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Old 03-09-2014, 09:47 PM   #1
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Narrowing down the field

I have been observing the forum for some time and know that there are many wise and knowledgeable skippers out there monitoring the site. After crunching the numbers, it looks like we will be ready to pull the trigger on a live-aboard trawler in about 8-12 months. But which boat do we go after? We will be looking for an economical sundeck with great bones between 36 and 44 ft with a galley up and something besides a vertical ladder as a means of entry from the dingy. Price range is between $90,000 and $150,000.

I am still working so unfortunately we will be spending a good bit of time tied to the dock. I do not want to cross any oceans but would like to have a boat capable of island hopping in the Caribbean. I have been following Gulfstar, Nova, Heritage East, Marine Trader, Present, and a couple of others. I have ruled out Carver because of David Pascoe's review and Mainship due to the lack of storage space.

Please give me your suggestions.

Thanks!
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Old 03-09-2014, 09:58 PM   #2
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Greetings,
Welcome aboard. If you've done any reading on this site at all you may want to consider other makes as well. Those not marketed as "trawlers". Sea Ray comes to mind for example.
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Old 03-09-2014, 10:21 PM   #3
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If looking for a liveaboard in your length range, I'd concentrate on mid-forty-foot boats while avoiding boats focusing on speed at the expense of accommodations and storage. Also consider beam. A wider boat has more volume.
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Old 03-09-2014, 11:14 PM   #4
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I don't know allot about sun decks but don't they all have a ladder for access?
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Old 03-09-2014, 11:33 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by mlowery View Post
I have been observing the forum for some time and know that there are many wise and knowledgeable skippers out there monitoring the site. After crunching the numbers, it looks like we will be ready to pull the trigger on a live-aboard trawler in about 8-12 months. But which boat do we go after? We will be looking for an economical sundeck with great bones between 36 and 44 ft with a galley up and something besides a vertical ladder as a means of entry from the dingy. Price range is between $90,000 and $150,000.

I am still working so unfortunately we will be spending a good bit of time tied to the dock. I do not want to cross any oceans but would like to have a boat capable of island hopping in the Caribbean. I have been following Gulfstar, Nova, Heritage East, Marine Trader, Present, and a couple of others. I have ruled out Carver because of David Pascoe's review and Mainship due to the lack of storage space.

Please give me your suggestions.

Thanks!
As someone who has purchased other boats but not our trawler type yet, a few words of advice.

Do not rule anything in or out because of one person's review. There are many very happy Carver owners. You'll hear criticisms of Sea Ray, yet the most sold brand.

Continue to look and while you do define what you like and don't. What the absolute requirements are.

Look on Yacht World, not to find the boat (that comes later) but to see all the brands that fit your description and then learn more about those by talking to people, visiting their web sites, looking at reviews, and observing boats.

One thing I've found is that in doing the above you first end up with a long list. But then, one by one you eliminate. Just as you had a problem with the Mainship storage, you'll have issues with others. Speed? Fuel consumption? Price? Galley? Staterooms? Engine room? Single or double helms? Single or twin engines?

There are a lot of excellent potential boats to add to your list. Just a few are Grand Banks, Kadey Krogen, Sea Ray, Defever, Cruisers, Princess, Symbol, Island Gypsy, Tollycraft, Albin, Hatteras, Ocean Alexander, Californian. And that is just a start.

Also be careful on initial price as it will require upgrades and repairs and then ongoing maintenance, dockage and operating costs. On the other hand as a live aboard you'll save on other costs.
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Old 03-09-2014, 11:35 PM   #6
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I don't know allot about sun decks but don't they all have a ladder for access?
I think he was talking about returning to the boat from the dingy. I assume he meant some form of platform, but he can clarify.
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Old 03-10-2014, 12:15 AM   #7
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Will be tough to find a good KK or Grand Banks for under $150,000...though a project boat might be possible.

