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Old 01-18-2017, 01:39 PM   #1
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Trawler size advice

My wife and I are looking at buying a trawler, probably in 5-6 years after the kids go to college, and plan on doing the East Coast ICW +/- the great loop. I have been around boats my entire life (mainly Chesapeake Bay and both coasts of Florida), but have not owned or operated a 40-55 ft boat of any kind. Aside from initial cost, maintenance, and marina expenses, are there significant differences for a novice couple to operate and cruise on a mid 50ft trawler vs mid 40ft trawler? (Ease of operation, docking, marina availability, moorings, etc?) The larger trawlers seem to offer a more appealing layout for us to live on year round. For the sake of argument, let's say both are single engine, full displacement with bow and stern thrusters, and similar draft.
Thanks in advance.
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Old 01-18-2017, 03:40 PM   #2
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I think that handling wouldn't be a huge issue. A 40' boat is too big to manhandle anyway so maybe not a big difference between the sizes at that point. Keep in mind that my own boat is the biggest I have ever driven.

If you go from 40 to 50 feet you may run into more restrictions on moorage. 40' slips are much easier to find in the PNW than 50'.

Having said that, I think if you buy a boat that is smaller than what you think will meet your needs just out of concern for handling, then you may be sorry. You will learn to handle your boat, of whatever size, pretty quickly.
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Old 01-18-2017, 03:49 PM   #3
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Not counting a row boat, my first boat was 65', twin screw. With some instruction from experienced people I did fine. No accidents, docking failures, and so on.
Now over 50 years later, my advice is to plan dockings, go slow, avoid high winds and currents until you have more experience, and don't be in a hurry.
I have an 83' boat and I have to recognize there are some places I can't dock in some conditions. When docking, I rarely have my engines above idle.
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Old 01-18-2017, 03:54 PM   #4
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First, I don't think that you will find many, probably almost no single engine 55' trawlers and very few single engine 45' trawlers. And the great majority will be semi-displacement hulls without a bow thruster if twins.

But that dig aside, handling won't be much different underway. The main difference will be handling around the dock or finding dock space. 55' will be much more limiting than 45'. Also most mooring fields can't handle 55'.

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Old 01-18-2017, 04:19 PM   #5
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Whatever works best for your needs or desires or abilities. There is no right size. First match the boat to your needs then see if you can match the needs of the boat. Size is in the formula but its not linear since some small boats can due to condition need much more than the larger boat.
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Old 01-18-2017, 04:27 PM   #6
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Greetings,
Mr. GM. Very good advice thus far BUT you realize you won't really have any choice as to size. Your boat will choose you meaning at some point in your search you will board a vessel and......You'll be home. The rest is all a compromise in some way, shape or form.
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Old 01-18-2017, 04:29 PM   #7
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The only advise I can give you is sign up for Trawlerfest at Stuart and look at the boats.

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Other than that, you really need to define your boating requirements better. Things like on board company, family visits, entertaining, marinas vs anchorages, budget to purchase, pets, etc. The conventional wisdom is to get the smallest boat that will meet your requirements. One thing you will notice if your attend Trawlerfest is all 50 ft boats are not created equally. There are spacious 50' boats and there are bluewater 50' boats that aren't so spacious. There are 37' boats with 16' beams and there are 42' boats with 13' beams. If in doubt, try to charter what you think you really like.
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Old 01-18-2017, 04:30 PM   #8
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As David mentioned, moorage is much more limited above 50 feet. Handling a 50 something ft boat isn't different than a 40 something......just more mass. Other than that, there are lots of personal preferences in terms of interior layout and cosmetics. Keep looking until something rings your chimes.
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Old 01-18-2017, 05:06 PM   #9
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My advice is to buy what you like.

It is also to not delay until a time in the future.
Buy a boat now, and enjoy it with your kids. Get into the boating lifestyle and see if you really like it.

I know you've "been around boats" but I can tell you that it is not the same as slip based boating, where you become part of the harbor community.
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Old 01-18-2017, 05:17 PM   #10
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"My wife and I are looking at buying a trawler, probably in 5-6 years after the kids go to college, and plan on doing the East Coast ICW +/- the great loop."


Dependent upon which areas of the loop you may want to travel it would be best if you planned the draft and air space of your potential boat in advance.
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Old 01-18-2017, 05:26 PM   #11
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You start by saying you will cruise the east coast ICW and great loop and then talk about living on the boat. I'm going to ask which one you're planning on doing.

