Wednesday, September 29: 9 am – 12 pm

How to Get the Most Out of Your Annual Haulout with Steve Zimmerman

Every cruising boat needs to be hauled from time to time and careful planning will maximize the benefit. This class will give you a game plan for you next haulout. Topics include:

  • The benefits of a pre-haulout sea trial
  • Checking for blisters and what to do if you find them
  • How to find structural problems below waterline
  • Options for anti-foulant paints
  • Inspecting thru-hulls
  • Running gear inspection and maintenance
  • Gelcoat maintenance. Dealing with cracks
  • Checking for core issues on deck

Wednesday, Sept 29, 9 am -12 pm

Boat Handling Illustrated with Bob Arrington

(Prerequisite for Boat Handling on the Water)

The Boat Handling classroom session, combined with “Boat Handling on the Water” will help you develop skills in close quarters maneuvering and docking. You will learn how to prepare the boat for docking in a variety of situations, along with how to predict and adapt to wind and current. Taught by one of the best instructors in the business, Bob Arrington holds a USCG 100 Ton Masters License with over 40 years of practical experience at the helm. He enjoys sharing his passion for the water with new boaters, having taught boat handling skills in multiple venues for the past 25 years. Arrington also writes boat handling and cruising columns for Passagemaker and Power & Motoryacht Magazines. The Wednesday morning session is all class time followed by six on-the-water sessions on Wednesday – Friday. (SEPARATE REGISTRATION FOR ON-WATER SESSIONS REQUIRED). The certificate of completion awarded to attendees may enable some to save money on their boat insurance. An example of Arrington’s training can be found here at:


Wednesday, Sept 29, 9 am – 11 am

Offshore Cruising Preparations with Jeff Merrill

Offshore Preparations” was developed to review the necessary preparations required for trawler owners (and want-to-be owners) interested in transiting between sea ports for extended trips including overnight passages. This course is designed to be both an introduction and a refresher for owner operators and their crew.  You will be reviewing important knowledge and fundamental skills needed to understand what to expect and how be organized in order to ensure a safe trip. Jeff Merrill is an active yacht broker who has logged nearly 20,000 miles offshore on trawlers and has spent the majority of that time training with clients on systems and teaching them how to manage and run their boats safely offshore. Merrill will touch on key topics such as safety, weather, pre-departure preparation, captain responsibilities, crew orientation, watch standing, engine-room checks, pilothouse navigation/electronics operations, and more. This talk will also include examples of important checklists Merrill has created and refined over many years of traveling out of sight of land. Certificate of completion.


Wednesday, Sept 29, 12 pm – 2 pm

Nautical Know How with Bob Sweet

Rules & Ropes are two of the most basic skills you need to master.  Ever wonder what’s going through the mind of that other boater coming toward you? Rules of the road provide the most basic form of communications between boats.  Bob Sweet explains the rules in simple terms, making them easy to remember, and how to deal with those who clearly don’t know them.  You will get a handy guide you can keep at the helm as a reminder.

Ropes, called “lines” on board, not only hold the boat in place, but help you depart and dock with ease.  Knowing the essential knots makes you look good while helping place the boat where you want it and keep it there.  You will get to learn and practice a collection of very useful knots that are easy to tie, and easy to untie.


Wednesday, Sept 29, 1 pm – 4 pm

Cruising the IWC with Rudy & Jill Sechez

Have a yearning to cruise the ICW? This presentation by veteran cruisers Rudy and Jill Sechez will discuss situations that you will likely encounter and provide guidelines for managing them. Questions welcomed.

