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The Next Big Thing

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Trawlers are seakindly, comfortable long-range cruisers. And they’re increasingly the choice of those leaving sailing behind

Trawlers are seakindly, comfortable long-range cruisers. And they’re increasingly the choice of those leaving sailing behind

John and Lisa DeGeorges strolled the docks at the Newport International Boat Show in September, inspecting and comparing trawlers. The couple, who lives in Burlington County, N.J., owns a sailboat and cruises Chesapeake Bay every weekend.

“If we were to move from sailboats, we’d probably get a trawler,” says John DeGeorges, 43, who was visiting the trawler section of the boat show to do some “long-term research.”

The presence of avid sailors on the trawler docks is anything but unusual: Trawlers are increasingly becoming a vessel of choice for baby-boom boaters as they reach retirement age. Their seaworthiness, efficiency, long-range capability, traditional looks and easy pace make them an attractive option for those who don’t want to, or can no longer physically, handle the rigors of sailing.

“It’s a logical progression,” says Don MacEachern, owner of Cape Cod Trawlers, a dealer in Cotuit, Mass.

MacEachern credits the economical, quiet operation of the trawler for its appeal. He says 75 percent of the people buying American Tug and Camano trawlers from his dealership are coming out of sail.

In addition to cruising without having to pull strings, some boaters are choosing trawlers upon retirement to get out of the elements and avoid excessive sun exposure, according to Peter Swanson, communications director for Mirage Manufacturing, which builds the Great Harbour line of trawlers from 37 to 47 feet.

Swanson also gives credit for the surge in trawler sales to advances in navigational electronics (such as chart plotters), real-time weather services and watermakers, which he calls “very liberating” technology.

The new generation of electronic diesel engines, sporting computer-controlled injection systems, propel trawlers with less smoke, smell, noise and weight, only adding to the vessels’ appeal. John Nichols, a manager with American Tug builder Tomco Marine Group of LaConner, Wash., says he has seen wonderful results with the new engines, from the lack of smoke on startup to the safety features of the electronic throttles.

Traditionally, a trawler comprised a displacement hull powered efficiently by a single diesel, with a straightforward, functional interior layout and salty lines. The definition of a trawler, however, has been stretched in recent years to include catamaran trawlers as well as “fast trawlers,” which cruise at semidisplacement and near planing speeds on relatively shallow-draft hulls.

Not everyone is enamored with the evolution.

“There’s not many true trawlers out there,” says Al Smith, vice president of Monk 36 builder North Sea Yachts of Point Pleasant, N.J. “You can’t have a fast boat and have a good sea boat. It’s not going to happen. If you’re going to do cruising, no matter how careful you are, you’re going to get into some slop.”

A sign that the trawler community has come of age was this summer’s first trans-Atlantic rally for power vessels organized by Pacific Asian Enterprises, builder of the Nordhavn fleet of trawlers. Eighteen ocean trawlers from 40 to 90 feet took part in the 3,800-mile Nordhavn Atlantic Rally, which enabled the participants to realize a dream that is logistically out of reach for many. PAE assembled mechanics, medical staff and veteran bluewater cruisers to assist with the crossing. This provided a safety net for the skippers taking part in the rally.

There is no question that the dream of extended cruising — whether crossing oceans, visiting the Bahamas or navigating the Great Circle Route around the Eastern United States — is drawing people to trawlers.

“I can only speak for our boats, but I think people now in the world we live in have a dream and want to see the world,” says Jennifer Stern, a marketing manager with Nordhavn Yachts Northeast in Newport, R.I.

Like “long-term researchers” the DeGeorgeses, Richard and Mae Carlson were at the Newport Boat Show doing their trawler homework. The Bergen County, N.J., Carlsons also happen to be lifelong sailors.

“The legs aren’t as good as they used to be,” says Richard Carlson, who is 61.