Gulfstar is a good boat with many advantages, but it would be tough to to make the long, open water passages to the Caribbean in one. They roll a lot. Bahamas is doable though.
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Old 03-10-2014, 01:03 AM   #8
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I'm on the left coast but I've seen plenty of good tollies that fit that bill. California as too. Not sure about 'sundecks' but plenty of cpmy's that have good access to the swimstep.
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Old 03-10-2014, 01:33 AM   #9
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I'm a fan of SeaRay's because of their build/layout/popularity, but I don't know of any boat that doesn't have a ladder to climb to get out of the dinghy unless you install a hydraulic swim platform, and that's about $25K.

BandB's comments about using YachtWorld were spot on. Just don't limit yourself to looking in your immediate area, wherever that might be (that's a small jab at you for not posting where you live). It's not horribly expensive to ship a boat across several states, so don't just look in your back yard.

We live in WA and found ours in the Detroit area. At the time it was cheaper to ship it out here than to buy a like boat out here. MI's economy was on its lips (and still is, to some extent) so we found it to be less expensive even when shipping was factored in.
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Old 03-10-2014, 06:33 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mlowery View Post

We will be looking for an economical sundeck with great bones between 36 and 44 ft with a galley up and something besides a vertical ladder as a means of entry from the dingy. Price range is between $90,000 and $150,000.

I do not want to cross any oceans but would like to have a boat capable of island hopping in the Caribbean.

I have ruled out Carver because of David Pascoe's review and Mainship due to the lack of storage space.

If you haven't already, I would suggest you revisit the Mainship 430. It's sort of a "cockpit/sundeck" model (sort of in the same vein as cockpit/motor yacht) so entry into the cockpit from the swim platform is easy through a transom door. Lots of storage. Were it me, I'd probably be picking the single screw version

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Old 03-10-2014, 07:03 AM   #11
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I don't mean to get all defensive just because we own a Carver - and now we're in the process of making an offer on a 3807 - but I wouldn't dismiss them either (or some of the other makers, as others have mentioned). That one Pascoe review has been around for what, 15-20 years, and it comes up every time somebody googles "carver boat review." Although I'm sure he knows more about boats than I do, all I know is that there are boatloads of happy Carver owners out there so Carver has to be doing something right over a lot of years. Would I rather have a Kadey Krogan? Of course, but I'm not in that league so I want as much boat at a decent quality level as I can get for a limited amount of money. You'll hear people say over and over again that Carvers (and some other production boats) are not seaworthy, but I'm not doing a transatlantic either. From my perspective you get a lot of boat for the money in that class, they're not a million dollars, and I've found maintenance to be relatively easy except for engine bay access sometimes). I would concede too that the smaller ones do bob around too much, but then we have a 32 and we're moving to a 38 or 42. You get that big and they do smooth out considerably. Still, we have a rule of thumb, if the wind kicks up above 20 knots, we'll go out some other time (although we've been out in nearly 30 knot winds but it was not fun).

So anyway, look around, shop, shop, climb over 100 boats, you'll get a feel for the different boat brands pretty quickly. We certainly have. We don't like SeaRay (poor layout and use of space), Silverton really is cheap and flimsy, older Marine Traders seem to have port and seam leakage problems like crazy - but that's all just our own opinion and our own experience - have fun and spend time forming yours.
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Old 03-10-2014, 08:08 AM   #12
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The two boats that get criticized constantly are Carver and Sea Ray and I don't think much of it is deserved for either. They both do what they are designed to do well. Neither is designed to cross oceans. But there are a lot of very satisfied owners. The key in many of these boats is matching to your needs. And reviewers have bias too although most of the sites don't really give negative reviews. But I'll toss out one just as an example. The reviewer on Boattest does not like lower helms. He feels a helm on the flybridge is plenty. He reviewed the 60' Hatteras MY and loved that it didn't have a lower helm. We absolutely insist on one which Hatteras does offer. But we would not consider the one that the reviewer loved and, yes, we have been on one like that.

Talk to a Bering lover and he'll tell you all trawlers should be steel. Nordhavn will tell you all single engine. Grand Banks will say only twins. One will say mid Master state room and another will have aft cabin. Galley up or down. Galley up was all a US movement. There was a lot of resistance by the European builders. But they had to offer it for US customers. Then suddenly some European customers wanted it. So you've got a split of up and down, just like the discussion here.

