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Old 03-12-2023, 03:27 PM   #1
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Trawler vs Keelboat for liveaboard

Looking for thoughts on this dilemma. Retiring in a year, been on the water all my life. Owned multiple boats. Cruise the Pacific NorthWest. Keep wavering back and forth between a 36-39' sailboat vs 36-42' Trawler (Grand Banks style). Looked at every conceivable pro/con for both. Read through countless forums on this highly debated topic. I'll be on the boat 4-6 months a year.
Help convince me one way or the other.......
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Old 03-12-2023, 03:32 PM   #2
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Welcome aboard. Trawler. Can go straight to your destination. Has more room and light below. Simple.
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Old 03-12-2023, 03:42 PM   #3
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Lived on both, cruised on both.

Sail has some advantages, but only if you actually use it as a sailboat.

As far as comfort, the trawler probably wins hands down unless the sailboat is more motorsailer or big or unusual design and has some of the same comforts.

Sailboats in general are for agile people when moving around when underway so tend to become uncomfortable as one ages.

Been doing both for a long time and I still love both for what they are.
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Old 03-12-2023, 03:43 PM   #4
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Welcome to TF. You've found the right place - large percentage of us are recovering sailors.

First, if you haven't already, you may want to read "Voyaging Under Power," the bible for trawlers. it will give information not just on the design characteristics, but why certain designs are important.

There are some goals where sailboat is absolutely the right choice - Pacific Puddle Jump to Marquesas comes to mind. There are not many powerboats capable of that type of run, and they are damn expensive. But beyond that, choices are more practical or personal.

If your cruising grounds will be the PNW, hard to build a case for a sailboat over a trawler. If your cruising grounds will be the Virgin Islands, a sailboat becomes pretty attractive. But either have been cruised comfortably with the sail/power counterpart.

Personally, I got tired of sitting in a cockpit cold and wet in foulies (San Francisco). I also got tired of putting sail cover on. Trawler is sort of plug and play - got me on the water very quickly. I was hooked.

Good luck -

Peter
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Old 03-12-2023, 04:10 PM   #5
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We were in your position four years ago and bought a 42 foot sailboat in Anacortes. Goofed around in Gulf Islands for a summer then headed south to Mexico. It was the adventure of a lifetime!

However, we just sold the sailboat and bought a 42 foot trawler. Why? Because we realized we weren't going to sail to Polynesia and we liked the comfort of a powerboat. Sit inside no matter the weather and enjoy the view! No more searching for perfect sailing weather. Try being close-hauled for 12 hours in your 60's... it's challenging.

And to be honest, most the sailboats I saw in the PNW and now see in the Sea of Cortez are motoring. Unless you're a seasoned sailor, you'll find the sailing conditions on the Pacific coast are challenging with either too much or not enough wind.

So if you want to see the world... cross oceans... then by all means buy a sailboat. Otherwise do as Comodave suggests and go straight to your destination.
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Old 03-12-2023, 07:42 PM   #6
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Thanks all, some very very great points. Trawler is winning, hands down. Recall that trip from Gibsons to Comox on a big wet southeaster, heeled over, and the autopilot was on the fritz.....in Oct! Not bringing back great memories. But then that trip from Comox to Desolation sound, 12knot wind on the beam, engine off, blue warm skies....bliss! "squirrel" lol
Now time to start to edumacate' myself on full displacement trawlers......
Thank you for the wealth of knowledge and experience you have shared......
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Old 03-12-2023, 07:44 PM   #7
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Was there a year ago, all prepared to buy and "turn left" all the way down the coast to the Sea of Cortez.
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Old 03-13-2023, 07:03 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WestCoastMcgyver View Post
Looking for thoughts on this dilemma. Retiring in a year, been on the water all my life. Owned multiple boats. Cruise the Pacific NorthWest. Keep wavering back and forth between a 36-39' sailboat vs 36-42' Trawler (Grand Banks style). Looked at every conceivable pro/con for both. Read through countless forums on this highly debated topic. I'll be on the boat 4-6 months a year.
Help convince me one way or the other.......

No universal answer...

We spent decades working in buildings with no windows, so don't like living in a cave. Three "stories" as in a GB (or whatever) with flybridge, even better.

Some trawlers are keelboats. Although boats with a shallower draft can be an advantage in some places, depending on your intended cruising grounds.

Some boats that "pleasure trawl" (?) don't look like trawlers at all. (See avatar.)

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Old 03-13-2023, 08:15 AM   #9
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No universal answer...
You know what? I think there is a universal answer. OP asked about liveaboard, not best mode of travel. From a liveaboard perspective, I cannot think of of one thing a typical 40-foot monohull sailboat offers that's an improvement on a typical 40-foot powerboat/trawler. Getting on/off the boat? Trawler. Stow, launch, board a dinghy? Trawler. Protected outdoor space? Trawler. Comfortable bunks? Trawler. Room for solar and power? Trawler. Dedicated stall shower? Trawler. Tankage including water and waste capacity? Trawler. Sure, there are exceptions to all these, but you get the idea.

If you want to add-in open-water conditions, that's where a sailboat starts to shine. But stationary? Not really a close call, at least intellctually. Heart may be solidly with sail - nothing wrong with that. But from a pure objective plus/minus perspective, this one's easy.

Peter
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Old 03-13-2023, 10:35 AM   #10
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I can give you a pretty universal answer, "Buy a trawler".

One proviso though. What is your age? If you are in your late 60's get a trawler, any younger you still may enjoy the extra work involved in owning and cruising on a sailboat.

