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Old 08-01-2021, 09:41 PM   #1
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Advice needed: designing a trawler based lifestyle

Hello, I am new here, but have already found so much useful info. I am so glad this forum exists, and wish to thank you all ahead of time!


I believe I have narrowed down my vessel search to a 'Trawler' type vessel, and I am looking for some advice as I build this vision in my mind. I have some questions on proper vessel type, and my expectations for the boat. I also have some questions regarding logistics of keeping a large craft (I have only ever owned "trailer-able" boats)



I would like a boat capable of long distance cruising, all along the Pacific cost. I am interested in pretty much all waters from Baja to Southern Alaska. I grew up in San Clemente, went to college in Santa Barbara, and greatly appreciate the channel islands and southern coast. Currently living near the PNW, I would also take the opportunity to explore what this area has to offer.



Regarding the vessel:

I really enjoy the classic styling of some of the older trawlers. I am thinking I would want something in the 35-40' range. I expect to be single-handing the vessel at least 50% of the time, likely more. But I also want comfort for at least 4 passengers including myself for longer trips, and room for a handful more for day trips. I would like the range to travel long distances, with good fuel economy. I am OK spending anywhere from $35-75k


I have seen some older (mostly late 70's) trawlers from the makes of Grand Banks, CHB, C & L, Californian, and a few more that seem to fit my budget and preliminary requirements.

Are my initial ideas in order with my expectations for the vessel, and are there any of those makes what I would want to consider or avoid?




Logistics:
I currently reside in Bend, Oregon, but would intend to go "full time" on the boat for lengths when I please. My living and work situation are flexible.

I am mixed on where I should dock the boat.

It would make sense to purchase and store in Oregon, both for tax purposes, and living a few hours from Oregon coast.

But I do think I would do at least half of my cruising down south

I would have many friends/family to pick up down there - but my northern cruising would mostly be solo + my dog.

So I also remain open to the idea of purchasing a boat down south and keeping it in a marina down there near LAX or SD if I can find one.



In essence, I have zero experience keeping a larger boat. Where would you all recommend I plan to store the vessel?

If I were to dock in Oregon, I would not need live-aboard status.

If I were to dock down south, I likely would want this option.

How much should I budget for these scenarios, and can anyone recommend good locations to house the boat?

I would expect to do mainly longer trips out, so I am very flexible on where I keep the vessel, and would simply travel there to begin said trips.



I would also like to inquire about the journey along the Pacific Coast from PNW down south to areas below Pt Conception. Is this journey advisable/enjoyable given I have the time? I would like to be able to go both ways, but understand uphill will be harder, and may consider cruising down the coast, but shipping it up the coast. Does anyone have experience there?


I think this covers the basic questions for now, but I am sure some more will come up. Please let me know if I can provide any additional information to help narrow down such discussions.



Thanks again for taking the time. I am incredibly excited at the prospect of adventures to come!
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Old 08-01-2021, 10:01 PM   #2
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Dreams are one thing, reality another. Finding liveaboard moorage south of San Francisco is next to impossible. Finding insurance for coastal cruising with your experience level will be another challenge. If you actually find a boat in your price range then expect to spend an equal amount on fixing it up.

It will take a lot of determination to make you dream become any kind of a reality.
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Old 08-01-2021, 11:06 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by tiltrider1 View Post
It will take a lot of determination to make you dream become any kind of a reality.
I do not underestimate the challenges of this type of venture (or perhaps I do). In any case, that's precisely why I am here with some questions.



It's good to know about the possible difficulty in finding liveaboard morrage. One vessel I am have a line on includes the opportunity to transfer a liveaboard slip, so perhaps it is one to consider more closely.



I would be interested in more insight into the insurance situation. Would I really have a hard time finding a policy? Or is it just a matter of increased cost. I would appreciate any figures one could share on what I might expect here.



My stated budget is for the initial purchase. I hope to find something that's been taken care of and is ready to cruise, but I do also understand the realities of maintenance and repairs. I have seen quite a few advertised in my price range which claim to be 'ready', but I would certainly have a boat surveyed before making that sort of investment.
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Old 08-02-2021, 05:55 AM   #4
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My advice to those trying to figure it out is always to write it down vs forming the vision in your mind.
Start with defining your style of boating... where, how long, how many people, uses (fishing?, just cruising?)
Consider at least 3 categories to spur thinking... MUSTS, high priority needs; WANTS / niceties that you could live w/o and could compromise on and DON'T WANT... those things that would be a negative if present.
That forces priorities and a more thorough consideration of YOUR intended uses etc.
Then use that when walking docks, talking to others, etc... make sure you ask their style of cruising as well as what they like / dislike about their boats.
Consider renting / chartering as a way to experience it real time. You will likely need to start some serious learning. Look for a chapter of America's Boating Club (aka US Sail & Power Squadrons) they offer a very extensive education program and by joining you will build a local network of others with boating experience & knowledge. Lastly. Don't be afraid to start a little more modest to get started and learn... many of us don't get our choice of boats right until the 2nd or 3rd one.
Good luck with your ventures and adventures
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Old 08-02-2021, 06:04 AM   #5
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+ to what Bacchus says about ABC.
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Old 08-02-2021, 06:10 AM   #6
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Jeff Bezos likes to quote "success is 1 percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration." Meaning the hard part is execution. Most of us on this forum started with some form of your story and are quick to point out potholes along the highway.

