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Old 12-05-2019, 12:30 PM   #1
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Fresh Water Trawlers, Where are they?

Searching for a used boat to do the Great Loop and was looking for possible freshwater trawlers in the Great Lakes but very slim pickings. Does anyone know how to find freshwater trawlers for sale or do they not use trawlers in the great lakes?
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Old 12-05-2019, 12:38 PM   #2
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Yes they are here. I guess search Yachtworld and select Great Lakes. Of course there are more on the coast. I went to Virginia to buy ours.
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Old 12-05-2019, 01:01 PM   #3
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Am I wrong to think a freshwater boat is likely to have less corrosion?
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Old 12-05-2019, 01:18 PM   #4
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Yes, there will be less corrosion. But with our boat I spent some time buffing and polishing stuff and it looks pretty good now. The amount of fresh water trawlers will limit your choices pretty severely. If that is a tradeoff that you are willing to make then go for it. We didnít find any that met our needs so we brought ours home from Virginia. It looks pretty nice now but it has been a bit of work, but I love working on my boat...
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Old 12-05-2019, 01:21 PM   #5
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Generally you are not wrong to think that. The bigger issues will be in electrical and tank corrosion. If the boat is from the tropical salt water it will have its exterior baked in the sun which is hard on gel coat and paint. Fresh water boats are more prone to wood rot as salt is a good inhibitor of bacteria growth. Warm fresh water does a real number on untreated wood. Northern fresh water boats are generally used four or five months of the year and will have less hours. Sometimes you can make a good case for non-use being the cause of several mechanical issues. So, would you be better off buying a well used salt water boat that has had continual updating, painting, and care because it needs it........or..........a fresh water boat that has had almost no updating and care because the owners only use it a few months of the years and they think the hours don't justify it. I am searching the Great Lakes because I do not feel like traveling too far. Having said that I am interested in the Hans Christian in NY, the Trojan Meridian in Baltimore, and the Sparkman and Stevens in Delaware. All the other boats I am seriously looking at are in fresh water (GL). My fresh water efforts are mainly directed at the steel hulled boats as I am tired of looking at moisture damaged boats from the eighties with leaking tanks, wet stringers, and wet decks. The steel boats could have tank issues, but they are much newer and the tanks are easily accessible. Good luck. Bill
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Old 12-05-2019, 03:06 PM   #6
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Similar to Comodaves story, we found our Trawler in Muskegan, Michigan and delivered it home to Ct. An awesome 5 week journey into Canada and then southeast through the lakes, Erie canal and Hudson river.
Corrosion is accelerated with salt water content, temperature and duration. A northern boat might be rigged the way you want it, hydronic heating system, maybe nice canvases ?

Focus on finding the right boat for you, the location issue can almost always be solved. It takes time to find the right boat.
Perhaps list some of your "need to haves" ?
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Old 12-05-2019, 03:06 PM   #7
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Google Trawlers for sale: Toronto and Chicago.
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Old 12-05-2019, 07:11 PM   #8
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Fresh Water Trawlers, Where are they?

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Google Trawlers for sale: Toronto and Chicago.


I had considered a KK42 in Erie, PA a while ago. Usually less corrosion and sunburn.
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Old 12-05-2019, 10:47 PM   #9
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I shopped all over Florida only to find mine in my own back yard in Chicago. It was shrink wrapped on the hard but the price was right so I didn't need financing and skipped the survey (risky, I know).

Getting it home only took 5 slow easy days as opposed to several weeks or a huge expense from Florida. A big factor. (we were still working at the time)

The sun and heat can really eat up a boat but the snow and ice are not kind either.

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Old 12-05-2019, 11:14 PM   #10
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Every boat is an individual.
While some generalizations can be made about freshwater boats and limited season of Great Lakes boats, it's how they are taken care of that matters. Walked through a couple of boatyards on Lake Superior, and saw a number of young boats ready for the landfill from what appeared to be neglect. I would focus more on what you want and how the previous owner took care of it, and less about its zip code.

