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Old 03-24-2010, 07:26 PM   #1
Join Date: Feb 2010
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Top Five Trawler Buying Mistakes

<font face="Calibri"></font>To everyone that responded to my previous posting regarding this article we wrote for Sea Magazine I found the original*draft and*recieved some assistance*posting here.**We are not professional writers*but enjoy sharing our 25 years of boating experience with others.* We spoke about living aboard a trawler at the 2009 Trawler Fest in San Diego and got hooked on writing a few stories and small informative book.* We are not wealthy (not even close) but work hard and make sacrifices to live life today.**For us living on the west coast safety is the most important aspect of the boats we purchase.* There are not many places to hide out when weather turns bad in the pacific.**I*first discovered trawlers about ten years ago and have looked at them all on both coasts.**Each*make and model has its own unique characteristics*and*we appreciate them all.**This is great web-site and we look forward to contributing useful*informative from time to time.* *****Top Five Trawler Buying Mistakes *I once heard that trawler owners are some of the most experienced group of boaters in the world.* While I have no hard evidence to confirm this, I can attest to the fact that most owners we have spoken with over the past ten years have achieved an impressive resume of cruising experience. *Like us, their experience progressed over time and included some degree of trial and error. *Even with 30 years of boating experience that includes commissioning two new Nordhavn trawlers and living aboard part time over the last five years, there are times when we feel like novices. *One area in particular that manages to show our still learning attitude is the purchasing process of a new boat. *Lets face it, not many people buy enough boats in a life time to become experts, so the opportunity to make a big mistake is always lurking around the corner.* Today, as we start to prepare for our third trawler purchase, we find ourselves dusting off our list of the Top Five Trawler Buying Mistakes in hopes to stay clear of any potential storms that may lay ahead. *Our list includes both personal and common mistakes that other trawler owners have told us about. They include: Unrealistic expectations, Emotional purchasing, Under-estimating the cost of ownership, Purchasing the wrong type boat and most importantly on our list, Not listening to the first mate. *
Unrealistic expectation is probably the easiest of the five mistakes to avoid as long as the buyer is willing to do his/her homework to collect and analysis the information required to make accurate decisions.* Research and actual experiences are the only real ways to avoid or least minimizes this mistake.* Our approach starts with some serious soul searching and honest discussion on how we plan to use the boat over the next three years.* Three years is about as far as we like to project due to lifes countless opportunities for change.* Once we have an agreed plan, the search begins for the perfect boat. Hull design, safety and comfort normally make up our top three considerations. *Once we have identified all the perspective builders we start to research each company and its product line individually. Between the internet, magazines and boat shows we can usually narrow our search down to one or two builders with-in a year.* Sea trials follow on the same model we are interested in purchasing.* Understanding the handling characteristics of the boat is very important to us and we take the sea trial very serious.* There is always time to evaluate the static aspects of the boat while at the dealers dock, so we schedule long sea trials and hope for sloppy weather to put the boat through her paces.* After we return home, we will discuss how the boat measured up to our expectations for the couple of hours we were out at sea and try to envision ourselves on the boat for days or weeks at a time. Even after we confirmed we have selected the right boat, we sit back address our personal expectations one more time. *When we purchased our first Nordhavn 40 we both assumed a week long, 1,000 mile cruise from San Diego, Ca. to Cabo San Lucas was on the agenda.* It wasnt until after we had the boat for about a year that the first mate decided a week long cruise exceeded her level of fun! While the boat remained the perfect choice and exceeded our levels of expectations technically, our personal expectations had changed and some rethinking on how we would use her took place was required. **
Underestimating the cost of ownership is a common mistake.* When we started researching our first trawler we had a heck of time locating accurate, real time, well documented information on this subject. *Items like bottom cleaning and replacing hull zincs wasnt something that appeared in our visions of long summer cruises, Bar-b-Qs on the aft deck and sipping margaritas at sunset.* Add in monthly slip fees, insurance, boat washing, semi -annual waxing, property taxes, fuel, oil changes, spare parts, Satellite TV and XX Radio and it adds up.* All these costs are added to our monthly boat payment making total cost of ownership significantly greater than we planned for. *Now that we have gone through this experience twice we would like to think that we are better prepared for trawler number three.** *
Purchasing the wrong type of trawler is another mistake we came very close to committing. Since we would be using Maria Elena as a part time live aboard due to a job transfer (yes, some guys do get lucky) living space was a major concern. *While Maria had no issues with the quality or layout of the boat she would have preferred something with a little more room.* Our nominal budget limited us to the smallest of the Nordhavn displacement hull fleet and I was not willing to give up the quality and safety for a larger boat from a different builder. *Thankfully the layout on the N40 is perfect for a couple (and occasional guests) and things have worked out very nicely.* An area that didnt work out as well for us was the slow speed of a full displacement hull boat.* When you take your wife who is used to fast cars and day boats and ask her to settle in for a 9 hour boat ride at 6.5knotts I should have expected some push back. *I can remember telling her of a cartoon I had seen during one of our first trips, it was snail sitting on the back of a turtle with the wind in its face saying Weeee as the turtle moved ever so quickly.* In our case we were the snail and the Nordhavn was the turtle.* It became worse when the occasional sailboat would past us up from time to time.** While she came to appreciate the journey aspect of the trawler rather than the destination, she will not let go of the snail and turtle joke.* Lesson here is to make sure the size, type and speed of the boat meets your needs.* If it doesnt there is a good chance the boat will just sit in its slip and no one will be happy.*** *
Not getting the first mates approval is a guarantee recipe for disaster at sea!* We have spoken with a large number of couples from coast to coast where the first mate had serious reservations regarding the whole trawler adventure, slow speed and long passages. *We could hear reservations in their voices and seriously thought some would not work out.* Possibly, some indication that we may not have been far off are the number of relatively new, million dollar trawlers that go up for sale less than a year after purchase.* While we managed to escape this hazard it was not without compromise on both sides.* Maybe the secret to a successful trawler ownership is the same as marriage itself compromise? Bottom line is even with the right boat, budgets large enough to manage the QE II and the best of relationships, if spending time on the water is not an equal passion for both parties you may easily find yourself in very treacherous waters. ******
Buying on emotion, something many dealers dream about during boat shows and the single largest mistake anyone can make.* That being said, emotion is part of this great adventure and it is not easy to contain at times. While those with significant experience are less likely to fall into this trap newcomers to this life style need to be careful.* If I can offer one suggestion to a perspective trawler buyer it would be never to sign a contract during a boat show.* Most reputable manufacturers like PAE Nordhavn do not have to use artificial boat show pricing to try and lure buyers. *A reputable builder with a quality product should have nothing to fear by educating perspective buyers prior to having them make their decision.* So take your time and do your homework.* Even after you have found the perfect boat and the first mate is totally onboard, step away for a week or so and then ask yourself if you still have the same level passion and desire to truly take on the trawler lifestyle.* If the answer is still yes and the level of passion is still high than fulfill your dreams and start your journey.
Author: John and Maria Torelli have been boating for over 30 years and owned two Nordhavn 40II trawlers.* They live aboard Maria Elena, N4061 part time in San Diego, CA and recently wrote a book about the life style and its true cost.* The book entitled Life is a journey, why not live aboard a trawler is available on line at** *
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Old 03-25-2010, 02:51 AM   #2
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Top Five Trawler Buying Mistakes