Enough people have cautioned about insurance that I would definitely recommend you include it as a contingency for any sales' contract you sign.

Finding the right marina is as hard as finding the right boat, especially for liveaboard status which is rare. The Groucho Marx quote comes to mind ("I wouldn't live in a marina that would allow me"). So be sure to keep an eye out for logistics in addition to the boat.

Ownership costs beyond maintenance. Insurance, bottom diver, docklines, biannual bottom job, slip fees, and all sorts of things really add up. Let's say the boat you fall in love with only needs a new flybridge enclosure. Easily $5k, and can run closer to $10k depending on style and materials. Having teak varnished professionally on a small Taiwan trawler can run well north of $1500, though most owners do it themselves. New anchor and chain rode can easily run $2000. Bottom job and have the cutless bearing replaced - +$3k. Dinghy and outboard $6k. The list is endless.

Suggest you consider locating in your desired cruising ground vs running up/down the coast. It's a challenging coast that will seriously restrict your schedule due to weather limitations on easy transit. Puget Sound area has fantastic cruising. San Francisco Bay and Delta has decent options to keep you distracted for at least a few years. Southern California has limited cruising options but decent weather.

Welcome to TF and good luck

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Old 08-02-2021, 12:04 PM   #7
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Thank you for the kind responses so far.



I am approaching the subject with great intention, as some of you have suggested is appropriate. I did outline my use case for the vessel in my initial post, but to recap some of my important considerations and add a few more:


1. SIZE: Must be manageable for single-handed operation, Able to sleep at least 4, (6 would be nice even if a little less comfy). Not too big as to devour too much in fuel, maintenance slip fees, not too small as to be cramped. I was thinking 35-40.



3. CAPABILITY of cruising the entire Pacific coast (I will not be on a deadline, and I understand it will not always be comfortable). But I want to be able to make that trip. Good range and fuel economy are important, but it seems most trawlers fit the bill here.



4. LAYOUT: Dog friendly. I would really like a single-level wrap around deck with side walls all around. I know this narrows my options, but safety for the dog is important. I would like a decent amount of deck space overall.



5. WHERE: I cannot narrow this down. I would like to find myself all over the pacific coast, and would like to take a long time doing so. So, the boat should be capable of getting me where I need to go. I'm young and my mind and body can handle the voyages that some might find unpleasant.



6. BUDGET: This is not set in stone, and can be flexible if needed. However, I would LIKE to keep the initial purchase below $75k. I could spend more, but that leaves me less of a piggy bank for the other stuff (repair/maint./fuel/moorage). I understand there are both scheduled and unexpected expenses, and I am prepared to go broke if that's what needs to happen. Money is a tool to me, not a prize to behold.




I appreciate the cautionary advice as well. Again, I do not underestimate the prospect. MY reasons for doing this are not relaxation, not an 'easy life', not a social outlet. I seek adventure, I appreciate challenges, and I generally enjoy facing the unexpected.
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Old 08-02-2021, 01:35 PM   #8
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While I have no Trawler knowledge I do enjoy looking at a nice Defever. The teak decks would keep me from buying this one myself. But if I was looking in this current market I would consider this boat as its under cover, and could come with a live aboard status, that is very difficult to find!
I also love a nice fiberglass Grand Banks or Tollycraft.

And form your own opinion on Bayliners, the 37/3888 and 47/4888 boats are not bad if you understand they are high production boats at a price point. Our dock has at least 8 of the 47 foot boats. Most owners will tell you they are good boats, the problems they do have are well documented along with the fixes. I would say for the most part the bayliner boats are out on the water more often then most of the other brands. Not sure if this is due to the bayliner owners are new to boating, or ?

For the price point of under 75k I would really want to go through all the systems before I ventured too far from port, be handy with the tools, and have spares and know how to swap them out. For the most part your looking at boats that are as old or older than you are.


Would you trust most 40-50 year old cars to get you from Seattle to San Fran problem free? I don't, but I can also fix most of the issues along the way.
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Old 08-02-2021, 01:47 PM   #9
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"Don't dream your life. Live your dream." Although that is one of Bob Bitchin's most often quoted adages which can sometimes come off as pollyanna-ish, it does have a ring of truth to it.