When we were looking at Riva's we heard a lot of hate toward Italian boats. But we've been very pleased and there is no other boat we know that does what it does as well as it does. Not going to take the Loop in one but fun boat around home. Heck I loved my Cobalt bowrider when I lived in NC. Not very practical in Fort Lauderdale so sold it when I moved.
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Old 03-10-2014, 08:58 AM   #13
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One other thing since nobody said it yet, the other factor is costs of ownership. You'll hear different percentages knocked around, some say 10%, some 25%, for annual cost of ownership to cost of the boat itself. Part of what I do for a living is finance so just out of habit I track boat expenses down to the penny, including the cost of gas to the marina. Because we got our boat for an extraordinary low price since it was kind of a distress sale, in the first year our ratio was 100% - cost of ownership matched the purchase price of the boat. Now of course that was an anomaly, since then it's settled to more like $7500 per year - and that's for a boat that's only on the water half of each year, based in a marina that is sure not the Hamptons on Long Island or the San Francisco Yacht Club. I'm not into high-end electronics, I'm not into high-end sound systems, so that cost could be a heck of a lot higher depending on your preferences and the boat's condition. In other words, when you're boat shopping all that talk and advice about the high costs of ownership - it's true, that has to be part of the calculus.
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Old 03-10-2014, 09:11 AM   #14
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You'll hear advice and numbers all over the map till you narrow down a few of your ideas and get more specific....your price range helps narrow price range but really only specifically that one parameter as there are still HUGE options for you to consider.

One biggie is what you will actually put up with. Island hopping the Caribbean CAN be done in a lot of boats.... but the question truly is ....will YOU do it and in what and what are your requirements?

I doubt I'll subject myself to open water in my 40..both because it may fall apart and I've spent a life at sea/on the water and I really don't like my home rockin and a swayin for that long. Sure once you get there the hops are short....but still nothing like the ICW or 1 day to the Bahamas/Cuba.

If I really wanted to...I would rig a paravane system to help...but again not sure my hearts in that trip. I'll charter if I want to be that far south...but for now...exploring the Bahamas will probably outlast my life (I'm only 60).

So narrow down what you will and won't do, where you will and probably won't go, what the boat has to have and not...and the choice of boats is cut quite a bit.
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Old 03-10-2014, 10:19 AM   #15
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So narrow down what you will and won't do, where you will and probably won't go, what the boat has to have and not...and the choice of boats is cut quite a bit.
That's very hard for first-time buyers to do. I know that our expectations for what we would do and where we would go with our new boat, didn't at all turn out like what we imagined it would.

Without painting with TOO broad of a brush, Caribbean island-hopping is far more in the realm of the sailboat. Not that it CAN'T be done with a powerboat, but most of the island-hopping powerboats we've encountered are super and mega yachts. Little boats like ours (and the people aboard them) aren't really meant for the open ocean that you'll find between many of the Caribbean islands and would be pretty lousy in a pop-up squall.

That's only an observation. I'm sure there are more than a couple of people here that HAVE done it. It would take a heck-of-a-lot of patience to wait for weather windows to make some of the crossings that need to be made down there. I would rather keep my boat here and take my experience there by plane and charter.
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Old 03-10-2014, 10:24 AM   #16
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First of all I will say i am a Pascoe fan, and urge anyone to who is in the market for boats this size but a copy of his "Mid-sized Power Boats" and study the first two thirds of it. However, do not judge any one maker according to his review of one or two models. In fact I wouldn't totally judge a particular maker even based on his generalized opinions. And I say that as the owner of one of his favorite brands. But his advice on what to look for in terms of build quality, ergonomics, systems layouts, system life spans and construction is spot on.

Next I will strongly urge keeping one's search to American companies that are still in business and have a good networks of owners and active owner's groups and forums. Yes, that includes Carver and Mainship and (Gasp!)SeaRay and Bayliner. You can throw a couple of companies in there like Grand Banks and some American owned, foreign built brands like Krogen.

