Considering a Prairie

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May 10, 2011
We are knowledgeable cruising sailors who are now looking at trawlers.* For about half the year we live aboard and cruise.* We are looking at a number of mid 30 footers, and one of the boats we've heard about is the Prairie 36, the 29 is a bit too small for our life style.* Any 36 owners out there, what has your experience been?

Having dealt with "Leaky Teaky's," replaced rotten cores, etc., we don't want to do it again.* How is the construction of these vessels, particularly the house, decks, fuel tanks, stringers, etc.? .* *We would definitely use a surveyor, but what should be looking at prior to making an offer? **

While I'd prefer a single, *but it seems these many come equipped with twins.* We'll average about 800 to 1,000 miles in six months, *can anybody tell me what they guess the fuel consumption on twins might be?

Any info or advice will be greatly appreciated, and if anyone knows of a good 36, please PM me.

Thanks for any help.
Howdy Beanie. I haven't been to this area of the forum for awhile. I used to own a P29. I will say that they are built very well. Their stringers are fiberglass(almost a molded hard hollow plastic really) with absolutely no wood. The hull bottom and sides are at least an inch thick if not more....solid as a rock. The fuel tank in my boat was aluminum I think. Water tank was stainless. All systems and wiring were well thought out and very well done. Tidy would be a good word. My boat had the Perkins 4236 at 85hp. I would search for that engine in the 36 with twins. There is NO reason for larger engines as they will do nothing but burn more fuel. You are not gonna plane in these boats. My burn on my boat at 1800RPMs was right at 1gph...maybe a hair more. I would assume you could expect nothing more than 3gph at around 7.5 knots in the 36 with these engines. I would even guess you would burn slightly less but I think 3gph would be a conservative estimate.

The deckhouse on my boat was cored with foam and not balsa or ply wood. ANother plus is the lack of exterior wood. There is the door(s) and maybe a strip across the stern and that is about it.

Overall, they are very well built boats and enjoy a good reputation for that. And whether we are talking about the 29 or the 36, they both offer a lot of space for their size.

Also, dont' forget to include the Atlantic 37 in your searches on yachtworld.
We have done considerable research and have focused on the Prairie 29 as the vessel of choice. The discussion on them by this (and other) groups has been very useful. We have inspected several from 'project boats' to those considered to be top of class. We have noticed a common expenditure and are curious if this is in fact a design flaw. Are there difficulties in reliable functioning of the head? We have seen several receipts in past years showing a $5k bill that dealt with reconfiguring the waste system to eliminate 'back up'. We started to look at another that reports no wast tank yet they have a head. Strange. This suggests this boat may have this same problem and is solving it by using the marina head at the dock and directly dumping when at sea. Any information out there on this subject? We have seen this in 1978 and 1981 models?

We have hull #6, built in 1978. We purchased from the orginial and thus only owner. He had the owners manuel In 1978, when hull #6 was being built the decision on marine heads and holding tanks had not yet been finalized. Consquently,builders were giving buyers the option as to wheter they wanted direct discharge or a holding tank. My seller had chosen direct discharge. In later years they provided a holding tank , located on the stdb side of the engine room. I have seen them in other spots as well.

We solved our issue, we purchased a electra san system and a small bladder holding tank. If someone were to turn the item over to a yard i can understand how they might arrive at a $5 K bill,otherwise I cannot. Back up problem suggest that in fact the system was not properly installed. During the course of our search for a boat, we encountered several different issue , none was related to a back up problem with the marine head. We did not see any indication that there was a common issue with the marine head.

The system we employed is working well and was not a real problem to install. TPO had put in a newer Jabsco head, we purchased the rebuid kit, an electra san sytem and a bladder tank, some hose, y-valve, clamps and for abot 2K had a new totally functing system.



Great information. We were looking at 1978 Hull #8 and saw this again. We are also looking at a 1981 and were surprised to see a direct discharge configuration at that late date. Apparently, by design though. Bladder gives you images of something that could be punctured or ruptured by some aggressive young man at a pump out station. It appears that one would have the room to locate a holding tank for the job in the engine room. Thanks for the insight. We think these are great boats and are seriously reviewing those available on the market.*


We are installing a Natures Head (similar to Airhead) in ours and eliminating discharge altogether.
Our Prairie, Stray Cat, had been updated by a previous owner. The set up is not much different then our previous sailboats (we have had 5) We came from RI where the entire of Narragansett Bay is a no discharge area. Our boat has what I refer to a three way system. Our head is a self-macerating electric head --- no hand pumping. It empties into our holding tank. It can also be discharged directly overboard with the turn of a valve. We can also discharge directly overboard. The tank can be "pumped out" at a dock or discharged overboard through an additional macerator. This setup gives us a choice depending upon where we are located. We never discharge where it is illegal and always try to find a marina to "pump out" while we also fuel up.

Another choice would be an Electrasan. This system turns your head debris, through electrical discharge combined with salt water, into matter that can be discharged into a second small tank. The matter can then be discharged overboard or into a regular holding tank to be pumped out. The electricity removes all microbes etc into matter that cannot contaminate. We chose this system in a 42 Endeavour for the aft head because the "holding" tank was one of those flexeble tanks that can leak, smell Etc. By replacing that tank, we were able to free up more storage space and the smell as well. It served our purpose at that time.
What ever system you choose to do, can be made by any person who is mechanically inclined. If you own a boat, you had better become self sufficient or you will be paying a yard big money ...with no guaranty for the quality of the work involved. I have been boating for twenty years with my husband and I have learned to do whatever needs to be done. Otherwise, we would not be boating.
Thanks for the input StrayCat. We are still searching for that perfect boat. Being the son of an auto body repairman and as a young fella learning to build hot rods, I don't plan on paying too much to any yard. My prevous limited experience with yards has been underwhelming.
I sent you a PM.
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