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TrawlerFest is a traditional event that trawler enthusiasts look forward to all year long. Over the last few years there has been an annual gathering in three different geographic regions: Seattle, Washington, Baltimore, Maryland and Stuart, Florida.  Typically held in a marina setting with boats at the docks, rooms for seminars and outside tents filled with vendors, it is an excellent opportunity for guests to climb aboard new and used trawlers, attend educational seminars and enjoy the casual ambiance with like-minded people who share a strong interest in power cruising.

Like so many events planned for 2020, the organizers of TrawlerFest were faced with some big decisions about whether to postpone or cancel TrawlerFest due to Covid-19 concerns. There wasn’t a safe way to hold the event in person, even by taking all the necessary precautions such as mask wearing, social distancing and repetitive sanitation. The thought of cancelling or postponing this educational event was not ideal either. Enter (…drumroll…) TrawlerFest LIVE!

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An excellent example of Embracing The Change, the last TrawlerFest of 2020 went virtual.   TrawlerFest LIVE was a tremendous success! The excellent organization and dedication of the PassageMaker Magazine team deserve all of the credit. This three-day event was a compilation of guest speakers, demos and even a walk-through tour of a 45’ North Pacific trawler. A benefit to having TrawlerFest in a virtual format was that everyone who wanted to attend, could. It did not matter where you were located or what time zone you were in. If you weren’t able to participate we have great news:  All webinars, demos and boat tours are available to TrawlerFest LIVE registered attendees for the next 6 months.

JMYS was proud to be a sponsor of TrawlerFest LIVE alongside other great companies like Beneteau USA, Northern Lights, Chubb Insurance, Sterling Associates, Total Dollar, Helmsman Trawlers, North Pacific Yachts, Shearwater Marine FL and CMC Marine. The sponsors were able to showcase their company through virtual booths, videos, and some even offered discount codes and coupons.

A large part of the TrawlerFest experience is the camaraderie between trawler aficionados; people who readily share their knowledge and enjoyment of the trawler lifestyle with each other. The networking and chatter between attendees normally heard on the docks was not missing from this event, but rather seen in the community discussion area, where viewers could post a topic and wait for others to chime in with their ideas, opinions and suggestions. This was all managed by the WHOVA app, a wonderful way to host an online event. A few notable chat feeds included: “Attendees Cruising the Great Loop” “Any Other Conferences?” and “Caribbean Cruising.”

Another interactive way participants could engage was through polls. Like the community discussion area, anyone could post a poll for others to respond to with answers. Community discussions and polls allowed a sense of being together in person – not an easy vibe to create through an internet only event.

Even without an audience, most of the seasoned presenters excelled at talking alone to their computer screens to broadcast their webinars online. It was certainly different without a classroom setting, but once things got rolling it was business as usual for these specially selected speakers. PowerPoints were screenshared, and attendees could follow along with the speaker from the comfort of their own home, or anywhere else they could get on the internet to view from computers, phones and tablets. The resources typically distributed as hard copies in class were uploaded as PDF handouts available for download through WHOVA.  Throughout each seminar there was a real-time chat feature available for questions and comments that the speaker could respond to.


Larry Friedman, Trawler Specialist at JMYS, presented “Losing Power in a Seaway: What Happens Then?” where he discussed an especially memorable overnight run in his Kadey Krogen 39 from Port Washington, New York to the C&D canal. Engine troubles occurred and Larry explained his thinking approach for diagnosing the problem and his decision process as he worked through the issue and successfully completed the cruise. Larry mentioned at the beginning of his presentation that this was an interactive presentation for the 91 attendees and encouraged audience participation in the Q&A chat area. He received many questions throughout his seminar, proving that a virtual event CAN still be interactive!

Jeff Offshore Essentials

There is so much to learn when it comes to casting off and heading out to blue water offshore – familiarity, preparation, provisioning, weather, engine room checks, standing watch to name a few.  Jeff presented his popular class, Offshore Essentials, on Friday with 101 virtual attendees. Somehow it was fitting to have this talk – which reviewed the planning and concerns needed to venture out to sea – on Friday the 13th in 2020, what could possibly go wrong?

Attendee Gary R. wrote in to say he had tuned in to watch Jeff’s talk while cruising underway on the Tennessee Tombigbee waterway!

Jeff Dial In

“Dial-In Your Trawler”, Jeff Merrill’s second presentation, entertained 84 attendees with decades worth of tips, ideas and best practices that all trawler owners can use to better monitor their vessels. Your boat is always talking to you, are you listening? These tricks of the trades and helpful reminders help take some of the guesswork out of tracking various systems and equipment on board a trawler. The more you learn about your boat and systems the better you can take care of the details aboard your trawler.  Who better to learn from than a familiar trawler specialist equipped with blue tape and a sharpie pen?!

Jeff W., a professional service provider, wrote to Jeff after this course saying, “Great presentation. As a service provider, I can say so many of these would help make diagnostics and service easier and more accurate, saving time and $. Thanks!”

Even though we wish we had new photos to share of the JMYS crew laughing in the saloon of a trawler we had listed for sale, or could have filmed another Dock, Walk and Talk video with Jeff walking the docks introducing dozens of trawlers and tugs, we are happy with the success of this 100% virtual TrawlerFest.

If you attended one of our classes at TrawlerFest LIVE, please look below. We have uploaded PDF’s of Jeff’s handouts and PowerPoints for you to download. These materials will be available until December 31, 2020. If you would like any more information on the course Larry gave please contact him directly – and you can request the same for Jeff’s classes by emailing him,

Thank you, PassageMaker Magazine Team!   We all hope to be back on the docks in 2021.

If you would like to see the handouts please email Jeff Merrill at