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Old 08-27-2013, 04:08 PM   #1
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Cruisers Vs. Trawlers

Greetings,

I live in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia but I'm giving up my whitewater canoe for a boat and navigable water so Annapolis and the Chesapeake Bay is my boating "home".

I'm only a few years from retirement and in looking for a life outside of work I settled on the notion of exploring all that the Chesapeake and its tributaries have to offer from the water instead of roads and towns in the bay's proximity.

I've been window shopping for a boat for awhile but with no experience there is not much to go on so I decided instead to join a boating club, take lessons, learn the rules of the road and try it out before putting out a sizeable sum for our own boat. The boats that we use are early 2000s Albin 28's with 315 Yanmar engines. So far it's been great and the very tight quarters of the club's marina on Back Creek in Annapolis has given me quite a bit of practice in maneuvering and docking.

I have many questions for the group but my first concerns observations from long time boaters on the differences between handling a trawler as compared to a cruiser. I've noticed that the Chesapeake is a pretty choppy bay on most of the occasions that I have been out there and that the greater the chop the less I tend to see of crusiers, especially the smaller ones. I think the Albin handles the chop pretty well although there are occasions that I have to close all of the cockpit windows. Not having run a cruiser or know anyone who does I don't know how well they handle rougher conditions.

Although I like the trawlers more than the cruisers from a design standpoint cruisers are generally considerably cheaper than a comparable size trawler and I owe it to myself to at least compare the two.

Throwing out mechanical differences and diesel compared to gas does anyone have any experience in how a 28' cruiser handles in rough water compared to "my" Albin 28?
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Old 08-27-2013, 05:53 PM   #2
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Ummm... are you using the generic term "cruiser" to mean all those other sort of non-trawler powerboats that go zooming around out here?

There are center consoles, cuddy cabins, flybridge sportfish, express sportfish, express sport boats, mid-cabin (sometimes called "aft-cabin" express boats (e.g., Sea Ray Sundancers), motor yachts, cockpit motor yachts, convertibles, etc., etc., etc. and they all have their various pros and cons.

If you could take a stab at a brand/model, I could attempt to home in on a comparison for you...

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Old 08-27-2013, 06:08 PM   #3
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Many (most) so called trawlers differ from "cruisers" only in the "salty" styling above the waterline. You'd be better off learning about hull forms below the waterline to determine whats best for you.
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Old 08-27-2013, 06:37 PM   #4
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A good example would be a Sea Ray 280 Sundancer or a Regal 2860 Express Cruiser. Both with cabin, galley, head, etc
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Old 08-27-2013, 06:52 PM   #5
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"My" definition of a "cruiser" (based on reading Chapman's) is a boat with full living accommodations as in bed, toilet, stove, refrigerator/ice box. There are "express" cruisers which are fast, and then there are recreational "trawlers" which are slow.
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Old 08-27-2013, 09:23 PM   #6
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Trawler??/Cruiser??
I agree with the posters - There are a lot of grey areas. It depends whose definition you use.

IMO- the Albin 28 is a cruiser dressed as a trawler, although one that will handle a bit of chop very well. (better than many "trawlers") It has a deep vee hull which flattens out towards the transom enabling it to cut through chop without much pounding, while still being able to plane.

The SeaRay & Regal mentioned have differing hull forms, designed primarily to get up on the plane fast in smooth water. The Regal especially would be scary in bad weather.

Boatpoker gave some good advice, learn as much as you can about hull forms. The hull shape will tell you how the boat handles.
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Old 08-27-2013, 09:31 PM   #7
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Evan, I owned two Sea Ray 330 Sundancers and loved them both. I've never boated on the Chesapeake but from what I understand the 28' express cruisers would be well suited for you are describing as your cruising grounds and the distances you would want to go.

When you get into that size (or a bit bigger) in a Sundancer you're going to start getting into twin engines, usually twin 4.3L's or 5.0L's. Personally I'd prefer the 5.0L's. They're going to give you a bit more power, use a bit more fuel, but they'll run forever on plane (or at hull speed) without needing constant maintenance. You won't find diesels in that type of boat until you get up close to 40'.

As to which style works best for you, that's a personal decision that only you and your Admiral can answer. I can give you a few tips from my experience with buying several boats:
1. Buy your second boat first. By that I mean do your homework, find the right boat, and don't settle for a boat that's too small just because it has an attractive price. Many people do that and it ends up costing a lot more than if they'd bought the bigger boat first. They find after a couple of years that they wish they'd going just a little bigger (usually 3'-4') so they sell the first one, take a beating on it, and buy the one they should have bought first.
2. The wrong boat, even at the best price in the world, is still the wrong boat. Buy the boat that suits your needs, not the one the salesman is pushing you towards.
3. The right boat will be big enough to get you all over Chesapeake Bay with an occasional trip out onto the Atlantic, you'll be able to stand up in it when you're in the cabin (some express cruisers are a bit shy on headroom) and large enough for you and your guests for overnight trips.