Some of the topics covered will be:

  • Distinguishing ICW Aids to Navigation (ATONs) from regular ATONs, and which side to keep the ‘red’ marks
  • Day shapes and lighted ATONs
  • Range marks
  • Keys and tricks when using charts on the ICW
  • Negotiating channels and tips for avoiding shoals
  • Visual clues to water depths and determining distances by sight
  • “Tides” and “Tidal Currents”
  • The various ways to appropriately signal bridges and locks for openings
  • Discussion of Chart 1 and the Coast Pilot
  • Understanding railroad bridges
  • ‘Truisms’
  • How to throw a line
  • Hand signals & unambiguous communication among crew
  • Choosing the correct shackle for your anchor chain
  • Suggested Reference books and manuals


Wednesday, September 29: 1 pm – 4 pm

Weather Tips with Chris Parker

Veteran marine forecaster Chris Parker learned these 20 tips through decades of observation, much of it while cruising. These tips include how to observe the texture of clouds to gauge whether a thunderstorm is developing, understanding how wind parallels coastline, understanding why wind generally weakens as its direction “backs,” and what it means when it strengthens instead. (Hint: Bad things can happen.)


Thursday, September 30, 9:00 am – 1:00 pm

Boat Buyers Survival Guide

Even when it goes well, buying a boat can be a stressful process. The idea behind this seminar is to arm buyers with the information they need to minimize frustration and unnecessary expense. There are six “team teach” instructors, with individual presentations and a group panel session at the end.  The seminar leads off with the first decision a prospective buyer of a cruising boat must make. That is, what kind of cruiser you plan to be and therefore which hull design, because, as boatbuilder Steve Zimmerman will argue, hull form matters.  Metal boat builders explain metal boat construction and its advantages and disadvantages and address custom boat building in general.


Thursday, September 30, 9:00 am – 12:00 pm

Great Loop with Kim Russo

The first hour of this seminar sets the foundation for the Great Loop by providing the answers to the most frequently asked questions about the route and how to cruise it and covering some of the Great Loop’s stats.  We’ll include details on distances, clearances, route options, locks, and Loop-capable boats. Then, we’ll take you on a tour of the route using photos submitted by Loopers.  You’ll get a great idea of the types of things you’ll see and do along the way and what are likely to be the highlights of the journey. During the second hour, we’ll be joined by veteran Loopers who will share the stories of their Great Loop adventures and give you the best tips they learned along the way.  The final hour focuses on how you can get started planning your own Great Loop adventure, including what to bring and what to leave behind, how to organize life aboard, how to stay in touch while cruising, popular apps among Loopers, and much more.  We’ll wrap up with a question-and-answer session to address whatever topics are left unanswered during the presentation.


Thursday, September 30, 9:00 am – 12:00 pm

Anchoring with Jill & Rudy Sechez

Don’t go if you can’t stay put… long-time cruisers and authors of “ANCHORINGA Ground Tackler’s Apprentice”, Rudy and Jill Sechez, will provide a thought- provoking PowerPoint presentation focusing on the four most critical aspects to prevent dragging. Topics include:

  • How to size your anchors, rodes, shackles, and swivels
  • Anchoring in sand, mud, weeds or rock
  • Determining the bottom’s make-up
  • How much scope is too little, and is there such a thing as too much?
  • Six factors to include when calculating scope
  • The danger of using 5:1 and 7:1 scope
  • Marking your rode
  • Determining the load on ground tackle at various wind speeds
  • Using more than one anchor
  • How to throw a line and hand signals

Time permitting: how to choose an anchorage, how to deploy and weigh anchor, and more … bring your questions!


Thursday, Sept 30, 12:00 pm – 12:45 pm

Why Argos is the Technology behind Safe Navigation with our Sponsor FarSounder

Learn about the latest in forward looking sonar technology. Join Matthew Zimmerman, Founder and VP of Engineering at FarSounder, to discover the unique features and capabilities of the Argos systems. These systems deliver a true 3D sonar image in real-time that overlays on nautical charts. They give users a clear understanding of what is ahead of the vessel under the water right now. The systems are easy to install and maintain and have no moving parts. They provide owner-operators peace of mind when navigating in unknown and uncharted waters.


Thursday, September 30, 1:00 pm – 2:45 pm

Informal Ladies Tea with Jill Sechez, Annie Dike, Pat Rains and Kim Russo

This seminar is for women who think they may want to go cruising or who have only recently entered into the cruising lifestyle and have a wide range of questions best answered by other women, and, alas, without any men in the room.


