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Old 03-10-2018, 05:32 PM   #1
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Trawlerfest was Disappointing

Trawlerfest was disappointing, what did I miss? We drove from NC to Stuart, 10+ hours with kids, on Thursday and attended the show on Friday. Being our first Trawlerfest, it seemed unorganized as parking was a mess, and signage, directions were confusing. We did board about 12 boats (had no problem with the fixed docks and low tide) but was disappointed that there weren't more older or used boats in a lower price range. I don't think we saw a boat south of $300,000. While touring the boats, my wife and I both thought we were somewhat snubbed because we didn't look or act the part of high dollar boat buyers. (I know, what does a high dollar boat buyer look or act like exactly?) Maybe this was just our perception, maybe it was because we had two young kids with us (we didn't see any other children there) or maybe it was all in our heads but it sure seemed like an accurate perception. While on one very expensive boat, the rep asked me my boat budget. When I stated that we were budgeting around $400K to $450K he literally stopped talking to me mid conversation and began speaking with another couple. We also thought that the Kadey Krogan people were silly. They make you complete a "boarding pass" and be given a small clip to wear on your shirt before you can even see their boats close up or board them. Even if you weren't going to board one, they wouldn't let us proceed to the end of the t-dock where they were moored until you completed the form. I'm sure this was a marketing tool so they now have my name, email and phone number (well, they really don't because I gave them fake info). Nevertheless, we felt like having to complete the "boarding pass" and wearing the little clip was silly and somewhat pompous. These are just boats, albeit very nice and very expensive, but just boats after all. What's next, a credit check? I can go to most of my state's coastal marinas / boat shows and see much of what I saw at Trawlerfest.

As for the vendors. There were approx 20 vendors and the majority were insurance related or brokers. That's fine and certainly important but where were the product vendors? Many vendors we passed didn't even bother to say hello, good morning, nothing. Some didn't even look up at us as we walked by. They seemed bored and were usually on their phones or laptop. We got there that morning and they weren't even busy. I will say that the gentleman I spoke with at the MTOA booth was very informative and we had a great conversation. Also, Alyse Caldwell at the Ask Captain Chris booth was fantastic. She was informative, engaging and passionate about her services. She took the time to answer numerous questions we had and we truly enjoyed our time speaking with her. She will get our business in the future. The other vendors that didn't even attempt to engage in a conversation with us have lost us as customers.

Please understand, these are only our impressions of our first Trawlerfest. Maybe this was considered a fantastic event? Maybe our expectations were too high? Maybe we didn't fully understand what the event was all about? We have heard that the seminars are really good and maybe this is why most people attend a Trawlerfest. We did not attend any (kids in tow) and certainly may have a more favorable review had we attended some of them. To drive some 20+ hours round trip and spend over $500 on gas, food and lodging to see a few dozen high priced boats and 20 mostly disinterested vendors were just not what we had in mind and why we won't be attending another.
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Old 03-10-2018, 05:46 PM   #2
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All boats shows are disappointing IMHO....

Given how much brokers and vendors are asked to pay for space during a show, Im not surprised that there were not many vendors. A few weeks ago I was told that it costs $10,000 to display a used boat at the Fort Lauderdale show. Granted it is a different market, motor yachts vs trawlers, but still, I'm sure it's not cheap.
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Old 03-10-2018, 05:50 PM   #3
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Sorry for the let down.

Hopefully this will be a current reminder trawlerfests really arent boat shows and were never intended to be.

Its a gloss over of the trawler lifestyle from seminars to happy hours to a few boat designs to give the concept form.
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Old 03-10-2018, 06:23 PM   #4
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I attended my first trawler fest in 2008 in Anacortes. Back then it wasn't so much of a boat show. We spent two days going to many good seminars, and they had many of the attendees open their boats to the public if they wanted to. We opened ours and met many new people who were new to boating, and they could see what a real life trawler was like. It was free for the public to attend the show.