The Carlsons, who sail Long Island Sound and Lake Michigan, own a 38-foot Morgan and are looking at trawlers in the 42- to 46-foot range. “Because we’re approaching retirement age, we’d probably use it for cruising Massachusetts and Maine,” says Mae, who wants a boat with more of the comforts of home.

Liveaboard Brooke Williams, 60, of Jamestown, R.I., is a trawler owner — and former sailor — who worked with Mirage Manufacturing to equip his Great Harbour 47 with a touch-screen computer system. He says he and his wife, Dee, 58, wanted to retire and do some coastal cruising, but they didn’t want to have to wait for bridges to open or the wind to blow.

“We have a 12-foot sailboat on board to get our sailing fix,” says Brooke Williams.

Northeast Nordic Tugs dealer Wilde Yacht Sales of Essex, Conn., also has found a good market in former sailors.

“Only two of our customers last year didn’t come from sail — directly from sail,” says Ben Wilde, who owns the dealership. “I’m talking 28 out of 30.”

Wilde says the typical Nordic Tugs buyer is self-sufficient and enjoys extended cruising, often for weeks at a time. “They’re not dock hoppers,” Wilde says. “They’re not just going out to restaurants.”

Sailors, of course, are far from the only people buying trawlers. “We’ve had people that have done the go-fast thing,” says Nordhavn’s Stern.

Larry Polster, vice president of marketing and sales with Kadey-Krogen Yachts, says his company’s customers used to come predominantly from sail. However, he has found interest in trawlers among a younger generation of powerboat owners who like the idea of spending extended periods of time on board.

“An express cruiser was fine for a weekend or maybe even a week,” Polster says.

The competition among builders is a good thing for customers. Symbol Yacht Sales president Peter Vassilopoulos says builders have to keep the level of quality high or they will not survive. “Everybody out there is doing a very good job,” says Vassilopoulos.

Here’s a look at 10 new trawlers from 34 to 45 feet, ranging in price from less than $200,000 to more than $600,000.

Mainship 34

Mainship struck a chord with its fourth-generation 34-foot trawler. Economical to run, easy to maintain and with an attractive price, the new 34 made a big splash upon its introduction this year. The company took about 80 orders at the Miami International Boat Show in February, according to Peter Oullette, a salesman with Mainship dealer DiMillo’s Old Port in Portland, Maine.

“Mainship builds functional, low-maintenance, durable, long-range trawlers that [allow you to] spend more time cruising, less time cleaning,” says Oullette.

The 34 has a single forward stateroom with a centerline queen berth, a molded fiberglass head with a shower, and a midlevel galley. The saloon has a sofa and 15-inch flat-screen television, while a convertible sofa and lounge chairs are optional. A lower helm station also is available as an option.

A variety of engine choices power the mostly hand-laid fiberglass hull, including single and twin diesels. Price with a single 240-hp Yanmar diesel is $187,600.

36 Nova Trawler

Built in Nova Scotia, the semicustom 36 Nova Trawler is based on the Cape Island hull form used for commercial lobstering and longline fishing. The commercial hull’s wide beam (15 feet, 8 inches) allows more room on deck for lobster traps, says Nova president Charlie Arcon, which means fewer trips in and out of harbor.

“The side benefit was a more stable-riding hull, something we feel is important, especially in a pleasure boat — much like the benefit of buying catamarans, wide and stable,” Arcon said in an e-mail interview. “However, we do it in a single hull and can carry a bigger payload, unlike the catamarans.”

The 36 has a solid fiberglass hull. The decks and superstructure are of cored composite construction, and Arcon says the first was built with a raised pilothouse.

“We can build just about anything that makes sense in a 36-foot hull, and probably even more, as we have more beam,” Arcon says. “Our 36 has more room than most 40-footers; our beam is that of most 50- and 60-footers.”

A new 36-foot hull mold was made, replacing the original 36 that had a beam of 14 feet, 6 inches. More than 100 of the original hulls were built, Arcon says.

