A sea change. Sort of

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Senior Member
Apr 3, 2020
Vessel Name
Pipe Dream
Vessel Make
Silverton 42C
Good morning, I’ve been looking around a while and wanted to come out of the shadows. For the last 20 something years my wife and I have been in a boat partnership what has worked extremely well right up until our partner wanted out. So, we now find ourselves shopping for a boat. In fact, we’re looking for one that will be much more conducive to our boating style.

Way back in the late 90s, when diesel was 86cents a gallon, we bought a sport fishing boat and I adapted her to cruising. Big anchors, big generator, big battery bank with inverter, water maker and so on. We managed to draw the ire of every boat in each secluded Bahamian anchorage until our neighbors learned that the gennie goes quiet at night, the “sporties” (us) didn’t party and we had plenty of fresh water, ice and fish to share. Ive even taught many a sailboater how to catch fish using fenders for teasers, mast and spinnaker pole for outriggers and the cheapest lures in the water. Great times!

We’re Gonna be part time Cruisers now, spending two to three weeks at a time on our new boat. Unfortunately personal and medical reasons keep us from Selling the dirt altogether. At this point all we need is a boat!

We’re limited to shopping the bottom of the market, considering we’ve lost our partner. But, as chief mechanic, scrub mate, manager and driver, I’m looking forward to the projects!

At this point we’ve started a list of gotta haves, would like to haves, trade offs and a wish list in a thirty something foot trawler.

Gotta haves include a stand up shower, galley up layout, double berth, fly bridge, generator and a/c. I’m also not gonna take on major reconstruction like replacing tanks, rotten decks or engine rebuilds. If those types of things need to be done, the price will have to allow having a professional step in.

Likes include anchor windless, lots of refrigeration, water maker, lots of tankage, dingy, davits, etc.

I’m lookin at eighties era Taiwanese models but know next to nothing about them except what I’ve learned here. (Truth be told, that’s about how much I know about trawlers in general) We will be loosely based in ft lauderdale, cruising the keys, Bahamas and the east coast. Home is in rural Tennessee.

Whew! More than I’ve typed in a long time! Thanks for providing this forum!

You are making some wise choices based on budget and what you want. T.T.s offer a great value but at the bottom of the ladder you will likely find fuel tank and teak deck issues (both leak). I've never seen a T.T. with enough refrigeration though. Mine is a 36 foot, likely you will end up looking closer to 40 feet and all your boxes may be checked.

Another option to the T.T.s is the older Chris Craft Commanders. Built like tanks and very easy on the eyes. Be sure to get diesels as Chris was still putting gassers into some 40 foot boats in the 80's

Welcome Aboard,

Another option to the T.T.s is the older Chris Craft Commanders. Built like tanks and very easy on the eyes. Be sure to get diesels as Chris was still putting gassers into some 40 foot boats in the 80's

I'll agree that the 80s Chris Craft Commanders, Catalinas, etc. are a good pick as far as having a good layout and use of space. The Catalina doesn't have a flybridge, but it has the old-school Chris Craft style single upper helm (on top of the aft cabin rather than the salon, so not quite flybridge height). The slightly odd looking 380 Corinthian is the same hull as the 381 Catalina, but with a small cockpit aft, slightly different interior layout and both a lower helm and flybridge, so that layout might be more your style.

Gas engines were significantly more common than diesels in those boats, although for the most part that's just a fuel burn penalty as most of them were reasonably well powered with the twin big blocks. The Commanders were decently powered in diesel form, the Catalinas not so much. IIRC, the (rare) factory diesels in the Catalinas were only 230hp, so a bit underpowered, but fine if you like going slow to save fuel. Probably 16 - 17 kt planing cruise at best and I wouldn't expect more than 21 kts or so wide open.

