Opinions Please --Great Harbor Trawlers

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Oct 19, 2009
First, I can't tell you how much I appreciate all the great information the knowledgeable folks on this forum share.*
My wife and I are still working looking for a safe, comfortable coastal trawler class boat in the mid $200K range.* We would be based in Annapolis, but head south toward Florida, the keys, the Carribean and even as far as Belieze.* We'd spend two or three months a year living aboard each year.
We've narrowed the search to a well cared-for Grand Banks 42 classic --they seem to be available in our price range in the 1990 vintage era.* We had looked at Nordic Tugs, too but felt the only version that worked for us was the fly bridge model.* Problem there was only the newer ones came with fly bridges, and they're outside our price range.* Then we recently came across these...


The link goes to Great Harbour trawlers, and we were surprised at the interior space of the 37, with a profile that seems low enough to avoid becoming a big sail at times.**With 3-foot draft it might be more practical in the keys.**It feels bigger and more comfortable on the inside that the GB 42, and we like the pilot house.* And, finally, they're in our price range.
The manufacturer says they're built precisely for the kind of cruising we'd like to do, but it would be great to have some of your thoughts on how well they'll handle the conditions we would see in terms of comfort, safety and general handling.

Bill and Elizabeth
We have good friends that own a Great Harbor and we have spent some time aboard as well as doing work and installations on the boat. Theirs is currently for sale, by the way. Here are the issues both I and they have had with the boat. She sails at anchor terribly, to the point that they were ask to leave the anchorage at Boot Key Harbor at one point. The boat has tons of windage so without thrusters is a bear to dock in any wind and the deck layouts are not friendly to short hand docking. The round bottom and shoal draft makes it extremely uncomfortable in any seas unless the boat has stabilizers and even then it can be unpleasant. They are not designed for serious offshore use so I would rule out Belize unless you wanted to sit in many ports and wait for a perfect weather window, something that seldom comes. The manufacturer seems to under power the boats for some reason making them a very slow ride even compared to trawler standards. They are fabulous live-aboards for dockside accommodations and great for inland cruising on protected waterways. The quality of construction seems to be quite good and there is a very active owners group. Keep in mind these are my opinions from first hand experience and the second hand reports from our friends to us. Others may have differing opinions. BTW, ambitious cruising plans such as trips to Mexico, Belize, etc., which we have done, does not lend well to cruising a few months out of the years. For instance, the trip from the Chesapeake to South Florida can take two or three months easily. Chuck

-- Edited by Capn Chuck on Sunday 3rd of January 2010 12:34:58 PM
For all repliers, it is important to differentiate between the Great Harbour (Mirage) N37 (navigator)* and the GH37 (great harbour). Bill referenced an N37 in his post. The N37 is a flush deck trawler with a pilot house whereas the GH37 looks something like a Florida Bay Coaster. I've attached pics of both the*N37 and GH37.

I would*very much*agree regarding the windage of the GH37 that the previous poster talked about. I have also heard that same issue from several owners of the GH37. Even though the GH37 is more plush with more space,*handling in weather is one of the main reasons we are not going that route.

The N37 has much less windage and is easier to handle in the wind. We chartered*an N37*in the Abacos in 30+ kt winds and moored on a ball the whole time. We were suprised that the ride was*so good*in the Sea of Abaco considering the decent chop and waves, and we were able to handle the boat (manuvering, anchoring, etc.)*relatively well (and this was the first time we had handled a boat this large in these conditions).

The N37 definately has better seakeeping ability than the GH37. We have spoken with a number of N37 owners who also echoed this sentiment. We live in Green Bay, WI and the conditions of the bay are similar to those in the sea of Abaco (minus the temperature) or the Chesapeake. So, ride in chop is important to us.

There was PLENTY of space on the N37 for a cruising couple. It has a walk-in*"bosun's locker" storage area*and walk-in engine room which is hard to find on other boats of this size. The boat is powered sufficiently (twin 54HP Yanmars) for 8 kts cruising speed. The full galley with the full size GE refrigerator is almost too much - certainly COMFORTABLE if you are into that (which, yes, we are). Yes, power use is of issue, but Mirage has done a great job in handling that. We purposely used power and water without concern while on the mooring ball for a week and had no problems. We could have went without adding more water for another two weeks. Tankage (fuel, water, waste) is great. We could have lived on it full time with no concerns.

There aren't many N37's for sale right now (maybe 2 - 3 on Yachtworld), and those are in the $300K range and two are former charter boats. We've been watching. Also, there are only 55 or so*total hulls (N's and GH's or all sizes) built, so they do not come on the market in great quantities and tend to hold their value.*As such, you might have a problem finding one in the price range you are looking at. There are more GH's on the market than N's.

As an engineer and a boater with a lot of time and a limited budget, I have looked and researched, and looked and*researched again. There are a lot of great boats out there. For the money and OUR NEEDS, I keep coming back to this boat. The quality or construction can't be beat and it is also built completly in the USA (Gainesville, FL), which IMHO is pretty important in this day and age.

I would recommend a visit to the plant to see the quality of construction and meet the builder and more importantly I recommend a charter of one either in the Abacos or on the St Johns river. That will help you answer all your questions. Also, talk to folks who own them. Contact the GHTA and I'm sure you'll get all kinds of folks who will give you their true thoughts. We did this and it helped us with our decision. We do not own one now but are planning to purchase once in the coming year or so once we do a little house downsizing.

Good luck!


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Somebody mentioned stabilizers up above. GH/N37 has too shallow of a draft to employ stabilizers. I met a guy as he was complaining of his ride in his GH37 and I asked him about stabilizers and he said they cannot be installed due to the draft.
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