TrawlerFest Boat Show is moving to Bremerton

BREMERTON — After a decade in Anacortes, the TrawlerFest Boat Show and seminar series is moving to Bremerton.

Dates are May 16-20 at Bremerton Marina.

TrawlerFest is a celebration of the cruising lifestyle with a focus on trawler yachts. Among the boat brands are Grand Banks, Nordhavn, Kadey-Krogen and anything with “tug” in its name.

TrawlerFest is part of the same organization that publishes PassageMaker, a magazine devoted to this boating niche.

Port of Bremerton Marina operations manager Kathy Garcia said the five-day event is going to be good “for the whole downtown core.”

PassageMaker is expecting 1,500 attendees and 55-70 boats, as well as 40-50 vendor booths. Seminars will take place in the downtown conference center. The Manette Yacht Club will provide catering services. The event concludes the same Saturday as the Armed Forces Day Parade.

“We’re excited,” Garcia said. “The Blackberry Festival is the biggest event on our waterfront, but as far as boating events, [TrawlerFest] is shaping up to be the biggest.”

The Bremerton Marina’s guest moorage has room for 100 boats. “We still have room for visitors,” Garcia said. “We’re offering moorage at the Port Orchard Marina, because we have foot-ferry service between Port Orchard and Bremerton.”

The audience for TrawlerFest is predominantly older than 55, according to event organizers. “These are couples, often retired, who either want to live aboard their boats or cruise for extended periods of time,” organizers reported. “Some are content to remain in home waters while others will strike out for Alaska, Mexico, South Pacific islands or go around the world. Many, if not most have owned sailboats.”

Nearly all TrawlerFest seminars apply equally to sail or power cruising, though the dozens of boats on display will be new and used powerboats.

Of the more than 25 seminars, TrawlerFest’s flagship event is “Everything You Need To Know About Diesel Engines,” taught by Nigel Calder, author and PassageMaker technical editor; and Michael Beemer, director of Skagit Valley College’s marine maintenance technology program. Other seminars include “Boat Handling on the Water” and “The Boat Buyer’s Survival Guide.”

Destination seminar topics include Mexico’s Sea of Cortez and the path to Southeast Alaska led by author-mariners Pat Raines and Mark Bunzel. Veteran delivery skipper Devin Zwick will share his experiences and tips for taking a small boat from Seattle to San Diego, a place to stage for passages to Mexico or the South Pacific.

Organizers waxed poetic about Bremerton. “Like Anacortes, picturesque Bremerton is located on one of the fine, protected harbors of Puget Sound and is the gateway to one of the greatest playgrounds in the United States, the Olympic Peninsula, a place of mountains, glaciers, forests, lakes, mountain streams and the Pacific Ocean … The city of 38,000 has a lively restaurant scene and other amenities. Bremerton’s U.S. Navy Museum features more than 18,000 objects, and the Vietnam War-era destroyer USS Turner Joy is preserved and open for tours a short walk from the event.

Brokers, vendors and builders had urged TrawlerFest organizers to bring the event closer to Seattle as a convenience to them and to draw more attendees from the city, according to organizers. The ferry from Seattle takes an hour and docks a short walk away from the marina.

Bremerton City Councilman Jerry McDonald said TrawlerFest will be “big” for downtown Bremerton. He said downtown is “right on the edge of a lot of things happening” — passenger-only ferry service to and from Seattle, housing development that will boost the downtown population and bolster businesses, the restoration and reopening of downtown landmarks. The exposure that Bremerton gets from events like TrawlerFest, he said, is “just one more nail in the board that makes [downtown’s resurgence] happen.”