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Old 10-29-2019, 01:31 AM   #1
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What boat to buy

All,

About 10 years ago, our family of 4 spent a few years cruising around the Caribbean on a 54ft steel sailboat.
Now my wife and I are looking towards retirement (in a few years) and another boating adventure. The plan is to cruise the San Juan and Gulf Islands for a while then move north up the inside passage. Perhaps spending a few years exploring. This time we are thinking about a power boat. The Tollycraft boats have strong following in this area and seem to have held up well. They also are affordable and seem to suffer from a relatively small number of maladies that old boats tend to have.
My first thought was to get a Tollycraft 26. They are heavy for their size but trailerable and generally have a single V8 engine. They have single state room and head. We could have company, but it would be cozy.
The other option would be to step up a size or two to the Tollycraft 34 tri-cabin. It has two enclosed cabins and two heads. It also runs two V8 engines. It would be a lot more comfortable with visitors.
We can afford either boat. The question is really which make more sense. I assume the larger boat will burn more fuel even at the same speed. I don't really have a handle on the fuel. Or even if the fuel consumption is relevant in the context of long term cruising. Maintenance on one engine would be lower. The redundancy of two engines would be nice.
I'm really just getting started with my research, but I would appreciate any thoughts or insight.
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Old 10-29-2019, 01:44 AM   #2
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Welcome aboard. If you are going to be cruising in remote areas then twins may be nice for redundancy. They are more maintenance and will burn more fuel but if you slow down then the fuel will be reasonable. And I guarantee that you will enjoy the bigger boat and room. It will handle bad weather better and you won’t have to sell the smaller boat to buy the bigger boat...
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Old 10-29-2019, 06:22 AM   #3
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Get up a list of your wants and desires then spend the winter checking the various web sites. Maybe take a trip to inspect and talk with the owners, of the top 5. Get everything ready for the spring surveys.
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Old 10-29-2019, 10:07 AM   #4
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When we first started shopping I was in love with the Tolly's. I still am, the 37 Sedan is probably one of my all time local favorites followed by the 34 Tri-cabin. But they command a high price in this area.

Are you set on a trailer able boat?

For spending that much time on a boat I would want something bigger than the 26 for sure. If I had the $ and had to have a Tolly I would look at the 37 Sedan with diesels.
Your going to need the room anyhow.
And if you don't have to have a tolly there are a lot of CHB's around if your into the tri-cabin style. But do your research as some are just floating beauty bark planters.

Also a word of advice if your looking for a home dock in the PNW, get on a list now, or buy a boat with a transferable slip!

A little light reading that helped us out along the way.

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Old 10-29-2019, 11:29 AM   #5
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Comodave, OldDan, Ron

Thanks for the replies. We really would like to get just one boat and stick with it, as apposed to trading up. The trailerable boat would allow us to pull the boat in the winter for maintenance. It would allow us to drop the boat in the water closer to new cruising areas for the summer, before we go full time. There are also tax advantages, because Oregon has no boat tax. We could cruse Washington and Canada for a few months each year without paying the import tax. With a larger boat we would need to make the trip back down the coast and up the Columbia at the end of each season, or pay the tax. Not a major problem either way, just another consideration.
We do need to look at more boats in person to gain a better understanding. We'll look at local boats and make a trip or two to Washington this winter. We have friends in Seattle that need visiting anyway :-).
In Portland, there are docks available if you are willing to drive further from town. The closer to PDX the higher the cost and the harder to find. Find a slip for the sailboat was a trick, 54' and 16.5 wide limited our choices.
I'll look at the 37's. It's hard to wrap my brain around a boat that large. Power boats are a lot bigger for a given length. Although in some ways easier to handle? Our sailboat had no rudder control below about 2 knots. Just prop walk. I have no experience with twins, but they would seem to make docking easier.
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Old 10-29-2019, 12:05 PM   #6
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Had a 26 Tolly back in the early 80's. A real bugger to back down with that single engine. Figure about 10 GPH if cruising about 14 knots. The 37 sedan is my favorite also and you can find them with diesels.
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Old 10-29-2019, 12:14 PM   #7
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I have a Tollycraft 34 Sundeck which is a later version of the 34 tricabin. We have twin gas engines which the Flo Scan says burn about 8 gallons an hour at hull speed. The cost of fuel is a relatively small part of total cost for the boat in a year. As for the Tollycraft brand we have been pretty happy with the quality and the sea keeping ability. Getting caught out in a squall that blew up to some wild winds did not bother the boat at all.