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Old 03-13-2023, 10:41 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WestCoastMcgyver View Post
Looking for thoughts on this dilemma. Retiring in a year, been on the water all my life. Owned multiple boats. Cruise the Pacific NorthWest. Keep wavering back and forth between a 36-39' sailboat vs 36-42' Trawler (Grand Banks style). Looked at every conceivable pro/con for both. Read through countless forums on this highly debated topic. I'll be on the boat 4-6 months a year.
Help convince me one way or the other.......
I have cruised and lived full time on my 41' sailboat for the last 6.5 years and am now considering changing to a trawler.

The only reason to get a sailboat is because you want to sail! Then even if you want to sail you need to consider where you going to cruise and determine IF you can sail in conditions acceptable to you in those location. Plus the you have to be willing to wait for a sailing weather window verse just a transient weather window.
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Old 03-13-2023, 10:44 AM   #12
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I have cruised and lived full time on my 41' sailboat for the last 6.5 years and am now considering changing to a trawler.

The only reason to get a sailboat is because you want to sail! Then even if you want to sail you need to consider where you going to cruise and determine IF you can sail in conditions acceptable to you in those location. Plus the you have to be willing to wait for a sailing weather window verse just a transient weather window.
Personally, for fun:work ratio, cannot beat dinghy sailboats such as a Laser. Hot setup is a trawler big enough to carry at least one Laser and sail around the anchorage. Truly the best of both worlds, and I have no idea why no one does it.

Peter
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Old 03-13-2023, 11:03 AM   #13
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You know what? I think there is a universal answer. OP asked about liveaboard, not best mode of travel. From a liveaboard perspective, I cannot think of of one thing a typical 40-foot monohull sailboat offers that's an improvement on a typical 40-foot powerboat/trawler. Getting on/off the boat? Trawler. Stow, launch, board a dinghy? Trawler. Protected outdoor space? Trawler. Comfortable bunks? Trawler. Room for solar and power? Trawler. Dedicated stall shower? Trawler. Tankage including water and waste capacity? Trawler. Sure, there are exceptions to all these, but you get the idea.

Heh... that'd be my preference, too (or at least sorta, given our actual boat)...

But I felt necessary to recognize some folks just prefer a sailboat... whether it has any advantages or not.



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Old 03-13-2023, 11:27 AM   #14
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Depending on when we start boat shopping in the PNW I want to take a good look at some under 40' motorsailors. Motor or sail and enclosed pilothouse helm usually in addition to cockpit helm. I understand they aren't the best at sailing and aren't the best at trawling but does solve the problem of independent back up propulsion (get home).
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Old 03-13-2023, 11:28 AM   #15
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Personally, for fun:work ratio, cannot beat dinghy sailboats such as a Laser. Hot setup is a trawler big enough to carry at least one Laser and sail around the anchorage. Truly the best of both worlds, and I have no idea why no one does it.

Peter
Yes!

Or if your space constrained something like a PT-11 nesting dinghy would be ideal - rows like a dream as well so if you're just a couple you can use as your only/primary tender as well. Vastly more enjoyable to sail than an overloaded liveaboard S/V. My retirement vision has me pooting around anchorages in that thing.

We switched from S/V to M/V four years ago as our family outgrew our First 405 (which was a fantastic sailing boat). I miss the sailing, but the reality was that for coastal cruising in SoCal, we just couldn't make enough progress under sail & motored whenever we had a destination. Might have been different if we were based in LA or Santa Barbara where you can get to the islands on a beam reach in an afternoon.

If we ever upgrade it'll likely be to a lightweight ~50' sailing catamaran, which has a *lot* of advantages over our current setup for our use case but is also ~5x the capex.
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Old 03-13-2023, 11:37 AM   #16
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And while I like all kinds of sailing, had my fill of small sail, love that feelin' of "We got eighty feet of the waterline.... Nicely making way".

The sound (or nearly lack of) and the surge of wind power is what pulls me back....

My main problem is I can't afford anything with an 80 foot waterline....
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Old 03-13-2023, 12:16 PM   #17
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I'll add my voice (and experience) to the chorus. I have a 45' sailboat that I kept in the PNW for 4 seasons, living onboard for a few months each summer season. Then I sailed it home to California and bought a trawler for the PNW (first powerboat I've ever owned). Up there, they call sailboats "trawlers with masts" for a reason: the sailing conditions are typically poor, and it rains a lot. If you are just living on it at the dock, a trawler is more comfortable, a houseboat would be better still.

If you are cruising the area, you will find the wind very undependable, usually light, blowing either up or down the channel you are traveling. Neither is good, light headwind means VMG is poor, light downwind is very slow (AWS very low). Add to that that there are strong currents, passes that must be hit on the clock at the slack, and lumber in the water making travel after dark hazardous. I sailed every minute it was possible, which turned out to be about 5% of the time.

Buy the trawler.
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Old 03-13-2023, 02:48 PM   #18
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Here is my take on the subject. Smaller sailboat start off cheaper than smaller powerboats with the same livability space. Some were around the 40’ range sailboat and powerboats with the same livability space cost the same. Larger than 40’ and the sailboat becomes more expensive than powerboats for the same amount of livability space.

So the answer is very different if you are looking at 34’ of sailboat vs looking at 45’ of sailboat.

In most cases it would take about 55’ of sailboat to provide the comforts of a 40’ powerboat.
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Old 03-13-2023, 03:19 PM   #19
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Came to a trawler forum to ask if you should get a trawler or a sailboat? Have you asked the same question in a sailboat forum? Otherwise your sampling pool may be a bit skewed.
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Old 03-13-2023, 03:39 PM   #20
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Came to a trawler forum to ask if you should get a trawler or a sailboat? Have you asked the same question in a sailboat forum? Otherwise your sampling pool may be a bit skewed.
Ah yes......except a sizeable percentage of trawler owners own or have owned sailboats. The inverse is not true.

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