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Old 10-05-2020, 05:55 PM   #1
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Does a trawler have weather and motion issues like a sailboat?

I"ve been thinking for a year about getting a boat when I retire soon. I looked at sailboats, but it seems like a continuous fight avoiding or getting caught in the weather--sailboats take a long time to make a passage. Also, the ceaseless heeling and rolling seems exhausting, from the videos I've watched.

Are trawlers, or motor yachts in general, different in these regards, or pretty much the same?

Thanks
Jim
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Old 10-05-2020, 06:03 PM   #2
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There are more similarities than differences. It's a Ford vs Chevy type debate. The differences are extreme to those who have chosen one over the other. To outsiders, a nice anchorage and solitary sunsets look pretty much the same from the deck of a sailboat or a trawler.

Owning a boat requires money and time. It's usually a monogamous relationship. Sail or power.

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Old 10-05-2020, 06:17 PM   #3
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Sailboats may heel in a significant wind, but they are stable in that mode, more so than a trawler. A trawler even a blue water capable one like the Nordhavn will bounce around more than a sailboat will. Dynamic stabilizers will help with this though.

And the majority of sailboats are stable and strong enough to make a blue water passage. Not so with most trawlers.

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Old 10-05-2020, 06:28 PM   #4
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We still do both regularly -- we own a cruiser with a top speed of about 15 knots (I wouldn't call it a trawler or even a trawler wanna-be, it's a 37 foot aft cabin power boat), and then we charter just about every year on 40-50 foot sailboats. You'll probably get a lot of suggestions like this, but you really have to spend time on both and get a feel for your own preferences. On comfort and space, they are very different -- the biggest sailboat we ever chartered was a 55 footer, and our 37 foot cruiser still seemed more spacious. But then we do still love sailing, feeling connected to the wind and weather, tuning sails. Heeling over until water just kisses the rail, it's exhilarating. We do usually end each sailing trip agreeing that sailing is a lot more physical work but a load of fun. I could write you a long answer here but you really need to spend time on both.

(What you think is general or average comparative speed of the two vessel types should not make the decision for you. I'm reminded of the first day we took delivery of our boat, we were motoring out of Narragansett Bay in very rough weather and one of the Volvo Ocean Race sailboats blew past us at over twice our speed. Now vessel range, that's different, that discussion could fill a library.)
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Old 10-05-2020, 07:12 PM   #5
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We have been sailers our whole life up to our current power boat. Sailing is keeping the whole boat and systems running. Power boating is more centered around keeping the engines happy which for most is two large engines which are way different than a small sail boat engine to get you back to harbor if the wind shuts off. With the power boat, we find ourselves thinking about where to get fuel way too often which I never thought about in our sailboats. On the positive side we can make our own electricity which opens up AC and heating options which we never had before. Nothing nicer than leaving a cold harbor in the morning all comfortable with the heat cranking. Lastly sailboats’ value is the boat, powerboats’ value is mostly the engines with a little boat mixed in.
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Old 10-05-2020, 07:15 PM   #6
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We have been sailers our whole life up to our current power boat. Sailing is keeping the whole boat and systems running. Power boating is more centered around keeping the engines happy which for most is two large engines which are way different than a small sail boat engine to get you back to harbor if the wind shuts off. With the power boat, we find ourselves thinking about where to get fuel way too often which I never thought about in our sailboats. On the positive side we can make our own electricity which opens up AC and heating options which we never had before. Nothing nicer than leaving a cold harbor in the morning all comfortable with the heat cranking. Lastly sailboats’ value is the boat, powerboats’ value is mostly the engines with a little boat mixed in.
definitely a limited overview of both boating selections......

To the OP.... there are so many possibilities in your question...books have been written ty hat v dont adequately cover the whole topic. Powerboats at sea may have terrible motion but can be stabilized. Sailboats have all kinds of motions to but are generally stabilized by their sailplan.