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Old 12-05-2019, 11:27 PM   #11
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We didnít find what we wanted anywhere nearby, well there was a President 41 in Escanaba that I put off looking at and it was sold when I got serious about looking. We ended up buying in Virginia and had a wonderful trip home 1400 miles, 75 locks, 45 days and 1 appendix left in New Jersey. So I would look for the boat you want and that is in as good condition as you can afford and then figure out how to get it home. Although a big thing is we are retired so time for the travel wasnít a problem.
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Old 12-05-2019, 11:28 PM   #12
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Willard trawlers ceased production around 2002. One of the last ones built might be for sale by a knowledgeable owner and is located in the Great Lakes, I believe in Michigan. Best I can tell, she's a seaworthy trawler and has active naiaid stabilizers from a 2010 upgrade.

Feel free to PM me and I will forward to the owner. I have no commercial interest except as moderator of the Willard Boat Owners group on groups. IO.
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Old 12-06-2019, 03:51 PM   #13
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I hope you do not mind, but I pm'ed you as well regarding the Williard. Bill
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Old 12-06-2019, 04:07 PM   #14
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I always recommend those searching write down their Musts, Wants and Don't Wants.
Also have any partner do the same then compare , compromise.
I'd suggest fresh water belongs in the want column.
I favor a FW boat but wouldn't limit a search as I might over look an otherwise great candidate. Well maintained is much higher on my Musts.
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Old 12-06-2019, 06:08 PM   #15
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To start with the obvious, the marine environment is tough on machinery no matter where, and maintenance just comes with the 'boat territory.' That said, here's my salt vs. freshwater experience: I grew up sailing small boats on the Great Lakes (MI). About 11 years ago I inherited my dad's Catalina 27 (sailboat) which he kept on Lake Huron; the boat had previously been on Lake Ontario since new (1986). The boat sat on the hard with minimal care for about eight years after he died but was still in pretty good condition when I brought it here to Cape Cod. With a little cleaning and some minor attention to the engine (filters, fresh fuel, etc.), the boat started readily and I've enjoyed her ever since.

I have found maintaining the boat in this environment definitely demands extra attention to prevent faster and worse deterioration from the salt air. I've had to wire brush and treat a couple of the engine mounts as well as the prop shaft, coupling, and heat exchanger. At every haulout I strip all the rigging (original) from the mast, bring it home, wash it in fresh water, clean any corrosion (there's always some) and lube the stays/shrouds with Marvel Mystery oil and lube the jib furler. Same attention to the steering system where components have developed corrosion since coming here.

To the point, I'm 'transitioning' and found my dream trawler on Lake Michigan and am prepping to start back here with it next spring via the TSW and NY canals. Had initially planned to bring it here but am now looking seriously at Lake Champlain and have been up to survey marinas. Sailing here is great, but for a number of reasons - including maintenance - I think I'd rather have the trawler on fresh water.
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Old 12-06-2019, 10:45 PM   #16
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don't forget that in a number of areas, boats can be berthed in fresh water, but still be a salt water boat for the most part. Lake Union and Lake washington come to mind. For me, that might be the best of both worlds.
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Old 12-06-2019, 11:11 PM   #17
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I spent decades on east [NY and Maine] and west [SD and SF] coasts with boats in saltwater; in open slips. I know saltwater... I know saltwater boats; in open slips.

April 2009 we moved our Tollycraft into a SF/Delta 100% freshwater location, put her in a covered slip and boat exclusively in the freshwater.

The difference of increased kindness is exponential to a boat in a freshwater covered slip as compared to a boat in saltwater open slip.

Nuff Said!
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Old 12-07-2019, 07:43 AM   #18
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I spent decades on east [NY and Maine] and west [SD and SF] coasts with boats in saltwater; in open slips. I know saltwater... I know saltwater boats; in open slips.

April 2009 we moved our Tollycraft into a SF/Delta 100% freshwater location, put her in a covered slip and boat exclusively in the freshwater.

The difference of increased kindness is exponential to a boat in a freshwater covered slip as compared to a boat in saltwater open slip.

Nuff Said!


Yep; and thatís not even warm salt water
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Old 12-07-2019, 10:25 AM   #19
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Yep; and thatís not even warm salt water
And, due to mountain snow runoff... SF Delta fresh water is warm and clean May through September. We love to swim!

I keep under belly of boat clean and with fresh anode changes as needed... which is not too often, due to an electricity "non hot" area we berth.
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Old 12-07-2019, 10:42 AM   #20
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Look at Grand Rapids Mi. Craigslist. 84 Fu Hwa 38 $50,000. I'm not involved but have seen the vessel on Lake Michigan a few times.
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