Than everything changed when PassageMaker magazine (the people who owned trawler fest) was sold to a big conglomerate who's only purpose was to sell ads in their many boating magazines. Suddenly most of the stories were boat reviews on multi-million dollar boats, and the trawler fest became a boat show. And now it costs to get in.

Personally I would't recommend going unless there were some seminars you really wanted to go to.
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Old 03-10-2018, 06:39 PM   #5
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We went to 3 Trawler Fests quite a few years ago. Bill Partalore stilled owned PassageMaker Magazine. They were pretty good. Some new and mostly older trawlers to preview. No keepers of the gate on the docks before you boarded. The seminars were very good. I too see negative changes in the magazine. If I was a multi millionaire then maybe the magazine would still be of great value. I used to spend hours reading and rereading the articles. Now I can read the magazine in about 30 minutes and rarely if ever reread it. I have not heard a lot of positive feedback in the last few years about Trawler Fest so I guess your experience is about right.
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Old 03-10-2018, 07:11 PM   #6
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I guess it depends where you are in your boating journey. We are totally new to the cruising lifestyle and we had a blast. All the seminar presenters were very knowledgeable and polite and accessible. I had numerous conversations with all boat attendants and they answered all of my questions. I am sure it was obvious I was not going to spend $1.5 million on a boat. But I did not let that stop me from approaching them.

Our goal was education. We got that and more.
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Old 03-10-2018, 07:12 PM   #7
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I have attended TFs in Baltimore, Anacortes and Bremerton. I agree that both the magazine and the events have turned to corporate interests more than cruisers since the sale a few years back. However, some of the classes remain worthwhile and I always enjoy seeing boats. The Seattle Boat Show and Boat Show University classes were pretty good this year, IMHO.
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Old 03-10-2018, 07:30 PM   #8
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I have never been a big fan of boat shows for some of the reasons noted. The few shows I have been to, I looked like I just crawled off the beach with swim trunks, flops and zinc oxide on my face. The good Brokers don't get caught up in what someone is wearing and whether they look the part.
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Old 03-10-2018, 07:54 PM   #9
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Given the looks of some of us Krogen owners (I know a few of them), the use of appearance or dress as a measure of buying potential by the Krogen Group or any other sales staff would be a gross error. From time to time, I would stop in Krogen and Nordhavn headquarters offices in Stuart (Nordhavn has since relocated) and all the customers looked like I did. Boat casual would be an overstatement.
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Old 03-10-2018, 09:24 PM   #10
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Sorry to hear about the disappointment with Trawlerfest. Iíve never been (new to trawlers myself) but think I would really benefit from some of the seminars.

Since I know nothing about what Iím talking about, of course I will offer an opinion (this is the internet after all). It seems to me that trawlerfest would serve the market best if it concentrated on education, social engagement, and vendor participation from those that the community will actually use. If someone already has a boat, then they would enjoy going for education, talking to vendors about maintenance services, dock yards, and electronic upgrades, as well as walking the docks and talking to other trawler owners. As we know from TF, we learn a lot from other boaters. For those looking to change boats, they can talk to other boaters about the boats they own and use. For complete noobs, I know that most owners are pretty happy to talk to a newbie about boats and boating as long as they are polite.

Iím not sure that the manufacturers fit well into that mix unless they are there to support their owners.

I recall talking to Trevor from North Pacific Yachts last year about one of the big boat shows back East. He took one of his largest and newest boats. He felt very out of place himself. His impressions was that unless you were asking well over $1mil US for your boat, the attendees just werenít interested. Wrong boat for the market.
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Old 03-10-2018, 09:28 PM   #11
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Reminds me when two of my brothers flew over from Ireland for the Miami show one year. I took them to my favorite part of the show (which is actually not part of the show) the Collins Ave brokerage area.

They were blown away by how many "nice" boats they were actually allowed to walk through.

They were used to the London (now Southampton) boat show in England where you need to have an AMEX black Card to get on board a boat!
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Old 03-10-2018, 11:22 PM   #12
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Same thing applies to buying cars. When I'm just looking I wear ratty clothes. Can't get a salesman to even look in my direction, but then I get to look at cars in peace.