With twin big block gassers in an 86 Catalina 381, I figure my fuel burn to be around 5 - 6 gph at 6.5 - 7 kts and around 30 - 32 gph at 17 - 18 kts planing cruise. The boat will do 27+ kts wide open, so there's plenty of power. Unlike a lot of gas boats, they have pretty deep reductions in the transmissions and spin decent size props (22" diameter on my boat), so they don't have the issue some gas boats do of not enough thrust at low speed, leading to lots of throttle work to maneuver. I'd say that 80% or more of my maneuvering around the dock is done with both engines at idle.

They're well built boats, hollow fiberglass stringers, solid hulls, etc. Decks have the same coring concerns as a T.T. but that's the case for most older boats. The hulls aren't quite as good at going slow as some trawlers in terms of handling / tracking, as they have a pretty short keel and fairly small rudders. Low speed handling isn't bad, however. As a result, they get pretty sloppy in a following sea if you get too slow. But keep some power on and pick your speed carefully and they handle following seas pretty nicely. They're fairly low deadrise hulls with a pretty full bow, so they pitch pretty significantly in steep seas at low speed, but they also get up on plane pretty easily and handle very nicely on plane. Keep the bow trimmed down enough and the ride in a head sea is wet, but fairly comfy.

As far as refrigeration, the galley on mine holds a 9.1 cubic foot fridge/freezer (Novakool RFU9000) nicely in the stock fridge spot. You'd have to get a bit creative if you need more than that, however.
Welcome aboard. Good luck in your search. We have had lots of fun looking for boats over the years being on our 23rd boat. There will be a lot of deals to be had in the near future unfortunately.
Welcome! I like your list of 'gotta haves' and 'likes,' but I recommend you move windlass to the 'gotta have' list. I'm still young at heart and reasonably fit, but my windlass was sick for a few hot weekends last year, and pulling in the all-chain rode and capable anchor was not pleasant.

Good luck with your search!

Thanks for the warm welcome and words of wisdom!

Looking back, some "like to haves" are for the initial purchase and will make it to the "projects to do really soon" list if not already installed. These include an anchor windless and an autopilot if not so equipped.

I'm pretty set on diesel engines and my days of going fast in a boat are, ahem, water under the bridge, so to speak. I'd prefer a single screw boat for the efficiency but I'm inclined to have a spare everything if possible, even an engine. Do those who cruise with a single engine trawler typically plan to use a dingy outboard or jury rig the generator for a get home engine?

Thanks for the tips on the motor yachts. Worth a look. And my budget is somewhat flexible but spending too much could definitely interrupt my retirement on occasion.
You really don't want to get into the single vs twin discussion. It has been talked and discussed to death here. But to answer your question regarding a "get home" option.
I have a single engine trawler and carry a dink with a small engine. I doubt if it would be able to tow my boat very far. Probably not at all in bad weather conditions. Which, of course, is when things will go wrong. Not to mention it is a gas outboard and I only carry about 2 gallons of gasoline on board, won't go far with that amount of fuel.

I also carry two kayaks. I guess I look at the Dinghy and kayaks as an "abandon ship" option more than a get home option. (I also carry two bicycles in case I run hard aground I can pedal home)

Being a traditional trawler, it came originally with a ten or fifteen foot mast and a small stabilizing sale. Until I got rid of the mast I can't count the number of times I was asked if I could sail her home in the event of an engine failure.(No)

I would hazard a guess that 95% or more of single engine members don't have any real "get home options" . I would also bet that 95% or better of us carry good Towboat insurance. That's my get home option..

Thanks for the tips on the motor yachts. Worth a look. And my budget is somewhat flexible but spending too much could definitely interrupt my retirement on occasion.
I also like your lists and agree, move the windlass to the must have list. There's so much more to write about as to what boat to consider but knowing what your budget is would be a big help.


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Wondering how many single-engine freightors have auxiliary get-home engines. Betcha they are extremely uncommon.
Another thought - move dinghy and davit to the “must have” list. For the cruising you listed, you undoubtably will need a dink!
I agree that a dingy is a must have. Had a bow mounted davit and chocks on the hatteras. That kept the dink out of the fishing lines but was a chore for one person to launch and recover. Considering some kind of swim platform mount this time.

