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Old 07-18-2013, 12:47 AM   #1
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Diesel 3288 or gasser Prowler 33?

Strickly looking for opinions here. We have narrowed our budget down on our first "big" boat and are looking at both diesel and gas. Most of the diesels we are looking at are either twin 150s or single 120. Recently we ran across a Prowler 33 and really like the lay out. The only draw back is twin 350 merc gassers. When I first started looking I really wanted the economy of the diesel. What are your thoughts on gas?
Here is the current list of contenders
30' Prolwer twin Volvo diesels
30' Californian single diesel
3288 BL twin diesels Hinos
33 Prowler twin 350 merc
3388 BL twin Cummins
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Old 07-18-2013, 01:24 AM   #2
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I have a single 350 gasser, it's fuel economy is directly proportional to your adjustment on the throttle lever. Slow down and go far speed up and get there fast. Slow cruise at 12 - 1400 RPM giddyup and go is 3000 - 4000 RPM. I do both but prefer giddyup personally. The truth about my engine is it's perfectly happy slow cruising all day long at 1200 RPM and doesn't use much gas doing it. So I would have no fear of economy in gas myself. I'm sure diesel is more efficient but how much more is an open question in my mind.

I'll say this, if I suffer a catastrophic engine failure I can source 3 replacements installed for the cost of a single replacement diesel. Some argue that diesel engines outlast gas and I'm sure that is true but how much longer is subject for debate. Our boat was re-powered 2 years ago and the original gas engine was pulled, rebuilt and put in another boat. My boat is a 1967 so 40 years ain't bad for a gas engine.
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Old 07-18-2013, 02:04 AM   #3
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This is a question that will no doubt light up the opinions! In the past year I have owned both diesel and gas twins, and currently have a twin diesel. The pros and cons are widely debated. Diesels last longer, diesels are expensive to fix. You can buy a lot of extra gas with the lower purchase price a gas boat will run you, I miss the speed range of the gas boat. I could run it fast if I needed, slow down and run at trawler speeds at better mileage. Range is way better with my diesel. No worries of blowing the boat up with diesel. Diesel owners often look down at gas boat owners, gas owners typically do not look down at diesel owners . Anyway, lots of points and I expect you will hear a lot more soon! Good luck in your decision. Either way getting out on the water is the ultimate prize.
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Old 07-18-2013, 07:18 AM   #4
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Nmuir pretty well said it all. Gassers are mostly GM engines and a remanned long block is dirt cheap compared with a diesel.

If you do go for a diesel, make sure it is a make that has MARINE diesel service in your area. The Hino probably doesn't , the Volvo maybe and the Cummins probably.

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Old 07-18-2013, 08:58 AM   #5
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It really depends where you are using the boat, how you are using the boat, and how many hours you are putting on the boat each year. The more hours the more it typically will make sense to have diesel.
Saying that...personally, even apples to apples, I MUCH prefer diesel. Diesels handle better at low speeds (docking) and really, I like the peace of mind of knowing the boat won't literally blow up like a gas boat can. Diesel boats will typically be much easier to sell later down the road as well, condition depending of course.
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Old 07-18-2013, 09:17 AM   #6
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I my experience most twin gas boats are more set up for speed they are lighter and have planing or semi planing hull forms. while single diesel are full displacement or semi planning and are of usually heaver.

What is your mission, retired, weekends, long range trips or quick runs to an overnight spot?

How long will you have this boat, is resale important?

My thoughts, fuel costs are not going down in the next 10 years only up. Most folks go much slower then the boat is capable of and most boats have way more power then they need to go slow.

Diesel;
Better resale value but cost more up front, repair cost can be more but the older engines are usually simpler then gas. Less fire/explosion danger. More efficient design and more energy in a gallon of diesel gives lower fuel cost per mile. Filter maintenance is critically important. More noise (louder) but can be mitigated with good design or good sound system

Gas;
Lower cost, repair, parts and re-power, quieter need to more careful with fueling and fuel system maintenance due to fire risk. Gas does not store as well as diesel and is made much worse with alcohol added to fuel I would be very concerned it the industry goes to E-15 fuel.


For short runs and weekend use a gas engine may be just the ticket, for long runs esp if going slow (ICW, great loop etc) and long term ownership diesel gets the nod.

Both have their advantages and many great boats have gas but you do see most of the larger boats having diesel and most buyers will want diesel for cruisers of the "trawler style"
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Old 07-18-2013, 10:37 AM   #7
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The size range you're looking at (30'-33') could use either gas or diesel. I suspect if you had diesels you probably wouldn't be working them hard enough to get them as warm as they need to be for efficient operation.

I had a 33' twin 5.7L boat and ran it on plane most of the time. It like the 3200-3400 rpm range and could run all day at that.

