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Old 02-10-2024, 01:20 AM   #1
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GB 36 wisdom inquiry

Good evening. I'm a 70 year old sailor (past 50 years were Nonesuch 30, Catalina 30 in SF bay, Pearson 33 in Chesapeake Bay) making the switch to a GB 36. I have located a good prospect, and have a few questions I'm hoping those with trawler experience can opine on. The 1976 GB 36 has twin John Deere 117 hp diesels with about 2300 engine hours, which seems quite low assuming regular maintenance. There is no bow thruster, and do those of you with twin screws feel comfortable docking, with practice, without the thruster?
Any reason to prefer a single screw over a twin ? How did you make the transition from piloting a sailboat with a rudder to piloting the GB 36? Other than decks, windows and tanks, any other areas to pay particular attention to? Of course, I'll have a complete survey including mechanical.
After many years of loving sailing, I am cautiously optimistic I will enjoy the switch to a trawler and a new but different set of maintenance tasks and cruising.
Thanks very much.
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Old 02-10-2024, 01:33 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by TrawlerDavid View Post
Good evening. I'm a 70 year old sailor (past 50 years were Nonesuch 30, Catalina 30 in SF bay, Pearson 33 in Chesapeake Bay) making the switch to a GB 36. I have located a good prospect, and have a few questions I'm hoping those with trawler experience can opine on. The 1976 GB 36 has twin John Deere 117 hp diesels with about 2300 engine hours, which seems quite low assuming regular maintenance. There is no bow thruster, and do those of you with twin screws feel comfortable docking, with practice, without the thruster?
Any reason to prefer a single screw over a twin ? How did you make the transition from piloting a sailboat with a rudder to piloting the GB 36? Other than decks, windows and tanks, any other areas to pay particular attention to? Of course, I'll have a complete survey including mechanical.
After many years of loving sailing, I am cautiously optimistic I will enjoy the switch to a trawler and a new but different set of maintenance tasks and cruising.
Thanks very much.
Welcome aboard. Keep in mind that a 1976 vintage boat will likely have had a lot of modifications over the life of the boat. The teak decks are problematic, water leaks into the core from the many many screws. It is a big job and expensive if you hire it fixed. It is pretty easy technically just a lot of hard physical work to replace the core. If it has the original fuel tanks they are probably ready to be replaced. It is easier with a single engine than twins. I prefer twins in general. You can learn how to dock a twin without thrusters but as we age thrusters make it easier. We added SideShift thrusters on our current boat and love them. It was a DIY installation. Get a good survey and be there when it is done to learn more about the boat. If the surveyor doesnít want you there then find a different surveyor.
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Old 02-10-2024, 05:53 AM   #3
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The GB36 is, in my opinion, the quintessential trawler. It's a great starter boat that can easily be the last boat too. They handle very well in close quarters. My biggest reason for not owning one is, as Conodave discusses, the teak decks. They look great but are a maintenance nightmare.

Twin engines are definitely very maneuverable, but I prefer a single with thruster as it gives better physical access to the engine for maintenance. But overall condition would be most important to me - a twin in great condition would be preferable to a single in average condition.

GB put some oddball engines in some of their earlier boats. What model John Deeres are these? If it was repowered with Deere, a huge plus. But some of the older Deere's that had limited marination applications could be difficult with some parts. .

I don't think you'd have trouble adapting to driving a GB36 either single or twin. A couple afternoons of practice routines and you'll have it.

