|What should you buy? Should you buy New or Used ???
"The Trawler" is one of the most popular vessels cruising the Loop.
. . And for many great reasons:
1. They offer the most comfortable live aboard space than any other
vessel of comparable size. They also have an enclosed helm station
which is a wonderful advantage when it comes to inclement weather and
bugs. The upper helm station is great to have, but it requires lots of
climbing stairs for both the Captain and 1st Mate.
Caution should be taken when it comes to choosing a Trawler. There
are "fast" trawlers, and there are "slow" trawlers. Fast trawlers are
not really "true" trawlers and normally a 50% increase in speed
results in a 250% increase in fuel.
So what does that mean to you? It can mean the difference in
cruising at 8 knots burning near $10,000 in fuel to cruise the Loop, or
cruising at 12 knots burning near $25,000 in fuel.
Problem with "Fast" Trawlers is where additional speed is available,
most of us will use it.
"The Sailboat" is also very popular for cruising the Loop and in fact
the very most economical long distance vessel on the water. Fact is,
because of their 'full displacement' hull design, even if you lower or
take off the mast(s), and "motor" around the entire Great Loop, a
sailboat will get you around the Loop on half the fuel of any other
vessel on the water.
I cruise the Loop in a 36 foot sailboat with no mast. My fuel cost for
my last two trips averaging 6,300 miles each, has cost me less than
$4,000 in fuel each trip.
Now having said that, let me add. . . It is important for me to have
the absolute minimal fuel cost because I am cruising full time, all the
time. I am also a "solo" sailor. So this vessel is plenty comfortable and
If however, I was only going to cruise the Great Loop once or twice -
I would be cruising it in a "True" or Slow Trawler - simply because of
the more comfortable and easily accessible space.
Just looking at the picture. . . Who would not want one of these? It is easy to see why the Trawler is one of the most popular "Great Loop" vessels
on the market, or shall we say "on the water". You have an upper and lower helm, a fly bridge with an upper deck, a large Bimini top for shade, a dinghy
with a small outboard motor, a nice rear deck, and nice large windows around the cabin area.
Your important decisions to make when choosing a Trawler is 1. Type - being a "true" trawler of "fast" trawler. 2. Draft or depth under the water
3. Height above the water. For cruising the Loop your height cannot be more than 19' 1" above the water, your draft (or depth in the water) should not
exceed 5', and since this is an average 6,000 mile journey; and your main propulsion engine(s) will run about 750 to 950 hours - if you are at all "budget
conscious", a 3 gallon per hour and under fuel burn rate will require a "true" or slow Trawler or Sailboat or a full displacement hull vessel. Otherwise, (in a
Fast Trawler or Cabin Cruiser or semi displacement vessel) you can expect to spend a minimum of $15,000 (probably more) in fuel alone.
For cruising the Loop your fuel & boat related costs can easily become the single biggest expense of your entire journey - and that's not a good thing for
most of us. Most of us will want to spend a lot more for 'fun' than for fuel.
Here's the scoop (based on personal experience): My son and I recently took his (new to him) 36' true single engine full displacement hull trawler around
the Loop. We covered slightly over 6,100 miles cruising the Loop. Our main engine hours totalled 930 and our total fuel cost was $7,176. Our average speed
was kept under 8 knots. We spent $7,176 in fuel plus $5,024 in miscellaneous boat related expenses including Marina stays and Canal fees for a total
"transportation & lodging" expense in the amount of $12,200.00. Which comes to pennies shy of $35.00 a day. Friends - you can't stay in a Motel 6 at that
price, and you sure can't cruise a day in an RV for that amount.
A 36' Trawler (in my opinion) is a very comfortable size vessel for a cruising couple. Pleasure boat designed "Tug Boats" such as a Ranger Tug also fit
into this category. Only a sailboat (even motored around) will be more economical than a true full displacement hull Trawler.
Now, before I say more, let me make perfectly clear, I'm not suggesting anyone do as I do. Please understand
that "for me" fuel economy is a must. That's because I am doing this full time year after year. My boat is seldom at rest
except on weekends and when I am on vacation away from my boat. So what is most important to me, may in fact not be
important to you at all.
We each have our own lifestyle, comfort zone, boating philosophy and pocket book. Yours will certainly be different
My boating philosophy is "more fun than fuel". If you do not have a boating philosophy, you will have one by the time
you complete your voyage around the Great Loop. My boating philosophy is the result of my first two voyages around the
Loop. My second voyage in a "Fast" Trawler cost me so much in fuel I couldn't have fun and that's the entire purpose of
by "more fun than fuel" boating philosophy.
I'm not here to tell you what to do, only to give you ALL your options so that you can make the best decision based
on "your" lifestyle, comfort zone, philosophy and pocket book.
|For those that want to go farther -
#1 most economical.
|Most space & comfort for their size -
2nd most economical.
|© 2013 - Find your Anchor - All Rights Reserved
|If you don't yet know where in life you are going.
At least be sure you go far.
- Capt John
|Anchored out for the evening. . .
The above picture is actually an excellent example of the boats you will find cruising the Great Loop.
The average size "Looper Boat" for couples is typically between 32 and 42 feet, while you will find a few both smaller and larger.
As you can see, both Trawlers and Sailboats are the most popular vessels.