I probably wouldn't pay the extra for diesels on that size boat. I'd take the gassers and be happy with the initial savings, knowing that whatever gas I was burning was basically free because of what I didn't have to pay for the diesels.

Unless you're putting a LOT of hours on the diesels you won't likely recover the cost savings of running diesels for many, many years.

Of the boats you listed, I'd probably take the Prowler with the gas engines.
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Old 07-18-2013, 10:44 AM   #8
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After owning both I would definitely go with diesel. We used to have a 2005 Sea Ray 340 with twin Mercruisers and it ran great but even with careful management of our canvas we had several issues where CO2 levels were unsafe.

I especially remember slogging from Key West up to Marathon one time when the weather unexpectably turned nasty and we took alot of water over the top of the radar arch, the CO2 levels caused my wife a cracker of a headache.

We added an additional digital CO2 monitor while cruising but I would not go down the gas route again, I even own a full size diesel car that gets 35mpg and has more torque than a Porsche 911.

Go diesel and it will also help your resell.

Just my 2c worth
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Old 07-18-2013, 10:53 AM   #9
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Beware of Volvo diesel engines. While they are a good engine design Volvo is notorious for it's lack of customer support for legacy engines. Once a Volvo engine model is out of production they cease supplying repair parts. I will never own another boat powered with Volvos.
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Old 07-18-2013, 01:24 PM   #10
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Of the boats you listed, I'd probably take the Prowler with the gas engines.
Interesting! I'd opt for the BL with diesels. It aint the cost of gas vs. diesel that I'm concerned with. It's the "explosive" nature of gas fumes on the boat!
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Old 07-18-2013, 02:09 PM   #11
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Interesting! I'd opt for the BL with diesels. It aint the cost of gas vs. diesel that I'm concerned with. It's the "explosive" nature of gas fumes on the boat!
Agreed- the Bayliner with the Hinos would be much preferred over the Cooper. The Hinos are stout engines, and have a good network of support. There's even a traveling mechanic that makes a yearly loop servicing these engines.
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Old 07-18-2013, 02:22 PM   #12
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How and where will you be using the boat?

For light duty and less than 150 hours per year I'd go gas. Boat and engine condition trumps many other points, with prior owner upkeep playing a pretty big role in the decision. A fixer upper abused diesel would be expensive and no fun.
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Old 07-18-2013, 03:04 PM   #13
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We will primarily be using the boat from Bellingham to our favorite spots in the San Juans. However longer weekends and vacations will be to Victoria, The Broughtons, and in the next few years the inner coastal to Alaska. 80% to our back yard and 20% longer journeys into the Pacific and protected water ways. Maybe once a year to Seattle. I am sure a gasser would be less expensive, however I am somewhat concerned with thinking every time I want to go catch crab or go fishing thinking it's going to cost me $100 in fuel. I'd like to find something that allows me to do those things and be reasonable to fuel. I also realize there are other cost far exceeding the fuel to enjoy the boat but want to keep that cost as low as possible in that regards. We can control certain cost and those that I can I would like to.
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Old 07-18-2013, 03:30 PM   #14
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Interesting! I'd opt for the BL with diesels. It aint the cost of gas vs. diesel that I'm concerned with. It's the "explosive" nature of gas fumes on the boat!
I am in full agreement here. Efficiency is at the bottom of the list. I don't wanna blow up and I don't wanna die in my sleep. And I prefer the whirring of the turbos as they load up versus the pinging detonation of gas engines during the transition. IOW, I don't feel "guilty" when I work my diesels. I cringe when I hear the detonation of gas engines when they load up. I feel like I am damaging them...and in theory, I am.

Excellent civilized discussion on this thread!!!
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Old 07-18-2013, 06:04 PM   #15
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The Broughtons, and in the next few years the inner coastal to Alaska.

For these sorts of trips, diesel hands down IMHO. Shop carefully, there are lots of latent or well masked diesel engine problems no matter what color of engine paint. As an example I know of a very smart fellow who bought a diesel powered boat and is now wrestling with fuel cooler failure that led to water in the tanks. It happens.
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Old 07-18-2013, 06:14 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bshillam View Post
Strickly looking for opinions here. We have narrowed our budget down on our first "big" boat and are looking at both diesel and gas. Most of the diesels we are looking at are either twin 150s or single 120. Recently we ran across a Prowler 33 and really like the lay out. The only draw back is twin 350 merc gassers. When I first started looking I really wanted the economy of the diesel. What are your thoughts on gas?
Here is the current list of contenders
30' Prolwer twin Volvo diesels
30' Californian single diesel
3288 BL twin diesels Hinos
33 Prowler twin 350 merc
3388 BL twin Cummins
Gassers aren't all that dangerous with a bare minimum of experience and carefulness.