Your stated goals are challenging, but not impossible. You may go through inspecting a lot of boats before you find the right one. But it's likely out there. The more time you spend pursuing your dream, the more educated and confident you'll become.

I for one look forward to keeping up with your progress. Good luck!
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Old 08-02-2021, 03:23 PM   #10
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If you are determined to do this. You should look for a boat in the Puget Sound. This will put you in an environment we’re you can find out what you don’t know. Insurance companies will be more agreeable and help will be easier to find when you get in over your head. After a couple of years banging around the PNW you will be more ready to adventure down the coast.
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Old 08-02-2021, 04:59 PM   #11
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If you're going to build a trawler out of a hull, an ex-navy launch is sturdy. They were built in 30', 33'. 40', and 50' that I am aware of. Probably other sizes. I know of several that were converted for commercial fishing. They're fiberglass now. Larger ones usually have a Detroit.

For cabin layouts, go to boat shows and walk around marina docks that are open to the public. Might be worth talking to a marine designer.

https://www.boats-and-harbors.com/ publishes a 3x a month classified paper. Also digital version delivered to your email, free. Mostly commercial boats, small ships, real tugs, some hulls, engines, marine construction equipment, tools, etc. I'd post a copy, but too big for Trawler Forum. Usually 10-12mb pdf. Send me an email and I'll send the latest copy.
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Old 08-02-2021, 05:03 PM   #12
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Congrats! Deciding to do a thing is probably the hardest part for most folks.

I can relate to your situation as I was in it a short 8 years ago. This is the best points I feel I can add to this conversation:

1. The best option in my mind is starting with a Puget Sound boat. There's a couple of reasons for that. First is this is an excellent place to learn about any type of boating. My first boat was a 36ft sailboat. I learned to sail, dock, and handle her by reading like crazy, watching everything I could get my hands on, and most importantly finding forgiving places to practice all this stuff. Puget Sound is literally the best learning ground on the West Coast. Additionally there are a ton of marinas and boats here. I'm in the purchase market at the moment. Things are hot, but there are boats out there for sale. I feel like something in the South Sound would work best marina wise for you.

2. Insurance is going to be a lot easier to get in that size range and in the Puget Sound. Just make sure to stick with a fibreglass boat.

3. As for the liveaboard thing, I wouldn't sweat that yet. You can knock out the drive from Bend to say Olympia pretty easily and you'll be allowed to stay on the boat for usually 20 of every 30 days in a month.

4. The biggest issue is finding moorage. Best option is to buy a boat with a transferable slip.

5. Don't let anyone tell you "Can't". If your into long-term committed projects that feature a firehose of learning and humility, you're gonna love this
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Old 08-02-2021, 05:19 PM   #13
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One last point. This in regards to your purchase cost range.

Your goal of moving up and down the coast drives a lot of the features your prospective boat should have. When I'm working up my requirements, I tend to move from the hull upwards. In this case you are going to hear TONs of opinions on what type of boats are suitable for cruising the entire West coast during prefered times. I'd highly recommend learning about hull types and as you start finding boats you like, dig in deep into their design limits and intended purposes. Just keep in mind that most boats called "Trawlers" in marketing are not designed for long term use in rough-ish ocean conditions.

I mention this because of my own searches. Finding something that is fit for troubled sea states is not easy below 100K. There's a few out there for sure, but they are not prevalent.
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Old 08-02-2021, 08:26 PM   #14
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There's an argument to look for the slip with a boat in it that would be suitable to "get you going". You're not spending much on a boat, and look at really older boats, so you really need to do your homework. It would be great to find one that was completely refurbished by some nut case that just wanted a perfect boat... very hard to find.


However, try to get one that's saleable. With your minimal experience I'd bet your chances of finding your best boat is slim to none... so use it as a learning experience and save the serious boating after you buy the "right" boat after a few years of learning.



But follow your goal.... very worth while.


PS, I could argue self insuring as insurance will be hard to get.
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Old 08-02-2021, 09:49 PM   #15
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Good luck on your search.

Not sure if you will find a boat in your price range that meets your wants. We started out with our boat at Salpare Bay on Hayden Island. My personal recommendation to park the boat. Spent several years there with long cruises up in BC, SE Alaska the Columbia/Snake river before making a left outside Astoria a few years ago and heading south. We are now parked in South Carolina. Pretty sure you can figure how we got there.

I can only recommend the trawler life style as that is what we have lived the past 20K some Nautical Miles. Ours is a bit larger than what you are looking at, but she can be handeled easily single handed as we have both bow and stern thrusters, a must have for us.

Get out there and just do it, dont wait, we ain’t getting any younger!

