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Jeff Merrill is the president of Jeff Merrill Yacht Sales, Inc. Jeff is a 30-year marine-industry veteran who offers worldwide professional representation for buyers and sellers of new and used premium-brand ocean-going trawlers. As a trawler specialist, Jeff will provide you with the experience and personal attention you deserve!

PMM: Jeff, how long have you been in the trawler business?

JMYS: I’d like to start by saying congratulations to PassageMaker for a great first 20 years! In 1996 I was the vice president of sales for Pacific Seacraft and we determined that many of our cruising sailboat clients were ready to transition to a trawler. We developed the Bruce King designed 38T fast trawler. My wife Pam and I were the models for the original ads published in PassageMaker circa 2000. The Nordhavn

40 was also built by Pacific Seacraft and in 1999 I was hired by PAE as a project/sales manager. I’ve had the trawler bug for about as long as PassageMaker has been in print.

PMM: What do you view as the most significant trawler advances over the last 20 years?

JMYS: Builders and parts suppliers have done a great job of making trawlers more reliable and easier to operate. Among the highlights in the last two decades are AIS, which has made navigation safer, and electronic common rail engines, which make trawlers more efficient and “greener.” Trawlers now come equipped with all of the luxuries of home. Larger models utilize bow and stern thrusters to make docking less stressful and active fin stabilizers to make cruising under way more comfortable. Even with all of the boating design and equipment improvements, I’d have to say the internet has been the biggest game changer for the trawler world in the past 20 years. I’ve watched our industry graduate

PMM: What advice do you have for buyers looking for a trawler?
from AOL accounts to domain-based email for electronic communication. Boatbuilders now present sophisticated websites with detailed content, photos and video to make online marketing much more effective and visual. Trawler aficionados surf the web with their computers and tablets, joining user group forums and reading blogs. The interconnectivity of the cruising community has made it easier for our diverse boating population to share their trawler experiences in real time. My website,, was created to share the trawler lifestyle and is an invaluable business tool for me.

JMYS: Do your homework anonymously at first, and narrow your search before reaching out to a builder or broker. Establish your budget and then look for trawlers that will fit your plan. Don’t make contact by calling or emailing until you determine how much time you have available and what type of cruising you want to do. I advise my clients to buy the smallest boat that is big enough and the newest boat they can afford. Buyers have total control of their shopping … until they identify themselves.  In addition to finding the right boat, research which broker is best qualified to be your trawler advocate (look for experience, reputation and product knowledge). Don’t accept being assigned to a salesperson. Target a broker who can help you take the helm after the transaction closes and train you with checklists, etc., to get you independently on your way with confidence.

PMM: What should a trawler seller know to more effectively market their boat for sale?

JMYS: Sellers need to be realistic on asking price. In order to make a strong first impression, spend some money up front to detail your trawler and ensure all systems are fully operational. Look for an experienced listing broker who is well connected and understands your type of trawler. You want a trustworthy broker who will look out for your interests and give you a realistic assessment of your trawler’s value.   Carefully evaluate every offer and consider what your carrying costs will be if you decide to wait for a better one. The first offer is often the best! Remember, buyers have a lot of choices and are primarily searching based on price, location, equipment and condition. Most buyers prefer turnkey trawlers that radiate pride of ownership, not projects that can turn into money pits.

PMM: What is your prediction for the trawler market in the next 20 years?

JMYS: Our industry will become more professional in how we operate our businesses and interact with our clientele. The “modern trawler” will continually evolve with advances in construction, features and equipment. Fiberglass and steel trawlers are ideal for people who want to go out cruising in a safe and reliable boat. Future trawlers will rely more on computers and buyers will expect even more “creature comforts” to be installed aboard. The trawler market is poised for tremendous growth; it’s very exciting and going to be a lot of fun for everyone involved!

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