Thursday, September 30, 1:00 pm – 2:45 pm

Solar Design with Tim Trimmer

Having plenty of electric power on board while cruising can make the difference between a fantastic experience and a marginal one. Solar energy is an excellent source of electrical power for the cruising sailboat or power boat. Figuring out the size of solar panels you need and matching them up with the various accessories required for a complete high-performance system can be a daunting task. This seminar will address how to approach the design and procurement of a solar system and provide information on the current technology available. The seminar will wrap up with practical techniques for wiring and installing the solar system and how to troubleshoot issues with the solar system. Seminar Length: 2 hours plus Q & A. Level: This seminar will appeal to both entry and immediate level attendees.


Thursday, September 30, 3:00 pm – 5:00 pm

Electronics for Navigation with Bob Sweet

The good news: electronics have made boating a lot safer and more enjoyable.  Selecting what to get, having it installed, and using it effectively are among the biggest challenges facing most boaters.  Bob Sweet is author of The Weekend Navigator, GPS for Mariners, Powerboat Handling Illustrated, and served as the National Educational Officer of the U.S. Power Squadrons.  He as an expert on navigation and boating explains the ins-and-outs of what you need, how to select what is right for you, what devices need to come from the same manufacturer, how to connect them and get them on board, and finally, how to use them effectively.  Marketing brochures and manuals may only lead to confusion.  Let’s clear it up so you become an informed buyer and user.


Friday, October 1, 9:00 am – 3:00 pm

Diesel Engines with Nigel Calder

The diesel engine is a critically important piece of safety equipment aboard any cruising boat. Tech guru Nigel Calder, author of the best-selling ‘Marine Diesel Engines’ (now in its 3rd edition, and used as a text book in numerous diesel classes) brings his broad experience to a seminar for boatowners, both power and sail, that want to get the most out of their time on the water. We will dive into a detailed look at fuel, oil, cooling, airflow, and powertrain systems, describing all normal maintenance procedures and including often overlooked critical installation issues. We will explore basic troubleshooting techniques for common diesel engine problems, defining what the untrained boatowner can reasonably be expected to do and what should not be attempted. You will come away from this seminar with an enhanced understanding of your engine and the confidence to carry out routine maintenance, which alone will save you the price of admission. No previous experience is required.


Friday, October 1, 9:00 am – 11:00 am

Rock the Boat with Annie Dike

Sometimes you have to rock the boat!  If you and your partner/spouse are considering cruising or have been cruising for some time but you approach all aspects of the lifestyle as captain (typically the male) and passenger (often the female) it’s time to rock the boat!  In this seminar, Annie will share the value, and lessons learned, in approaching all elements of cruising—from anchoring, docking, navigation, boat maintenance, repairs, and (yes) piloting the boat—as a team and the rewards and benefits an equal partnership can bring, making your cruising more fun and even more safe.  If you have a partner who you would like to become more inspired to play a more active role in cruising, this seminar will benefit you both.


Friday, October 1, 9:00 am – 11:00 am

What to Look for Before you Hire a Surveyor with Dylan Bailey

So, you want to buy a boat? Boatbuilder, cruiser and ace-surveyor Dylan Bailey explains what you should look for before making an offer and hiring a marine surveyor. A dream of the perfect cruising boat can be crushed when its surveyed, but some of those deal-killers could have been detected early were it not for the fact that buying a boat is rarely a rational decision; we are often lead by our hearts. Bailey explains the ways in which buyers can slow down and take a look at the boat with the rose-colored glasses off. He will cover how to inspect hoses, valves, wiring mistakes, and signs of structural damage. There will be many photos of examples of what to look for. Attendees will be given a check list to follow for their inspection.


Friday, October 1, 11:00 am – 11:45 am

How to Finance Your Dream Boat With Cindy Lewis from Sterling Associates

What you need to know about financing and insuring your boat. The requirements lenders will have, for insurance and financing. What you want to have to protest yourself on insurance and financing. Finance programs that fit your needs.


