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Old 04-06-2014, 07:12 PM   #1
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The Generation Small Ocean Passagemaker

As we once again begin searching for our next boat I find myself somewhat depressed over the cost of smaller (39'-50') true passagemaker trawlers. OK, I'll stop here and provide my definition of "Passagemaker" to keep this on track. Passagemaker: a high quality / safe boat capable of non-stop voyages of 2,000 miles or more in comfort. I know this is likely not what the experts would argue but I think you get my drift so lets not split hairs on the definition. You will also note that I did not specifically call out full-displacement or power trawler and there is a reason......

Lets face it the number of builders who will even consider this smaller size market is shrinking faster then my stuffing box drips water and we can count them all on one hand. Even if the big three (Nordhavn, KK and Selene) were willing to build you a new boat it would be well over $700K and closer to $1M+ today. So what does the future hold for those who have a little money to spend without breaking the bank and want to explore far and away destinations?

I became so desperate I started to look at sailboats at a boat show last month and walked away disappointed. Then the other day we pulled up along side a Nordhavn 56MS (Motor Sailor) and remembered going aboard this same boat in 2008 when she was launched as hull number one. I recall the beautiful large salon and except for the sailing rigging thought this is one nice looking boat that will catch on with trawler owners. Fast forward to today and the concept of MS boats have not worked out very well for Nordhavn and I don't see the other two players developing new designs, but why?

I know nothing about motor sailors except they can sail in the right conditions and travel under power for weeks like a trawler. I also recall some of the most knowledgeable Nordhavn N46 owners who have traveled the world believe their hulls (designed after sailboats) are superior to all others. One owner commented that he would purchase the N56MS less the sails if her had the money. I get the low CG, high AB and all the other ratio's make sense and I even like the looks of a MS so what am I missing?

If you had a boat that offers unlimited range in one of the safest hulls and doesn't require you to sail if you didn't want to, why wouldn't this type of boat be near perfect. OK, that may be pushing it, lets just ask why MS boats have not become more popular especially with older sailors looking for a more comfortable boat to continue to use? I don't see the super rich having any issue building 100' - 300' motor sailors so what am I missing?

Stressing out a little looking for our next boat and not sure if it will be N4.

John T.
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Old 04-06-2014, 07:22 PM   #2
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In a word, interior size.

Power trawlers are larger inside, and size = comfort for the most part.
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Old 04-06-2014, 07:32 PM   #3
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Smaller Sizze

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In a word, interior size.

Power trawlers are larger inside, and size = comfort for the most part.

Thanks, I do see that on the smaller Island Packet MS but what if one was designed with a trawler mentality? Look at the N46 and I agree it doesn't offer as much space as the N47 but more then a sailboat. Possibly a longer then normal pilothouse without impacting the CG. Thanks
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Old 04-06-2014, 08:54 PM   #4
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In the words of my brother in law who is currently searching for a mid 40s offshore s/v. Motorsailers do neither very well. The sailing portion is a compromise and the power side as well. That's not to say they don't have a following.

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Old 04-06-2014, 09:16 PM   #5
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Thanks, I do see that on the smaller Island Packet MS but what if one was designed with a trawler mentality? Look at the N46 and I agree it doesn't offer as much space as the N47 but more then a sailboat. Possibly a longer then normal pilothouse without impacting the CG. Thanks
Because if it's designed like a trawler it will make a lousy sailboat. So additional cost and things to deal with but little benefit.

Most trawler people are looking to get away from the work of a sailboat as well and most sailors are interested in sailing performance.

The problem with hybrids of many things is that they don't do either thing as well as if they were straight one or the other. Now sometimes that compromise is still good. But Nordhavn didn't find a sizable audience for their motorsailors.
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Old 04-06-2014, 09:20 PM   #6
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Do you want to sail, or are you looking for a less expensive 40'-50' trawler? If you want to sail, get a sail boat and motor as needed. A for a less expensive trawler, I expect a motor sailor will move the costs in the wrong direction. You have all the machinery costs of a trawler, plus all the rigging costs of a sail boat.

