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Old 09-10-2016, 09:31 AM   #1
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Starting my journey......

I am looking to buy a trawler when I retire in about 3 years. I have however no boating experience except for renting outboards for bay fishing and pontoon boats in Bermuda for exploring the island. I am an avid fisherman so I have been on many types of boats and have a fascination for them. I have been in rough seas with frequent overnight trips to the gulfstream off Montauk, NY fishing for tuna. My dream is to buy a trawler in 3 years and cruise the coast and inland waterways. Fishing would not be my priority but rather experiencing the trawler life with my wife. I have been lurking on this forum and have learned a wealth of information from newbies to the seasoned vetearns with much appreciation. Along with the information I learned here I am half way through Chapman's Piloting & Seamanship and will study and take the required NJ boating and safety exam. I will soon be ready to get out of the classroom and start the next chapter and here is where I need help. I want to buy a smaller boat (25 to 31 feet) to get some experience. I plan to stay close to shore navigating the harbors and rivers around NJ and NY (not sure about Chesepeake yet as it seems to warrant a bit of experience). It would help if the boat had a genset, a/c, a berthr for 2, some electronics just so I can get familiar with these things. It would be great to get a diesel but I know that would be limited. I would think single screw would be better and I am not looking for speed. Any thoughts would be appreciated.
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Old 09-10-2016, 09:43 AM   #2
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Welcome to the forum! Good to start with small steps.

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Old 09-10-2016, 09:52 AM   #3
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For insurance you will need to dshow experience. Rather that spending money to buy a smaller boat then spending and loosing more trading up I suggest that you go to several charter companies that will let you cruise with a captain as teacher on board. that way you will experience multiple boats larger and smaller while you learn and try out the cruising life. Schools exist in many places and that gives the advantage of wider experiences.
The Power squadron near you has a lot of good courses. usps.org
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Old 09-10-2016, 09:57 AM   #4
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Sounds like you're doing it right, and that you have enough experience on the water to know how much respect the marine environment deserves.

You are pretty much where we were four years ago; we made the jump straight from sea kayaks to our 30 footer. This forum has been a gold mine of information, and with the help of a diesel mechanic in the family and an electrician friend it's been a smooth transition.

I chuckle now thinking back to how mind boggling it all was in the beginning. Baby steps and time, mixed with a jump in with both feet and let's get things done kind of attitude, will erase a lot of doubts!

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Old 09-10-2016, 10:00 AM   #5
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Sounds like you have a plan. There are literally hundreds of gas engine boats in that size sitting in marinas waiting for a new owner. Take your time and pick one with the best care and maintenance. Personally I would stay 25-28 ft single engine at this stage. A Trojan F26 is a great example.
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Old 09-10-2016, 10:57 AM   #6
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Appreciate all the comments thus far. My post was a bit selfish in the sense that I did not include my other halfs perspective. Although I received my wife's blessing on this it did come with some caveats. We have gone to some boat shows and you can surely get spoiled and "wowed" by them. I explained to her my plan and she is OK with it but the initial boat althoiugh used will need a flushing dischargeable head (i do understand there are limits in discharging in certain waters), A/C and heat, cook stove, fridge and sleepover accomadations for 2. Although I am fine with a older boat, she is not. That being said our used boat budget is between $35,000 and $50,000. If I can't get passed this my ultimate dream of a trawler in 3 years make get derailed.
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Old 09-10-2016, 11:45 AM   #7
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Your budget is your qualifier rather than the age of the boat. If you set parameters in a web site like YachtWorld and an area to purchase from, this will begin to show you what is realistic. There are reasonable boats in your range and area of NJ. Just a quick look shows 287 choices.

If a boat can pass survey and sea trial without any major issues, the age shouldn't matter too much. Even better if you can do some of the work yourself, thus saving additional money. Looking closer to the lower range of what you intend to spend leaves additional funds for things that tend to pop up, and anyone on this forum can vouche for the truth of things popping up that can have a considerable cost.

Take your time shopping - that can be a lot of fun too.
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Old 09-10-2016, 01:32 PM   #8
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This is the problem that I hav. My wife asks me "did you find a boat yet". I said "yes I foung lots of boats". There is an overwhelming number of boats out there even if I filter the search with the variables I want. How do I narrow it down? Even within my price range are alot of boats and as I am naive to what is quality and what is not. Someone (not on this forum) told me to search for a boat that was subjrct to fresh water only, you will narrow your search and have a less weathered boat. Sounds logical but that means scouring the areas up river (little salt content or in lakes (NJ,NYPa).
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Old 09-10-2016, 02:04 PM   #9
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I too favor a fresh water boat...if you can find one that fits your needs.
Lots of fresh water and boats not too far from NJ by water.
NY Hudson...Finger Lakes...LK Ontario...1,000 IS... St Lawrence...Lk Champlain.
All could be a great learning/delivery cruise away.
Find and join
the closest USPower Squadron and you and the admiral take a couple of courses. Many squadrons are now doing on the water training.
Good luck w the search
Lots of good info here on TF
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Old 09-10-2016, 02:39 PM   #10
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Just another consideration would be to open the door up a bit to the smaller trawlers to start with. They would generally already have those items on your wish list. Check out the older 32' To 42' trawlers from 1980 to 1990 on yacht world.com for example. A couple pop up just above your starting range in the sixty plus range. Larger does not necessarily mean harder to learn or control. Most trawlers are slow motion boats. There's a saying on this forum , something about a "happy wife" so keep her wants and needs in the loop. Good luck and truly enjoy the search together.
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Old 09-10-2016, 03:52 PM   #11
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Charter.

