Our take and opinion on Trawler Fest 2017 Bay Bridge

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Jun 9, 2017
This is our take and our opinion on Trawler Fest 2017 Bay Bridge. This was our first Trawler Fest but not our first boat show. We spent all day Thursday at the marina. It was great to see boats in one location, this really helps newbies like ourselves to see the wide range of boats. We were disappointed in the number of boats as compared to sail boat shows we have been to in the past. I suspect this speaks to the smaller demand for these types of boats. It was great to speak with boat owners that were there representing the boat manufactures. All the participants were very helpful in talking with us and showing us the different aspects of their boat. It was great to be able to open lockers, crawl in the engine rooms, check out the shower stalls, kitchen counter, side deck, pilothouses, fly bridges, etc. to see what we really liked and didn’t like. The engine room of the Nordhavn 55 was fantastic. The Helmsman 38 was nice but seemed a bit small for us and only one stateroom, we wish they would have had the 43 at the show. Our pick of the show was the North Pacific 49, a great all around boat we could see ourselves on, but there were many nice boats there. Some boats we were looking forward to seeing didn’t show due to Maria, one was the Nordhavn 46 which we really wanted to see.

We did have quite a few discussions on the direction this type of boats and where the manufactures were going. One topic that always came up, not with the boat manufacture reps, but with the brokers, which was that the sales for new boats is decreasing although some manufactures stated that they were sold out for many years so if we wanted a new boat it would be some time before it was delivered, that there is a lack of newer used boats on the market. Many had various reasons for this but our take on this was costs. We did set down with a few of the reps of the boats we thought would work for us. All of them ended up being close to or over $1M. So for us a new boat is out of our range. We did go to a few of the free seminars and there were many in the same position we are in, seeking out as much information as possible in a short time.

To us it seemed that many boats (sail & motor) are now out of the range for us and I consider us to be in the middle to upper middle class. Compared to RV’s were there are so many great new RV’s (5th wheel/motorhomes) that we could afford but in comparison very few new boats. I know some of you will give me heck for this, but remember this is our opinion and I understand some will say that’s it apples to oranges, but to us it’s a choice between retiring and traveling in an RV or boat for the next 5-10 years, it’s a means to an end.

While there we had set up viewing of several used boats. A Navigator 4800, which ended up having a great engine room, some where between a crawl and standup. We really liked the lay out of this boat being very open between the salon and the pilothouse. Great kitchen counter space and the layout of the staterooms was also great. The next boat was the Bayliner 4788, another great layout but with a very tight engine room, but did have hatches above to get to most everything, didn’t have the center hatch mod. We tried to see a Defever 49 CPMY and a Kadey Krogen 42 but could not get things lined up. We were very grateful to the brokers that showed us the boats.

Overall it was a great experience and well worth the expense. Not sure if we will go to another one but we’ll have to see what boats are expected to be there.

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Mr. mrrr...Welcome aboard. Nice report on TF. Thanks. I hear ya' about the $$ involved BUT your boat is out there. As you'll soon learn, if you don't already know, EVERY boat is a compromise. I suspect the same might be said about RV's but to a lesser extent. Enjoy the chase...

You made some interesting observations about the state of the boating/trawler industry. Yes, any new trawler of 40' or greater will be pushing $1 million and that is beyond the range for most of us.
Diesel class A RVs on the other hand can be had for $100-300k.

But I am not sure if this is anything new. A 1985 Grand Banks 42 probably sold for $300k in its day and with inflation that is about $750k today. The upper middle class couldn't afford to buy new then as well as today.

The only choice for most of us is to buy used, and spend some significant bucks to bring it up to a reasonable level of mechanical/electrical/cosmetic condition and keep spending money to keep it up.

But also think about what that new $100-300K class A RV will look like in 32 years- a piece of junk. No one repowers RVs.

