July 1, 2013
When The Water Calls ... We Follow


June 20, 2013
New Adventures


May 31, 2013
Storing Our Shiny Red Tug


May 13, 2013
Viva La Difference


May 6, 2013
Swinging Free & Easy


April 15, 2013
In The Middle


March 29, 2013
On The Hook


March 18, 2013
Tinker Time


February 28, 2013
Jumping Into the Mix


February 15, 2013
Time Travel


February 6, 2013
Charlevoix - A Small Town With A World-Class Reputation


January 15, 2013
The Perfect Ending


January 1, 2013
Magical Weather & Mysterious Ports


December 15, 2012
Collins Inlet, Killarney, & Little Current


December 1, 2012
New Neighbors


November 16, 2012
What Makes a Perfect Anchorage?


November 1, 2012
Are We There Yet?


October 15, 2012
CHANGE OF LATITUDE


October 1, 2012
Womens Roundtable


September 15, 2012
Freedom to Discover a Southern Gem


September 1, 2012
Promises


August 15, 2012
Nice to Have Options


August 1, 2012
Go West!


July 15, 2012
The Perfect Boating Vacation Destination


July 1, 2012
Propane


June 15, 2012
Flagler’s Folly


June 1, 2012
Everglades Detour


May 15, 2012
Making New Friends


May 1, 2012
Something Old and Something New


April 15, 2012
Florida’s Wide Open West Coast


April 1, 2012
Life On the Water in a Trailerable Trawler


March 15, 2012
Becoming Second Nature


March 1, 2012
Last Dance


February 15, 2012
Call it Romance or Mystique


February 1, 2012
Natural Wonders Abound


January 15, 2012
Hardly a Care in the World


January 1, 2012
Wide-Eyed Anticipation


December 15, 2011
Winding Our Way to Lake Powell


December 1, 2011
On to New Cruising Grounds


November 15, 2011
Sharing the Love


November 1, 2011
On the Water Again


October 14, 2011
First Impressions


October 3, 2011
Possession is Nine-Tenths of the Fun


September 15, 2011
Getting the Show on the Road


September 1, 2011
Lets Dance!


August 15, 2011
Getting Our Ducks in a Row


August 1, 2011
Summer Without a Boat


July 15, 2011
The Water and The Boater Home


July 1, 2011
One Step Closer


June 15, 2011
Time Keeps on slippin’ Into the Future


June 1, 2011
Made in the USA


May 15, 2011
Making the Right Truck Choice


May 1, 2011
Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder


April 15, 2011
What Goes Around Comes Around


April 1, 2011
Wishing Star Interlude


March 15, 2011
Helping Hands


March 1, 2011
THE PERFECT BOAT!


February 15, 2011
Weighing the Options


February 1, 2011
Making a List, Checking it Twice!


January 14, 2011
The Science of Towing


December 30, 2010
The Upside of Downsizing


December 15, 2010
The New Plan!


December 1, 2010
Homeward Bound-The Final Leg


November 15, 2010
Somethings In The Water


November 1, 2010
Our Turn to Relax & Smile


October 15, 2010
Gem in the Rough


October 1, 2010
Whats Your Favorite Place on the Loop?


September 15, 2010
Reflecting Pool


September 1, 2010
Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder


August 15, 2010
Canadian Wonderland


August 1, 2010
"Low Bridge, Everybody Down"


July 15, 2010
One Day At A Time


July 1, 2010
Decisions, Decisions, Decisions!


June 15, 2010
Lets All Do the Rendezvous


June 1, 2010
On the Hard


May 15, 2010
Falling in Love With Key West


May 1, 2010
Helping Women Get On Board


April 15, 2010
Key West - A Repeat Performance


April 1, 2010
Unexpected Pleasures


March 15, 2010
Mom Cruise


March 1, 2010
Okeechobee Bound


February 15, 2010
Chance Encounters


February 1, 2010
Three Nights in Paradise


January 15, 2010
New Frontiers


January 1, 2010
First Time Experiences


December 15, 2009
A Friend In Every Port


December 1, 2009
Dealing With A Temperamental Lady


November 18, 2009
You Say Goodbye, I Say Hello


November 13, 2009
A Cult Following


October 15, 2009
Somewhere in Time


October 1, 2009
Unlocking Our Minds Eye


September 18, 2009
Its In My Nature


August 15, 2009
The RBS Antidote


August 1, 2009
Crab Crazy


July 15, 2009
Sights And Sounds Of The Bay


July 15, 2009
Sights And Sounds Of The Bay


June 15, 2009
Our Last Leg North


June 1, 2009
Northern Migration


May 15, 2009
Priceless


May 1, 2009
Hello Goodbye


April 15, 2009
Let The Sun Shine In!


April 1, 2009
Dont Worry, Be Happy


March 15, 2009
Bahama Bound


March 1, 2009
What Do You Do All Day?