Friday, October 1, 11:15 am – 1:15pm

Waves / Sea with Chris Parker

Everything you really need to know about seas, and how to interpret seastate forecasts. Topics include: Define wave height and interval (period), Explore the concept of “apparent wave interval”, Why waves develop, How waves dissipate energy, How waves impact your vessel, How fast waves propagate, Multiple wave trains and their interaction (phasing of wave trains)How waves are influenced by currents, landmasses, shoaling and fetch.

Chris will share his unique rule of thumb so you can create your own accurate forecast for wind-chop (wind driven waves). We’ll show you a handy, free online tool which will help you understand how waves respond to changes in wind speed, weather depth, and fetch.And He will finish by looking at a few examples of wave forecasts, and offer tips on how to interpret them so you make better decisions with respect to seas.


Friday, October 1, 1:45 pm – 3:45 pm

Corrosion Prevention and Shore Power with Steve Zimmerman

Protecting your underwater hardware from stray current can save you thousands of dollars, and protecting you from shore power flaws can save lives. This class will cover:

  • Marine corrosion explained – the mysteries of “electrolysis” will no longer be mysteries
  • Bonding – what is it and why you need it
  • Sacrificial anodes: what’s best for you…zinc…aluminum…magnesium?
  • Shore power safety – how to prevent shocks and drowning.


Friday, October 1, 1:45 pm – 3:45 pm

Battery Technology with Tom Trimmer

An Introduction to LiFePO4 Marine Battery Technology: It’s time to replace your batteries again. Lithium Iron Phosphate (LiFePO or LFP) batteries are expensive but are they the best long-term investment for your power needs? Many experts say yes! What is this battery technology all about and how do I determine if it is the best alternative for my boat? This seminar will address LiFePO4 battery technology and how to design a battery bank to meet your power needs. The last third of the seminar will address wiring and installation tips for installing and maintaining LiFePO4 battery technology. Seminar Length: 2 hours plus Q & A. Level: This seminar will appeal to both entry and immediate level attendees. Speaker Bio: Tom Trimmer is the founder and owner of Custom Marine Products, a company specializing


Saturday, October 2, 9:00 am – 3:00 pm

Electrical Systems and troubleshooting with Nigel Calder

Electrical systems are now the number one cause of problems on boats that have anything more than a rudimentary electrical system. Most problems can be traced to inadequate design and/or poor installation. Tech guru Nigel Calder, author of the best-selling ‘Boatowner’s Mechanical and Electrical Manual’ (now in its fourth edition) will begin with a description of key design criteria that must be met if a DC system is to meet the needs of the boatowner. In the process, we will reference some of the newer technologies that are likely to transform the performance of electrical systems in coming years. Then we will delve into basic installation requirements that comply with boatbuilding and safety standards, but which unfortunately are often not met. This includes the important, and often neglected, provision of adequate over-current protection. We will round out the day by looking at simple multimeter troubleshooting techniques that can be safely conducted by any boat owner. This seminar is designed for the inexperienced and requires no prior knowledge although it will be challenging for some. It will help you understand your own electrical systems and to nip many common problems in the bud.


Saturday, October 2, 9:00 am – 11:00 am

How to Buy a Used Boat with Steve Zimmerman

This talk provides a unique perspective on the boat buying process. Boatyards usually become involved AFTER the checks have been cashed and the boat changes hands. Too often the buyer finds out what he should have known before the purchase. This seminar will give you the tools you need to understand how the game is played, what questions to ask, and how identify the right kind of boat for your plans. This is a practical workshop, delving into the bilges of the boat buying process.  Topics include: How to identify the best design type for your plans using a Boat Selection Matrix

Understanding the brokerage process and how it has changed. The role of a marine surveyor and how to find a good one. Interpreting survey findings and post-survey negotiations.


Saturday, October 2, 9:00 am – 11:00 am

Cruising Safety with Bob Arrington

This popular program originally developed by the Cruising Club of America, helps couples work better together during challenging situations. You will learn confidence building skills, specifically geared towards how to prepare for onboard emergencies.  The course will cover the most important skills you would need if you had to over command of the boat.  This kind of training is like insurance for emergencies – you hope you won’t need it, but you will be glad you have it. The course covers a range of essential boating safety practices, with particular emphasis on completing a safe voyage as a couple.

