Submitted by Gerry Clare
Almost 33 years ago, Captains Mike Creedon and Pete Donnelly decided to survey Marine Trader owners to start a club “to enhance and magnify the joys of owning a Marine Trader, hoping to share cruising experiences, rendezvous’, improving their vessels, and favorite gunkholes”. Now, that organization has grown to over 2,000 members. The name has changed from Marine Trader to Marine Trawler Owners Association, but the mission still survives.
You may wonder, “ What is a Marine Trader?” It is a boat brand for a trawler-type boat that normally travels faster than a sailboat and slower than a speed boat. (See picture of a 1977 Marine Trader and the MTOA “turtle flag.”) However, it is appropriate that the group is celebrating its second Southern Rendezvous this week in Fernandina Beach, birthplace of the modern shrimping industry, and home to many shrimp boats called trawlers.
Theboats have been arriving for over a week now, and many are planning to stay for Shrimp Festival. You’ll notice a large white tent near the south parking lots by the Marina with registration starting Monday, April 15th and activities proceeding through April 19th. Approximately 70 boats and 185 people are registered and many will be doing the pub crawl Monday evening, some dressed as pirates. Formal activities and meetings follow on April 16th to the 19th at the tent and the Hampton Inn downtown.
Bill and Barbara Reed (Southern Operations Directors) from Jacksonville were here early making arrangements. They met with this reporter and her husband on their boat, “Sequel”, and filled us in on some of the history of the group and the activities involved as well as the fact that the group plans to make a donation to Fernandina Beach High School’s Exceptional Student Education (ESE).
Pat and Dave Block were managing the registration in the tent on Monday and are owners of one of the oldest Marine Traders, a 1977 vintage model named “Indecision.” As Pat said, “Indecision is the key to flexibility.” See the picture with Buddy guarding their home away from home. Pat mentioned that the total number of nights generated by the marina boats alone is 1,000, but there also will be a lot of visitors touring our area, dining and shopping.
One of the more unusual boats at the dock is “Mosey,” a steel hull 65 foot trawler, built by owner Ken Chumley. Ken is Membership Chair in case you are interested in joining MTOA or see www.mtoa.net. There are many other interesting vessels at the Marina anywhere from about 25 to 65 feet long.
It is wonderful to have this group return to our area and appreciate all of our amenities. Remember to greet boaters looking for information and welcome them back to Fernandina Beach.
April 15, 2103 4:45 p.m