Once I figure out what I want to buy I wear decent clothes and then have to beat them off with a stick.
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Old 03-11-2018, 01:13 AM   #13
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Same thing applies to buying cars. When I'm just looking I wear ratty clothes. Can't get a salesman to even look in my direction, but then I get to look at cars in peace.



Once I figure out what I want to buy I wear decent clothes and then have to beat them off with a stick.


I solve that problem by never buying new cars. :-)
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Old 03-11-2018, 08:36 AM   #14
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Sorry to hear about your experience. But not surprising. Your perceptions are probably correct, but you can't let other's decide your experience.

I attended my first and second in 2013 and 2014. We were in the process on buying Dauntless during the first one. It's not the place to actually look at boats in a serious manner, unless you have a million bucks.

I don't understand you vendor comment about only 20 vendors. The hundreds of vendors is what made it worthwhile for me.
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Old 03-11-2018, 09:01 AM   #15
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Casey, I get the same treatment at boat shows. For you, It might be because you had your kids with you. I was told that brokers are not too crazy about them boarding boats. They touch things. Not saying that yours do, but just in general. Or perhaps you're a minority, which I am, and suspect might be the reason.

I talked to a broker friend about my lousy experience at my first boat show which I brought my 10 year old son to. He offered that it was likely because I had a child with me and how they don't like that. So, I started going alone or with my wife. But I noticed that I'm still ignored (not necessarily bad) and sometimes the salesmen are short with me when I ask a question. I once started a conversation with a sales rep of a budget brand boat and my wife noticed that the guy was brushing me off. She interjected by making a comment that indicated to the salesman that we own a boat and were looking to move up. He seemed very surprised by this and became polite and happy to talk to us. I had lost interest at that point.

I don't get the snobby treatment at the product booths though. I find the people to be nice and eager to talk about their products.

Btw, I dress just like most boaters when attending boat shows. Khaki shorts, polo shirt and Sperry deck shoes.

Odd that I don't get this kind of treatment when I go to other business establishments. Even shops on Rodeo Drive. But no Sperry's there, I put on Ferragamo loafers. Maybe I should wear them to boat shows.

But there's a positive to this. Now that I'm accustomed to this treatment, I no longer feel guilty of being aboard and no one bothers me when I tour a boat.
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Old 03-11-2018, 09:06 AM   #16
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Maybe there needs to be a "fest" that concentrates on education only. Get the vender in there covering engines, electronics, life style plus I am sure others can make suggestion for topics. A key problem would be scheduling the seminars so they dont compete for time/subject.
Finding a "fest" that display boats is not a problem or contact the brokers. Way too many of "you gotta have money before you can look at the boat."
IF someone wants to look at my AT34, let me know. I will "hose out" the interior and try to make it look pretty. I am between Ft Lauderdal and Miami, near Gulfstream race track. NO, my boat is not for sale, just a 'show and tell' and I will even listen to your suggestions for improvements. I think it is set up pretty good. Yea, I made a few mistakes but, it is more than the minimum required for cruising.
There is a American Tug broker located in Stuart, FL. He usually has some "previously owned" boats in stock plus one or two new boats. Information available upon request.

The way I dress, wrinkled shirt and wrinkled short and boat shoes, it's a wonder folks accept my credit card or even my cash when I buy groceries.
If you show up, to look at my boat, wearing ironed, wrinkle free clothes, you are suspect. LOL