Safety for Cruising Couples Topics Include:

  • Importance of Teamwork and Confidence Building
  • Dealing with Emergencies
  • Person Overboard and Recovery Skills
  • Basic boat skills necessary to know in an emergency
  • Know Before You Go: GPS, VHF, Using Charts and Chart-plotters
  • Navigation and Safety Equipment
  • Getting Help DSC Distress Communications
  • Preparing yourself and your boat


 Saturday, October 2, 11:00 am – 1:00 pm

Weather Apps with Chris Parker

In this 2 hour seminar, we will assume you have a basic understanding of weather (you may want to take the Weather Basics course on Wednesday September 29 afternoon), and we’ll jump right in and explore the best free weather websites and apps, as well as apps and websites worth paying for. We will demonstrate the features and use of each app or website. You’ll learn which weather and wave models to use and when, which weather parameters to explore, and model limitations.  This will be an interactive seminar – I encourage you to ask us about the weather apps and websites you use, and I’ll explain their strengths and weaknesses versus the apps and websites we demonstrate.  I also encourage you to ask how weather apps and websites can best be used for specific go / no-go decisions you have made, or plan to make, and for generating a forecast for a specific journey (past or future).


Saturday, October 2, 11:00 am – 1:00 pm

Panama with Pat Rains

The Panama Canal is the boating crossroads of the world. Pat Rains (100-ton USCG Master) has transited the Panama Canal 38 times on 38 different powerboats while delivering yachts from FL to CA with husband Capt John Rains. She’s the author of “Cruising Ports: the Central American Route.”

Where are the 4 best places to prepare your boat & crew before transiting the Panama Canal: 2 on Caribbean side; 2 on Pacific side. What about guests on board?

Paperwork steps: Hire a ship’s agent, schedule ACP inspect & admeasure, pay fees, get transit date & time.

Prep steps: Take on fuel & provisions. Hire line handlers. Rig canal lines & canal fenders. Clear decks, cook ahead for 12-hr transit. Drill 4 line handlers and 1-2 helmsman.

Pros & cons of Chamber Options: (1.) center chamber solo; (2.) center chamber rafted; (3.) side wall; (4.) alongside tug. Who’s in control? How to prepare for surprises.

Transit Schedule Options: (1.) Normal expedited. (2.) Banana Cut detour. (3.) Overnight in Gatun Lake or Gamboa. How much does that cost?

Three mistakes to avoid: wrong fenders, wrong line handlers, danger in final lock.

Four cool spots not to miss: San Blas Islands, Portobelo, Casco Viejo, Perlas Islands.

What’s new for yachts (1.) under the latest Covid rules; (2.) yacht route since the giant Post Panamax locks opened. Pat details all the actual steps of the transit, either direction: up-lock 3 chambers, cross Gatun Lake, down-lock 3 chambers. No sweat!

Pat’s seminar participants each receive a packet of Panama Canal info and Pat’s Contact List of reputable PanCan Ship’s Agents, also a generous discount on inscribed copies of  her nautical guidebook  “Cruising Ports: the Central American Route.”


Saturday, October 2, 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm

Bahama Top Ten with Annie Dike

Having sailed and explored and written numerous articles about the exquisite Bahamas, Annie will now share with you her Bahamas Top Tens, from snorkeling to diving, pig-feeding to beach-combing, kite-surfing to conch-harvesting, exploring ashore, and even the best hurricane hole.  Annie will share some of her favorite places and anchorages in the Abacos, Andros, the Berries, Eleuthera, and the tip of the Exumas and all that this stunning island chain, only a few hours from Florida’s eastern coast, has to offer.  Out of all the cruising Annie and her partner, Phillip, have done (and have yet to do) they both suspect the Bahamas will still be their favorite place to cruise.  Find out why!


