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Old 01-07-2013, 08:46 PM   #1
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Fear of trawlers

I know I want a different boat. Presently we have a 28 ft Rinker express cruiser. Our first boat. I have learned that speed, hugh gas bills, noise, and an uncomfortable ride in 3 ft chop, and two gas engines, is not what I want. I do want something that can cruise comfortably at 7 to 8 knots in seas of three to four ft chop, has a good walk around deck, a single engine diesel that burns about 2 GPH at cruise with minimal noise. To me this sounds like a trawler. Oh! did I mention I do not want to owe my life to a boat. With this in mind I see the Tiawan made boats as a possibility filling the gas consumption and noise issues. But, I am fearful of the historic poor quality control when these boats were produced. I see windows that leak, poor gas tank design, soft decks, teak deck requireing replacement and constant maintenance. Yet I see many of the trawler form people with these style boats. Will they handle chop (I am located in Buzzards Bay Mass.)? How do you keep the house from rotting, Teak decks??? I would prefer no teak in the deck. Any suggestions would be helpful.
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Old 01-07-2013, 09:07 PM   #2
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Get to know some trawler owners. if you walk around the docks at a marina you will find most are happy to "talk boats".
Read lots of the posts on this and other forums, Go to Trawler fest or one of the MTOA rendezvous.
There are lots of happy trawler folks out there it must be good.
Good luck
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Old 01-07-2013, 09:35 PM   #3
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Look at "GulfStars"....they were made in America, are built like battleships (strength wise), and have fiberglass decks.....

Ours is shown in my avatar.
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Old 01-07-2013, 09:37 PM   #4
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kpinnn, good decision,and you seem to have homed in on some common issues already. Eliminating those issues by checking,or finding a boat already fixed, will help. Lose the fear, respect the horror stories, start looking and asking.Owners, not sellers, are your friend. There are plenty of good boats including Taiwanese Trawlers, brand is not always an indicator of good or bad, evidence of good timely maintenance is vital. Rot usually results from ignored fresh water entry; water entering via a tiny gap at the front of the flybridge attachment to the deck 'roof" under an "eyebrow" moulding caused quite some rot, so expect the unexpected. Bad teak decks cost to fix, you need to be careful there, honestly I`d rather avoid them, but renewed ones are more glued than screwed, which helps a lot.
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Old 01-08-2013, 05:55 AM   #5
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But, I am fearful of the historic poor quality control when these boats were produced. I see windows that leak, poor gas tank design, soft decks, teak deck requireing replacement and constant maintenance. Yet I see many of the trawler form people with these style boats.

These problems were not from "quality control" , poor design , unskilled workmanship , and a severe lack of maint from owners over the decades is the cause.

The GRP Gulftub would be a better choice if cruising and not boat repair is your next hobby.

All these boats will take most of what weather and waves are found inshore or near shore.

Crossing oceans is out , and when there are Gale force breezes, its time to be anchored in a quiet bay.
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Old 01-08-2013, 10:41 AM   #6
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Interesting views of to days boats. Yes the off shore early trawlers all had problems mostly because some NA person was trying to make a quick buck. Those vessels however given some TLC have weathered many storms and form the backbone of the current trawler fleet. All boats require constant maintenance and upgrading. Failure of many owners to undertake the required maintenance is the result of many issues. Take a look at the NA built fleet and you will see similar problems.
The market to day has an abundance of great boats at great prices, yes some need more TLC than others, but any semi displacement hull, gas or diesel, built in the last 25 years is a worthwhile foundation to build upon and enjoy a wonderful sport. Bill
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Old 01-08-2013, 11:26 AM   #7
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I faced the same challenge as you, a couple of years ago.

Buying a 20+ year old boat is risky. You ask yourself over and over if you're going to buy a boat and find some super expensive thing that needs repairing just a couple of years down the road.

Here's what I did. Possibly it'll work for you.

I made a list of things that are major maintenance issues with larger boats. Things that were known to cause very expensive repairs. Then I narrowed my boat search to boats that did not have those risk factors.

I'm going to get slammed here but the biggest thing that scared me was teak decks, and soft deck issues. I stayed up at night thinking about the thousands of screws going into a deck that has a balsa core just waiting to absorb water and rot away.

So, first thing I put on my list was no teak decks. Second preferance was no balsa cored decks. I don't know how prevelant the "soft deck" problem really is, but right or wrong it scared me.

So, when I looked at boats I only looked at boats that either never had teak decks, or had previously had the teak decks removed.

Again, right or wrong its all about eliminating the risk factors that you feel are important.
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Old 01-08-2013, 12:11 PM   #8
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I faced the same challenge as you, a couple of years ago.

Buying a 20+ year old boat is risky. You ask yourself over and over if you're going to buy a boat and find some super expensive thing that needs repairing just a couple of years down the road.

Here's what I did. Possibly it'll work for you.