Good luck

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Old 02-10-2024, 06:34 AM   #4
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We have similar background having come from years of sailing.
Also have a twin screw GB (42) with Deeres and no thruster.
Have found docking to be easier than any sailboat as can use the twins to walk the boat around however you want.
Opposing prop-walk makes backing in a straight line a joy.
Prop-walk on outboard, offshore engine in reverse will kick your stern over and into the dock.
Found sailboats, depending on whether right-hand or left-hand prop, to have a preference for docking either port-side to or starboard-side to, but with twin screws it does not matter.
You can dock ambidextrously, back straight, and prop-walk that sucker around any which way you want.
Never had a thruster on any sailboat, so do not miss having one now.
Agree with Peter, above, that you need to mess around and practice.
Getting used to the vessel's mass and windage and momentum will be different than your sailboats.
But do not be intimidated - if you can handle a single you can handle a twin.
Told my wife if we switched to power I wanted twins for redundancy of knowing we would have propulsion if something happened to one engine.
In sailboats you have redundancy - sail power plus engine power.
Now you are just foregoing the sails for a second engine.
Agree with Dave above that these older GBs can be a lot of work, but if you are handy then no problem.
I wanted a tool project for retirement so we are pleased with our choice and also excited to continue learning new things that never had to know as a sailor.
Good luck
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Old 02-10-2024, 06:54 AM   #5
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Old 02-10-2024, 07:31 AM   #6
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Docking without a bow thruster with twins takes practice, but it's doable, and the screws it's all about preference.
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Old 02-10-2024, 09:31 AM   #7
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Thanks for the wisdom

Thanks, everyone, for the prompt comments and guidance. A big plus of this boat, based on my initial inspection with an eperienced GB broker, is that the teak decks were replaced by a PO as were the fuel and water tanks with stainless steel. So 2 fewer items to worry about. And appreciate the perspectives on using twin screws for docking. I can see I have a lot to learn, but that is part of the fun for me.
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Old 02-10-2024, 10:00 AM   #8
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TrawlerDavid: Welcome aboard the TF!

In my experience, any Grand Banks with twin engines is a pleasure to handle. If you have mastered single-engine sailboats such as you describe, you'll quickly get comfortable maneuvering your GB. By comparison, it's almost embarrassingly easy. With a twin engined GB 36, a bow thruster is a handy tool, but is really unnecessary. With a single engined GB 36, a thruster would be more valuable, although still not critical. A family-owned GB 36' that I ran frequently had a single 210 hp Caterpillar 3208, and even without a thruster it was very manageable around the docks. Backing into a slip required a combination of rudder and a kick of prop wash in forward gear to keep the stern aimed in the desired direction. The later addition of a bow thruster made handling that boat a total piece of cake.

As to the other merits of single vs. twin in the GB 36, try getting aboard both, especially into their engine compartments, and imagining yourself spending time in there doing maintenance. I feel that the 36' engine compartment is a bit snug for twins, while a single (especially an in-line 6 cylinder like the ubiquitous Lehman), leaves enough space for ample access all around the engine itself and peripheral systems. My preference in the GB 36 would therefore be a strong single-engine.

You seem to be alert already to the typical pain points in older Grand Banks, so not much to add there. The boats were solidly built, but they don't age well without consistent care. Find one whose previous owner(s) have lavished it with attention. Then prepare to take over and do the same.

Best of luck!
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Old 02-11-2024, 05:14 PM   #9
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Sounds like you are coming home!

You will have no difficulties adapting to your twins. As an introduction, find a channel in which you can know your exact position and back down it. I find standing at the upper helm facing backwards with the wheel behind me works very well. Steer with the throttles, using the reverse of one engine to pull you backwards and towards one side, and when there has been enough of that, change to the other engine to straighten out or pull towards the other side. A burst of fwd against a rudder, using the engine not presently in reverse, will also assist going in a straight line. When was backing ever that easy in a sailboat?

You don't need a thruster. Any sailor with the amount of experience you have already knows how to dock a single engined boat without a thruster. Now you will also have the advantagee of twins. Pulling up to a dock is so easy, approach at an angle of about 30į until your bow is almost on the dock, then with the outboard engine in reverse and the inboard one in fwd, at idle on both, spin your stern in to the dock. You will need to have the rudder behind the dockside engine (the one in fwd gear) set to assist pushing your stern over to that side. If there is someone wanting to take a line, wait until your bow is where you plan to leave it before handing a line down, then that person can take a wrap on the bull rail and you can apply a little more power an overcome any wind or current until your stern reaches the dock.

I have friends with those old John Deeres in their GBs, both were warned off their purchases of those boats by brokers and other ignorant folks. Both are very happy they didn't listen to those naysayers.