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Old 08-06-2021, 12:51 PM   #16
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.so many questions so little time we began our hunt much like you and after much deliberation we found a 10 year old selene 53 one he'll of a boat we have been cruising for 3 years left San Diego and,a slip btw way that took us 12,years to secure we still pay it and it's leased out down the baja coast we came la paz Loreto mazatlan puerto vallarta accapulco etc etc came to panama then thru canal my suggestion if you have never been beyongd Catalina is to join a group perhaps panama posse whom have developed real time places to stop anchorages and check in procedures insurance on the boat you describe is the least of your worries you need to fix anything and everything at sea. If you're not mechanical take some basic classes learn about your systems and how to keep your fuel clean and your engine running top it's not a life for everyone but now that we are in Colombia sa we love it lots of challenges but the people and places you see and meet make life what it is. All the best Dr jerry
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Old 08-06-2021, 02:48 PM   #17
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Hi, Our 42 Californian LRC would meet your needs. "Rhino" is docked at Channel Islands Harbor, Ventura County- 11 miles from the east end of Anacapa Island and the Channel Islands National Park cruising grounds. We plan to put her on the market in September or October but would entertain an offer before going to market-asking $105,000. She is cruise ready e.g. 73 lb Rochna Vulcan, Mantus swivel shackle, 400' 3/8" high test chain, Maxwell HRC 10 windlass- Full electronics fly bridge and lower helm, Simrad autopilots, 4 new custom aluminum 125 gallon fuel tanks, AB aluminum hull RIB with 20 hp Tohatso mid deck storage in cradle with power winch launch and retrieve, and more. She cruises at 10 knots and burns 5 gallons an hour with twin T6-354 Perkins diesels and carries 500 gallons of fuel. If interested please call 805 824 1380
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Old 08-06-2021, 03:27 PM   #18
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Hi JL,

I also grew up in San Clemente (SCHS) and went to school in Santa Barbara after that, but I had to leave as I surfed too much and didn’t study enough.

Regarding So-Cal, slips can be tough to get, especially when are above 40 ft. > 50 ft, and its more challenging. LA/San Pedro is probably the best bet. Once you are in, you can get on other wait lists and move around from there.
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Old 08-06-2021, 05:07 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by jlcanterbury View Post
Thank you for the kind responses so far.



I am approaching the subject with great intention, as some of you have suggested is appropriate. I did outline my use case for the vessel in my initial post, but to recap some of my important considerations and add a few more:


1. SIZE: Must be manageable for single-handed operation, Able to sleep at least 4, (6 would be nice even if a little less comfy). Not too big as to devour too much in fuel, maintenance slip fees, not too small as to be cramped. I was thinking 35-40.


3. CAPABILITY of cruising the entire Pacific coast (I will not be on a deadline, and I understand it will not always be comfortable). But I want to be able to make that trip. Good range and fuel economy are important, but it seems most trawlers fit the bill here.



4. LAYOUT: Dog friendly. I would really like a single-level wrap around deck with side walls all around. I know this narrows my options, but safety for the dog is important. I would like a decent amount of deck space overall.



5. WHERE: I cannot narrow this down. I would like to find myself all over the pacific coast, and would like to take a long time doing so. So, the boat should be capable of getting me where I need to go. I'm young and my mind and body can handle the voyages that some might find unpleasant.



6. BUDGET: This is not set in stone, and can be flexible if needed. However, I would LIKE to keep the initial purchase below $75k. I could spend more, but that leaves me less of a piggy bank for the other stuff (repair/maint./fuel/moorage). I understand there are both scheduled and unexpected expenses, and I am prepared to go broke if that's what needs to happen. Money is a tool to me, not a prize to behold.




I appreciate the cautionary advice as well. Again, I do not underestimate the prospect. MY reasons for doing this are not relaxation, not an 'easy life', not a social outlet. I seek adventure, I appreciate challenges, and I generally enjoy facing the unexpected.
I would look for a Europa / Flush deck similar to this:
https://www.yachtworld.com/boats/198...house-3832138/
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Old 08-07-2021, 08:37 PM   #20
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Donít make any rash decisions.

I donít believe you mentioned your age but Iím guessing youíre near retirement. Starting anything late in life is by no means as easy when you are younger. If youíre in decent shape and your wallet is flush you might survive.
The West Coast is not a forgiving long passage journey. Welcoming marinas and anchorages are far and few. You wonít be getting anywhere fast. With that said I suggest your first step is to buy all the charts and spend a couple of weeks in your car traveling from every port along the West Coast you plan to stop and pass. Ask all the harbor masters what they can offer small traveling yachts besides fuel. Ask them if thereís any difficulty making passage into the marina. If they have transient slips ask them how much they are per night. Poke around the harbor asking questions, have a beer and get a feeling of if you would enjoy coming back in your yacht. Donít even think about buying a yacht before doing this. Have fun!
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