Jason and Colleen Scott built a Tayana 60 together about 20 years ago and sailed it all over the Southern California coastline and down into Mexico. When they weren’t on the water sailing, they were off-roading and camping. When they relocated to the Pacific Northwest about 10 years ago, they decided to try powerboat cruising aboard a diesel-inboard-powered Ranger Tugs 27. “The R27 was the smallest boat that met all of our needs,” Jason says. “We trailered it behind our Toyota Tundra to distant locations from our homeport in Tacoma, Washington, and we liked the fact that we could save time traveling that way rather than by water.”
About two years ago, the couple went searching for a larger boat for their growing family, which now included their children, Jacob and Delaney. Eventually they met Brian Krantz of Inside Passage Yacht Sales in Anacortes, Washington, and ordered a Sargo 36, built in Finland. While they were waiting on delivery of that boat, they saw Krantz’s 2018 Sargo 31. “It was the perfect family cruiser for us, as it approached the largest size we could trailer confidently,” Jason says. “But we didn’t look at the 31 originally because we didn’t like the U-shaped cabin layout with twin side-access doors. Then Brian showed us a (gently used) 31 Aft Door with an improved cabin layout and rear access door. It was a game changer for us.”
Their Toyota Tundra was not suitable for the load and tongue weight of the Sargo 31, so the Scotts bought a Ford F350 Crew Cab with flatbed. They mounted a conventional camper on the centerline, then added multiple storage lockers on both sides for all of their gear. As for the Sargo, it’s interior was kept clutter-free so the family could live aboard when they spent nights in RV campsites. “We added refrigerated storage to extend cruising range,” Jason says. “For clearance under highway bridges, I removed the boat’s arch, temporarily eliminating the radome, and also modified the other antennae to fold down. We added solar panels to keep the batteries topped off, reducing the time it took to run the engine for charging and generating hot water when away from the dock. Adding a watermaker is next on my list.”
Modifications were mandatory to make the boat legal in an RV slip. For instance, Scott relocated the lifting points to clear the pump-out through-hull for a hose connection, and he fitted the gray water with piping, so that both now drained directly to the campgrounds’ septic systems.
The family took to the highway in late 2020 rather than endure a lockdown at home during the Covid-19 pandemic. They left Tacoma and headed south, home-schooling the children as they rolled over the roads.
The first place they launched the Sargo was in San Francisco’s Delta, where they explored the Bay area, with side trips to Lodi and wine country. The next stop was Southern California, where they launched in Newport Beach and cruised to Catalina. They headed east next, to Lake Pleasant just northwest of Phoenix, where they passed a warm December exploring Sedona and the Red Rocks area in the tow vehicle and camper rig.
Six weeks later, the Scotts headed for Galveston, Texas. They arrived two days before an icy Canadian air mass caused massive problems with the state’s electrical grid. For the five days there was no power in the area. The Scotts, however, were self-contained in the Sargo 31, comfy with heat from the diesel-fueled heater. “We also had the camper, with its propane and water supplies,” Jason says.
More recently, the family headed south to Newport, California, then coasted up to the Channel Islands, Oxnard and Santa Barbara.
“We miss cruising in Mexico,” Jason says, “and have been talking about launching down there at San Felipe or Rocky Point to explore the Gulf of California. Fuel availability is a question, but this boat is economical to operate. Once it’s up on plane, fuel consumption is right at 1.8 mpg across a wide band between 20 to 30 knots. We tend to run at about 3000 rpm and at speeds of 25 knots.”
The Sargo 31 Aft Door is a walkaround design with high bulwarks and weather decks all on one level. A hatch in the aft deck sole offers access to the engine compartment and service points. Two sliding doors open on the helm to starboard and on the galley to port. These come in handy when the crew needs to set or retrieve docklines. A third door aft opens from the cabin onto the large rear deck. The boat can sleep four in two compartments below, each with a double berth; two more can sleep in the convertible dinette. The helmsman will appreciate the Sargo’s adjustable steering wheel and sliding seat, which allows an optimized driving position. Visibility is outstanding, as is natural ventilation.
Displ.: 11,244 lbs.
Fuel: 132 gals.
Water: 31 gals.
Power: (1) 400-hp Volvo-Penta diesel
This article was originally published in the April 2022 issue.