Rosborough Rendezvous: “Rossi” owners talk cruising

The comradeship among fellow owners of a specific make and model is one of the perks of boating. The Rosborough RF246 Owners Group, founded in 2001 has 1300 members. It brings together owners and enthusiasts of the RF246 Sedan Cruiser, affectionately named the “Rossi”. This 25 foot “trailerable trawler” was first produced by Rosborough in Nova Scotia and later sold to Eastern Boats of New Hampshire. It has a long history of being used by the Canadian government as a workboat in the harsh seas around the Maritime Provinces.

The February 2020 Rosborough “Rendezvous” was held at Burnt Store Marina, South of Punta Gorda, Florida. The Marina’s name is misleading as it is a large, gated community of homes and condominiums with many amenities for boaters and visitors. It sits on the Southeast wall of Charlotte Harbor close to many destinations to explore. With 525 wet slips, it was possible to make reservations for the 22 Rossi’s coming for the event. One owner, Otto Cuyler, deserves an honorable mention as he trailered his boat the furthest to attend the Rendezvous, 1400 miles from his home base in Rochester, New York on Lake Ontario. Many others drove or flew down for the event. The model years of the 22 boats in attendance ranged from the 1990 “Tardis” to the new 2019 “Pronto”, loaded with nice options.

If the boat didn’t come from the factory with the options one wanted--no problem. Rossi owners, like any trawler enthusiasts, add various modifications and alterations to their boats. Many had their interiors and cockpits decked out welcoming the visitor to linger and admire another owner’s ingenuity. “Doc-tails” and potlucks provided everyone the opportunity to mingle, greet old friends and make new. Sixty attended dinner at the Marina restaurant adjacent to the event. Presentations and discussions followed on the last day.

The weather cooperated for the Rendezvous and a handful of Rossi’s motored out to Cayo Costa State Park for some beach time and a game of horseshoes. With the right technique, one can sit these low draft boats on the beach, just drop anchor, back up and plant a 4-foot auger in the sand with a stern line.

Each crew had different stories to tell as to how they use their boats. Like many Rossi owners, John and Susan Coppedge began their love for cruising in a sailboat. Although they divide their time between the Northwest, Florida Keys, and elsewhere, they have a special affinity for the waters of the Northwest. They have voyaged as far north as Glacier Bay, Alaska and report that they can be self-sufficient on their Rossi for two weeks at a time. To accomplish this feat, Susan explained that it requires managing the “five basics”: battery, gas, water, food and, of course, pump out. They started a blog named after their boat, “Mighty Wench”, primarily to let worried loved ones know that they were still alive and well! Their blog is a nice resource for the trawler community.

Reflecting on the hardship of weather in the Northwest, John quipped with a smile: “If it’s rainy, you turn on the windshield wipers. If it’s cold, you turn on the heat. If it’s foggy, you turn on the radar”. By the way, they went through three sets of windshield wipers on their voyage to Alaska and back! Why did they choose the Rosborough? Susan shared that she didn’t want to venture in the Pacific Northwest in an open sailboat. They also liked the cost and layout of the Rossi. Finally, she added that: “trailerability is key without having to get permits”.

John Hauck, age 81, is considered a legend among Rossi owners. He has that wanderlust gene deep in his bones and has been on more adventures later in life than most can dream of. For instance, in his 50s he circumnavigated the continental United States in a very small one person “Kolb” ultralight aircraft. As if that wasn’t enough, he then made three trips from his home base in Titus Alabama to the Point Barrow, Alaska (and vicinity) and back in the same wisp of plane, often camping under his wing along the way. Point Barrow is the northern most point of the North American Continent. This is a feat of endurance, considering that these ultra-lights cruise around 53 mph. With a headwind, a pilot might envy the cars passing them below (that is if the pilot can even see any cars in the wilderness he was flying over).

Later John turned his passion from aeronautical adventures to maritime. Cruising in his Rossi called “Grumpy” he has explored most of the great river systems east of the Mississippi, too numerous to mention here. He shared that he likes the calm, fresh water of a river and “the thrill of discovering new people, new things . . . It is all about what is around the next bend.” He keeps piloting his Rossi as far up to the head waters as possible or, as John puts it: “until I hit a rock or hit bottom”! At 80, he did the Great Loop in his Rossi, single handed. With a Dometic freezer on his deck filled with provisions, he can go many days without a trip to the grocer. John admires his boat “Grumpy” as “very capable” noting that: “It’s tough . . . It was designed for the heavy elements of the North Atlantic.”

Eventually, the Rendezvous came to an end and each Rossi and crew went their own way. Some motored out together to explore new anchorages. Others left with their boats strapped tightly to their trailers. John Hauck summarized the event saying it “was good to be in the midst of so many Rossi’s and enthusiasts, all with a common interest in what we do. Thanks again to all the folks that did the work. All Grumpy and I did was show up and enjoy!”

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