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Commentary: Gratitude For A Special Interview

Much of what we do at speedonthewater.com involves interviews. If you like listening to people and find their stories fascinating—as Jason Johnson and I do—this is a dream job.

If not, you should find another line of work.

Captured here on his new Nor-Tech 39-foot center console with his partner Rebecca Klose, Keith Stansell couldn’t be more in love with his boat and the Nor-Tech brand.

Now and then, interviews enter the realm of privilege. Such was the case when I caught up with Keith Stansell of Sarasota, Fla., for a story about his new Nor-Tech 390 Sport Center Console last Thursday. The interview took all of 20 or 30 minutes, but I’ll never forget it.

A retired United States Marine, the 55-year-old native Floridian’s story is a bit better than most. As reported in yesterday’s article, Stansell survived more than five years as a hostage in the Colombian Jungle. He and his fellow hostages even wrote a book about it titled, “Out of Captivity: Surviving 1,967 Days in the Colombian Jungle,” which is available through Amazon.com.

During the past 27 years, I’ve interviewed thousands of high-performance powerboat enthusiasts, I have never spoken to a more joyful, appreciative and good-natured soul than Stansell. Time spent in captivity will do that to a person, I’m told, but there’s more to it than that.

Stansell grew up fishing and hunting in the Everglades. From an early age, he learned to inhale life.

“We were middle class, but we thought we were rich when we were kids,” he told me, then laughed, much as he did throughout our interview. “It was paradise.”

To this day, Stansell, who has four children of his own, loves fishing and hunting. But with his first Nor-Tech center console, a 34-footer, and his new 85-plus-mph, 39-foot beauty, he has discovered a relatively new passion: speed on the water.

“I love this stuff,” said Stansell, who before owning Nor-Techs owned less sporty—though decidedly seaworthy—models from the likes of Contender and Grady-White. “And now I want a real performance boat. And it will definitely be a Nor-Tech.”

Beyond that, our conversation became classified, or what we reporter types like to call “off the record.”

On the record?

“Whatever I end up with is going to be a Nor-Tech and I know I’m going to need some training,” Stansell said. “It’s one thing to run 80 or 85 mph in a big center console, it’s another to run 120 mph or more in a catamaran. I’m just getting into this and I love it. But I know I have a lot to learn.”

No truer words, much less from a man who knows a thing or two about survival, have ever been spoken.

Related story: Nor-Tech 390 Sport CC Sets The Performance Hook For One Remarkable Owner