I have only read the first one so far and going to have to disagree(respectfully). This is the single biggest mistake all people make with ANY boat and the reason why this country is filled with marinas full of boats that go nowhere. You even prove my point in that the boat that you so aggressively researched and tested caused you to have to "reshape" your objectives with her. I guess what I am disagreeing with is when you say it is the "easiest to avoid"....."with research and actual experience". *That "actual experience" develops over the span of a lifetime...not just a 2 hour sea trial on a boat. *It is the reason we all sell boats and buy other boats. *My current boat I have now I knew wasn't THE boat....but it was a segment that I wanted to experience. *That "experience" comes at a fairly high price. *You have owned TWO you know exactly what I am talking about. *That was not cheap experience and it is not something anybody can acquire by reading a book. *Anyway, the underlying theme for most of your 5 points are what I am talking about. *And I will certainly agree with getting the Admiral's approval. *That one is absolutely essential!!!(this is an edit and I have now read all 5)

Anyway, boats represent the dreams of the buyer. The more realistic those dreams are, the more likely the boat will be used. Usually, expectations and reality are pretty far apart and that is why we see so many boats just sit and rot before our very eyes. They are the unfullfilled dreams of somebody.

Edit: I have now read all 5 and edited the above post.

Thanks for posting and hope you don't a little discussion....

-- Edited by Baker on Thursday 25th of March 2010 04:07:22 AM

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Old 03-25-2010, 07:06 AM   #3
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RE: Top Five Trawler Buying Mistakes

Mr. Baker, thank you for the feedback.* I agree a two hour sea trial is not enough research to make a decision that is why we spent three years researching trawlers prior to our first purchase and we still had some sole searching issues to deal with.* Like you pointed out boating is like dreaming for many people and its not easy to make the dream a reality especially when no one boat is perfect.* The fact that we ended up purchasing two Nordhavn 40's makes us think we got close to getting it right.* As we loook*ahead towards*our next boat, we hope what we learned over the past five years of living aboard part timer will allow us to make*an even better decision.* But in the end we know the boat will not be perefect!* *
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Old 03-25-2010, 02:16 PM   #4
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RE: Top Five Trawler Buying Mistakes

Thanks for the post, it reinforces my experience that cruising speed can be a major issue.

We used to own Riviera SFs, a 35 followed by a newer 36. The 35 cruised at 18kn, in most conditions, and the 36 at 20kn.

Our present boat, a converted 53ft Aussie lobster boat, can happily cruise at 11 to 12 kn, but it took my wife a full season to come to terms with the change in pace.

Now, because of the rise in fuel costs over the last couple of years, we cruise at 9.2kn, using less that half the fuel.*My wife,*somewhat jokingly,*now refers*to*us as a "yot".**After*a couple of*seasons she has accepted and enjoys, the even slower speed.

We still do "high speed" dashes if the weather looks dodgy.

Originally, we proposed to travel offshore - our nearest practical destination is 900 miles away - but*soon realised that we would never do this because of the time and the relative discomfort involved. However, we were lucky in that Pioneer has become the ideal coastal cruiser for us,*having the space and comfort of a 50 footer with*lower initial and operating costs*than our last Rivera.

I have a neighbour in the marina with a Nordhavn 47 which is used only for coastal cruising but at 8kn. Even I would find that frustrating. Had we bought a full displacement vessel instead of semidisplacement, we would have been in this same situation.

It's easy to make mistakes because, as you say, no-one buys enough boats in a lifetime!
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Old 03-25-2010, 07:21 PM   #5
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RE: Top Five Trawler Buying Mistakes

Based on my observation the five biggest mistakes trawler buyers make are:

1. Too big.

2. Too small.

3. Needs more work than buyer was expecting or is capable of doing, leading to frustration, disappointment, and bad boating experience. Often the result of #1.

4. Doesn't suit intended purpose or meet expectations. Owner ends up not liking boat. Can be the result of #2.

5. Too expensive or time consuming to maintain (see #1)
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