Many more open ocean voyages are made by small sailboats than small powerboats because of certain characteristics .
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Old 10-05-2020, 07:42 PM   #7
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Also, I think it depends greatly on where you plan to use it (cruise) and how you will actually use the boat.
I have owned both types. However, around here in the summer, the wind is normally light, fickle, or non-existent, or on the nose to where you want to go. Also, often we are trying to time a rapid at slack water, so knowing your speed over ground is important and the wind is so variable in that regard. So for us, we motored our sailboat way more than we sailed, in essence it was a trawler with a mast that we occasionally sailed. When we did sail, we loved it!!
With our trawler, we are warmer and much dryer on cool rainy days, the boat is definitely roomier, with more features and/or luxuries. Both our boats were/are close to the same length overall, and this trawler cruises at about 1-1.5 knots faster than the sailboat. Our trawler is capable of 15+ knots, but no Nordic Tug owners go anywhere near that speed (average would be 7-8 knots).
If you anticipate going offshore, or often into open water, a sailboat is probably the better option, with a specially selected trawler (feature wise) being workable as well.
Non-stabilized trawlers (like my NT) can be uncomfortable with beam seas, with a snappier roll than a sailboat under power. Sailboats don't like beam seas either unless they are under sail, then the combination of sails and deep keel will help to reduce roll. Trawlers (like above) will handle waves on the bow (or angled near there) and following or quartering seas fairly well. The quartering seas will require constant steering adjustments or speed adjustments if your boat is capable of that.
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Old 10-05-2020, 07:48 PM   #8
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There is no comparison IMO, with a trawler you can almost always make good a course rather than tacking. So you get to your destination much faster even if there is no wind. You will have much more interior room and light coming into the boat. As to fuel costs they are not the cost you may think and you donít have to buy sails so it is somewhat of a tradeoff. But a lot of people like sailing. But you rarely see older people selling their trawler and buying a sailboat but you do see a lot of older people selling a sailboat and buying a trawler.
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Old 10-05-2020, 07:55 PM   #9
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I still have a foot in both. Without knowing a lot more about your situation, in general I'd say that retirement age is not the time to begin sailing. It could be the time to begin trawling. Charter one of each and you will be way smarter than you are now even if there is a captain involved.
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Old 10-05-2020, 07:57 PM   #10
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Do you have a significant other? If so you need to be in agreement.
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Old 10-05-2020, 08:07 PM   #11
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I also have a tug and a sailboat, both about the same size. The sailboat is far more stable and less rolly, under ALL conditions. Think about it, my sailboat has 3600 Lb of lead 6 feet down, and a heavy mast going 40 feet up. It takes a lot of sea churn to counteract all that and get the boat rolling. The tug, with it's flat bottom and shallow draft, feels every ripple.

And the sailboat cruises under motor at 6.5 Kn, not much slower than many trawlers, sipping less than 1 gal/hr. And it goes in that same direct path as the trawler. However, in the sailboat I do have the option of hoisting some rags and shutting the motor off.
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Old 10-05-2020, 08:16 PM   #12
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Greetings,
Welcome aboard. A goodly part of your decision will be your boating area and how you want to spend your time aboard. When the wind dies, or it's from the wrong direction, you'll be a power boat.

As mentioned above there are some advantages to a sailboat in weather BUT, personally, I would rather cruise in my bedroom slippers with a mug of hot soup on the dashboard than huddled over a wet, potentially cold cockpit with damp clothes on.
Just a bit biased....
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Old 10-05-2020, 08:20 PM   #13
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Greetings,
Welcome aboard. A goodly part of your decision will be your boating area and how you want to spend your time aboard. When the wind dies, or it's from the wrong direction, you'll be a power boat.

As mentioned above there are some advantages to a sailboat in weather BUT, personally, I would rather cruise in my bedroom slippers with a mug of hot soup on the dashboard than huddled over a wet, potentially cold cockpit with damp clothes on.
Just a bit biased....
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Old 10-05-2020, 08:50 PM   #14
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So, river jim, tells us what else about boating you have been thinking of for the last year, that would help a lot!

I do both sail and trawler crawling, they are both good with their pluses and minuses, depending on you and your partners likes/dislikes.

Connecting the water wind and sky correctly with a sailboat is magic when good.

I love the big spaces/windows/views from my trawler that goes anywhere I point it, within reason.

East coast, west coast. You mention passage, that is a big step up from coastal cruising.
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Old 10-05-2020, 09:53 PM   #15
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Some non exhaustive thoughts to add to others. Unfavorable weather is a factor for both but wind direction becomes important for sailing. Tacking into a headwind for long periods is not fun. Heeling is not a huge issue, if you are on the wind the boat usually adopts a degree of heel, varying with wind strength. A sailboat will normally have an engine so you have alternate propulsion. Unless you have a big sailboat space will be more limited. There are few things on a sailboat as satisfying as turning off the engine after leaving the berth and having the boat and crew settle to silent powered propulsion, a trawler can`t give you that. A trawler will mostly have a genset, less likely on a sailboat but they do exist, though wind and solar generation is more likely. It`s common to see people convert from sail to power as they become older, less fit/agile. That said, there are plenty of older sailors, but if you are coming to boating later in life, the trawler path will probably be an easier one to take up than sailing, and a lot less to learn.
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Old 10-16-2020, 07:30 PM   #16
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Bruce , are you single handed? Or others with you? Competency and experience level?
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Old 10-16-2020, 07:36 PM   #17
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I could argue there's a BIG difference, but really depends on what your mission is. For my ICW traveline and the Loop, a power boat is CLEARLY the choice. That's why I don't want a sail boat. Get all I need on my windsurfer.
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Old 10-16-2020, 09:47 PM   #18
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I could argue there's a BIG difference, but really depends on what your mission is. For my ICW traveline and the Loop, a power boat is CLEARLY the choice. That's why I don't want a sail boat. Get all I need on my windsurfer.

What kind of windsurfer do you have? I recently revived my old Bic Techno 293 and was having fun on it until I broke the fin in some shallow water.
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Old 10-16-2020, 10:48 PM   #19
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Don't most boaters like me "day sail" and avoid long passages?
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Old 10-17-2020, 06:09 AM   #20
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Size matters , but even air craft carriers get sea motion when the conditions get bad.

Most trawler folks travel on the days that are not harsh, and anchor or go to a marina when it gets rough .

As you gain experience you will know your own personal travel likes & dislikes.
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