February 15, 2009
Slow Motion


February 1, 2009
On The Hook With A Million-Dollar View


January 15, 2009
High Anxiety


January 1, 2009
A String Of One-Night Stands


December 15, 2008
Pushing Into New Tennessee River, Upstream To Adventure


December 1, 2008
All Together Now


November 15, 2008
Kismet in the Aftermath of Hurricane Ike


October 31, 2008
Our Love Affair With The River


October 16, 2008
Big City Lights


October 1, 2008
The Adventure Begins


September 15, 2008
Prepping For The Loop


September 1, 2008
The Space Ship


August 15, 2008
Jumping Aboard In Seattle


August 1, 2008
If We Knew Then What We Know Now!


July 10, 2008
The Second Time Around


July 1, 2008
Our Turn For The Great American Loop

   

A Cult Following
By Kismet, Friday, November 13, 2009

Crisfield, Maryland

Before we left Michigan in 2005 to begin our first Great Loop, we joined America’s Great Loop Cruising Association (AGLCA) and our close friends Mike and Lynn Borer quickly started referring to our new affiliation as that “cult” we’d joined. Well, as we headed north up the Intracoastal Waterway last spring we made a decision to become members of another faction of the boating community, the Marine Trawler Owner’s Association (MTOA).

The turtle image shows up everywhere during an MTOA organized event.
MTOA (www.mtoa.net) is a nonprofit, member operated, boating club established in 1990 by two Marine Trader Trawler owners to foster friendship among like-minded boaters while providing a forum for sharing experiences and trading information on a boating lifestyle typical of a trawler owner. The creation of this association has also given its members many opportunities to congregate and experience numerous rendezvous and cruising events. MTOA currently has over 2000 active members, representing over 1000 boats of varying makes and models, not all members have trawlers or even boats for that matter but if a person’s interest lies in this type of cruising they’re more than welcome to become members. Forty states, and several foreign countries, are represented in this membership.

New friends and old include, from left, Brantly and Brenda, Frank Irwin, current President of MTOA, and of course our good friend Louis.
As we learned more about this organization, through the many members we’ve met during our travels, we realized that there might be some real and tangible benefits for us in joining this association of boaters. First, we own a trawler, Kismet, a Fathom 40 Fast Trawler. So right off the bat we have a lot in common with every member of the group, and thought we could learn a lot from their collectively shared experiences. Secondly, there are many discounts associated with being a member of MTOA that appealed to us, such as having reciprocity at yacht clubs that are Yacht Club of America (YCA) members, and because MTOA is a BoatUS partner we’d be eligible for a membership discount with BoatUS (of course we’ve already been members for some time). Last, but not least, this looked like a great opportunity for making new friends all over the country as MTOA is both a regional as well as a national organization who hosts two big national rendezvous and many regional local gatherings and cruises throughout the year.

When we visited our friends Louis and Diane Wade, at their beautiful beach house in Atlantic Beach, North Carolina, over the past Labor Day weekend, we made plans to next meet at the national “The Old Bay” Northern Rendezvous in Crisfield, Maryland. The Wades are also new members and we were all looking forward to a fun time in Crisfield learning about MTOA. In the months after we joined we received many emails welcoming us to the organization along with information about the upcoming rendezvous. After we signed up for the rendezvous we were notified about many of the activities such as the volunteer opportunities available during the rendezvous that we could sign up for ahead of time. We were emailed a tentative schedule of events and information on what to bring to the first night’s potluck dinner. Before we left for Crisfield we were given, not only our boat assignment for the duration of the get together, but the names and email address of our chosen “mentors” George and Hilarie Bliss, who in turn emailed us to offer their assistance and guidance the minute we arrived in Crisfield.

When Saturday September 12th came around, we were itching to head out across the Chesapeake Bay towards the Eastern Shore of Maryland not only for a planned reunion with our friends the Wades, who were coming by car, but to visit new boating territory for us. The Bay was fairly calm when we left our dock in Solomons but as we approached the Potomac River, we experienced bigger wave action and until the river was behind us, we rocked and rolled a lot. Our first night was spent peacefully on the hook at Smith Point, on the south side of the Potomac River, up into the Little Wicomico River. The next morning our one-night stop at Tangier Island was only a short hop away. Monday morning we made the last leg of the trip to Crisfield, we arrived mid-day and were greeted at the dock by two volunteer MTOA dockhands and welcoming committee. I have to tell you that our first impression of this organization was very favorable as we were promptly and professionally tied up and had all our immediate questions answered before we even set foot on ground.

We first met Lee and Carol while out dinghying around Back Creek in the Solomons. We shared many dinners with them during the rendezvous and had a private tour of their beautiful Marine Trader trawler Carol Anne.
After we got the boat settled we set off towards the tents to register and pick up our packet, which was filled with rendezvous information, t-shirts, and so on. At registration, we signed up as participants for the Crab Race to be held on Wednesday night during Happy Hour and put our boat on the list to be available for the Boat Visits on Wednesday. We introduced ourselves to other members as we all registered and walked the docks to look at all the different trawler types represented. It was during our dock walk that we ran into a few boaters who we’d previously met during our many trips, among them were Mike and Bobbi Huck, from Sybaris, whom we met during our first Great Loop trip, and Lee and Carol Kirwan, of Carol Anne, who we met only recently in the Solomons. This was a big event with 75 boats at the dock and about 180 people in attendance – either by boat or car.