Good luck with your new boat!
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Old 02-11-2024, 09:16 PM   #10
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You will love the ability to head in any direction at any time. You will not like the noise of twin diesels. A bow thruster is not necessary unless you single hand a lot in high wind high current docking scenarios. You can spin the boat in it's own circle with twins. I stay off the throttles and rudders when backing into a slip. Shift levers put me exactly where I want to go.
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Old 02-11-2024, 10:41 PM   #11
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With a bit of practice, you will be just fine without a bow thruster. I recommend to lots of folks in your situation, moving from sail to power, that you go to the local charter fleet and see about hiring the head guy/gal for a few hours. Charter folks tend to be very good at quickly showing people how to operate a boat they are not used to. You will find it much easier than you thought once you get some time with it. Good luck and have fun.
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Old 02-12-2024, 12:05 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by TrawlerDavid View Post
Good evening. I'm a 70 year old sailor (past 50 years were Nonesuch 30, Catalina 30 in SF bay, Pearson 33 in Chesapeake Bay) making the switch to a GB 36. I have located a good prospect, and have a few questions I'm hoping those with trawler experience can opine on. The 1976 GB 36 has twin John Deere 117 hp diesels with about 2300 engine hours, which seems quite low assuming regular maintenance. There is no bow thruster, and do those of you with twin screws feel comfortable docking, with practice, without the thruster?
Any reason to prefer a single screw over a twin ? How did you make the transition from piloting a sailboat with a rudder to piloting the GB 36? Other than decks, windows and tanks, any other areas to pay particular attention to? Of course, I'll have a complete survey including mechanical.
After many years of loving sailing, I am cautiously optimistic I will enjoy the switch to a trawler and a new but different set of maintenance tasks and cruising.
Thanks very much.
If the boat passes muster - teak decks, deck intrusion, windows, etc., you will be on one of the finest production boats out there. I have a single Lehman GB 36, which I sought. Twins in a GB 36 seems like a lot. I do not have thrusters, and have enjoyed learning how to work around that. It's mostly just learning what you can and cannot do. You work around what you cannot do. Twins would limit me because at 70+ years, I have a hard enough time getting around the ER. It you are buying a twin powered GB 36, I would be among the docking viewers ridiculing you for adding that extravagance. You can spin on a dime with just twins. I would recommend you don't take up more engine room expense, batteries and complexity with thrusters. I operate my single without thrusters, and it's not hard, just take's a little pleasureable practice, which I enjoy. The thing I curse most is the loss of engine room space the add-ons take up. You'll probably need some trained monkeys to get around to do maintenance on twins, but if that's ok with you, you're good.
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Old 02-12-2024, 12:18 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by TrawlerDavid View Post
Good evening. I'm a 70 year old sailor (past 50 years were Nonesuch 30, Catalina 30 in SF bay, Pearson 33 in Chesapeake Bay) making the switch to a GB 36. I have located a good prospect, and have a few questions I'm hoping those with trawler experience can opine on. The 1976 GB 36 has twin John Deere 117 hp diesels with about 2300 engine hours, which seems quite low assuming regular maintenance. There is no bow thruster, and do those of you with twin screws feel comfortable docking, with practice, without the thruster?
Any reason to prefer a single screw over a twin ? How did you make the transition from piloting a sailboat with a rudder to piloting the GB 36? Other than decks, windows and tanks, any other areas to pay particular attention to? Of course, I'll have a complete survey including mechanical.
After many years of loving sailing, I am cautiously optimistic I will enjoy the switch to a trawler and a new but different set of maintenance tasks and cruising.
Thanks very much.
Also, the point I was originally trying to make is that the expense, complexity and space issues on a GB 36 twin-powered is significant. I would even take/prefer a single engine GB 42, if I could find one. They exist but are rate, so afraid are buyers of not having the back-up engine (If anyone knows of one going up for sale, please contact me right away). A slow-turning, simple diesel tractor engine is one of the most dependable things in the world. For coastal cruising, I would take the risk of a TowBoat tow home for the great cost savings and efficiency of a single engine boat. The only thing that stopped me in 15+ years was a failed impeller, causing overheat, which was easily repaired in short order.
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Old 02-12-2024, 12:38 AM   #14
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Thanks for great advice