A get home system isn’t a must have but a tow from the out islands can be a long time coming. I once towed a drifting Charter 55foot cruiser from somewhere southeast of San Salvador to cat island because a tow from Nassau was a day and a half away.

I’m shopping in the under $50,000 market now. If I don’t find something suitable there, I’ll bump it up. Also trying to find something East of the Rockies. (Oops, I posted this last it in the wrong thread)

Thanks all.
The under $50k range will leave you looking at a lot of gas powered boats, I think. They're not worth much, even in good shape, so if you can handle the somewhat higher fuel costs, they can be a good deal. Maintenance on gas engines is typically a bit cheaper and purchase is cheaper, so it takes a good bit of use to burn that difference in fuel.

As far as carrying a dinghy, I've been considering building a DIY version of something like the Jatco Trillogy roll-on davits. It could be done fairly inexpensively to keep the budget down.
Thanks Weebles. Certainly a beautiful boat but may be a bit more than I'm shopping for at this stage.
So close.....

As I write this I’m sitting at a campground about 600 miles from home having just inspected, and rejected, a trawler that I had under contract to purchase. She had all of the boxes checked but unfortunately neglect had taken her just a bit too far from restorable with my skill set.

I’ve learned a lot in the last few months, mostly about what I really need in a boat and how they are priced. A fresh search begins today for my:

Single Diesel engine, 33’ to 44’ ish powerboat with;
Stand up shower
Walk around master bed
Galley up

It will have to have or I’ll have to add;
Air conditioning
Tender with outboard
Bow thruster
Auto pilot
Water maker

I’d like to avoid;
Teak decks
Excessive exterior wood
Deck repairs
Fuel tanks that will need replacement soon
Dog unfriendly deck layouts

Rather than set a budget in stone I’m looking for a good value. In my imagination I see something with an asking price such that I can Purchase, upgrade and repair until I have what I want for something near $70 to $90 thousand. Use it a decade or four then sell it when I’m a hundred for a profit. Not sure what my reality will eventually be but that’s the dream.

Anyone know of such a vessel? For reference I just considered a CHB Senator 35 Sundeck. Aside from the condition, I was a little concerned with engine access and the size of the salon/galley.

What’s the consensus on using a broker? I’m a firm believer in having a representative in real estate deals but the boat inventory is so scattered that it’s not like shopping in a specific location for property.

So I need advice finding a boat and/or a broker. Any help will be greatly appreciated.
Walking away is not a bad thing. I remember we walked away from a very close deal on a Larson 310 some years ago, and we had even paid for a survey. Lots of small issues but we waived them all except one. It came down to fixing the hydraulic lift on one of the outdrives. The outdrive wouldn't go up, the cylinder did nothing, dead. Inoperable. We asked the seller to give us a credit in the amount of the marina's repair. The owner/seller refused, and said instead that he'd have "his guy" fix it. I really didn't mean to be stubborn but the marina estimated $700, not a million bucks, and I preferred an independent marina tech do the repair instead of his anonymous buddy Festus who may have never touched a boat before. But he wouldn't budge and we wouldn't budge either, so we walked away. Months later the broker called back and asked if we'd buy the boat for $10K less than we offered before. By then we bought something else and declined. Taught me a lot, the learning experience was worth the cost of the survey.
Thanks. I did see it. Unfortunately the op posted that it sold last fall. I’m guessing the new owner is having too much fun to consider selling to me.
Sorry, thought it was a current thread!
Thanks Xanadu, good advice. Better to walk away early than to get pot committed. I’m still boatless but having fun seeing North Carolina by motorhome. And the outer banks are opening to visitors this weekend!
Oh it is a current thread. Only now it’s about a GB42!
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