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The owners chime in

"Quality, dependability and comfort are important, and support from the builder, as well as from the broker where the boat is initially purchased. Wilde Yachts in Essex [Conn.] has been extraordinary from day one. ... We just loved the design and look of the Ranger Tug. It packed a lot into a very small space, yet we can still overnight on it.

Brand, dependability, liveability and seaworthiness are among the characteristics our panel of owners value in a trawler (Nordic Tug 42 shown.)

It has everything we need while we learn how to cruise. It's a very safe, sturdy boat. We could not find anything small that has a reliable diesel inboard, and that was a huge factor for me. ... Ultimately, our goal is to purchase and live aboard a 39 foot Nordic Tug."

- Vickie Sylvia


Ranger Tug 21

"It is fun to think about having a large boat, but large boats have less access to shallow waters, which might eliminate some interesting ports of call. When I think of steel boats, they seem to have some nice features, but then one has some more maintenance. When I consider faster boats, I realize I don't enjoy being places nearly as much as I enjoy the trip time under way."

- Tom Hollinger


Nordic Tug 42

"My wife fell in love with this boat when we found it and has enjoyed making it our home with her personal touches. She named it as well, and we are totally enjoying the full-time cruising life together. ... She is the captain, does the navigation and driving. I take care of the engineering duties and maintain all the on-board systems."

- Bob Kovach


Marine Trader 50

"Brand is one of the most important elements because buying what the market considers a good brand is usually step one on the path to getting a good trawler yacht - and buying a lesser or no-name trawler often leads to disappointment. Personally, I'd go for a trawler from a builder that's been around and has been building trawler yachts for a long time - at least 10 years."

- Milt Baker


Nordhavn 47

"Personal comfort level is the range of differences between camping in a tent and staying in a Class A motor home. Ergonomics is also essential. The buyers must face the reality of their physical constraints as they age. Some boats are a gymnastic challenge to get on and off at different dock configurations or move around to handle lines. ... They need to be able to dock and undock solo, without dockside assistance. Aesthetics plays a part but should not dictate folks' choice of a trawler. Pragmatism ultimately generates a much greater and enduring owner satisfaction."

- Joe Pica

Carolyn Ann

Great Harbour N37

"There is one thing that I'd do differently in choosing a new boat in the future. And it's a bit odd, but I think it's a really important thing. What I'd want is to be allowed to wash the boat, just boat soap and water and sponges. I'd want to know how hard it is, how long it takes and have the opportunity to get down and next to all of the outside finish of the boat. The other thing we'd want is for the engine manufacturer of the boat to provide a variety of classes on the engine. And some of the classes should be appropriate for women."

Jeff Siegel

- Jeff Siegel


DeFever 53

"In our seven years of cruising we have stayed at marinas less than 10 times. That is why a good/great ground tackle system is so important to us if you want to sleep at night. From a maintenance standpoint, simpler is better (and hence the Lehman 120s). In purchasing a trawler we'd never buy new. ... Get one that has been cruised and not spent its life as a piece of 'yard art' at someone's dock."

- Jim Potochick


Ocean Alexander 40

"We looked at a large number of trawlers, old and new, before we settled on our Ocean Alexander. Even went through a survey and subsequent rejection of an Independence Cherubini. We rejected most of the used/older boats because they were neglected beyond a point we were interested in rehabbing - mechanically, structurally and aesthetically. We drooled at many of the new boats but could not afford them. Looking at these new trawlers helped us develop our thinking about a used boat."

- Bob Schotman


Ocean Alexander 42

"Since we came from express cruiser-type boats, it was important that we got out of the hole and into a raised saloon. We needed fast with good efficiency (8 or 28 knots). Not being fully retired, we need shorter travel times. Also, good quality, current technology and value for future resale. We will move up in size and plan to live aboard in the future."

Dann Cummings

- Dann Cummings

Aqua Gem

Island Pilot 395

"If money were no object ... oooh, temptation. No need for a megayacht for us, but we both agree a brand-new Grand Banks 41 Heritage EU would be perfect. It has the flybridge sedan style, with covered walkaround side decks, huge cockpit and upper deck, and a spacious, quality interior. This yacht has the classic style we love so much, but it's brand new. I'm leery of pod drives and such, however. Too many things can go awry when the water gets thin. If money were no object, we might have to custom-order one without them."

- Gary Whiting

Southern Spirit II

Orient Sedan Trawler 34

"My wife has overall say about the living areas, and I have overall say about the power and navigation systems. She's the chief upstairs, and I'm the chief below. ... She wanted a pilothouse, while I was perfectly happy with a helm as part of the saloon. We got the pilothouse. Neither of us wanted a flying bridge - been there, done that. No flying bridge."

- Les Rothman

Autumn Saga

Nordic Tug 37

"We are firm believers in simplicity - less to buy, less to maintain or fix, cheaper, less to go wrong, all of which means that you can get trawlering faster and cheaper. Just because a boat can have many batteries doesn't mean it has to. No reason that someone cannot trawler in the same manner as some sail - inexpensively."

- Rudy Sechez

Briney Bug

34-foot owner-built wooden troller

See related articles:

- Comfort Zone

- The elements of a good trawler

This article originally appeared in the May 2011 issue.