Sandy Williamson and Dan Kirsch call Beverly, Massachusetts, home, but they have barely been there in years. On their Outer Reef 610, they logged 20,000 miles as liveaboards in just under 5 years. They ran from Florida to Maine three times, spent a summer in Nova Scotia and more than a few winters and springs in the Bahamas. They planned to explore the Pacific Northwest, but then COVID-19 hit and they couldn’t make the trip. When they had their first grandchild and decided to spend more time on land, they sold the Outer Reef. However, it wasn’t long before they were boat shopping again, this time for a smaller model, a trawler with a semi-displacement hull. They went searching for their new ride in the Pacific Northwest, a corner of the world that many people consider the birthplace of this type of boat.
The word trawler was derived from the term “fishing trawler,” which is why early designs were utilitarian platforms—stodgy, converted commercial vessels. But as this style of personal yacht evolved, builders worked to satisfy boat owners’ demands for more amenities, particularly those on modern motoryachts. The number of creature comforts increased, but the trawler maintained its dependable offshore performance and long range.
Today’s modern trawlers are based on either displacement hulls, which run at about 9 knots or less and sip fuel, or semi-displacement hulls that can run a little faster but still get around a mile out of a gallon. Williamson and Kirsch wanted the extra speed afforded by a semi-displacement hull. That desire led them to the North Pacific 53 Euro Pilothouse Motoryacht, a larger version of the builder’s 49 Euro Pilothouse introduced in 2021. The couple took delivery in September and christened her Sandana. She’s powered by a single 600-hp diesel engine, which is a change from the twin 500-hp powerplants that pushed their 61-footer, a boat that turned out to be more than they really needed. “We had the 5,000-square-foot house, expecting people to come visit us. No one came,” says Kirsch.
Williamson and Kirsch liked the 53 immediately, in part for the aesthetics. North Pacific designed its Euro series with subtle styling refinements that appeal to those who want contemporary looks in a trawler. “The majority of the company’s boats look traditional with plenty of teak, but we like the 53 for features like the ash accents, Wenge treatments and the galley that’s positioned aft in the main salon,” says Williamson. For Kirsch, a highlight on the 53 is the size of the gathering areas, which he says are large for the boat’s LOA. “Everybody will want to congregate in the galley with the aft doors open to the cockpit,” he says.
“The 53 is a fresh take on the trawler,” says Trevor Brice, president of North Pacific Yachts. “This boat has trawler capabilities and the amenities of a motoryacht. We’ve updated everything,” says Brice.
Sandana runs a top speed of 14 knots, where she has a range of 300 nautical miles. Back off to 10 knots and range jumps to 1,400 nautical miles. At 9 knots, Kirsch says he can still get about 1 mpg as the engine “sips fuel.”
One of the newest trawlers on the water is the Kadey-Krogen 60 Open, a full-displacement model. “Instead of having stairs all over the place, we have a single-level main deck,” says Tucker West, Kadey-Krogen president and CEO. The aft cockpit, salon and galley are all on the same level, although a flight of steps leads to the accommodations because, as West says, guests might be passing back and forth on the main deck, but when you go below, you’re going to bed.
Kadey-Krogen, based in Stuart, Florida, also designed as much space as possible into the accommodations level, where West says the master stateroom “will rival those found on 80-footers.” The amidships master has a king berth and en suite head, while the VIP in the bow has a queen berth and the guest cabin to port has twins. The company also provides more than 8 feet of headroom in the engine compartment.
With twin 200-hp diesel inboards, the 60 has a top speed of 10.3 knots and a range of 714 nautical miles. Slow down to 1,200 rpm and 6.6 knots and the boat will cover 4,005 nautical miles.
Kadey-Krogen works with clients to customize their boats. The buyer of Hull No. 1 of the 60 Open, for example, wanted an office in place of a cabin, so the builder incorporated two desks into the layout—one for him and another for her. “Because of the size of our company, we have a lot more flexibility for custom requests,” says West.
While some other builders are only now coming around to providing yacht-level amenities in trawler-style boats, West says that Kadey-Krogen has been “putting proper interiors into trawlers for ages now.” That focus continues on the 60 Open, where the builder went with brighter LED lights and switched from teak to American cherry to lighten up the interior. “It gives the boat a different feel,” says West. And more emphasis has been placed on window size; even belowdecks, the builder installed opening windows to let in more light and improve ventilation.