The MTOA membership runs this organization, so volunteerism is an important element of this group. To promote this activity the organization has an interesting pin system to reward participation. It is amazing how people will work their butts off to obtain one of those pins and more importantly because they enjoy helping out. Jim and I had signed up earlier, by email, to volunteer at this event, Jim with the Facilities Committee and I with the Social Committee. Jim’s job was to help George Kay, the committee chair, to move chairs and tables, empty garbage, and just about anything else that needed to be moved or rearranged. I was assigned a night to help set up and host the beverage booth. I was happy to work with Pat Daniels on the last night pouring wine and meeting many people I had not yet had the chance to talk to. After dinner on Thursday night, all the volunteers received a green turtle pin in recognition of their service. Committee Chair people got a different colored pin in recognition of the added responsibilities of their jobs. These acquired pins are proudly worn on members’ name plackets and we could see how some members volunteered a lot with the many pins they had displayed on the plackets that they wear around their necks. It’s a helpful group of folks.

Hurricane Hazel gave an amazing demonstration first on how we could pick a crab followed by how fast she could pick a crab when she is working.
One of the other benefits of attending an MTOA Rendezvous are the many scheduled events, too many to even mention here, but we attended several that were of interest to us. The first day was mostly just for registering with an elaborate cocktail and member created hors d’oeuvres (really a feast in disguise) reception. Tuesday morning we woke early to attend the breakfast and Welcome Meeting shortly after.

I really tried to sit still during a Basic Engine Room course I attended with Jim but as there was a sale going on in the Ship’s Store, just on the other side of the tent, I was a little distracted to focus completely. I had envisioned the course to be more of an introduction to engines, which in my mind meant showing a basic diesel engine and explaining its fixable parts and what basic maintenance/emergency issues might be encountered, why and what to do and so on. Instead, it was more about the inner workings of the engine with big diagrams, which Jim understood and found helpful. However, I did find some good sale items in the Ship’s Store as they were trying to liquidate their inventory, a stimulus sale of sorts.

The members who volunteered to help with the Crab Race had to wear thick gloves because the crabs just did not want to cooperate and wanted to hang on for dear life.
Jim enjoyed a few educational classes on his own that were of interest to him and they included not only the Basic Engine Room course but the Advanced Engine Room course as well. He also attended Line Handling and Heavy Weather Docking, Boat Insurance and Building Chesapeake Boats. All of these were interesting presentations and discussions for serious boaters.

There were at least four different flavors of this famous Smith Island layer cake served Tuesday night. It is very similar to an English torte and yes, it was as yummy as it looks.
We both attended “The Building of Mosey,” by Ken Chumley, the builder/owner. He had taken an old steel hull and completely rebuilt it to create an interesting one-of-a-kind boat. On Thursday, Jim and I attended events dealing with two different cruising-guide organizations. Jack Dozier didn’t really need to introduce his Waterway Guides and Skipper Bob Publications, as they’ve been almost every cruiser’s Bible to the waterways of the Eastern United States and Bahamas. We were pleased to see Jack again and Jim was honored to have been able to fill a temporary editing position for their current 2010 Southern Edition Cruising Guide book. Later in the day Jeff and Amy Siegel introduced their fairly new Active Captain website to the membership and we learned more about this different approach to an online cruising guide.

I attended Cooking Your Chesapeake Catch event with my friends Diane and Brenda given by Christie Chumley, an experienced fisherwoman and professional chef. Christie started her presentation with many samples of her cooking talent. We left this presentation with tips for fishing and recipes on cooking your catch. Christie also provided us with a batch of Arabian sourdough starter, which she gave to us back at her boat Mosey, where we also got a tour of their unusual boat. Later that day I attended a crab-picking demonstration with Hazel Cropper, aka Hurricane Hazel, who is not only a person of excellent character, but also the current reigning Crab Picking Champion of the World, having just won the annual Crisfield Labor Day crab-picking contest again this year. Hazel picks just over six pounds of clean crabmeat in fifteen minutes. She gave both the slow-mo and the high-speed versions of her craft at this demonstration.

Old Bay was as sponsor for the MTOA crab evening. We were all treated to samples of many of the Old Bay products as we practiced our crab picking skills on trays full of freshly cooked crab.
Besides all of the educational moments we encountered there was a daily Waterman’s Breakfast, a hot-dog lunch and every evening a different sort of dinner was planned after a lengthy Happy Hour. Monday of course was the hors d’oeuvres night, Tuesday was a member-created Pot Luck/Covered Dish immediately followed by a romantic Coffee House setting for music, coffee, and dessert (the infamous, many layered, and delicious, Smith Island Cake). Wednesday night began with the Crab Race that we signed up for on the first day, unfortunately our crabs, Oscar and Spike were not too speedy and we lost our rounds. This race was followed by, naturally, the Crab Pickin’ Party. Big trays of fresh crab to pick and eat along with fried chicken and many side dishes. Thursday night started again with a long Happy Hour, which preceded a delicious banquet dinner followed by the Awards Ceremony and pin-giving.

There was a bounty of food this evening and it was very painstaking, messy, business picking crab but it was well worth the effort and once again we left the table stuffed.