Keith Stansell, the Sarasota, Fla.-based owner of a Nor-Tech 390 Sport Center Console, appreciates freedom on the water more than most folks. That’s because from 2003 to 2008, the retired United States Marine—then working as a civilian for Northrup Grumman—was held hostage by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia after the aircraft carrying him and others crashed into the Colombian jungle. He even co-authored a book about the experience titled “Out of Captivity: Surviving 1,967 Days in the Colombian Jungle” with two of his fellow surviving captives.
“I have the stupidest, most fortunate lucky life in the world,” the 55-year-old native Floridian said, then laughed. “Me even being here alive is silly. The amazing people I get to work with? That’s just silly. I was raised by a dad and mom with PhDs and I joined the Marine Corps when I was 17.
Powered by triple 450-hp supercharged outboards, this 39-footer is the owner’s second Nor-Tech.
“I grew up in Broward, next to Holiday Park in the Everglades,” he continued. “We fished and hunted all over the Everglades as kids. I had this unbelievable life—as kids we thought we were wealthy but we were very middle class. I had this unbelievable life, though I didn’t realize it at the time. I grew up in paradise.”
Now Stansell, who remains an avid fisherman and hunter, is enjoying his richly deserved freedom in a new 39-foot beauty built by the Fort Myers, Fla., company and powered by triple Mercury Racing 450R outboard engines. Stansell previously owned a Nor-Tech 340 Sport CC with triple Mercury Marine Verado 350 outboards.
Joined by his partner Rebecca Klose, Keith Stansell took his new 39-footer on its maiden cruise.
He purchased both boats through Erickson Marine, a longtime Sarasota-based Nor-Tech dealer. The 34-footer was an inventory boat, and whenever Stansell visited the dealership he paused to admire it—to the point where it became known there as “Keith’s boat.” Eventually, he had the company’s Chris Erickson take him for a ride.
“I fell in love with it,” said Stansell.
“Keith was originally going to buy another 32-foot Contender V-bottom when he started looking at the 34 Nor-Tech,” said Erickson. “We even ordered it for him but at the last minute he asked if he could buy the 34 instead. I said, ‘Chris, I want you to have the boat you want. Buy the Nor-Tech. We’ll sell the Contender to someone else.’ He bought that boat and he just loved it.”
A loyal Erickson Marine customer, Stansell (right) struck a pose with the dealership’s Chris Erickson, the son of company founder Bill Erickson.
Speed to the fishing ground first attracted Stansell to his 34-footer. So, too, did the boat’s looks. But after visiting Nor-Tech founders Trond Schou and Nils Johnsen, it became more than that. In Schou and Johnsen, he found unpretentious, hardworking and detail-oriented kindred spirits. Stansell was hooked on the brand.
“I am a hardcore fishing guy,” he said, adding that he previously owned a Grady-White center console in addition to Contender models and other angling/species-specific offerings. “Where I grew up in Southeast Florida, I could run two miles and be in 1,000 feet of water. In Southwest Florida, I have to run 40 to 50 miles to get to 150 feet of water. I was starting to get a little turned off at having to run 40 or 50 miles, and all the time it took, to catch two red snapper. With my new boat, which runs an easy 85 mph and probably has a couple more miles per hour in it, I can get there in 40 minutes or less.
“When I met Trond and Nils at Nor-Tech, they were working on the floor as hard as anyone else there,” he continued. “I saw that they were a lot like me, obsessive-compulsive guys who were building boats the way I would build them.”
Stansell had Nor-Tech build his 39-footer with a discreet live-well under the seat cushion of its Club Sport seat.
Within two months of owning the 340, he ordered his current 390, which Erickson delivered two weeks ago. Stansell ordered the 39-footer with Nor-Tech’s fishing package. But he also had the boat equipped with the unusual feature of a live-well under the center cushion of the Club Sport seat in the rear of the cockpit.
“Keith used to be even more of a hardcore fisherman—now he hangs out with us at the sandbars and such—he’s one of our really good friends,” Erickson said. “But he still wants to be able to fish. He has twin boys in high school and two other older children as well.”
Without question, the high-performance bug has bit Stansell hard. Also without question is that it will be another Nor-Tech. What it most likely won’t be is a center console—Stansell is already talking catamarans.
“Now, I want a real fast boat,” he said.
Said Stansell, “I have the stupidest, most fortunate lucky life in the world.”