Ah, if you expect me to know everything about every piece of equipment, you will be disappointed.
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Old 03-11-2018, 09:43 AM   #17
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Trawlerfest was disappointing, what did I miss? We drove from NC to Stuart, 10+ hours with kids, on Thursday and attended the show on Friday. Being our first Trawlerfest, it seemed unorganized as parking was a mess, and signage, directions were confusing. We did board about 12 boats (had no problem with the fixed docks and low tide) but was disappointed that there weren't more older or used boats in a lower price range. I don't think we saw a boat south of $300,000. While touring the boats, my wife and I both thought we were somewhat snubbed because we didn't look or act the part of high dollar boat buyers. (I know, what does a high dollar boat buyer look or act like exactly?) Maybe this was just our perception, maybe it was because we had two young kids with us (we didn't see any other children there) or maybe it was all in our heads but it sure seemed like an accurate perception. While on one very expensive boat, the rep asked me my boat budget. When I stated that we were budgeting around $400K to $450K he literally stopped talking to me mid conversation and began speaking with another couple. We also thought that the Kadey Krogan people were silly. They make you complete a "boarding pass" and be given a small clip to wear on your shirt before you can even see their boats close up or board them. Even if you weren't going to board one, they wouldn't let us proceed to the end of the t-dock where they were moored until you completed the form. I'm sure this was a marketing tool so they now have my name, email and phone number (well, they really don't because I gave them fake info). Nevertheless, we felt like having to complete the "boarding pass" and wearing the little clip was silly and somewhat pompous. These are just boats, albeit very nice and very expensive, but just boats after all. What's next, a credit check? I can go to most of my state's coastal marinas / boat shows and see much of what I saw at Trawlerfest.

As for the vendors. There were approx 20 vendors and the majority were insurance related or brokers. That's fine and certainly important but where were the product vendors? Many vendors we passed didn't even bother to say hello, good morning, nothing. Some didn't even look up at us as we walked by. They seemed bored and were usually on their phones or laptop. We got there that morning and they weren't even busy. I will say that the gentleman I spoke with at the MTOA booth was very informative and we had a great conversation. Also, Alyse Caldwell at the Ask Captain Chris booth was fantastic. She was informative, engaging and passionate about her services. She took the time to answer numerous questions we had and we truly enjoyed our time speaking with her. She will get our business in the future. The other vendors that didn't even attempt to engage in a conversation with us have lost us as customers.

Please understand, these are only our impressions of our first Trawlerfest. Maybe this was considered a fantastic event? Maybe our expectations were too high? Maybe we didn't fully understand what the event was all about? We have heard that the seminars are really good and maybe this is why most people attend a Trawlerfest. We did not attend any (kids in tow) and certainly may have a more favorable review had we attended some of them. To drive some 20+ hours round trip and spend over $500 on gas, food and lodging to see a few dozen high priced boats and 20 mostly disinterested vendors were just not what we had in mind and why we won't be attending another.
I left Stuart Tuesday morning on my new to me 1982 Marine Trader Double Cabin and spent 4 days cruising home to Clearwater Florida. Boat worked perfectly and was greatly maintained and cared for by the previous owner. Did not cost much either. I might say I left Trawlerfest in my wake! There are great used Trawlers out there if you look a lot and luck out as I did. I would not buy new even if I was worth 10 million dollars.
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Old 03-11-2018, 09:48 AM   #18
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Did see a cool Trawler

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I left Stuart Tuesday morning on my new to me 1982 Marine Trader Double Cabin and spent 4 days cruising home to Clearwater Florida. Boat worked perfectly and was greatly maintained and cared for by the previous owner. Did not cost much either. I might say I left Trawlerfest in my wake! There are great used Trawlers out there if you look a lot and luck out as I did. I would not buy new even if I was worth 10 million dollars.
Met a cool Trawler in a Lock on the Okeechobee waterway. It was a 1999 Fontain Pajot 37 ft Power Catamaran 17ft wide. with 2 140 Yanmars think it is called 'The Maryland' model. Saw some used ones on net for $150-200k.......Will go 15 knots. Owner says he cruises at 10. Check it out!!! BTW FP Mfgs metal nameplate on side says "Trawler."
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Old 03-11-2018, 10:43 AM   #19
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Never been to a trawler fest but was considering it, but mostly for the seminars.
The best "boat show" I have attended to date has been an AGLCA rendezvous "Looper Crawl". Thoroughly enjoyed going on in-progress looping boats that are being lived on and in the midst of a 6000 mile adventure.
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Old 03-11-2018, 11:09 AM   #20
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I solve that problem by never buying new cars. :-)
I don't buy new cars either. Works the same.
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