For a lower cost passage-making trawler, I suspect older brokerage boats are the only path. You can probably get yourself in a good N46 for $300-$500k. An N47 will take you up to $700-$900k and get you extra space and a more current design, but obviously you pay for it.
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Old 04-06-2014, 09:43 PM   #7
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The right boat

John

We went through much the same process when we bought our AT435 a few years ago and again when we worked with Tomco on the design of the AT485. We were originally looking for a full-keel boat that would support our interest in extended coastal cruising. While we were looking for the boat a broker we ran into suggested we spend some time writing out exactly what we wanted in our boat. It turns out we were really more interested in a good coastal cruiser and not a boat to cross oceans. The American Tugs do this very well.

We had also spent a lot of time looking at motor sailing. This seemed logical to us as we started out as sailors. We owned a Hunter Passage 450 for several years and this came pretty close to our ideal of a very good sailing boat that could cruise with an engine at 8 knots. However, we found having to be outside in miserable weather finally made us look at a trawler. We could never get comfortable with the lack of sailing performance with the motor sailors. I do think that Nordhavn really improved the performance with the MS56. However, it was so new we didn't want to be the first to try. Further it was just too expensive for us at the time.

Good luck with your search.

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Old 04-06-2014, 11:37 PM   #8
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John: When it comes to finding the genuine Passage-Maker you describe, I feel your pain and frustration. The compromise of the Motor-Sailor is just another compromise. There are still lots of people out there that are trying to milk the benefits from Schuckers, Willards and what-have-you Motor/Stay Sailors. The Island Packett Motor-Sailor and Trawler versions of the same boat didn't exactly hit the market at the ideal time to give them a running chance. I'd bet that a darned good, spacious motor-sailor design could be made with the available materials today, but it wouldn't for the price market and may not be a mono-hull either.
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Old 04-07-2014, 01:56 AM   #9
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Check out the Cheoy Lee 43 and 52 motorsailers. From what I understand they are fine sailing vessels, with some (all?) of the 52s having twin engines. More a large sailboat with pilothouse and inside helm than traditional motorsailer. Walter Schultz at Shannon Yachts is doing interesting things with new power/sail vessels, but his are in the million dollar range.
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Old 04-07-2014, 06:21 AM   #10
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>Power trawlers are larger inside, and size = comfort for the most part.<

ONLY AT DOCKSIDE used as a cottage ,

UNDERWAY Mere volume just increase the distance one can be thrown in the boat.

Comfort is completely personal, you can only sit in one place at a time.

A smaller cabin that is ventilated well in a rain storm , warm in cold weather and handy enough not to be hospitalized when a wake goes by would be preferred to a salon that echos.

Volume is impressive to land lubbers that compare a boat to a house , but has little going for it as a goal on an operating vessel..

Visibility IS a huge plus , so the smaller cabin does not feel like a dark cave.

Sounds like the boat for sale Winni The Poo , in the For Sale section would solve this fellows desirement with minimum cost.
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Old 04-07-2014, 06:39 AM   #11
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The MS56 is not a very attractive boat. I think that has had a lot to do with sales and resale.

Interestingly enough, every time I see one it is merely motoring, not motorsailing. In fact, I saw one a couple of days ago motoring north, with a gentle beam wind. Didn't check AIS to get her name.
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Old 04-07-2014, 07:42 AM   #12
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We have a 33ft,90/90 which could be classed as a motor sailor.

Inshore sailing is an event , something we do when out for a weekend for fun., or with guests aboard that enjoy sailing.

On a transit like the ICW sails are seldom up going south as from the south is the predominant wind. Going north a jib or the main (full battens ) might be hoisted.

Some bridge tenders demand the sails be lowered before allowing passage under their bridge.

On a voyage , Block Island to Bermuda , then to Antigua and south , the sails are the power almost 100% of the time.

The engine is only on 2 hours every 3rd day to freeze the eutetic plates , and gibve the battset a boost..

Seeing a MS cruising inshore with out the rags up is the norm.
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Old 04-07-2014, 08:51 AM   #13
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The size and space issue is extremely variable depending on the perceiver.
There was an article about a passage maker that was only 22' in PMM some years ago.

I'm a BIG fan of the Nordhavn 46 despite her less than attractive stern. The NH46 is a lot like the W30 but 4 times as big. Both need a re-design to maximize their WLL. Both need a re-do at both ends. IMHO
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Old 04-07-2014, 10:51 AM   #14
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Nordhavn did redesign the N46 back in around 2001.. they came up with the 43 and the 47.. both have the look that is now the nordhavn norm. The thing that makes the 46 still popular with the passage maker crowd is they are fuel efficient .. albeit a bit slow.

