IN THEIR WORDS
Reed and Judy Whitten had a problem. The retired Cary, N.C., couple heard the call of the cruising life but didn’t have a boat with which to answer. They knew they wanted to travel, but their try at trailer camping hadn’t been so successful.
“We realized then we could see the world from a boat,” says Reed Whitten, 67. “And it didn’t have to be anything real big.”
Whitten had owned a 16-foot one-design and 27-foot cruising sloop, but the couple had been out of boating for 15 years. Was there indeed such a cruising boat — trailerable, moderately priced, set up for two? To find out, Whitten did what most people do nowadays: He called upon the Internet.
“I did a search using the words ‘trailer’ and ‘trawler’ and discovered a whole world of cruising trailer boats,” he says. “I never knew such things existed.”
Whitten and his wife found what they wanted in the Nova Scotia-built Rosborough RF-246 Sedan Cruiser, a trailerable 25-footer that’s been in production for two decades. They bought the 4-year-old boat last year for “significantly less than the $105,000 asking price,” says Whitten, after the original owner died. “I lucked out. It was his second Rosborough, and it was in excellent shape. I didn’t have to set this boat up. It was already done, and by someone who really knew what he was doing.” Among the extras were an epoxy barrier coat on the bottom, an extra overhead hatch in the wheelhouse, and beautifully varnished interior woodwork.
It also came with a pair of 150-hp 4-stroke outboards, which gives the cruiser peppy performance. She rides easily at 27 mph, running at around 4,000 rpm and getting just under 2 mpg. Flat-out, the Rosborough can do more than 35 mph, though she seldom does. “I like to ride around at low speed,” says Whitten. “I’m a sailor, and we’re not in a hurry.” He even runs with one engine at times, averaging around 6 to 8 mph and sipping a gallon of gas every four miles. “These engines are way more than I would have put on, but the setup really does work well for us.”
The layout is simple, functional and takes advantage of every available space, says Whitten. “Bigger inside than it is outside,” is how he puts it. The main cabin is bright and airy, the V-berth roomy for a boat of its size, and there’s lots of storage, which is always important for cruisers. “We like the sedan version, because it has a bigger cabin space,” Whitten says. “And the extended hardtop permits dinghy storage on the roof.”
On the water the Rosborough has proven rock-solid. “I’ve never felt uncomfortable, and I’ve been out when the small-craft warnings were coming, with water breaking over the boat,” says Whitten. “The limiting factor was what I was willing to take, not how the boat was handling. It’s a Nova Scotia lobster boat hull.”
Inveterate campers, the Whittens now enjoy the same kind of adventure but on the water. “We like the outdoors — the solitude, the creeks and streams — and the scenery is sure nice from a boat,” says Whitten. “We trailered up to MobjackBay [in Virginia] and spent a week going to all those creeks, visiting Yorktown and all those places. And we don’t have to stay at a marina either, because we’ve got a generator on board. We can stay out as long as our water holds out.”
Whitten uses the twin-axle trailer recommended by Rosborough Boats to haul the 9,600-pound (fully loaded) boat. “I am at the upper end of my truck’s capacity, but we haven’t had any problems at all,” Whitten says. As far as handling the RF-246 around the launch ramp, once he figured out how to center the boat properly on the trailer, “launching and retrieving have become routine,” he says.
As 2007 opened, the Whittens were planning on heading for Charleston, S.C., with the Rosborough in tow. “If it’s not warm enough there, we’ll put her on the trailer and head for Jacksonville [Fla.],” says Whitten. “If we get tired of that, we’ll head over to Fort Myers, where I know some people. And I’ve got relatives in Texas, too. I might trailer along there. When I look at this boat, I see a lot of possibilities. … I hear the Great Circle is fun.”
The look of the RF-246 is traditional, and her profile shows a tall, slightly angled bow with modest flare, and a graceful sheer leading to a low cockpit with a straight transom. Both the Wheelhouse and Sedan Cruiser versions have an enclosed pilothouse with pilot doors and a three-panel windshield; the sedan’s pilothouse extends a few more feet aft and is finished with a hardtop that covers the cockpit. (A soft top version also is available.) The boat rides an all-fiberglass modified-vee hull, with 100 percent positive flotation borrowed from the beamy Novi-style workboats that fish the region’s turbulent waters. The deck and superstructure are foam-cored.
The basic layout starts with a forward V-berth; the insert can be raised to convert it into a table and seating area. The enclosed head compartment has a marine head, sink and shower. Up in the pilothouse, the steering station, to starboard, is set up with a seat, destroyer wheel and a console for electronics. The dinette is abaft the helm, with its bench seating and table. (This area also converts to a berth.) The galley is laid out along the port bulkhead, with a view out the large side windows. Galley gear can include a refrigerator/freezer and stove top, along with sink and storage.
The interior is off-white and trimmed with teak. The RF-246 is about 11 feet tall on a trailer, and her beam is a legal-limit 8 feet, 6 inches. Recommended power is a pair of outboards, 150 hp maximum each, or a single diesel of about 190 hp.
The Rosborough RF-246 can be found fairly easily on the used-boat market, and prices generally start around $40,000 to $45,000, rising to six figures for the newest boats. Examples we found include a 1995 model for around $40,000 in New Jersey, with rod holders and storage; an electronics package with GPS, depth sounder/fishfinder and compass; and a 350-hp MerCruiser gas inboard. A 1996 model in New Hampshire was listed at $50,000 with a 3-liter MerCruiser inboard (200 hours), propane stove, refrigerator and sink. A well-maintained (new bottom paint, engine maintenance) 2000 vintage RF-246 was selling for $52,500 in South Carolina with a single 115-hp 4-stroke, cockpit shower with hot and cold water, refrigerator/freezer, and two-burner propane stove. A 2005 Florida boat for $105,000, powered by a pair of 150-hp Honda 4-strokes, includes a generator, GPS and new bottom paint.
Nova Scotia-born James Rosborough founded Rosborough Boats near Halifax in the mid-1950s, building wooden fishing vessels for the regional commercial fleet. A generation later, with two sons joining him, Rosborough made the switch from wood to fiberglass construction. Two early models, the RF-18, a cabin workboat, and the larger RF-28 were aimed at the cruising public as well as commercial fishermen. Their success — the RF-18 remained in production for 14 years — established the builder’s reputation for seaworthy, solid boats. Subsequent expansion of the fleet resulted in the largest Rosborough of that time, the RF-35.
Gradually, the builder’s focus came to rest on pleasure boats, and by the 1990s the RF-246 had been developed as a couple’s pocket cruiser. The boat comes in Sedan Cruiser, Custom Wheelhouse and Soft Top versions, and more than 400 have been delivered to date. A third generation of Rosboroughs runs the company today, building 40 to 50 boats a year in two Nova Scotia locations. Rosborough also builds specialized vessels for various Canadian government agencies.
LOA: 25 feet
BEAM: 8 feet, 6 inches
DRAFT: 2 feet
WEIGHT: 5,400 pounds
POWER: single or twin outboards, or single diesel I/O
TANKAGE: 120 gallons fuel,
42 gallons water
BUILDER: Rosborough Boats, Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Phone: (902) 450-3262.