And charter with a teaching captain.
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Old 09-10-2016, 04:33 PM   #12
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Charter.

And charter with a teaching captain.
Agree this could be helpful from two perspectives. ..
Do it with the admiral as a way to test if you both enjoy the life style and
As a way to learn not only handling but also features you like on a boat and those you don't like
Larger not necessarily harder if done correctly.
Books and courses give you knowledge experience will give you confidence. Include the admiral in the learning and searching it can be fun or at least rewarding doing it together.
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Old 09-10-2016, 04:46 PM   #13
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Charter.

And charter with a teaching captain.
We did this even though I had sailing experience.
Had I tried to teach the Admiral, ..... well
With a teaching captain, I got a nice dinner, etc. after each lesson.
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Old 09-11-2016, 03:48 PM   #14
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When people looking for a boat ask me for help I always suggest they buy
their second boat first. By that I mean, don't buy a "starter boat" with the plan to move up later. That's a helluva money losing proposition. Buy a boat you could live with for many years.


Charter with a licensed captain to get the number of hours your insurance company requires, and consider hiring a captain to help you learn your new boat. It will pay big dividends in the shorter time it takes you to feel comfortable with your boat.
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Old 09-11-2016, 07:17 PM   #15
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When people looking for a boat ask me for help I always suggest they buy
their second boat first. .
Charter first as others have said, but don't buy an interim boat. That can derail your future plans completely. It can lead to negative experiences and your wife says "no way" to the whole plan. It can leave you with significantly less money than the second boat costs. It can leave you stuck with a boat you can't sell and unable to move on.

I don't know what size trawler is ultimately in your plans but there is little difference in operating a 40' trawler and a 26' cruiser. If you know how to operate either, then the other will come easier. Often the trawler with added weight, maybe a thruster, handles better than the smaller boat. I would take the steps necessary to be able to operate the second boat, and, if uncomfortable at first get a teaching captain to go with you on it. Great to have a knowledgeable captain training you on your boat and helping you figure out the entire boat.

We had zero experience in coastal cruising when we started although years of lake boating and had completed some courses. But we jumped in with a superb trainer. Now here we are over 60,000 nm later.
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Old 09-11-2016, 09:38 PM   #16
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Like you, I am looking to purchase a trawler in the near future. I am 4 years away from retirement, my wife and my plans are to get a boat in two years, transition to live aboard in a marina and use the last two years prior to retirement getting ourselves and the boat in cruise ready condition. I've owned several sailboats, from 19ft to 30ft. Sailed the Keys in Fl, and here in SC sailed many harbors and offshore. Over the years I've taken many classes on piloting and navigation, still feel I will need professional assistance before we venture out on our own. If you and your wife haven't spent much time living/vacationing on a boat, I would recommend you do that before you purchase.
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Old 09-12-2016, 04:41 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GFC View Post
When people looking for a boat ask me for help I always suggest they buy
their second boat first. By that I mean, don't buy a "starter boat" with the plan to move up later. That's a helluva money losing proposition. Buy a boat you could live with for many years.

Charter with a licensed captain to get the number of hours your insurance company requires, and consider hiring a captain to help you learn your new boat. It will pay big dividends in the shorter time it takes you to feel comfortable with your boat.
I absolutely second that, and as I often stick in there as well, why wait until you've retired..? Unless you buy new - even if you buy new, in fact - the early part of your ownership will be the most expensive as you re-fit, refurbish, stuff up, maybe break things, and that is always easier to fund while still working as a rule. If I had waited until I retired, I'd have robbed myself of 14 years of cruising - and refurbishing, fixing, and all that other fun stuff. Just sayin'
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Old 09-12-2016, 05:58 PM   #18
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After reading everyone's comments I have decided not to buy a used "learning boat". I appreciate all the responses but the consensus is to charter with a captain and/or find a trawler school. The economics make perfect sense, why spend 35k to 50k on a smaller boat with the extra cost of docking, maintenance, insurance etc and in the end having a depreciated boat to trade up. Hands on learning on the type of boat I will eventually buy makes much more sense and will also help me in acquiring insurance. I have began looking at trawler charter schools on the east coast. I would think that it would take at least one 2-3 day class which would include hands on experience (maybe get a certificate for help in getting insurance) followed by 2-3 charters with a experienced captain to continue my learning for 2 years. The 3rd year I would hope to charter myself without a captain. I realize we all learn at different speeds. Does my timeline and charteing make sense? Am I being realistic? Appreciate any comments. Kevin
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Old 09-12-2016, 07:17 PM   #19
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I like the idea of buying the small boat and gaining experience over a few seasons. So will your insurance co.

Experience is experience and training is training. You need both.

Everyone seems to think the smaller boat and the time on it will be a chore. The length of the boat does not equate to the pleasure derived from it. Gaining experience and putting your training to use on it will be priceless. (and pleasurable)
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Old 09-12-2016, 07:30 PM   #20
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10 percent or less being a captain is learning to drive a particular boat.

Even learning systems, which are common amongst many boats, small and large, is a big part of cruising.

The real meat is navigation, weather, emergencies, anchoring, ettiquette, marlinspike ...etc...etc....

You can get all that in nice, under $10,000 cruisers, a friend of mine would have let his go for less than $5000.

Always easier to learn on smaller boats...it's just a run the numbers to see if you can get in and out of a smaller boat and have fun while you learn while not worrying about a larger boat and its associated expenses.

It is one thing for a boater to move up...it's another for a landlubber to jump in over their head.
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