If you plan on selling or renting your home and taking up residence on a boat, the larger boat makes sense.

If you're doing what you said at first, going smaller has a lot of advantages. Purchase cost, maintenance cost, fuel, dockage, handling, etc..

My wife and I (and a small dog) cruise the east coast for two or three months at a time in what amounts to a 28' boat. We do fine. Our boat has a large flybridge which makes it seem bigger than it is.

I suggest looking at boats between 30' and 40' unless you're really going to live on it full time forever.


And yes, buy it now. Get used to it, learn how it works and how to maintain it. Don't start off on a year long cruise with a boat that's "new to you".
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Old 01-18-2017, 05:54 PM   #12
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No big difference in operating 40' vs. 55'. Two considerations not to overlook. Draft and Air Draft. Air Draft figures greatly in whether you can do the loop, and which routes you can take. Draft is important on the ICW or looping or most anywhere to some degree.
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Old 01-18-2017, 06:25 PM   #13
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I know I am in the minority here but depending on where you intend it o cruise, length begins to matter.
So many of our regular cruising destinations would not be easily accessed with a biathlon larger than 40'...
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Old 01-18-2017, 06:54 PM   #14
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Hmm, 5-6 years? I had to read that twice. The problem with looking now is you WILL find one now. You may also run into the problem of really overthinking it too. It took me 3 days to find my perfect boat. Decide whether you want a boat at the marina most of the time or whether you want to be cruising with her most of the time. My 36ft. (because of the layout) is perfect for both.
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Old 01-18-2017, 07:00 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bruce B View Post
I know I am in the minority here but depending on where you intend it o cruise, length begins to matter.
So many of our regular cruising destinations would not be easily accessed with a biathlon larger than 40'...
Bruce
What is the limiting factor?
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Old 01-18-2017, 07:39 PM   #16
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Buy the boat you like that will meet your needs. Take into account draft and air draft as was mentioned. Take time and learn how to handle the boat. Maybe hire a captain if necessary. Learn in calm conditions at first and then expand your experience with somewhat less ideal conditions until you are confident in your abilities. Don't buy a lesser baot than you really want if you can afford it financially. You will not be happy in the long run if you do. Don't let people tell you that you can't do it, just take the time and learn how.
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Old 01-18-2017, 07:49 PM   #17
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What is the limiting factor?
Well, inner harbor floats in Camden ME, our CCA mooring in BI, inside harbor at Cuttyhunk, etc, etc. these are our regular hangouts and life would certainly be more challenging with a boat more than 40' long.
Even in Northeast Harbor there are more moorings available for 40' and smaller boats than larger...
Maybe it is a New England thing but this is home and it is what it is...

Certainly are lots of many, much larger boats cruising these places but not with the ease we do and not in the places we are accustomed to...
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Old 01-18-2017, 07:57 PM   #18
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For me, sleeps two, and entertains six to eight. Thirty-five feet can accomplish that. Get what you want!
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Old 01-18-2017, 07:59 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bruce B View Post
Well, inner harbor floats in Camden ME, our CCA mooring in BI, inside harbor at Cuttyhunk, etc, etc. these are our regular hangouts and life would certainly be more challenging with a boat more than 40' long.
Even in Northeast Harbor there are more moorings available for 40' and smaller boats than larger...
Maybe it is a New England thing but this is home and it is what it is...

Certainly are lots of many, much larger boats cruising these places but not with the ease we do and not in the places we are accustomed to...
Bruce
Now I understand. Moorings are definitely a problem with boat size. Marinas wouldn't be in most cases with him as a transient. Often marinas that only have smaller slips have side tie transient dockage. Anchorages can sometimes be issues as well.
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Old 01-18-2017, 08:12 PM   #20
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The mistake about asking people here is that most were successful with the boat that they purchased. There are loads of families that bought big boats, found they were to much to handle, sold them, and gave up cruising. Not likely you will find the ones who failed, sold, and got out, contributing on a boating forum. There are also many who really aren't comfortable with their big boat and it becomes a dock queen. Finally, there are those who think they're good with their big boat, but require a posse to get it in their own slip, and certainly a transient one.

If you have 5 or 6 years, find your way onto some big boats and get some experience. Lots of ways to do it if you're motivated.

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