There are a lot of questions to ask and answer when buying a used boat, especially an older one whose builder might be relegated to the pages of boating history. What’s the builder’s reputation? How many of its boats are still around? Does a certain model have design flaws or equipment problems? Can you still get parts? Who can do the repairs?
Wayne Burstein asked all of those questions and more as he and Lisa O’Hara looked to replace their Chaparral 2500 SX Sport. “We made many boating and camping friends with that boat,” says Burstein, 63, from Oakton, Virginia. “As my children were moving on to college, Lisa and I were looking to do some longer-distance cruising, and a bigger boat made sense.”
LOA: 36’0” Beam: 13’0” Draft: 2’11” Displ. (approx.): 16,000 lbs. Fuel: 250 gals. Water: 80 gals. Power: (2) 660-hp gas or diesel
The couple didn’t want to invest in a new or barely used boat, so they focused on older boats, settling on the convertible as the right type. “We liked the accommodations, the large open salon with lots of windows and good sightlines,” Burstein says. “With the Chesapeake having many shallow areas, we were interested in a boat that didn’t draw too much. And a boat with limited deadrise and hard chines would be stable at anchor.”
In 2014, they found a Trojan F-36 Convertible. It was a twin-stateroom, twin-helm model built in 1975 but in “fantastic condition,” as Burstein describes it. The price was around $20,000. “The previous owner had the boat for some 30 years, and his pride of ownership showed through,” Burstein says. “When Lisa said she liked it, I knew this was the boat for us.”
Despite the boat’s age, it was an easy buy. Burstein had checked out the builder and model through the Trojan owners’ online forum. “I was able to contact owners and pick their brains on Trojans, and the F boats in particular,” he says. One owner turned out to have credentials with the Society of Accredited Marine Surveyors, and he surveyed the boat before the couple bought it.
The 36-footer came with a pair of Chrysler 440 gas engines, rated around 330 hp each. While the F-36’s top speed is somewhere in the 25-knot range, the couple
prefers to run mostly at trawler speeds. “We cruise at 7 knots to conserve fuel and enjoy the scenery,” Burstein says. Fuel use is about 4 or 5 gallons per hour at that speed, though the boat “will cruise happily at 15 to 18 knots,” he adds.
The Trojan F-36, with its cockpit, open salon and flybridge, is well suited to the kind of boating the couple enjoys in and around Rock Hall, Oxford and Solomons Island in Maryland. “We’re mostly out with our family and relatives, along with our dogs,” Burstein says. “We go to St. Michaels more than any other destination. It’s one of the closer places to visit, has nice marinas and restaurants and shopping that my daughters like. We’re members of the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum and like to visit.”
One moment stands out. “It was a family vacation,” Burstein recalls. “We met friends in Rock Hall for fireworks. Both daughters’ boyfriends joined us for a couple of days. It was really a nice time with our family, and we enjoyed just hanging out together. We have had six people sleeping on the boat, as well as five people and three dogs. The boat offers a truly versatile layout.”
How’s it been, though, owning and keeping up a 44-year-old boat? If you can find a place such as Beacon Marine Supply of Easton, Pennsylvania, it’s not that hard, Burstein says. The company specializes in Trojan boats, dispensing advice and spare parts, company history and a few sea stories too. “Having support for an older boat is critical to me,” Burstein says. “I do a lot of the improvement projects by myself, and the Trojan community is very helpful.”
Future projects on Burstein’s list include converting to hydraulic steering and adding an engine interface and an autopilot. Future cruises include venturing beyond the Chesapeake’s waters. “We plan on doing the Great Loop and visiting the Bahamas in this boat,” he says. “It’s the right boat at the right time.”
The Trojan F-36 Convertible was one of three F-36 models (including a Sport Fisherman and a Tri Cabin) the U.S. builder offered beginning in the 1970s. The early layout had a V-berth and a hanging locker forward with a seat locker and a full-length mirror. Most boats had a dinette to starboard that converted to a double berth, though some early boats had a stateroom with twin bunks.
This article originally appeared in the January 2020 issue.