas that people say are practically taking over the area.  Started out as pets that people got tired of and now, they are everywhere!  Vibrant colors that I’d not seen before – yellow, red, blue in big bands.


Over 14″, and that’s not just what she said 😉