In the past couple years I have a lot of time in the N57.. my favorite nordhavn in the remotely obtainable category. I do not view the large interior volume as remotely unsafe in big sea conditions as Nordhavn has placed handholds to be able to get through the salon with ease. Not to mention is the fact that the larger boat takes larger seas much better than the smaller boat that some think would be ideal.

Most folks that want a passage maker wish to be aboard for long periods of time which also means the ability to carry more stores, gear, spares that the small boat cannot do.

Also keeping in mind that the livability at anchor is greatly enhanced with additional space and the ability to "get away" from other crew for some quiet time. Of course volume comes at a cost, in maintenance, docking,ability to get into small places.

The sad fact is that there is little money in sub 50' passage makers for manufacturers, and most folks that plan to do real blue water cruising in a power boat (think fuel cost) have the means to afford a larger boat.

Personally we fit into the brown area where we could afford the 57 and cruise her if we spent most of the time at anchor and we didn't have a dirt home.. but that is a no go for the Admiral.. she needs a place to feel she can return to and also keep her memories/photos and the thinks she holds dear far from the perils of the sea... me not so much.

In summary, if you want a sub 50' passage maker you need to build it up from a existing used boat and fit it to your specific needs.. and it will cost way less than a shorter new boat.

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Old 04-07-2014, 03:18 PM   #15
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As others have said, most of the motorsailers are making compromises that trawlers don't have to make. Instead of getting the best of both worlds, you end up with a boat that does neither very well, but both OK. It's very hard to serve two masters.
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Old 04-07-2014, 10:15 PM   #16
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Motorsailers do neither very well. The sailing portion is a compromise and the power side as well. That's not to say they don't have a following.
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This is a common misconception that is often repeated without any factual basis. Motor sailors have a bad reputation of not sailing well. A pilothouse certainly does add some windage, and the larger than usual diesel does add some weight.

But many do sail well, especially in rough seas.. Not as good as a stripped down bare bones racing boat pointing into the wind, nor do they semi-plane like some power boats.

Is this a compromise or just a choice of what you want a boat to do?
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Old 04-07-2014, 11:37 PM   #17
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This is a common misconception that is often repeated without any factual basis. Motor sailors have a bad reputation of not sailing well. A pilothouse certainly does add some windage, and the larger than usual diesel does add some weight.

But many do sail well, especially in rough seas.. Not as good as a stripped down bare bones racing boat pointing into the wind, nor do they semi-plane like some power boats.

Is this a compromise or just a choice of what you want a boat to do?
That's not a misconception. It's really just a design element. Motor sailors won't sail as well in general as straight sail boats and they add complexity and cost to a straight trawler. All boats are compromises. Do they do both tasks acceptably? That's up to the individual to decide. But they don't excel at either. It's not to say they aren't the right purchase for some people.
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Old 04-08-2014, 12:14 AM   #18
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No, motor sailors don't excel at sailing. Neither do cruising sailboats in comparison to sailboats designed for racing. Every boat is a compromise.

But they do sail well. Not fast. Maybe not point into the wind as much. But they sail comfortably. This can be a bigger advantage than being fast when cruising. The crew is well rested & warm in the pilothouse; the boat doesn't heel as much; the rigging is simple with less to go wrong.

Because a boat does not sail fast, doesn't mean it does not sail well.
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Old 04-08-2014, 12:49 AM   #19
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A motor sailor is typically much more closely styled to a sail boat.. less beam, less windage, less deck space, below deck living, longer length to beam ratio.
Most buy a trawler because they want the space, above deck salon, less hassle than a sailing rig. It is a great idea but never really works all that well.
Regarding the Nordhavn M.S. that thing is just butt ugly. I would buy a same length deck saloon sail boat before ever considering that thing.

If you want to sail buy a sailboat

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Old 04-08-2014, 05:42 AM   #20
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>In summary, if you want a sub 50' passage maker you need to build it up from a existing used boat and fit it to your specific needs.. and it will cost way less than a shorter new boat.<

I am not sure it would be cheap or even possible , to reinforce a stock hull, replace the PH and PH windows , install long range tankage for water and fuel , and to find space for the required stores and spare parts on a stock Brownwater boat.

A blue water boat will be DESIGNED from the bottom of the keel up for ocean service , and hopefully assembled by folks that understand the challenge of ocean crossing , and make safety and repairs underway a prime concern.

Almost everything from interior layout to gear selection/ installation will be different.
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