The 37 is a nice boat and I would actually like one myself, but with a kid along and any guests the 34 tri cabin style cannot be beat. As to your thoughts about size of boat, this is our first boat and size has turned out to be a non issue. I wanted a smaller first boat, but the wife wanted the accommodations and guess who won. We paid a training captain to take us out for an extended period of training and the bigger boat was not a problem.

You can pick up a boat with gas engines for not alot of money so you could buy and not have a ton of cash tied up in the initial purchase, though the ongoing costs can add up.
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Old 10-29-2019, 12:35 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Russell Clifton View Post
Had a 26 Tolly back in the early 80's. A real bugger to back down with that single engine. Figure about 10 GPH if cruising about 14 knots. The 37 sedan is my favorite also and you can find them with diesels.
I too had problems with backing down with a single engine trawler UNTIL, somewhere in these forums, I read, shift your rudder to port approx 30 degrees and go slow.
Tried it, backed down straight as an arrow. Increase speed a bit and your stern backs to port.
Try it, you'll like it!!

I impressed myself and the other guy with me.
Of course, no wind, no tidal action of note, no river current.
Once you realize you can actually back the boat back straight, you can make adjustments and allowances for the 3 above variables.
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Old 10-29-2019, 01:11 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OldDan1943 View Post
I too had problems with backing down with a single engine trawler UNTIL, somewhere in these forums, I read, shift your rudder to port approx 30 degrees and go slow.
Tried it, backed down straight as an arrow. Increase speed a bit and your stern backs to port.
Try it, you'll like it!!

I impressed myself and the other guy with me.
Of course, no wind, no tidal action of note, no river current.
Once you realize you can actually back the boat back straight, you can make adjustments and allowances for the 3 above variables.
full keel makes a huge difference in a single screw vsl backing down.. I don't think the Tollycraft singles were full length keel...Anybody?
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Old 10-29-2019, 03:28 PM   #10
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Tollycraft makes a nice boat, but I would not

conclude that they are better than any other brand with similar manufacturing processes. The 34 sundeck I looked at leaked like a sieve and to have nearly every interior wall covering replaced. The bridge coring also had issues where the trim screwed in. While the stringers are not wood cored, the engine mounts had ripped free on the port motor. I say these things for one reason. NEVER let your guard down during your search. Never assume a boat will be anything more or less than what a qualified surveyor says it is based on a thorough evaluation. The Tolly has a very flat bottom with I think the delta conic chine. I thought the sundeck was a tad top heavy or prone to rolling. If you have time, don't compromise, get what you want. Every boat in some way represents a comprise, but know what you must have and get it. My question is do you know what you must have? Good luck and make it fun. Bill
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Old 10-30-2019, 02:26 AM   #11
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Thanks everyone for your input. Very helpful.
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Old 10-31-2019, 01:09 AM   #12
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You know the saying about boating: "When you go on a power boat, you are going somewhere. When you are on a sailboat, you are already there."

I'm giving you my bias so you have another perspective you may reflect on and accept or reject. I've done a lot of sailing in Washington state and lower coastal BC. As I age, I don't want to muck about with lines in a substantial wind and I no longer want to be "already there."

Much of the trawler philosophy, the classic trawlers is more the go slow and get there. And 8 knots in a trawler is faster than 8 knots in a sailboat. But sometimes I want to get part of the way faster to my destination to knock off some of the miles before I slow down and smell the roses (or kelp).

By going somewhere faster I can get to further locations and see more things. I don't always want to go fast, but I don't always want to go slow either. If you are looking at trailerable boats, check out the Ranger Tug and Cutwater brand, or Back Coves (made in Maine). I will just link you to two videos but realize these three brands and the like are capable of slow and fast.

So the question for you is, do you want to go slow or fast, or both?

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Old 10-31-2019, 09:47 AM   #13
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A legitimate thread, so I apologize for the tongue cheek joking, but a number of years ago, I read this response in a forum and it made me laugh.

"Asking what kind of boat one should buy, is like asking what kind of spouse one should marry."

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Old 10-31-2019, 10:51 AM   #14
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This big boat/slow boat question has an enormous element that’s usually left out.

Basically there’s two kinds of boaters.
Those that like boating because running the boat is wonderful and those that go boating because the destination is wonderful.
So if your’e still working knowing if you’re a destination person or an underway person the question of whether or not to get a fast or slow boat should be obvious.

