Liberty, a 42-foot trawler, under way in nearby waters.

'A Bruiser of a Cruiser'
By Abby Chapple

    Some people never leave their home town, never try anything new or different, while others thrive on change. This is especially true of Annapolitans Joe and Claire Monroe.
    While most people will choose only one, or maybe two, careers in a lifetime Harry “Joe” Monroe III has had five – so far.  He has been a naval test pilot, a stockbroker, a car salesman, a printer and is currently involved in a yacht yard. 

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            He and his wife Claire have also changed their residence frequently. They have lived in Annapolis, Jacksonville, Olney, the Magothy – and are obviously not afraid to try something different. Currently their “something different” is to live year-round aboard a 42-foot trawler in Annapolis harbor with Betts, a keeshond or Dutch barge dog.

 

    Joe was born in Baltimore, grew up in Bethesda and began sailing in New Orleans with his father. He then went to the Naval Academy, graduating in 1962, after which he served as a test pilot. When he got out of the Navy in ’72 he became a stockbroker in Florida.
    Next, he “came back home” to run his father’s Ford dealership in Silver Spring. Then, six years ago, he started Action Printing & Graphics in Annapolis which he sold last year. “I like to see businesses get started,” says Joe.

    Currently he has teamed up with Mitchell R. Nathanson, president of Pier 4. Pier 4 is Annapolis’ new and elegant yacht basin. Situated directly in the harbor, Pier 4 is located at the end of 4th Street in Eastport. It is very different from other yards in that it is the only one that features floating docks. In addition, each slip is fully equipped with its own electric power source, TV connection, phone outlet and water supply all nicely arranged in a single station.


Claire and Joe Monroe relax below decks on their Liberty.

    Joe is very active in Annapolis affairs and is currently president-elect of the Greater Annapolis Chamber of Commerce. He is also a member of Rotary, the Marine Trades Association and the Navy League.
    Joe’s wife, Claire, whom he met while at the Naval Academy, has been just as active as her husband.  First she raised their three children, Nat, Mike and Joanne. Then she took the helm of Action Printing. Currently she is joining the sales staff of Bay Sailor.
    “A Bruiser of a Cruiser that lives like Home Sweet Home” is the way the Monroe’s Krogen 42-foot trawler yacht is described in advertisements. And according to the Monroes, this yacht lives up to its claim. Liberty, as their home is called, is a seagoing, family size yacht that reflects its rugged trawler heritage.
    Making the decision to buy the Liberty was a matter of practicality and finding the right boat. “In 1984, I came to the conclusion that we really weren’t sailing. I figured it up and we were spending 75 percent of our time under power,” explains Joe. “Just about that time we put in to Solomon’s Yachting Center.” With not much else to do on shore, they went to find the boat. It just happened that John R. Sheffield, who imports the boat, was on board. The rest is history and they took delivery in July of ’85. “This boat was also on exhibit at the Boat Show,” adds Claire.
Having had eight boats prior to this Liberty, the Monroes knew exactly what they wanted. “We like to be independent,” says Claire, as she shows off her home. “We don’t like to be totally tied to 110 power, so we have a propane stove instead of electric. We also have an insulated ice box with holding plates

 

that allows us to have both a refrigerator and a freezer.”
   “The boat is very economical,” says Joe. “It holds 700 gallons of fuel, and uses about 2 gallons an hour at 7 ½ knots, which effectively gives us a range of 2,500 miles. It holds 400 gallons of water, which means we can get to Florida and back without refilling.”
    They have also done something special in the main salon. They eliminated all built-in furniture so that they could put in a sofa and two comfortable chairs.
    “Life aboard is really more relaxed and simpler. The truth is that we found out we didn’t need all the square footage of a house and this way we don’t have to do yard work,” says Claire. In addition they love the fact that when they go on a cruise they don’t have to go to all the trouble of packing up.
    “You know the way men never seem to have the right tie with them?” asks Joe. “Well, a friend turned to me the other night when we were in Baltimore Harbor and said, ‘You don’t have to worry about that, do you, Joe?’ I just smiled.”
    Their plans for the future include extensive cruising but for the time being they are very happy living at the end of the dock watching their own private boat show. Every day myriad boats pass right by them, some within just a few inches as they maneuver into the gas dock.
    In fact, they keep quite a social schedule and are so busy on Wednesday nights that they have to keep a list of friends and acquaintances who want to drop by to watch the end of the Annapolis Yacht Club races.

    Asked if they are thinking of going back to land, Claire answers, “I am never going to move back into a house.”

     
Reprinted with permission from Abby Chapple.