We won't give you heck for saying such things ;)
The better half and I went to at least four Trawlerfests during our search process and though its true there's smaller quantities, it is because its a narrower market. Probably none of your non-boating friends know what a "Trawler" is, but i still think attending multiple TFs is a very small investment for what you experience from it.
Boats, RVs, cars in a way are all the same in that they tend to have a depreciation curve steeper in the beginning, which is why even if you can afford it, it is often financially smarter to buy it used.
As for a boat versus an RV stuck to a concrete ribbon; these are vastly different experiences. To make this kind of decision, you owe it to yourselves (if you haven't already) to actually get out on someone's boat at least for a day or two, preferably more than a sea trial and preferably with an overnight stay.
Best of luck whatever you decide!
I couldn't make it to the Bay Bridge TF this year. The Gov't FY end snuck up on my customers again this year (it seems to every year) and I had to stick close to the computer through midnight Saturday, the 30th.

The Annapolis Powerboat show is next weekend. You may see something you like there. I plan on checking it out.

United States Powerboat Show | Annapolis Boat Shows
Boating is not a hobby for the financially challenged. You have to be able to buy a boat, maintain a boat, store a boat, insure a boat and then operate a boat, all with "disposable income".

With that said, many folks buy older, depreciated boats, do much of their own maintenance, keep their boats on a mooring or cheaper marinas, forego proper insurance and try to minimize their operating expenses.

Some folks even buy or are given a barely floating hull, anchor it somewhere and live on it as hermits.

If you come away from a boat show thinking that boating is too expensive for you, it may be. Some of us enjoy it enough to cut back on other expenses so we can afford our boats. Some of us saved up for many years to get into boating.

The choice is yours.
Yep, we attended that show last year and looked at many boats. My wife has been a bit less interested in the loop as I, but after the show I knew I had her! She said, and I quote, "I think we will need a bigger boat"! We had been considering 36' sundecks, but now we are looking at 40-44' boats - life is good:):)
We went to Baybridge last year, since we did the Newport show a couple of weeks ago, we passed on Baybridge this year.

The only boat we really missed seeing seeing at BB was a 42' Minorca...we saw the smaller version at the Newport show, it's a class A rated , very unique looking trawler type vessel.

The company resurfaced after years ,originally known as Minorquin, and still built in Spain, the boat has some beautiful lines, I don't know much else about it since its year one of production.

The other boat I was excited to see is the Elling E4, it was in Newport and also went to BB....The E 4 is not really a trawler but it his high on our list, not many used to choose from so we might have to go new if we decide on Elling..
Genecop, since you mention Elling i will humbly offer my two cents only because for us, Elling also was in our top contenders during our search so we studied them pretty extensively and have been on a few of them. To be clear, we did not get to be on an Elling under way, that would be fun!
on the PRO side, they certainly have great speed from a single, some have a get-home folding propeller, great bridge clearance, beautiful fit & finish on the interior, and lots of living space as well as claimed ocean rating.
To be fair i'm not trying to talk anyone out of it, just offering our observations. The reasons we ultimately went to a tug design instead of the Elling are more personal preferences for us. The Elling living space is more like a sailboat; down below and therefore to look out at the world from the main saloon, you're looking upwards through fairly narrow horizontal high-set windows.
We also decided we wanted a traditional pilot house with both side doors from the helm and we wanted excellent sight lines from the helm; no side doors on the Elling so you have to step out the back, plus from the helm that bow is pretty far out there and i'm not sure you can see much of your stern either.
Finally as an engineer, it concerned me somewhat that the main engine is housed in a genset-style insulated box not much bigger than the engine. I'm sure the Dutch know how to build a boat but it just seems odd that big engine has to dissipate all its heat in that small box. If you go look at the one at Seattle Yachts, be sure to have him open the engine bay, it seems like the insulation material is deteriorating.
Having said all that the Elling is still a beautiful product and as everyone says, every boat is a tradeoff in various ways.
If you do consider Elling, I'd say you can get them used for a very good and depreciated price.
Good luck in your search!
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