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Fast Trawlers

There are many ways to define “fast trawler,” and there are many builders that have taken to using the label. For our purposes, let’s define a fast trawler as a semidisplacement vessel with true trawler origins, capable of climbing over its bow wave and making 16 to 20 knots. Compared to full-displacement boats, they draw less and weigh less but require more power to climb on plane. And engines, priced by horsepower, are the most expensive items on the boat’s bill of materials.

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Compared to full-planing boats, semidisplacement hulls often are more heavily built and have more sweep to the buttocks aft (which creates less drag at hull speed), deeper bows, less deadrise aft and a full keel. At displacement speeds, the semidisplacement boat performs somewhere between full-displacement and full-planing hulls. 

A fast trawler should have some of its slower cousin’s systems quality, reliability and redundancy, given the expectation that it will cruise more hours and miles each year than, say, an express cruiser. What makes fast trawlers attractive to some people? In a word, speed: the ability to get around bad weather or beat it home, to sprint at 16 or 18 knots to meet your friends on time at the next port or to add a little more range to weekend cruising.

Nordic Tug 49

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Nordic Tugs has been building trawlers since 1980 and today offers six models from 26 to 54 feet. The 49 is a raised pilothouse design, offering the skipper a higher perch and, in larger models, the possibility of a full-beam master below. The boat is offered in two- or three-stateroom layouts. The pilothouse has doors, and a flybridge is optional.

“It offers all of the benefits of classic trawlers — elegant design, seaworthiness, spaciousness — while permitting fast cruising speeds when the owner wants to cover more ground,” says East Coast dealer Ben Wilde, of Wilde Yacht Sales in Essex, Connecticut. “I would say that 50 percent of our owners cruise at 8 to 9 knots, but we also have many owners who enjoy cruising at 14-plus knots, and also feel more secure knowing they can do so when needed. It’s really a very nice option to have the choice to select the speed you wish when you need it. It’s great to know one can get to [the] destination in time.”

LOA: 52 feet, 3 inches

BEAM: 16 feet, 1 inch

DRAFT: 4 feet, 2 inches

POWER: 610-hp diesel

DISPLACEMENT: 54,030 pounds

FUEL: 800 gallons SPEED: 17 knots (top)

CONTACT: Nordic Tugs, Burlington, Washington

(360) 757-8847.

Fleming 55

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Fleming offers four models from 55 to 78 feet, and the 55 is the most popular, with more than 230 hulls launched since the company was founded in 1985. The 55 takes its owners just about anywhere, with a 2,000-mile range at 8 knots, and it can be managed by a couple. The builder pays a lot of attention to reducing noise and vibration levels. A full keel provides grounding protection for the twin shafts, and active stabilizers reduce roll. A Portuguese bridge acts as a breakwater against boarding seas over the bow.

There are effectively two saloons: a main saloon aft and another forward in the raised pilothouse. The layout below includes three staterooms and two heads. Topside is a bridge tucked abaft the pilothouse, and there’s room for a davit and dinghy on the aft upper deck. Wide side decks are covered by the upper deck, but the cockpit lets a little sunshine in, with the tender deck stopping just abaft the deckhouse.

LOA: 55 feet, 9 inches

BEAM: 16 feet

DRAFT: 5 feet

POWER: twin 500-hp diesels

DISPLACEMENT: 67,800 pounds

UEL: 1,000 gallons

SPEED: 18 knots (top)

CONTACT: Fleming Yachts, Costa Mesa, California

(949) 645-1024

Grand Banks 47 Heritage EU

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The new 47 Heritage EU rides a modified-vee hull powered by twin diesels, with prop pockets to reduce draft, a shallow grounding keel and 15 degrees of deadrise at the transom to improve course-keeping. Standard power is twin 500-hp diesels.

The wide side decks are completely covered by the full-beam deck above, as is the cockpit, so it’s easy to get around topside. Molded stairs lead to a large flybridge with plentiful seating. The galley is up, opposite the helm, and the interior is crafted with Grand Banks’ signature wood paneling and joinery. The master stateroom is forward, and a second stateroom is to starboard at the foot of the companionway. A second head and room for a washer-dryer are adjacent. Several floor plans are available, including a three-stateroom version and one with an office and pull-out settee.

LOA: 52 feet, 8 inches

BEAM: 15 feet, 9 inches

DRAFT: 3 feet, 10 inches

POWER: twin 715-hp Cummins diesels

DISPLACEMENT: 51,200 pounds

FUEL: 600 gallons

SPEED: 24 knots (top) CONTACT:

Grand Banks Yachts, Seattle

(206) 352-0116.

American Tug 485

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The 485 is the latest and largest model from the Washington builder. The boat is beamy at nearly 16 feet, and the capacious interior has 6 feet, 7 inches of headroom and includes an apartment-size saloon and galley, along with a master stateroom amidships and a forward guest stateroom. The pilothouse is open to the galley for conversation. Other layouts are available — ­for instance, the starboard dinette can be replaced with an extended galley, desk or bar area. A flybridge is optional.

Modest displacement requires modest power, and the flat sections aft mean an easy transition to semiplaning speeds and a low wake. Variable speed Side-Power bow and stern thrusters make light work of docking, and a Seakeeper gyro stabilizer is available. Range is up to 1,700 miles at hull speed, and a deep keel protects the prop and rudder.

“Being able to run at semidisplacement speeds allows our owners to navigate safely past the narrows, rapids and open waters that one finds along the Inside Passage or Great Loop,” sales manager Steve Scruggs notes.

LOA: 49 feet, 9 inches

BEAM: 15 feet, 10 inches

DRAFT: 4 feet, 10 inches

POWER: 550-hp diesel

DISPLACEMENT: 42,480 pounds

FUEL: 640 gallons

SPEED: 18 knots (top)

CONTACT: American Tug, LaConner, Washington

(360) 466-2961.

Nordhavn N59 Coastal Pilot

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Nordhavn is launching its second semidisplacement trawler, a 59-footer. (The N35 Coastal Pilot is no longer produced but is available on the brokerage market.) The builder, Pacific Asian Enterprises, is known for its ruggedly engineered, oceangoing displacement trawlers, with models ranging from 40 to 120 feet.

“Our passion is the ballasted, ocean-crossing displacement trawler, but we’re broadening our appeal to a larger market with a semidisplacement, 20-plus-knot boat, the N59 Coastal Pilot,” says Nordhavn vice president Jim Leishman. “We feel this boat provides a higher level of quality and capability than we’ve seen in this market before.”

The Nordhavn 59 blends traditional and contemporary styling in a rugged boat with a 1,000-plus-mile range at displacement speeds. The design includes upper and lower helm stations (the latter on the same level as, and open to, the saloon), a helm door to weather and all-around helm visibility. Two- and three-stateroom layouts are available, with an apartment-size galley, separate laundry and an aft deck that can be completely enclosed in Isinglass.

LOA: 58 feet, 9 inches

BEAM: 17 feet

DRAFT: 4 feet, 2 inches

DISPLACEMENT: 70,963 pounds

POWER: twin 715-hp Cummins diesels

FUEL: 1,100 gallons

SPEED: 20 knots (top)

CONTACT: Pacific Asian Enterprises, Dana Point, California

(949) 496-4848

See related articles:

- Trawlers for every taste

- Classic Trawlers

- Pocket Trawlers

April 2015 issue