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The Destiny of Miss Patty -- Little fund-raising tug boat one step closer to maiden voyage

August 17, 2016
Melissa Schneider - Editor ( , Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

Local Vietnam-era U.S. Navy veteran Dietrich "Pete" Schaeffer likes to keep busy in his free time. Aside from his musical endeavors and instrument-crafting hobbies, this artist and builder also enjoys tinkering with mechanics and all things nautical. For the last six months, he has been perfecting a fully functional scale-model replica of a converted commercial tugboat yacht, complete with fully operational running lights, rudder and propulsion, powered by a six-channel remote control and two 12-volt deep-cycle AGM batteries and is now one step closer to taking her maiden voyage.

Pete didn't just craft this vessel for the fun of it; he built the five-foot solid-fiberglass-hulled craft in the hopes that it can help raise funds for local veterans and other non-profit charities. And with the hopes the Miss Patty will assist with our veterans, as well, local world-renowned artist Craig Petersen was happy to jump on deck and offer his services, hand-painting a very patriotic "Vets" logo on her upper deck and "Pulling for Vets" along the bridge, not to mention the text across her stern.

"As an artist, it's always fun to be a part of a larger creative project with others," Craig said.

Article Photos

Pete tests the Miss Patty on Bonita Beach. Photo courtesy DIETRICH SCHAEFFER.

"I've been going through all of the testing. The way it goes with boats and mechanics, one thing works, another then doesn't," he said. "I order everything in pairs. There are no directions for these tiny little electronic pieces; one wrong wire and there's a mini explosion."

But, Pete plowed through the tedious task of perfecting the mechanics on the Miss Patty, lovingly named after his wife, and is operational and large enough to require official Florida registration and marine licensing/tags. With that, Pete wants a local charity to benefit from a bay-to-gulf fund-raising trip. He's now in the process to find volunteers to help him in the sailing adventure, to tow a manned kayak from Fort Myers Beach to a Sanibel Port of Call with the power of the Miss Patty.

"I'm looking for any volunteer or anyone goofy enough to want to go for a kayak ride pulled by a model tugboat, to please contact me," Pete laughed. "On a scale model, this trip is about equal to taking a boat ride to Cuba."

Pete ensures that all of the proper safety precautions will be planned out from figuring out the right time to go according to the tides, having the U.S. Coast Guard involved, and equipping the rider with all the proper safety equipment, to having power boats and vessels on either side of the kayak for support similar to the aqua-caravan when someone swims the English Channel.

"It's going to be a lot of fun and I?really want this to help a local non-profit," Pete said. "This is my hobby, but I?want it to go to raising funds for a local charity."

If interested in riding on the kayak, in partaking as a safety vessel, or ride-along vessel in front of the pack, or to help as a sponsor, with 100% of the sponsorship going to the non-profit charity, feel free to contact Pete anytime, 239-822-4650, or

Pete is also eager to begin a scale-model boat club with anyone interested. Rather than build for others, he prefers to teach the craft so they can learn and build on their own. Give him a call.



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