Part of the boat-buying process is rationalizing the financial commitment. Here’s what Bill Ramsden came up with when he was ready to buy his first boat back in 1985. “I wanted to be out on the water and told my wife that the crabs we catch — we lived along the Jersey Shore at the time — would more than pay for the boat,” he says. “Possibly an exaggeration.” (“You think?” quips Mia, his wife of 43 years.)
Since then, the Ramsdens have owned a fleet of small and midsize boats — a 21-foot Reinell cuddy, a 24-foot Sportcraft walkaround, a 28-foot Fiberform Executive and a late-model Bayliner 2859.
Based in Chocowinity, North Carolina, the couple are now enjoying their biggest boat yet, a 1996 Shannon 36 Voyager that has fulfilled their cruising dreams. The twin-engine, two-stateroom cruiser replaced the Bayliner and cost around $100,000.
The Ramsdens bought the Shannon in September 2015 and already have voyaged from their North Carolina home to Florida and back. Plans are in the works for spending next winter in Southern waters, and longer cruises may follow. “Florida and the Chesapeake,” says Ramsden, 69, who is retired from Lucent Technologies. “And possibly up the Hudson River, where we boated when we lived in New Jersey. She fits our needs perfectly, [the] overall design just made for a couple on extended cruises.”
They found the 20-year-old boat in Connecticut. The couple had been searching the Internet and following leads from their broker, Robert Hatala of Eastport Yacht Sales in Annapolis, Maryland. They were looking for a single-engine trawler, but nothing stood out. “We decided to include twin-engine boats in our search, and I came across the Shannon,” says Ramsden.
SPECIFICATIONS LOA: 38 feet, 3 inches BEAM: 13 feet, 3 inches DRAFT: 3 feet WEIGHT: 17,500 pounds POWER: twin diesels 250-300 hp HULL TYPE: modified-vee TANKAGE: 350 gallons fuel, 150 gallons water BUILDER: Shannon Boat Co., Bristol, Rhode Island, (401) 253-2441. shannonyachts.com
It was a name he’d never heard, but others had good things to say about the builder, which is known for its sailboats. “We went to see it, and it only took a few minutes to realize that here was a top-quality boat,” says Ramsden. “I am very hands-on, and I could see it was well-built and that no corners had been cut during construction.” Working with Bill Ramos of Shannon Yachts, they completed the deal. The boat was in top condition, and the selling points were numerous: the layout, the 360-degree visibility from both the lower and flybridge helms, the galley-up, the guest stateroom (used for storage) and the roominess of the flybridge. “We also like the solar panels, which give us flexibility, the twin engines, and the good-sized cockpit and saloon,” Ramsden says.
“Plus, she’s beautiful,” says Mia Ramsden. “There’s wood trim everywhere with an old-fashioned, classic sort of feel.”
The Ramsdens have made a few changes, adding air conditioning and exchanging the original propane stove for a microwave oven and induction cooktop, which will work with shore power. “Although we are keeping the solar panels, I have added a battery charger for increased flexibility and will eventually replace the manual head,” Bill Ramsden says.
Power comes from a pair of 250-hp Cummins diesels, which required a little work. “I had to have two new turbos installed and the oil coolers cleaned,” says Ramsden. “But I knew we would need to make some repairs.”
Speed is not a consideration — the Ramsdens cruise at a leisurely 7 or 8 knots, burning around 3.5 gallons an hour (both engines combined). “I have had it up to 21 knots, but we are quite comfortable at 7 to 8,” says Ramsden. “The factory quotes a 17-knot cruise.”
Lower-station electronics include a Garmin GPSMAP 4210, high-definition radar, Seatalk depth sounder and a Raymarine VHF. The upper station came with a Seatalk sounder, and Ramsden added a Garmin echoMAP 94sv plotter/sonar and an Icom VHF with GPS.
The Shannon showed it’s a good sea boat on its maiden voyage home. The Ramsdens were unable to drive the boat themselves, so they asked two experienced friends to deliver it to North Carolina. “Off the Jersey coast, they ran into 5- to 6-foot seas, and the boat handled great,” says Ramsden.
On the couple’s 1,900-mile Florida run, all went smoothly until they were almost within sight of home. “The worst water we encountered was the Pamlico Sound-Neuse River junction, with its long fetch and shallow water, only about 4 hours from home,” says Ramsden. Again, the Shannon took it on without a problem.
The Voyager has been the kind of “best buy” that makes the used-boat market so attractive, Ramsden says. “After having, in my opinion, middle-grade production boats my entire boating life, I would say to prospective boat owners or those moving up, buy the best-quality boat you can afford, even if it is somewhat older.”
The Shannon Voyager belies its trawler appearance with planing performance, riding a modified-vee hull, cored for light weight and strength. The 17,500-pound boat is capable of a 16- to 18-knot cruising speed and a top end of around 20 knots. A fine entry and flared bow, combined with an ample beam, give the 36-footer a comfortable ride. Wide side decks and a bow pulpit add to the boat’s overall safety.
The Voyager is a semicustom boat that features a two-stateroom layout, with a master suite forward that has an island berth, seating and an adjacent head compartment with vanity, sink and shower. The enclosed guest cabin, amidships to starboard, has a bunk berth. The galley-up is convenient to the saloon and can be equipped with a two-burner stove, oven, refrigerator and other equipment.
The lower helm is to starboard, with a sofa aft and additional saloon seating. The flybridge can seat as many as six and is laid out with a wet bar and cocktail table. The interior features teak cabinetry and a parquet sole. Standard power is a pair of 250- to 300-hp diesels, accessed through a deck hatch.
Shannon Boat Co. was founded in 1975 by designer Walt Schulz. The Bristol, Rhode Island, firm began with the now legendary Shannon 38 sailboat and soon became known for high-quality, semicustom sailboats and cruising power yachts. The Shannon 36 Voyager debuted in 1991, and its cruising comforts and “fast trawler” performance proved popular. The boat enjoyed a 14-year production run.
This article originally appeared in the August 2016 issue.