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Old 11-26-2013, 04:18 PM   #1
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Florida to the VI and Points South

New to trawlers. Don't have a boat yet. Looking forward to spending some time during the upcoming St. Pete Boat Show looking at them. In the past, I always just went by the power boats to get to the sail boats.

Anyway, my question is this... I live in the Tampa Bay area. Ultimately I am looking for something to spend time cruising around Florida. Eventually I am hoping to go across to the Bahamas, and possibly on to the Virgin Islands. I'm aware that this is not as easy as it looks, from just looking at a map. "Thorny Path" and all that. So, do I really need to focus on ocean-worthy trawlers for a journey like this? Or will a solid "coastal cruiser" type be okay (assuming, of course, that I wait for the right winds and weather).

I know numerous sailors who've made the journey in boats that most consider "coastal cruisers." I'm just wondering if it works the same with trawlers, or if the differences (lack of a deep, heavily-ballasted keel) means that a trip like this requires much more from a trawler.

So... Please discuss.
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Old 11-26-2013, 04:57 PM   #2
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You might want to read "The Gentlemen's Guide to Passages South," by Bruce Van Sant. Going to the Bahamas in a trawler is pretty much a piece of cake (waiting for weather, of course, before leaving Florida), but it can get a bit sticky after that. Bruce has a good discussion of it.
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Old 11-26-2013, 04:59 PM   #3
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Welcome aboard. These are wonderful trips you have planned.

I am going to avoid the term "coastal cruiser" because there are different opinions as to a coastal cruiser. For example are the 20th century Grand Banks coastal cruisers or not because of their semi-displacement hull. Are the Krogen 42s with a full displacement hull and heavy keels coastal cruisers because of their large windows.

Hull form is a better term. Generally full displacement hulls with full heavy keels are considered more sea worthy - at least in my opinion.

Where this becomes important is not Florida or the Bahamas but your mention of a trip to the Virgins. Ignoring a non-stop ocean voyage this means island hopping along the north coast of the Dominican Republic and the a trip through the Mona Passage. At many times of the year there are good size swells from the north that hit you on the beam as you travel along the 120 ? miles of the north coast of the Dominican Republic. As a practical matter there is no reasonable place to stop until you reach Samana on the east coast of the DR. From there you have another 120 mile jump through the Mona Passage. This can be as smooth as a mill pond or all hell can break loose. On our trip we had ten foot confused waves that provided a night to remember.

Can this be done in a semi-displacement boat. Of course it can. A Grand Banks made it from California to Hawaii. I am sure someone has gone to the Virgins.

If you are serious about the Virgins and then possibly the Eastern Caribbean, look first for a full displacement boat with stabilizers, either active or passive. Equipping the boat is another matter. Basically you have to be independent, this gets into generators, including solar and wind, water makers, etc.

Good luck, it is a lot of fun, and may your trip through the Mona be boring.

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Old 11-27-2013, 06:30 AM   #4
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By watching the weather the only concern would be the range between fuel spots, not the hull style or construction.

About 300 miles would be my minimum , and 500 would be better.

In terms of construction a 30 ft Bayliner would be fine , the question really is how comfortable your crew in a smaller size.

Coast hopping has almost nothing to do with the requirements for an ocean crossing vessel.
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Old 11-27-2013, 07:51 AM   #5
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I have done that trip a number of times. I would recommend going with a good blue water design boat with range. It will make for much better cruising, living on board, and ability to weather out storms. Good communication equipment, water maker and many spare parts. We have a 48LRC Hatteras and have known to be anchored out for months without tying up to shore.
Have fun and good luck

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Old 11-28-2013, 02:31 PM   #6
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Okay, so one person says a full displacement hull, and another says a good blue water design. So any particular suggestions as to what makes/models fit that description? Probably looking for something older, sub-$100k price, less than 50 feet.

Thanks.
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Old 11-28-2013, 05:30 PM   #7
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There are quite a few designs, Hatteras LRC, Deferrers, Kady Kerogen, OA, Nordhavens, just to name a few. Many have 40-50 ft models and larger.

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Old 11-28-2013, 05:40 PM   #8
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No help here, but welcome aboard from another in the Tampa area.

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Old 11-28-2013, 09:45 PM   #9
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Here's another consideration. How often would you use a VI capable boat for a VI kind of trip? A lesser ($) boat might suffice for miles of ICW cruising and near coastal tropical waters like the Keys and Bimini whereas a VI capable boat might end up being under-used. I went to Lucaya, Bahamas in my 21 foot center console single outboard without any problem - hopefully you'd have flexibility to travel when weather permitted. Bimini is even closer. Just a thought...

Welcome to trawler world and lots of great advice from fellow trawler enthusiasts.
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Old 11-29-2013, 06:18 AM   #10
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VI capable boat might end up being under-used.

ANYTHING , with a bit of range is a VI boat , if the long shore route is used.

The Mona passage is the only long hop and thats under 200nm.

A true offshore boat would simply steam on a direct route to its destination , it would have the range , water cap , and scantlings to do the trip.

Done easily by most 30+ ft sailboats , by heading to Bermuda then reaching south to the islands, after picking up the trade winds.

I have done it a few times , and with a self steering gear its a fine snoozer.

The extra distance is the tradeoff for fair winds , not required for a motorboat.
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Old 11-29-2013, 06:22 AM   #11
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Don

I commented before about looking at full displacement boats if you are intending to go to the Virgins and especially points south of there. Leaving opinions aside for a moment my observations in the Eastern Caribbean (St. Martin to Trinidad) are that 24 out of 25 cruising boats are sailboats, essentially a seagoing hull form. Of the trawlers less than 55 feet that I have seen in five years they are, Nordhavns, Krogens, and DeFevers. There are a number of sport fish based in the islands, but these are used locally. Locally based I also have seen a number of planing and semi-displacement boats most of which are locally flagged based in marinas for fishing.

There is one 48(?) ft Nordic Tug based in the USVI that makes the trip each year to St. Lucia but that is about the only semi-displacement cruising boat I have seen.

I am sure there are different boat out there but I haven't seen them.

Another thing to consider is that fuel costs are higher than in the United States. Last year we were paying $5.00 + (US) per gallon for diesel at the less expensive fuel docks in the English speaking islands, $8.50 per gallon in the French. Efficiency in the propulsion engine (s) and the generator are important to most of us in the Caribbean.


If you are serious about the Virgins and the Eastern Caribbean you may want to shop for a boat already there. Many people have no desire to bring their boats back and when they sell they know that the Eastern Caribbean is a sailboat market and that they will have a hard time selling a trawler.

Good luck.

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Old 11-29-2013, 10:53 AM   #12
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that they will have a hard time selling a trawler.

So the pricing should be great!!

BUT,,,parts for maint or repairs are MUCH harder to come by , so a a really good survey to find out how much delayed , postponed or ignored maint there is to catch up on.

And remember parts/repairs will be even harder not knowing the ropes.

Where to get what sent , which customs suck etc.
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Old 11-29-2013, 11:32 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FF View Post


BUT,,,parts for maint or repairs are MUCH harder to come by , so a a really good survey to find out how much delayed , postponed or ignored maint there is to catch up on.

And remember parts/repairs will be even harder not knowing the ropes.

Where to get what sent , which customs suck etc.
Absolutely, just about everything will be brought in from the United States. Redoing a boat is not as much of a problem as the unexpected item. With a little organization you can ship in by freighter all the parts you need and avoid duty (broker fee however). The freighter cost is inexpensive. Cost to Miami varies by normal US shipping costs.

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