Let me make it perfectly clear: I'm not here to sell you a boat of any size, kind or shape. I've cruised the Great Loop eight times in six
different boats (both sail & power), and ALL of them have their good, bad and uglies. A "long distance, long term, live aboard boat" is in fact
much like a pair of shoes. Your quest is to find one that perfectly fits your lifestyle, comfort zone, boating philosophy, and pocketbook. Every
boater has their own favorite. You choice of boat should not be one foot smaller than comfort requires or one foot bigger than your safety
The MOST IMPORTANT thing to remember is: THE MOMENT YOU SELECT YOUR BOAT - IS THE MOMENT YOU
SELECT YOUR ONGOING COST OF CRUISING AND BOAT OWNERSHIP.
|For those that feel the need for speed:
A "Fast or Swift" Trawler might be for you. There is lots to be said about the advantages (and disadvantages) of having twin
engines. Beyond doubt they are much easier to handle and maneuver, especially in the tight confines of a Marina and for docking. The
disadvantages of two engines are twice the maintenance and twice the complications and trouble. They also burn twice the fuel.
While some owners of these "Fast or Swift" Trawlers will argue they do not burn twice the fuel when cruising at the same speed of a true or
slow Trawler - true or false - the argument itself simply doesn't hold water. Why? Because the only reason to buy one is "more speed" and
based on my experience, when you have more speed available, (especially when you feel you are cruising at the pace of a snail), you will use
it! It makes no sense to spend the extra money for twin engines if your plan is cruising long distance at a slow enough speed to save fuel.
Furthermore, these "Fast and Swift" Trawlers are factually not that much faster - unless of course you really want to burn up an awful lot
of fuel. The true or "Slow" full displacement hull will cruise about 8 knots and simply will not go faster. The "Fast" semi displacement hull
Trawler has a cruise speed of about 10 knots burning 7 gallons an hour and at 15 knots burns 14 gallons an hour, and some will go to 25
knots plus and burn 40 or more gallons an hour. So you need to think about that!
When cruising America's Great Loop "speed" is really not important. In fact it can be very unsafe. Additionally, this is one place
where the Hare & the Tortoise end up docked in the same Marina or anchored in the same paradise cove in the evenings. Why? Because
this is a voyage best taken slow and where speed is also limited.
In addition to speed limits along most of the Intracoastal, Canals, and Rivers, we also have wait times at Locks and Lift Bridges. Those that
speed by you at 10:15 in the morning (for example) are generally waiting for the Lift Bridge to open at 11:00 which will be about the time 'the
slow boats' arrive. This process is repeated in some areas several times a day. The Lift Bridge opens, the fast boats take off, and they are
waiting again when you arrive at the next Bridge for the Bridge's scheduled opening.
The other thing to consider is the location and distances between Marinas and safe anchorages. Since it is never safe to cruise after dark,
everyone plans ahead for their most desired or convenient stops for the night. Most often, you can make 40 to 60 miles during daylight to the
next safe anchorage or Marina, but you can't make 80 or 120 miles during daylight to the anchorage or Marina after that. As a result, come
sundown, again, we find the Hare & the Tortoise in the same Marina or Anchorage.
For the exception of the Great Lakes, this is pretty much the way it is when cruising America's Great Loop. Furthermore, for those that feel
speed is a safety factor that allows them to "out run the storm" - that dates back to the days before weather forecasting and communications
didn't exist. On America's Great Loop, you are never far from land. You are hardly ever more than a stones throw from it. In addition, we have
days and in some cases weeks notice of an approaching storm. Normally, we know from one day to the next what the weather is going to be
in the area that we are cruising.
|Sailboats - don't have to be sailed!
| That's right! Sailboats don't have to be "sailed". Most live aboard size sailboats come with small diesel engines that can easily "motor"
you around the Great Loop at an extremely fuel efficient trouble free manner. Surprisingly, many newcomers to boating are also not aware of
the differences and variety of Sailboats that are on the market. Above (for example) is my personal favorite. This sailboat is typically referred
to as a "Pilot House" or "Motor Sailer".
Now, at 70 years of age and exclusively cruising America's Great Loop - I love these sailboats. Why? For one, I don't "sail" anymore. 2.
Because of it's full displacement hull, it is the very most economical fuel efficient vessel on the water - even motored around. A typical live
aboard size (near 36') Pilot House or Motor Sailer will have a small single diesel engine of 65hp or less, and cruise comfortably at around 8
knots. For comfort and safety, this type vessel will also have fewer steps to climb and less clutter on the decks as well as higher freeboard.
Many also offer a hard fully enclosed (weather & bug proof) cockpit and helm station, while some offer an extended hardtop with the option of
roll up canvass and bug screens.
All factors considered, this is about as close as one can get to the comforts of a Trawler without having a Trawler. Keep in mind as well, if y
ou cruise the Great Loop by the recommended seasons, you will be cruising through 95% good weather all around the Loop. I mention this be
cause about 90% of all your "awake time" on the boat will be spent in the cockpit or at the helm station vs in the cabin area.
This is why it is equally important (if not more so) that your helm station and cockpit are be as comfortable and conveniently set up and
arranged as your cabin area - as this is where you (and possibly your 1st Mate) will spend the bulk of your time. This is also the biggest
negative most couples have with cruising in Trawlers, since the Captain is at the helm on the Fly Bridge, while everything else is below in the
cabin. That makes for a lot of trips up & down the stairs for whoever is fixing and fetching the snacks, the food, the drinks and the ice. Believe
me, climbing stairs while underway is not the safest task you can do on a moving boat.