The Trawler bug is a wonderful affliction and a great escape from being a dirt dweller. In order to help you determine the right type and size of boat you need to figure out what type of cruising you want to do, how much you can afford to spend and where you want to do your cruising.
How much time?
One of the first things you need to determine is how much time you can make available to go out cruising. Will this be a weekend escape? Do you only have time for a couple of weeks vacation? Are you able to make this a seasonal pursuit? Can you cut the lines to live aboard and cruise full time?
Where do you want to go?
One of the great beauties of the trawler lifestyle is that you are on the water. Since we live on a water planet the cruising grounds around the world offer a fascinating selection of wonderful destinations. You can spend a lifetime just cruising in Alaska or exploring the Chesapeake. Many wandering souls start out cruising coastal ports and then get the urge to jump across a large body of water to visit another continent. You can head east up in Maine (during the summer) and then trek south to hop the islands from the Bahamas down deep into the Caribbean. Knowing how much time you have to devote and what type of cruising locations you want to visit will help you identify the type of trawler that will provide the best ride for you. A good, comfortable trawler makes the journey between ports as much fun as the arrival at a distant shore. Knowing your travel mission will help you figure out if you want a fast trawler or a slow trawler. You may find a great trawler buy in a faraway location –try to look at this as an opportunity to see a different part of the world – don’t rule out a location that is far from home, it may create one of the best adventures you never imagined…
What can you afford to spend (lose)?
Trawlers are depreciating assets, they rarely sell for more than what you pay for them and you will have continual expenses to maintain and improve them. A second hand or brokerage trawler will have already taken a large bite out of the depreciation, but keep in mind that every dollar you spend is probably a dollar you will never see again. I advise my clients to view this as a reward, as the ultimate vacation where you, as an owner/operator, plan your cruising and head out to seek adventure and enjoy life on the water. Your purchase budget will need to be supplemented by your cruising kitty and simple things like anchoring out and cooking on board vs. tying up at marinas and eating out will help you keep your costs down.
Who is going to be on board with you?
The typical trawler family is a retired couple with grown children (and grandchildren) who have planned this adventure for years and are finally able to spend some premium twilight years seeing the world from the pilothouse. There are also a lot of young families out cruising and home schooling their children, giving their young ones an independent view of the offshore world. As you give this some thought realize that you need to make your trawler selection based on the primary users and try to avoid over buying and purchasing a large trawler with extra cabins that will be vacant 95% of the time. There is an old saying that the perfect boat seats six for cocktails, serves four for dinner and only sleeps two…
How big of a trawler do you need?
Many trawler owners are reformed, savvy sailors who have grown tired of pulling strings, sitting in the cockpit, and trimming sails. A solid trawler will provide all of the comforts of home and you can stay inside watching the world go by while wearing your slippers. Think of it like glamping, all the fun of camping, but with the comforts of home. If you have had boats before you will have a better idea of what size you need. If this is your first boat, the general rule of thumb is that when you get to 70’ you start getting into the world of captains and crew. Most of the time, the happiest trawler owners are owner/operators; they typically stay under 70’ and can not only handle the boat themselves but can also look after and maintain their boat. Even if you can afford a larger boat realize that with a captain and crew you are essentially managing a small company, and it may even get to the point where your start wondering if you are spending all of your money to keep the crew comfortable on the boat you own.
Don’t over analyze to the point where you don’t do it…
Like every major decision you have made in your life there are lots of things to consider and some risk involved. If you are a list maker and spreadsheet analyst, you will enjoy figuring out all the requirements you need and the details of equipment and features that are a priority. If you have the money and the time, do your research and take the plunge. Many people have kept coming up with one legitimate excuse after another to postpone their purchase, only to finally reach a time in their lives when their health and physical condition made it an impractical pursuit. Only you and your family can make the call to move forward with a purchase or to wait for a better life situation, but remember, your cruising window is never really more than a limited time offer…Few, if any, trawler owners have regretted the decision to spend time at sea.