In Which we Represent at the DeFever Rendezvous…

Arriving at the DeFever Rendezvous

Useppa Island, Florida

Yesterday saw Ole off again for Independence, five weeks earlier than planned.  But the last few days of February and first couple of days of March were fantastic for both of us.

I joined him in Ft. Lauderdale on February 26, and at the end of his course we were off to Useppa, trying to beat the clock and arrive at the resort and our host boat Last Laugh before the last water taxi of the day.  It was a smooth ride as far as Naples, then the Friday traffic took hold, and as we phoned Captain Steve to make arrangements for the boat ride from Bokeelia out to Useppa, we got snarled up.  Good karma prevailed, as Steve’s previously scheduled fare was late, so we arrived at the dock to the amazing sight of over 25 unmistakable DeFever hulls gleaming in the sunset.

Nancy and Hank Haeseker showed us our quarters aboard Last Laugh, a 52 Pilothouse Offshore Cruiser.  You wouldn’t think that 3 feet of boat length would make that much difference, but Last Laugh felt acres bigger than 49-ft Emma Jo.  The guest cabin and head in the midships felt as spacious as our master cabin!  Last Laugh is the big one, second from the left.

We were quickly introduced to several other DeFever cruisers, and as night fell, joined in for dinner at the Useppa Lodge.

Our presentation on Saturday morning was scheduled second, following a truly magnificent presentation and slide show by Robin and Jim Roberts on Adventures, another 49RPH, about their cruise from New England up to Nova Scotia.   We may just have to invest in more camera gear and slide software…it was breathtaking!  But, prepared as we were, we acquitted ourselves well for our first Rendezvous and presentation, especially after the 130 or so attendees found out where we’ve been without stabilizers!  Saturday was filled with seminars and presentations, which included our two travelogues and one about hurricane preparedness that showed three different strategies and three different results.  Lunch was a barbecue at the facility, followed by “open houses” of willing boats at the marina.  We sure learned a lot about what can be done to bring an older boat up to modern standards – and as different as decorating tastes can be, a DeFever is still a DeFever.  Saturday night we again joined several other folks at the lodge for a fantastic dinner and great conversation.

Exploring Useppa Island

On Sunday morning, Nancy and Hank prepared a gourmet brunch – and afterwards, Ole and I decided to explore Useppa Island.  It’s a picturesque place, currently used as a hotel and marina, and home to a rather exclusive community of beach homes.  It’s past has included a stint as a training ground for the ill-fated Bay of Pigs mission to Cuba in 1961, host for all manner of illustrious sport fishing guests (including the Bush Family, among other notables), and cruising destination for all kinds of boats.

Sunday afternoon included more open boat tours at the marina on Cabbage Key, where there were a few more 49RPH, a 65 Grand Alaskan, and a few interesting custom designs.  The highlight of the afternoon, though, was a prime rib dinner with all the trimmings and cocktails courtesy of Arthur DeFever himself, who unfortunately, wasn’t able to attend.

What we enjoyed about this three-day getaway was the chance to meet and share with other DeFever owners, see solutions in action in the various open boats we visited, gain ideas for upgrades and interior decor, and generally mingle with some truly great people.  While only together for a few short days, we feel so grateful to have found this community of kind, knowledgeable, and hospitable folks.  If you want more information about DeFever boats, the trawler lifestyle, or the community at large, we encourage you to visit

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