Saturday, October 2,  3:00 pm – 5:00 pm

Ask the Experts:  A Town Hall Meeting

In this “town hall” event, our panel of veteran cruisers will field audience questions on a wide-range of topics, sea stories always resulting. Jeff Merrill, the moderator, is a yacht broker, author and trawler specialist with thousands of cruising miles with clients. Surveyor.  Steve Zimmerman can discuss repairs and boatyards from the point of view of both a cruiser and boatyard owner. Chris Parker, a veteran marine weather router, spent more than 20 years cruising the East Coast and the islands. To name a few.


Sunday, October 3, 9:00 am – 11:00 am

Central America with Pat Rains

Central America: Sportfishing & Cruising in the Pacific Tropics

Guide to the best sportfishing grounds and nearby cruising/resort marinas along Central America’s Pacific coastline, from the Panama Canal northwest to southern Mexico. Geographically this covers 1,200 n.m. of coastal waters: Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala.

Bring your own boat (BYOB) vs fly in and charter a local boat and guide? Dry season vs Wet Season: pros & cons to both. Plan your angling /cruising itinerary for marlin, sailfish, dorado, rooster fish, giant grouper, even some fresh water species. Pat shows you 3 places to avoid due to exorbitant fees, vessel traffic, thieves). Also, 3 gorgeous places you’ve just gotta’ see. What’s there to do when you’re not fishing? Plus the latest on each country’s Covid rules.

Seminar participants will each receive a goodies packet including CentAm fish facts, chartlets, a list of marinas & resorts along this popular tropical route, plus a generous discount on inscribed copies of Pat’s nautical guidebook “Cruising Ports: the Central American Route.”


Sunday, October 3, 9:00 am – 11:00 am

Boat Monitoring with Bob Arrington

There is a point in the life of every problem when it’s big enough to see, but still small enough to do something about. Early detection is the key to keeping small problems from becoming catastrophic aboard a boat. Boat monitoring systems are intended to help you handle the “small” problems aboard, before they become to big to handle. Join Bob Arrington, an experienced cruiser, writer and educator, as he takes you through the growing field of vessel monitoring systems. Arrington will provide an in-depth description of helm-based monitoring systems, designed to alert you to trouble while underway, Helm based monitoring systems offer an early warning that can prevent an otherwise simple problem from resulting in an expensive repair. Voyages are more enjoyable knowing you are prepared to handle small problems when they arise. You will also learn about the latest technology in remote monitoring systems, designed to provide peace of mind in monitoring the condition of your boat when you are away from it. Remote monitoring systems connect you with your boat anywhere, any time. Understand the differences in wired versus wireless sensors, and systems using cellular connectivity compared to satellite networks. You have apps that connect you to your house and your car, join us as we explore the latest available technologies to stay connected to your boat as well.


Sunday, October 3, 11:15 am – 1:15 pm

Dialing in Your Boat with Jeff Merrill

Over the years and through his experiences on hundreds of trawlers, yacht broker Jeff Merrill has amassed a collection of “good ideas” and “best practices” that trawler owners are using to better monitor their vessels. These simple and effective techniques apply to most power cruising boats. Tricks of the trade and helpful reminders will help take some of the guesswork out of tracking various systems and equipment on board your trawler. Little details like reference marks for needles on analog gauges, a dry-erase board in your engine room, anchor chain marking and many other common-sense tips make this an engaging and informative seminar that you won’t want to miss. Merrill will share photos of these ideas and discuss an assortment of products that you should consider using on your trawler that will not only make your life more enjoyable but may also favorably affect your eventual resale value.


Sunday, October 3, 1:30 pm – 3:30 pm

Cruising Florida with Bob Arrington

Florida is a cruising destination for boaters from around the world, and why not, the peninsula-state has almost 9,000 miles of shoreline and is surrounded on three sides by The Atlantic Ocean, The Gulf of Mexico and the Straights of Florida. While Florida is a single state, it has distinctly different boating environments. Join our resident cruising authority, Bob Arrington as he reveals the best Florida has to offer. In this program he will cover: 

  • Atlantic ICW versus Gulf ICW
  • Coastal cruising and offshore waters
  • Managing the Gulf stream
  • Best inlets
  • Transiting the Okeechobee Waterway
  • Manatee zones, seasons, and speed restrictions 
  • The Keys – top to bottom, inside and out