Fast, classic and pocket models make sure that to each, his own.
It’s hard to believe now, but as recently as 50 years ago the trawler was widely seen as a full-displacement commercial fishing boat. Period. Today the trawler concept has achieved such popularity that its definition has been loosened like a belt around a middle-aged girth — and why not?
Many still proudly gravitate to the economical, full-displacement power vessel that Capt. Robert Beebe touted in his groundbreaking book Voyaging Under Power, which introduced the concept of powerboats as comfortable and seaworthy conveyances for mariners who wanted to see the world. Correctly designed, with redundant mechanical systems in place, Beebe argued that a trawler built for passagemaking was as safe as a sailboat and could be a good deal more comfortable. Kadey-Krogen introduced its salty 42 in 1977 and has gone on to offer a dozen models, with 600 boats sold. Nordhavn launched its 46 in 1989, led a game-changing rally of 40s around the world a little more than a decade ago and has varied its builds to include a 56 motorsailer, two semidisplacement Coastal Pilots and a 75 Yachtfish while constantly introducing new full-displacement models. Its largest is now 120 feet.
The first years of trawler growth convinced a lot of yachtsmen that there were alternatives to bluewater sailing that were comfortable and not necessarily shameful. But, the next generation wondered, couldn’t we go a little bit faster in the same style? And so the “fast trawler” was born. Not a trawler in the true sense of the word, it nonetheless offers the creature comforts and rugged build of the original, with a semidisplacement hull that extends cruising range for weekend boaters and offers the security of get-there-faster when the weather takes a turn for the worse. Extra speed demands a higher fuel burn, and the handling characteristics of the lighter semidisplacement hull are different, but fans of the fast trawler love the deal they make.
Pocket trawlers are a third variation of the genre, and some of our pastime’s most dedicated aficionados happily wind up in this category. Many are experienced boaters who have traded down, finding that if they’re not making long passages, a larger full-displacement boat is just much more than they need. They like the simplicity of small craft and the ability to trailer their boat to the next great area of exploration while still enjoying the comforts of a wee home afloat.
As the definition of “trawler” expanded, it’s been tough to keep up with what’s out there. There are sedan and convertible versions that claim membership in the trawler club, as well as hybrids and super-minimalist models that resemble Transformers more than anything Beebe would have recognized. As you tour this small sampler of trawlers, bear in mind that these are but a handful of the boats available — brand new and on the brokerage market — for those seeking seaworthy comfort. If nothing here tickles your fancy, don’t give up; the right version is bound to be out there.
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April 2015 issue