Keeping the above in mind, I will unabashedly pitch Hatteras as meeting the OP's current specs the best, especially their 43MY series, and models adjacent to it. Top of the line construction and systems and seaworthiness. Great ergonomics. You can still get complete manuals and schematics from the factory, including how your boat was built, by supplying the hull number. The spinoff of their parts department, Sam's Marine, is a treasure trove of institutional knowledge; they also will register your hull number in their system. Finding parts is just not issue, even for 40 year old boats if they don't have it they will know how to replace it. Plus there is a very active owner's forum , sponsored by Sam's, of owners of vintage models of almost every model and age. Here in North Carolina there are former Hatteras employees in the trade who know these boats inside and out, but just about anywhere in the US, particularly the eastern half, you will be hard pressed to find a yard that is not quite familiar with them. The longer I owned my boat, the more I was just so so grateful I bought a Hatteras.

By the way, I have chartered and cruised just about every model of Mainship made before 2007, found them good honest boats and am a little befuddled by the storage comments; they had every bit as much as any boat their size. They don't have a classic "sun deck" in their portfolio, maybe back in the 80's. The 430's trunk cabin doesn't make for much of a sun deck. It is a nice boat though, one we have spent many nights on.

Would be useful to understand exactly what the "ladder issue " is. A lot of people if need be overcome this even on the big Hatt motoryachts like I have with the installation of various forms of staircase. We thought that's what we were going to do since we knew (and subsequently did) use the dinghy very frequently, virtually daily, since we prefer anchoring out and moorings (lived full time on moorings for several months). 7 years of intensive use later we still had never got around to it.
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Old 03-10-2014, 02:56 PM   #17
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Have you looked at the www.mtoa. site as some nice vessels for sale by owners on there as well as Virgina Yacht Sales located at Atlantis Yacht Basin on the ICW just south west of Norfolk, Va. He has had some real nice vessels.
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Old 03-10-2014, 04:01 PM   #18
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Thanks for the suggestions

I really appreciate all of your suggestions. After considering all of your suggestions I realized that it may be 5 years before we are able to leave work long enough to visit the Caribbean islands. Until then it will be short hops around St. Pete and occasionally to the Keys.

A Carver 406 Aft Cabin or Sea Ray 42 Aft Cabin may be my best bet. The 43 Mainships that I reviewed on Yacht World were over my budget.
Thanks again for your help!
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Old 03-10-2014, 04:33 PM   #19
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I have ruled out Carver because of David Pascoe's review and Mainship due to the lack of storage space. Thanks!
I'd suggest you take what Pascoe says with a grain of salt. He thinks SeaRay boats are the bottom of the line and should be at the bottom of the sea. He rarely has a good thing to say about them, and that flies in the face of thousands of very satisfied SR owners....me included.

Before I upsized from my 330 Sundancer I looked at a lot of boats and had my eye on a custom built boat in Seattle. Nice boat, but there were a lot of things I didn't like about it, not the least of which was the leaking from all the front windows in the lower helm area. We only discovered that when we went aboard for a tour with our broker and the boat was being washed at the time.

So don't take anything that an individual says as being the gospel. We all have our favorite brands and those we wouldn't own. Make your own list, do your homework and then buy your second boat first.

By that last comment, I'm suggesting you avoid the mistake many boat buyers make....they buy a boat that's pretty, or one a salesman SOLD them on, without doing their due diligence and examining the boat to see if it suits what they want their boat to do for them.

They keep it a year or two, get tired of the boat not doing what they want and sell it, then go buy their second boat, which is the one they should have bought in the first place.

Remember this one rule about boat buying....the wrong boat, at the best price in the world, is still the wrong boat. Saving a few bucks on the purchase price could turn out to be very expensive if you buy the wrong boat.
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Old 03-10-2014, 05:24 PM   #20
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Gulfstar is a good boat with many advantages, but it would be tough to to make the long, open water passages to the Caribbean in one. They roll a lot.
Doug, I was wondering (during my periodic periods of idly wondering, while sipping on an evening glass of wine) whether or not putting those new fuel tanks up near deck level on Morgan (the Gulfstar Morgan), when the original fuel tank was down at the bottom, might contribute to the excessive rolling that you (and I) experienced??? Seems to me that would affect the center of gravity. Thoughts?
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