I made a list of things that are major maintenance issues with larger boats. Things that were known to cause very expensive repairs. Then I narrowed my boat search to boats that did not have those risk factors.

I'm going to get slammed here but the biggest thing that scared me was teak decks, and soft deck issues. I stayed up at night thinking about the thousands of screws going into a deck that has a balsa core just waiting to absorb water and rot away.

So, first thing I put on my list was no teak decks. Second preferance was no balsa cored decks. I don't know how prevelant the "soft deck" problem really is, but right or wrong it scared me.

So, when I looked at boats I only looked at boats that either never had teak decks, or had previously had the teak decks removed.

Again, right or wrong its all about eliminating the risk factors that you feel are important.
And then thru it ALL away and bought a Bayliner.
(sorry... couldn't resist!)
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Old 01-08-2013, 12:32 PM   #9
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Interesting to hear you say that about Gulfstars. Our old one (now John's), a 1973 trawler, has a balsa cored deck. Oddly though, the core was so thin (about 1/4" or less in most spots) and the glass is so thick (3/8" top skin, no joke 5/8" or more bottom skin) that the core didn't seem to serve much purpose. I fixed some rot in it over the years, but even in large unsupported areas like the aft deck, with the top skin off and the core out, the bottom skin barely flexed.

I've heard that the layup amounts and quality really varied with Gulfstar over the years. Some were great, some not so much.
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Old 01-08-2013, 12:34 PM   #10
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And then thru it ALL away and bought a Bayliner.
(sorry... couldn't resist!)
Not sure if you're kidding, but we came to our trawler via two previous Bayliners, a 2452 and a 3488. Love Bayliners in general and our boats in particular.
For the original poster: consider a Mainship as one possible choice. There are plenty of used 350 and 390 models around with no exterior wood. Keep in mind too that even the most expensive and highest-quality boats are a risk when bought well-used. Its up to you and your surveyor to find that specific boat that represents a good value for you. In your neck of the woods you may also look at the Albin trawlers.
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Old 01-08-2013, 12:42 PM   #11
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Don't fear the Trawler. Fear the owners that don't maintain them.

Better quality boats start out with a leg up and are often owned by more knowledgeable owners with deeper pockets who understand the true costs of boat ownership.
Cheaper brands start out built to a price and have to make do with whomever takes them home. Maintenance is the key to their long term survival and resale value.
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Old 01-08-2013, 01:00 PM   #12
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And then thru it ALL away and bought a Bayliner.
(sorry... couldn't resist!)
I used to feel that way about Bayliners until my buddy in the slip next to me bought a 4588. My brother, a long time cruiser, was visiting me and we took the Bayliner out to sea off Pt. Loma, San Diego. That trip, about 3 hours, changed both our minds about Bayliners. They are one of the biggest "bang for the buck" brokerage boats that you can find and are sought after in the San Diego market and elsewhere.

Unless you have cruised in one, don't knock them.
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Old 01-08-2013, 01:04 PM   #13
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Once a Bayliner has been introduced, one must then assume the discussion has ended, or will be bring in Searays just to add more colour to the discussion.
However, given the day, the weather and the debate, let us continue. The issue seems to be centred on coring of decks. Well, this is a problem and the newer the boat the more apt coring has been used. All mfg have used coring and will continue to do so for any number of reasons. How that coring is maintained is the issue. Following simple steps of securing any holes will reduce if not eliminate issues. But back to the old fleet. They are heavier per foot than the new fleet. Why, because they are practically all glass and glass which is not as prone to blisters as some new craft.
The end of this conversation is simply this. Take a close look at what ever you are interested in. Join the member sites and ask any and all questions. Travel the docks and inquire. I have seen some great trojan tri's and many poor. The greats have owners who are willing to spend $ and more importantly time to keep their pride and joy looking like new. Most GB, Gulfstars, Chris Craft and I could go on fall into this category on the other hand all those named have issues of quality almost boat by boat, and the later GStars had issues, while the modified sail boat trawlers, MK 1, and MK 11s seemed to fair fairly well over time.
I too would avoid teck or for that matter all exterior wood for sure.
Gonzo has undertaken the task in a soldier like fashion and his due diligence will prevail. If you are in the market and have found a serious consideration, let us all in on the discussion as to its viability. No price, just the model and year, with engine hours, salt or fresh and lets see what the collective experitise will generate.
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Old 01-08-2013, 02:40 PM   #14
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I was kidding above... BUT... Bess and I looked seriously at a 4588 just a few months ago (even called Woodsong about it as research). Everything I saw on them screamed "price point" and "built as cheaply as possible". Yes, I was told the 4788's fared better in a side-by-side comparison. I don't want to stray too far off-topic. I just had to say that the 4588 example we saw was in pretty poor condition and exposed lots of flaws that may not always reveal themselves in a well-maintained boat, however, are still there. It definitely scared us off. Fear of trawlers... hey, that's on topic. Right?
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Old 01-08-2013, 03:49 PM   #15
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Once a Bayliner has been introduced, one must then assume the discussion has ended, or will be bring in Searays just to add more colour to the discussion.

