Saturday, January 30, 2010

Trawler Fest Fort Lauderdale

We are at the Bahia Mar Resort and Yachting Center (map), on the barrier island between the Atlantic and the Intracoastal Waterway. We have a nice spot next to the marina, with a view of the ocean across Fort Lauderdale's city beach.

Thursday night, while we were still parked at the casino, we decided to head downtown to the Tower Club for dinner as an early celebration of my birthday, since we'd be at the show on the actual day. That gave us an opportunity to swing by Bahia Mar on the scooters to check out the lot. I spoke with the parking attendant, gave him one of our cards with a photo of the bus, and asked where we could park for Trawler Fest. He indicated where we should go, but told us he'd have to check with management about the rate -- they weren't going to just let us in for the car rate of $18 per day. When we got back to the casino we stowed the bikes.

Yesterday morning we got rolling around 9:30 and made a stop at Easterlin County Park to dump our tanks and fill up with fresh water. They charge $8 for the privilege, but it is really the only game in town. Even though the total distance was just a dozen miles, it was nearly 11 by the time we rolled up to the parking gate at Bahia Mar. The attendant there had been briefed and recognized us, and informed us it would be $50 per day. Fine by us, so we took our parking ticket, rolled in and got settled in what looked to us to be the most out-of-the-way corner of the lot where we could get level.

At some point in the afternoon, the attendant that I had originally spoken to came by to collect the money. We ultimately negotiated it to $100 for both nights, since that would be just 48 hours. While that sounds like a lot to park in a parking lot with no hookups, consider that a 40' boat in the marina would pay $240 for the same period, and a room in this hotel for both nights (which does not include parking, a separate charge) would be $340. Add to that the fact that Fort Lauderdale is RV-unfriendly -- the on-street parking as well as the city park across the street are clearly posted "no RVs" (even for day use) -- so we couldn't even park in this neighborhood for the day, and $100 to spend the weekend here just a few steps from the show docks is a bargain. To top it all off, I found a 20-amp receptacle in the shrubbery a few feet from the bus, so we have hookups after all.

We're really glad we came to this show. We've barely seen half of the boats, but already we checked a bunch of to-do's off the list. Two boats that I've been looking at seriously "on paper," the Lagoon 43 catamaran as well as the Great Harbour N47 long-range cruiser, are both here and are now officially off the list as unworkable layouts and other unappealing characteristics. We finally got to see a Nordhavn 47 (we'd previously seen just about every other size), which is the closest modern Nordhavn to the original 46, probably the only boat from this builder that will fall within our budget. This turns out to be a very livable arrangement, although the newer boats have many nicer amenities that will be absent on the vintage we'll be looking at.

It was also good to be able to compare the Nordhavn 47 side-by-side with the American Tug 41. For us, the tug has a more livable interior, and it's easier to maneuver and cheaper to dock. However, poor access to the engine room, and a much more limited range are conspiring to strike it from the list.

We met several interesting folks at both lunch and dinner, and reconnected with people we met in Stuart as well. Dinner started off with a Mardi Gras themed cocktail party, and there was a costume contest after dinner. Our table elected me as our representative, and managed to dress me up, complete with a set of bodacious ta-tas consisting of a pair of balloons, a purple-green-red-gold grass skirt, cyalume tassles, and Mardi Gras mask, and we won first place, which earned me the crown as King of Mardi Gras. Now there are dozens of incriminating photos of me (none, unfortunately, on our own camera) "dressed up" on my birthday; I'm sure they'll start surfacing on the Internet shortly, or maybe even in Passagemaker Magazine. As a side note, the crown reminds me of those Imperial Margarine commercials. It was a fun time, though, and we stayed at least another hour just chatting with cruisers over cocktails.

In a few minutes we'll be heading out to the docks for our second day of browsing. The show actually runs through tomorrow afternoon, and if we don't catch everything today we can buy another day pass. More likely, though, we will just pack up in the morning and roll out. I'm expecting another cocktail-intensive evening over dinner, which is why we paid for a second night of parking.


  1. Spirit and I are left speechless... "The King is here"... bow, bow, bow...
    Have no date clue, but... "Happy Birthday Louise"... I feel safe now.

  2. Wish I could of got a peek at those "Ta-Ta's" LOL

  3. If you are ever up for sharing them, I'd love to hear your in depth (really!) thoughts on all the boats that you have considered. We probably have substantially different ultimate criteria, but I know that you and I appreciate a lot of the same sense of quality and smart design.

    I wish I was at Trawler Fest right now! *grin*

  4. @Chris: We'd ne happy to share our thoughts, but it is really way too lengthy to want to type. Next time we see you we can discuss it over cocktails.


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