Many are out there where the owners are complete knuckleheads and still they don't catch fire or blow themselves up or die of CO poisoning.

I've run hundreds of gassers and have only one ever try and CO poison me...that was my assistance towing vessel (full pilothouse) and I have run it for weeks with burnt through exhausts and even burnt through duct tape temp fixes. Just a matter of operational necessity to run that way and being smart enough to run with decent air circulation...it was only unpleasant on occasion and never really dangerous. If I had a boat that was a constant CO danger..I think I would have a word with the manufacturer/USCG or rig it a little different.

Now I'm all over diesel for a lot of reasons...but gassers are tough, will last longer that what you often read about, if MPI aren't all that fuel hoggish these days and often the maintenance is lot's less.

Big block replacements are more money than many think...unless you are really hadny and your old engine marinization parts are reusable for at least awhile.
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Old 07-18-2013, 06:28 PM   #17
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We looked at the BL32xx (Hinos), the Prowler 33 and a Califorian 34 (twin Perkins) and a 3388 diesel (Cummins) and the Navigator 33. We're a family of four - kids are teen/young (disabled) adult.

I really liked the Californian - but was not so sure about the "master" stateroom. I felt that space on the boat may be fine - but sleeping and private space may be an issue. Still wonder if we should have thought harder about this one...

Prowler is a nice boat - well built, well thought of. But it's a two person boat, not a four person boat and the salon is basically a box - not a lot of thought went into it. But the aft cockpit is nice and roomy

3388 looked nice on the outside, but came across as a glossy imitation of the 32xx once we moved inside. Aft bulkhead was moved back 6" (from the 32xx position) to make room for a stand-up shower, but the cockpit is a lot smaller. Bridge slope is steeper, so bridge is a lot smaller. No wood in the interior - so it feels cold. And I tried to get into the engine room to pretend I was doing maintenance - forget it (and I'm not a big guy). Was truly disappointing. I really wanted to like that boat!

Navigator was a nice boat - really liked it, but could not find one in our price range, so moved on.

Settled on a BL 32xx diesel - price could not be touched, fuel economy has averaged a hair over 4 gph (and I'll run it fairly hard at times) - sleeping room for four with privacy, bridge fits 7 and a support network second to none (Bayliner forum).

After having this boat for over a year now, no doubt that we made the right choice. Sure it's got it's drawbacks (a bit tender, very poorly behaved at anchor in a breeze (so we stern tie - problem solved), a bit wet in a sea, not as much storage as I'd like etc.). but the boat's completely serviceable - the mechanical spaces are tight, but workable, the cockpit fits four adults in chairs, the build quality is totally acceptable and it's sea-keeping qualities are what they are - which fr us is 100% acceptable. We're not crossing the Pacific - but we do the lower BC coast in it, and it's got the water/fuel/design etc. to get us there and home.

would buy it again in a heartbeat - there's a reason they sold 3000 of these hings.
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Old 07-18-2013, 06:45 PM   #18
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For these sorts of trips, diesel hands down IMHO. Shop carefully, there are lots of latent or well masked diesel engine problems no matter what color of engine paint. As an example I know of a very smart fellow who bought a diesel powered boat and is now wrestling with fuel cooler failure that led to water in the tanks. It happens.
Geeee....I wonder who that might've been... I don't know about the "very smart" part... The war is won but there are still a few more battles to win. Fuel cool failure....whodathunkit?????
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Old 07-19-2013, 12:29 PM   #19
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I think you guys are over-hyping the likelihood of an explosion with gas engines. I'm just guessing but I'd 'guesstimate' there a many times more gas engines out there (in boats the size we're talking about here) than diesels and explosions are rare.

Yes, you need to have ventilation inside a cabin to prevent CO poisoning but again, a CO detector will warn of any issues.

My thinking above in recommending the gas boat was that the lower cost of that boat would offset a LOT of fuel inefficiency. The OP didn't post the prices of any of the boats he's considering and I'm too damn lazy to go to Yachtworld to look them up, but I'd guess there's a significant price difference between the gas boat and the diesel boats.

Think of that as free fuel for many years!
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Old 07-19-2013, 01:12 PM   #20
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Price of boat

These are all in the 30-50k range in price. The prowler which is the only gasser is 34k. Our goal budget wise is to be under 50k (or there abouts). Knowing our flexibility in brand and model I believe this is very doable. Also knowing that this is a step boat in the future we may want to trade up to something newer or larger I think the diesel would be easier to sell as most appear to want a diesel in a larger vessel.
On another note, if someone knows of a solid vessel up for sale in the range we're looking at please let me know. We are keeping an open mind during this process. We'd like to only look at boats currently in the PNW as time doesn't allow for us to travel great distances away from home to "look".
My cell is 503-781-9967.
Thanks for everyones comments and support!
Bryrick
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