What is a Searay?? Sea Ray owners are the most snobbiest people on the planet or anywhere else in the galaxy! Go ahead and ask one....

I have the same fears that is why in my search for a boat I will not consider a boat with teak decks even though I love the look of them. I also have concerns with Volvo engines, OK not the engine itself rather the price and availability of parts.
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Old 01-08-2013, 03:52 PM   #16
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So....is this a "fear of trawlers" in general, or more to the point of a fear of an unmaintained boat that was gussied up for the sale? Sounds like the later, but limited as it were because the prospective buyer isn't looking at other boat styles?
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Old 01-08-2013, 04:01 PM   #17
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Assuming that subdecks are all cored with balsa is a mistake. Grand Banks, the boat I am most familiar with, has used very high quality and very thick marine-grade plywood as their coring from day one in 1966. Even with shot or missing seam sealant and missing plugs it's very rare to hear of a GB deck with core rot issues. Sure, if problems go uncorrected for a long time even thick, high quality ply is subject to deterioration.

But the combination of a high quality subdeck and the tendency of most GB owners to take good care of their boats reults in subdeck issues being few and far between. The same is true, I'm sure, of other similar, high quality makes.

Also it's in the owner's interest to maintain a GB's teak deck to as high a standard as possible. The teak deck is a bg part of the appeal to most GB buyers. The few GBs without teak decks that have come through the big and very active GB dealer in Bellingham have always taken a long, long time to sell and the ones I've paid attention to always sold for considerably less than comparable GBs with their decking intact.

And they usually didn't sell at all until someone came through specifically looking for a GB with the teak deck removed and a fiberglass deck put in its place. And according to their lead broker who's a friend of ours, this kind of GB buyer is very, very rare. On at least one occasion the boat didn't sell until the owner agreed to drop the price by the amount it would take to install a new teak deck, which ain't a cheap proposition.

Other boats, like Island Gypsies and CHBs to name two makes I've observed in this respect, seem unaffected in value if the teak deck is removed, and depending how well the replacement fiberglass deck is installed, may even increase in value.

Different boats, different strokes. But all subdecks are not created equal.
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Old 01-08-2013, 05:00 PM   #18
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Other boats, like Island Gypsies and CHBs to name two makes I've observed in this respect, seem unaffected in value if the teak deck is removed, and depending how well the replacement fiberglass deck is installed, may even increase in value.
I doubt they increase at all. To me it sends the message that there WAS a problem and its been repaired (or at least glassed over).

I much prefer the teak decking myself. And while I can't attest to the quality of the ply in my CHB, I do know it is not balsa as previously stated. (at least on the decks and in the areas I've seen first hand). Mine is all ply on all horizontal surfaces.
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Old 01-08-2013, 05:10 PM   #19
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And then thru it ALL away and bought a Bayliner.
(sorry... couldn't resist!)
I'm good with that decision.

My boat model a 2001 4788 Bayliner has no teak decks, a foam core in the decks making it impervious to rot, no noted fuel tank issues, no history of blisters.

There are issues with it, like any other boat, with the most often reported issue being a leaky rain gutter that is sometimes challenging to find.

I've taken allot of good natured ribbing about my Bayliners over the years, but in all seriousness I'd be happy to compare construction materials, and techniques with any fiberglass boat out there. When you make side by side comparisons the late model Bayliner large motoryachts fare exceptionally well amongst Coastal Cruisers.

We need to remember that like many boat makers Bayliner went through a learning process of how to build a good large boat. The 45' series were the starting point, and they like any company improved as they went along. My 4788 being a 2001 was near the end of the production run, meaning that it had the bugs worked out through the previous thousand boats manufactured.

So, as advice to the OP, choose things that you are afraid of, and don't buy a boat with those things. Secondly and very important is to choose a boat with a long production run history and pick one near the end of that production run.
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Old 01-08-2013, 06:03 PM   #20
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the biggest thing that scared me was teak decks, and soft deck issues. I stayed up at night thinking about the thousands of screws going into a deck that has a balsa core just waiting to absorb water and rot away.

So, first thing I put on my list was no teak decks. Second preferance was no balsa cored decks. I don't know how prevelant the "soft deck" problem really is, but right or wrong it scared me.

So, when I looked at boats I only looked at boats that either never had teak decks, or had previously had the teak decks removed.

Again, right or wrong its all about eliminating the risk factors that you feel are important.
If anything illustrates taking each boat on its merits is the fact my IG turned out to have foam (not teak) cored decks reducing the deck job cost from " fortune" to "small fortune".
Teak decks are pretty, and cool to the feet, but in hindsight avoid them if you can. If they rot, the rot can extend, drop water on your tanks,etc. Finding sound decks is very important. Even if they are a non slip redo.
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