Express cruisers are going to be faster than trawlers so you can get to your destination at 15-20kts instead of 8-10kts, but you'll burn more fuel doing it. If you are happy cruising at the slow speeds of the Albin, then I'd stick with looking at trawlers. If you think you might want to stretch your legs a bit, maybe a trawler isn't right for you.

As far as fuel economy, my 330's both had 5.7L engines and both got right at 1nmpg on plane or at hull speed. A trawler won't get on plane (some will, but I'm not going to go there) and will probably give you 1.5-2.5nmpg.

Again, only you can decide which is the better choice.

PS. I just read AusCan's comments.

FYI, I ran my 330 on plane (18kts) in a variety of conditions including 3'-5' chop. The boat did much better than my wife so we slowed down. Even at a fast hull speed of around 10kts it did very well. Sea Ray makes some very nicely designed hulls that handle chop very well.
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Old 08-27-2013, 09:43 PM   #8
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Evanssr, If you are boat shopping Marine Survey 101 will show you how to inspect a boat yourself before you hire a surveyor and may save you some money.
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Old 08-27-2013, 10:38 PM   #9
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Old 08-28-2013, 12:30 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GFC View Post

Express cruisers are going to be faster than trawlers so you can get to your destination at 15-20kts instead of 8-10kts, but you'll burn more fuel doing it. If you are happy cruising at the slow speeds of the Albin, then I'd stick with looking at trawlers. If you think you might want to stretch your legs a bit, maybe a trawler isn't right for you.
Unless you're in a hurry (gonna miss the fish?), what's the point?
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Old 08-28-2013, 01:23 AM   #11
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Mark, the point might be to reach a destination that's further away than a day's crawl at 6-8kts, or to get to that distant destination early in the morning so you can get dock space.

It all comes down to personal preference. I normally spend my time around here at 8kts unless I'm trying to reach the next lock on time. Then I'll step it up to make sure I'm there. If you miss it you might have to wait 3 hours for the next one, and that ain't fun in my book.
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Old 08-28-2013, 01:32 AM   #12
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Mark, the point might be to reach a destination that's further away than a day's crawl at 6-8kts, or to get to that distant destination early in the morning so you can get dock space.

It all comes down to personal preference. I normally spend my time around here at 8kts unless I'm trying to reach the next lock on time. Then I'll step it up to make sure I'm there. If you miss it you might have to wait 3 hours for the next one, and that ain't fun in my book.
No way! Faster than seven knots is breaking the law. It's my way or the highway!

We got there on time, but still had to wait 20 minutes after pre-scheduled opening.



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Old 08-28-2013, 03:12 AM   #13
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A quote from a posting on Soundings:

The Albin 28 is a bona fide hard-chine planing hull, although it obviously can cruise at semidisplacement speeds. Its hull form makes it more reactive to wave action than a round-bilge boat like the Holland, so it has higher accelerations (in pitch and roll — and probably surge, with a more lightly loaded bottom), which you will feel as being a little less comfortable. But the hard chines also make it more efficient at higher planing speeds.

Basically your Albin 28 is a planing boat as opposed to a full displacement boat. Its seaworthiness depends on speed. Many of the posters have mentioned learning about hull forms. A full displacement boat is what you find in a mono-hull sail boat and while slow generally can handle rougher conditions.

Your Albin 28 may look salty but has a the hull of a planing boat such as a Sea Ray.

The trade off is between speed and the ability to handle rough conditions.

As to the interior of the boat the extremes are boats in which the intended use is marina hopping and going out to dinner versus live at anchor boats which have full galleys and refrigerator units. I have seen million dollar Carvers with a hot plate and no oven whereas a trawler might have oven, freezer, washing machine etc.

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Old 08-28-2013, 08:13 AM   #14
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A good example would be a Sea Ray 280 Sundancer or a Regal 2860 Express Cruiser. Both with cabin, galley, head, etc

What everyone else said

With some additional comments.

IIRC, the Albin has a full keel, so while it's designed with hard chines as a semi-displacement hull (a planing hull, given enough horsepower) that doesn't mean it's efficient to run it that way.

And the horsepower Albin installed may have been only enough to make the boat go slightly faster at (semi-) planning speeds... unlike a V or deep-V hull designed specifically to lift as much of the boat out of the water as possible at cruising speed. IOW, your most economical cruise speed might be 7 kts (I didn't do the math) and "fast cruise" might only be 12 kts (just guessing).

The 280 Sundancer has a "real" V-shaped planing hull, is likely a single engine/IO installation (in that size range), maybe around 5.7L, and it's likely meant to cruise on plane at somewhere between 20-30 kts. You get there faster, usually at higher fuel costs... although running a 280 'Dancer at 25 kts may be cheaper than running the Albin at 12 kts.

(Have to get real engine and speed specs for specific boats to do the math for better comparison.)