On the flybridge, a Stidd helm seat is indicative of the quality components used throughout the boat. Down below in the galley, which West says is sized like a New York City apartment, there are appliances from Subzero and Wolf, to granite countertops.
Contemporary trawlers come in smaller sizes, too. The Helmsman Yachts 43E Pilothouse, for instance, combines the best of a traditional full-displacement trawler with the ease of operation provided by a boat that’s 45 feet in length. “It’s the modern version of the trawler aesthetic,” says Scott Helker, president and cofounder of Helmsman, who calls attention to the boat’s angular, more contemporary look.
Yet even with the updated lines, the company builds its boats with traditional materials like teak and holly decking. Countless hours are spent applying varnish until the brightwork shimmers. Helker says the Helmsman 43E appeals to younger owners, although most of the company’s customers are long-range cruisers who spend weeks aboard at a time.
Helmsman Yachts are built in China to the American Bureau of Shipping rules, which are more stringent than those of the American Boat & Yacht Council or the United States Coast Guard.
Her length makes the boat easy for a couple to operate. The low-profile bridge makes the 43E a good candidate for the Great Loop. With a single 380-hp Cummins QSB diesel, the Helmsman has an estimated top speed of 11.3 knots and an approximate range of 260 nautical miles. Back off to a displacement speed around 6 knots and the range extends to more than 3,020 nautical miles.
The boat was redesigned in 2021 to expand the salon, add more interior seating and increase usable area in the cockpit. A day head on the main deck is rare in this size range. When unexpected overnight guests arrive, the convertible settee in the salon can be enclosed for privacy. Belowdecks are two staterooms.
Northern Marine’s 57 is not a new model, but an updated version of this full-displacement trawler received the People’s Choice Award at this year’s Anacortes Trawlerfest. “We didn’t have a customer for the boat, so we elected to do some things owners have requested over the years,” says Stuart Archer a naval architect and general manager for the company.
Among the updates are large hullside windows, plus vaulted overheads that create more than 9 feet of headroom in the salon. Northern Marine also used an asymmetrical deck design that let it “bump out” the salon. “People like the extra interior space,” says Archer. A passageway to starboard leads to the bow, while the port side has stairs that go to the raised pilothouse and flybridge.
Newer technology also helps make this trawler more reliable and easier to operate, including hydraulic bow and stern thrusters and a vessel monitoring system from Maretron that covers tankage, batteries, climate control and other applications. “We view a trawler as a moving city making its own water, making its own power,” says Archer.
While the updated Northern Marine 57 drew attention in Anacortes, the original continues to float cruising dreams for many people, including Jeff and Kara Wiper.
When Jeff was 15 years old, he crewed for a couple that made extended cruises throughout the Pacific Northwest. “I found it so enjoyable that I kept doing it through college,” he says. He long dreamed of buying his own boat and cruising, but family and work got in the way. Finally, after retiring from a career in general contracting, Jeff and Kara bought a 57 Pilothouse built in 2005. They took Apogee straight to Northern Marine’s headquarters in Anacortes in the fall of 2021 for an extensive refit.
They worked with Teresa Francis of RC Interior Design in Phoenix, Arizona, to give the boat some updates: Heads were upgraded with heated floors, for instance, and all of the soft goods and countertops were replaced. A fiberglass hardtop was added over the bridge and all systems on the boat were upgraded. “If it was critical, we wanted two of everything, including generators, water pumps and charting stations,” says Jeff.
The work was mostly done the following spring. The couple then took the boat up the Inside Passage as far as Juneau and then went across the Gulf of Alaska. They spent seven weeks cruising Prince William Sound.
Modern technologies and increased efficiency allowed the Wipers to go farther than they expected on that shakedown cruise. They covered about 4,000 miles. “The boat is small enough for the two of us to operate,” says Jeff. The Wipers will be off again soon, this time exploring Mexico for about a month. “We’ve never cruised there before,” says Jeff. “This is most likely just the beginning.”
This article was originally published in the November 2022 issue.