Selene Archer 36

The Archer 36 from Selene is a coastal trawler suited for trips to Nova Scotia or the Bahamas, according to Capt. John Clayman, general manager of Ted Hood’s Portsmouth (R.I.) Marine. The design is a collective effort of Ted Hood and Howard Chen of Jet-Tern Marine in China, Clayman says.

The 36 has two heads, a forward cabin with aV-berth, and an aft stateroom with an island berth. The saloon and galley up are on deck level and share space with the lower helm station, while the flybridge has a pair of seats at the helm station and an L-shaped lounge with a table. The trawler also incorporates some big-boat features.

“She has an engine room that’s worthy of a 60-footer,” says Clayman, who adds that the boat has more interior volume than some 42-footers. It also has a forward-raked windshield.

Clayman says the Archer 36 is currently sold into next summer.

Selene is coming out with several other new boats, including a 40-foot coastal trawler and a 60-foot Expedition series vessel capable of extreme voyaging to places like Antarctica.

Nordhavn 40/II

The Nordhavn 40 has been reintroduced as Nordhavn’s entry-level passagemaker.

Marketing manager Stern says the two-stateroom base boat won’t have some of the equipment commonly included as standard on its trawlers. Buyers will decide just how much goes into their vessels, although Stern still recommends people outfit their boats with stabilizers, bow thrusters and wing engines.

The redesigned 40, dubbed Mach II, has larger, improved windows in its commercial-inspired raised pilothouse, Stern says. It also contains a number of “little tweakings,” she says, such as granite countertops, teak cabin soles, and better stateroom access.

The 40/II has the same hull design and systems as the Nordhavn 40 that successfully completed a 26,000-mile trip around the world in 2001-’02, according to the company.

Builder Pacific Asian Enterprises also has a completely new boat, the Nordhavn 43. Like the redesigned 40, the 43 incorporates lessons learned during the smaller boat’s voyage around the world.

Mariner 40

Mariner Yachts is expanding both its operation and its line of models. The company plans to add a new boatyard in Fuzhou, China, and new pilothouse and express lines join its existing sedan and double cabin models.

The 40 Orient Sedan debuted earlier this year, and has become one of Mariner’s most popular boats. The building process for this trawler allows for customization and owner input without a hefty price tag, according to the company. The use of AutoCAD design software allows owners to customize the interior, says Stephen Smith, general manager for Mariner distributor Island Yacht Brokers of Chester, Md.

The boat has two cabins forward when configured with the galley up. Though Smith says the company has designed a few boats with the galley down, it has yet to build any in that configuration.

In addition to the customizable interior, Smith says the 40’s quiet operation, construction and price set it apart.

“Dollar-for-dollar, pound-for-pound, you can’t beat the value,” he says.

Camano 41

Camano Marine is applying the spacious, open layout of its Camano 31 to a new 41-footer. The boat will keep the single forward stateroom, and deck-level saloon and galley layout of the smaller boat.

“The advantage of our boat is you’ve got more useable space in the galley and saloon areas,” says Camano president Brad Miller.

The design is meant to replicate the feeling of a house, says Miller, as it will be a long-term residence for many. “We think there’s a lot of flow and useable space the way we’ve got it laid out,” he says.

The 41 is available in raised pilothouse and sedan models. “We’re trying to build, basically, the largest 40-foot boat in the trawler market,” says Miller.

Like the 31, the new boat uses Camano’s KEELFORM hull design, which the builder describes as a combination of displacement- and planing-hull technologies. The 41 adds a bit more size to the equation.

“Obviously, bigger boats are more capable in rougher water,” says Miller. He says he expects owners to cruise farther and stay longer in the bigger boat.

American Tug 41

The first American Tug 41, a pilothouse coastal cruiser built to a Lynn Senour design, was launched in September. The boat has a two-stateroom layout, both to port, with the master stateroom abaft the guest cabin. The boat accommodates six with the saloon’s convertible settee.