I’m an underway person and my boat goes 6 knots. Boat before that went about 7.5 knots. I am retired but have cruised to Alaska (and back) twice. When you’re retired you can do both destination and underway boating but before it’s mostly underway boating. The trick for those still working is to learn how to enjoy being underway.
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Old 10-31-2019, 11:49 PM   #15
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Are you sure you want/need to accommodate guests? You might want to explore some of the discussions on TF around this issue. We decided that while it would be nice to have room for guests, it wasn't that high on our list of priorities. So we went with a smaller, quicker, shallower draft boat.
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Old 11-01-2019, 12:11 AM   #16
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Since we decided go cruising again I've been thinking about the slow vs fast question. The Caribbean was almost always 8 by 8 seas. Not a lot of fun to be on motoring without sails and somehow the wind was always on the nose. As a result we were mostly destination cruisers spending a few weeks in each harbor.
With the promise of more protected waters of the inside passage, I think we would spend more time exploring and enjoying the coastline. I do however, like the idea of being able to pour the coals to it and cover some ground when needed. So a planing hull with enough power is appealing.
We really like the Nordic Tug and it's ilk. They seem suited well to our mission. Their only down side is cost. While we could afford one, I like the idea of a cheaper boat limiting the amount you can loose when you sell. I'm not really looking for another project, but I'm comfortable maintaining anything on an older boat. It wouldn't put me off to buy a boat with high time engines knowing I would need to overhaul them soon.
I really appreciate all your musings, I realize it's an open ended question, but there is a lot to consider and many or all of you have more experience with this type of boating than I do.
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Old 11-01-2019, 12:34 AM   #17
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You are thinking about a lot of the same stuff we considered. We've also been concerned with the increasing numbers of boaters. The east has apparently long dealt with crowded waterways and anchorages. Things are getting more crowded in the PNW. I think this makes the slow vs fast question more complicated. You've got to anchor, moor, or dock somewhere. Depending on the kind of boating experience you want, having the option to get more easily to more places might be an advantage. That's one reason we went with a trailerable and quicker boat. We also border on being minimalists. So that made it easier to go smaller.
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Old 11-01-2019, 08:15 AM   #18
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Useful to start with a list of features you must have/want/nice to have... and then find a boat that gives you those. In many cases, those features will be more important than fuel economy.

A 34' boat will feel "large" for about 2 weeks.

-Chris
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Old 11-01-2019, 08:19 AM   #19
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Useful to start with a list of features you must have/want/nice to have... and then find a boat that gives you those. In many cases, those features will be more important than fuel economy.

A 34' boat will feel "large" for about 2 weeks.

-Chris
and a 46 allows for more unnecessary stuff..... then it begins to feel small.
Gotta a second stateroom? Yea, that become the attic for parts and tools and and and and a place to hang YOUR clothes after wife or mate takes over the stateroom closet. Go ahead and laugh. Maybe not today or tomorrow but one day soon....
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Old 11-01-2019, 08:46 AM   #20
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Originally Posted by Maravida View Post
Since we decided go cruising again I've been thinking about the slow vs fast question. The Caribbean was almost always 8 by 8 seas. Not a lot of fun to be on motoring without sails and somehow the wind was always on the nose. As a result we were mostly destination cruisers spending a few weeks in each harbor.
With the promise of more protected waters of the inside passage, I think we would spend more time exploring and enjoying the coastline. I do however, like the idea of being able to pour the coals to it and cover some ground when needed. So a planing hull with enough power is appealing.
We really like the Nordic Tug and it's ilk. They seem suited well to our mission. Their only down side is cost. While we could afford one, I like the idea of a cheaper boat limiting the amount you can loose when you sell. I'm not really looking for another project, but I'm comfortable maintaining anything on an older boat. It wouldn't put me off to buy a boat with high time engines knowing I would need to overhaul them soon.
I really appreciate all your musings, I realize it's an open ended question, but there is a lot to consider and many or all of you have more experience with this type of boating than I do.
My wife and I have been watching many of the 32 NT's that are used and for sale before and after we purchased ours. Many of them have been for sale for a long time, some for a couple of years so I wouldn't be afraid to make a lower but reasonable offer on one. We did and we believe we ended up with a very good deal. Of course ours was needing some TLC but after the blood and sweat we put into ours I believe we could sell ours after enjoying it for awhile and come out at least even.
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