A semi-displacement hull with a full keel can be more comfortable at slow speeds than a V-hull planning boat might be, at the same speeds, depending on sea states (especially beam seas). OTOH, a planing hull may be more comfortable at faster cruise speeds, especially when it comes to beam and following seas. In the Albin, you're plowing through the chop. In a 280 Sundancer you're bouncing across the top of the chop (and sometimes have to slow down, as mentioned, to be comfortable). So it depends.

The trip from Annapolis to St. Michaels (for example) is about 25 NM. Say an hour in the 280 Sundancer. And maybe 3 hours in the Albin? OTOH, it's a pleasant trip, so if weather and sea states cooperate, elapsed time only matters to you. OTOH, if weather and sea states are snotty acorss the main channel or in Eastern Bay, sometimes getting out of it faster is OK, too... unless it's so bad that puttering along is safer and more comfortable.

So... it depends

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Old 08-28-2013, 10:05 AM   #15
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Have you decided on your speed requirements? If you're not interest in speeds faster than displacement - about 7 knots in a 30 footer, then perhaps a full-displacement boat will work for your cruising.

The advantages are:
1. Smaller, single engine, most likely a diesel.
2. Less fuel burn/hour - more range - less fuel costs.
3. More carrying capacity - stores - fuel - water.
4. For a given length, most likely more space and comfort.
5. Not necessarily a "trawler" - the 30' Scout is a handsome, traditional style, full displacement yacht nicely outfitted.

If a bit more speed is desired, then you can look at semi-displaecment boats - down east "lobster" boats are a good example. Back Cove makes one your size - also the "tug" builders - also the Main Ship Pilot. Still most likely a single - diesel or gas.
1. Faster with more fuel burn.
2. Single keeps things simple.
3. Ability to cruise economically at displacement speeds.
4. A bit less room perhaps than same length full displacement cruiser.

And if even more speed - 20 knots plus - then you're into a planing boat and perhaps twins, but not a necessity. These can vary from your current crop of mass-produced cruisers to older convertible fish boats (can be a bargain - I'm looking at a 28' 1972 Bertram fly ridge twin for $15k).

For Chesapeake cruising - especial once retired - keeping schedules is no longer an issue. You are able to avoid the nasty days and wait for good weather. After all, it's called "pleasure" boating! And, in the Bay, you are never far from a safe harbor. You don't need an off-shore trawler capable of crossing oceans. I have had to ferry at Great Harbour 37 south after the Annapolis show - on a tight schedule - we were the only yacht in sight on a really snotty Chesapeake day - even the Nordhavns waited it out. It was not fun, but we had to go. You don't. Enjoy the extra days in port or anchored. This is regardless if you end up with a trawler, a tug or a fast cruising yacht.

My suggestion is to search out a boat that fits your needs and intended cruising. Any well-built boat will do the job. If its just the two of you, get something with one good stateroom and head. Grand kids can camp out in the deckhouse. Fly bridges are nice if you don't mind the ladder. If you like staying on the hook, a generator or LPG cooking. Room for a dink? Good helm position?

Make sure the boat you choose puts a smile on your face each time you walk down the dock!
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Old 08-28-2013, 11:21 AM   #16
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A good example would be a Sea Ray 280 Sundancer or a Regal 2860 Express Cruiser. Both with cabin, galley, head, etc

Another thought: the accommodations you prefer will also be important, i.e., in addition to handling and seakeeping qualities (and comfort underway and while moored), and in addition to fuel costs and speed issues.

Some accommodation may be similar to your Albin experience, some different. In this area, it's easy enough to visit dealers and view Sea Rays, Regals, Cruisers (the brand), Rinker, Chaparral, and any other of the planning hull boats for comparison. The Annapolis Powerboat Show is coming up in early October, too.

Anyway, if you identify models you like, it's usually easy enough to find use ones.

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Old 08-28-2013, 11:40 AM   #17
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Thanks for the feedback

Since I'm so late to boating I don't have time to learn from mistakes so I really appreciate the information and advice from experienced boaters. I've definitely come to the right place and I have many more questions to come.
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Old 08-28-2013, 05:45 PM   #18
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Since I'm so late to boating I don't have time to learn from mistakes so I really appreciate the information and advice from experienced boaters. I've definitely come to the right place and I have many more questions to come.
I always suggest the same thing I do with RV's. Make sure you sit on the head. It really is those small things that make and break boating adventures!
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Old 08-28-2013, 06:11 PM   #19
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I just finished 10 fantastic years with a 28.5' express cruiser. Single engine for efficiency but fast enough at 28-30 knots to get me wherever I wanted to go, for a weekend or three-week vacation. It's been great.

I moved this year to something slower, but a bit more comfortable and even more fuel-efficient, with plans to spend more time aboard once I retire. This one is more typically considered in the "trawler" realm, even if that's not technically accurate. This would not have been the right boat for me 10 years ago, but, as much as I miss my go-fast, it's the right boat for me now.

Hope that explains the difference, and helps you decide.
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Old 08-28-2013, 08:36 PM   #20
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(evansrr--- Sent you a Private Message regarding your question.)
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