The boat should be comfortable for two couples, says Tomco manager Nichols, who adds the 41 also has two heads, and a washer and dryer.

The standard boat is pretty well-equipped, with a short options list. “It’s a turnkey operation,” says Nichols.

Standard equipment includes a bow thruster, generator, air conditioning, Ultraleather upholstery, a battery-charging system, and flat-screen television with DVD player.

The pilothouse has 360-degree visibility, and does well to keep occupants out of the sun when cruising warmer climes, Nichols says.

Beneteau Swift Trawler 42

Beneteau USA recently popped its first Swift Trawler 42 hull from a new mold in Marion, S.C., in an effort to keep up with demand for the semi-

displacement trawler.

“We’ve sold everything we can get out of France,” says Geoffrey McCord, regional sales manager for the U.S. division of the French boatbuilder.

The Swift Trawler rides a balsa and fiberglass laminate hull by design firm Joubert/Nivelt, with a sharp entry with stainless steel cutwater.

The flybridge with upper helm station has space for dinghy storage or a sundeck. The lower helm station is in the saloon, which has a sofa and table to starboard and the galley to port. The saloon has 360-degree visibility.

Below deck, there is a master stateroom with queen-size island berth forward, a guest cabin to starboard, and a head and shower to port.

Beneteau has a long history in both sail- and powerboats, McCord points out, and even has its own furniture factory.

More trawlers are on the way from the sailboat builder. “The future plans are to fill the trawler line out with three more [models],” McCord says. He says the new fast cruiser models should include larger and smaller boats than the 42.

Krogen 44

Kadey-Krogen builds full-displacement trawler yachts, the newest of which is the Krogen 44.

“She is equally comfortable cruising an ocean as cruising inland,” says vice president of marketing and sales Larry Polster.

Full-displacement hulls give Krogens a seakindly motion and excellent range, says Polster. And from a livability standpoint, he says, the full-

displacement design allows for more interior volume than other boats.

Kadey-Krogen has been building trawlers for about 28 years. “We have owners that have owned their boat for over 20 years, the same boat,” says Polster, noting the vessel’s strong resale value. “People love the lines of the very traditional trawler look that we sport.”

The 44 is a new design that incorporates the proven hull shape of the 42-footer that it replaces, Polster says. The new trawler is beamier than its predecessor and has an updated flybridge.

Below deck there is a master stateroom with centerline berth forward and a guest cabin to port. The pilothouse also is larger than the 42’s, according to the company.

A “widebody” model also is available, with greater interior space and without side decks on the port side.

Kadey-Krogen also has a 39-footer at a base price of $425,000.

Symbol 45

The new Symbol 45 Pilothouse Fast Trawler combines a raised pilothouse design with a hull that delivers semidisplacement speeds. The 45 reaches 23 mph when outfitted with optional twin diesel engines, says Symbol president Vassilopoulos.

The added speed increases the daytime cruising range for owners who don’t want to be under way after dark, Vassilopoulos says.

The two-stateroom, two-head trawler incorporates some nice touches, such as bottle and glass storage, a forward seat, teak woodwork with matched grains, mirrored ceilings in the heads, and a bookshelf above the steps to the pilothouse. There are LED courtesy lights on the steps from the staterooms to the galley up and the saloon to the pilothouse.

The 45 also has Velcro ceiling panels for access to wiring, a drainage system that eliminates through-hulls above the waterline, and a rainwater collection system with a 50-gallon tank.

“All these little touches, I think that’s what makes the boat,” says Vassilopoulos.

Below deck, the forward owner’s stateroom has a queen-size island berth and en suite head, and a guest stateroom to port has a raised berth, with a head across the way to starboard. There is plenty of storage in both staterooms.

“I’m big on cabinets and drawers,” says Vassilopoulos.

The owner can flip a light switch and check the engine through a viewing window in the steps up to the galley, which has a raised refrigerator for easy access and a U-shaped counter open to the saloon.