Thanks to those of you that have responded in the past few days. Although there are differing opinions, as with most things boating, the common thread is that the GB 36 is a great boat. I've been researching John Deere marinized engines and they appear to by very dependable, just takes longer to get parts. Still weighing the pros and cons of a single vs. twin screwm and am convinced that even without a thruster I'll be okay. I routinely was docking in SF Bay in my sailboat with 15-20 knot side winds, and agree its practice and learning your boat well that makes the difference. I'll see how the survey and sea trial come out, and hope to be joining you in the trawler world in the next several months.
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Old 02-12-2024, 01:06 AM   #15
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If you plan to do extended cruising you may encounter situations where you need to be the guy to fix something on the engines. The outboard side of the engines may require a bit of yoga to reach various components. Maybe do another trip to the boat and assess different repair/problem scenarios that may come up. For example could you replace an outboard facing cooling hose that blew or could you bleed the fuel system on the starboard engine. Everyone has different yoga abilities so you kinda of need to assess it for yourself and evaluate if you are comfortable getting into where you need to go.

For me, I am able twist and stretch but get limited by my girth so for me I'd have to stick with a single.
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Old 02-12-2024, 12:38 PM   #16
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It sounds like you have found a keeper. 2500 hours is just broken in! My 73 GB36 has twin Lehmans and I am in the camp of not being without two engines. Have had to come in on one engine often enough that I will not be without two sources of propulsion on any boat I own. My previous boat was a 37 1965 Shepherd with twin gas engines and had enough failures (mostly electronic ignition modules and coils) to be glad I had two of everything so I could keep one running at all times. Diesel is more reliable but stuff happens and these are antiques.

The point about boat yoga is spot on. The outboard side of both engines require a contortionist to get to and you really don't want to even attempt it while the engines are even just warm!
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Old 02-16-2024, 02:17 PM   #17
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We bought our 78 Grand Banks Classic in 2012. Brought it 1,000 on her hull from Kentucky to lake Pepin MN,(Upper Mississippi River). Single Ford Lehman, no thruster, no problem. LH prop, cable steering, easy to move around. Backs fine. I was a sailor too. Some of the docking threads/problems i read about make me think folks don’t know how to use their motor(s), wind, current & dock lines & thinking before moving when entering departing marinas.

My Grand Banks is a dream under power compared to the 3 coastal cruising sailboats I owned.
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Old 02-20-2024, 09:58 AM   #18
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There is no bow thruster, and do those of you with twin screws feel comfortable docking, with practice, without the thruster?
There are plenty of older trawlers with single engines and no bow thruster. We have a single and lost the thruster for almost an entire season. There are many, many boats out there with twins and no thruster. It's fine, practice.

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Any reason to prefer a single screw over a twin ?
Twins tend to be slightly faster in many cases. They can tend to run at lower RPM. You can get home with a twin down. An engine down on a single requires a tow.

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How did you make the transition from piloting a sailboat with a rudder to piloting the GB 36?
Power boats have rudders as well. Not all of us came from the sailboat world. In fact, I'd dare say most folks here didn't (There are no absolutes, before people start piping in with their sailing CV ).

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Other than decks, windows and tanks, any other areas to pay particular attention to?
Literally everything on a trawler will be the same as a sailboat. The difference is it is lacking in standing rigging & running rigging. The engine is basically the same with more cylinders.
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Old 02-20-2024, 12:52 PM   #19
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We bought our 78 Grand Banks Classic in 2012. Brought it 1,000 on her hull from Kentucky to lake Pepin MN,(Upper Mississippi River). Single Ford Lehman, no thruster, no problem. LH prop, cable steering, easy to move around. Backs fine. I was a sailor too. Some of the docking threads/problems i read about make me think folks donít know how to use their motor(s), wind, current & dock lines & thinking before moving when entering departing marinas.

My Grand Banks is a dream under power compared to the 3 coastal cruising sailboats I owned.
What he said!!!
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