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Trawlers Versus Cruisers?

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Old 07-20-2006, 04:23 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Trawlers Versus Cruisers?

I've long admired the long smooth lines of the most popular yachts, those featured most frequently here on YachtForums, but there yet remains a hint of "reverse snob appeal" in the form of the humble trawlers. Perhaps "humble" is overstating the case for I'm seeing trawlers so well-equipped, so knocked-out plush, that from a comfort standpoint I suspect they can complete with any ultra-modern design.

Thus my question: in what way are trawlers superior? (If any.) I see that Nordhaven touts their seaworthiness in the roughest seas... is that true? Can a trawler travel father, best tougher seas, provide more efficient use of space -- OR WHAT? What are the practical reasons for selecting a trawler, or is it strictly personal preference?

Thanks and happy cruising.
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Old 07-20-2006, 04:57 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Trawlers traditionally came in one flavor, single engine displacemetn hull. Today you have possible combinations of twin engines, diesel electric, semi displacement, mono or twin hull, etc etc. The single engine displacement boat is a very economical boat to operate, what it lacks in speed it gives you back in operating efficencies. However, the eternal question is always single or twin engine? No right or wrong answer, but always a debate. Having said all of this, as a rule, trawlers will be more fuel efficent with displacement hulls and PERHAPS more seaworthy than a similiarly sized planning hull. (I wouldn't bet the bank on that statement, though)

Remember, 80' is a large trawler, whereas plesure yachts can range from 150' to 200' easily. Big difference! To do your comparison fairly, compare a 65 to 80 foot trawler to 65 to 80 pleasure boat. Keep it all in perspective.
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Old 07-20-2006, 05:04 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Is the popularity of trawlers similar of thr popularity of the SUV's on our roads?
The rugged, go anywhere, no sisy stuff image?
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Old 07-20-2006, 05:18 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Generally speaking a full displacement hull will give a more seakindly ride than a semi-displacement or planning hull of the same length.
Trawlers have in the past been vessels built to full displacement designs (regardless of single or twin engine configuration) to operate at or below displacement speed (1.4 time the square root of the waterline length) yielding better economy in addition to a more comfortable ride.
More "seaworthy/safer" depends on the quality of construction and design.

Trawlers and expedition yachts seem to be gaining in popularity due to many owners wanting to extend their cruising range and explore "off the beaten path". If you are planning to remain in Puget Sound and protected waters planning, semi-displacement or full displacement designs will serve you well. It will be a matter of what design strikes your fancy. If you plan on extending your range to Alaska, Mexico or further forget about a planning hull and look to displacement or semi-displacement.

Last edited by sailronin; 07-20-2006 at 06:21 PM..
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Old 07-20-2006, 05:49 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Trawler is a term being used rather loosely these days in the yachting world. A trawler implies a full displacement hull usually with maximum speeds of 10 knots; there are new, descriptive terms such as "fast trawler" which is an oxymoron for sure. If a vessel has other advantages associated with the trawler concept,but is not necessarily a trawler by definition, I prefer to use the term "long-range cruiser (LRC)."

Having gotten the terminology out of the way, trawlers offer many advantages: their hull design usually allows for greater fuel capacity, thus providing for greater range. Their engine(s) are usually selected for fuel economy as well; the slower speeds by hull design allow for variety of engines that have lesser fuel consumption and also account for greater range capabilities. Additionally, the designs of many of the hulls allow for bilge keels or passive stabilization or for utilization of flopper stoppers. Not that I'm not a proponent of active fin stabilizers, but it's nice to know your vessel can handle heavy seas in the event of mechanical stabilizer failure. Additionally the hull shape usually allows for more voluminous interior space, including an engine room that would need to accommodate additional equipment such as water makers and inverters.

So bottom line is trawlers are designed to have more range, be more fuel efficient, provide more space for live-aboard cruising, and be designed to take heavy sea conditions. They usually have more redunandcies in equipment and outfitting.

The owners of these yachts are usually of an atypical yachtsman mentality. Frequently, the interest is in the journey as well as the destination. It is about accomplishment and success of mastering the vessel and the elements, of going to exotic ports otherwise inaccessible. Many owners homeschool their children while living aboard (geography, science, math -- beats a blackboard); many run their businesses while aboard for long stretches or liveaboard. Many of the trawler women know as much about the boat as the men and can handle with equal skill and experience. In general, these are hands-on, down to earth folks who research the boats, take mechanic courses, and have particular emphasis on safety and respect for the sea.

Trawlers come in all sizes, materials, prices, and levels of luxury. Even a variety of styles. There usually is a lot more boat than a comparable size semi-displacement or planing hull. If you can handle the speed, or lack thereof,they offer a lot of advantages. If you've never cruised at 6-9 knots, it is the epitomy of "are we there yet?" syndrome, so try chartering first.
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Old 07-20-2006, 08:17 PM   #6 (permalink)
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as much as I love yachts that pitch on the traits of trawlers has turned my head.I am reminded of the addage a mind is like a parachute it only works when it is open.And now when my ship comes in it might be a trawler!The info in these forums is priceless...namaste
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Old 07-21-2006, 12:36 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Very thoughtful response, JWY.

Thanks and happy cruising.
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Old 07-29-2006, 05:24 PM   #8 (permalink)
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In reviewing many of the "Great Loop" articles, a consistent theme is 'space aboard'.

Trawlers may be romantic, but many would rather make the journey in an aft cabin cruiser as opposed to a Nordic Tug, etc. 'Trawler'.
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Old 03-21-2007, 09:41 PM   #9 (permalink)
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bump up
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Old 03-22-2007, 03:54 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Slow but Seaworthy?

To BenSeattle,
re: Trawlers and " Reverse snob appeal "
I think you have difinately hit on something here.
For years, Mercedies denied or played down, any interest in anything, as transient as " Styling ". Marketed as a car for grown ups.
Dignified and a little ponderous.
Gee, sounds like a " trawler ". Maybe...?

Of course, it wasn't true. If anything, styling was very much a concern, with Mercedies.
Lot's of vertical lines. A retro front end.
- Says you can depend on me.
All done with deliberate intent.

This might all seem a little superficial. But I think it merits serious consideration.
As your statement re;
" that true ? "
Along with MacMal's response,
"...wouldn't bet the bank..."
Opens up a very valid line of inquiry. That needs to be considered by potential buyers.

We can draw the very epitome of a " Salty " trawler yacht. Festooned with all manner of cranes and " funnels ".
- Above the water line.
With an apparent absense of Styling...
Beguiling the unwary, into thinking, that they are getting the Real Deal.

Meanwhile; below the water line, critical elements are passed over, in the sales pitch.
How many brokers and/or buyers talk excitedly, about a vessel's Metacentric height - in relation to it's Centre of Gravity ?
Before a couple of million change hands ?

The same percentage of people - no doubt - who inquire as to how much higher, a SUV's C. of G. is compared to the car, they are trading in.
As Brian points out. There is a the parallel popularity, with SUV's and so-called trawlers.
- And they both can suffer the same hidden danger:
- of being too top heavy.
- All to few people realize how much a few inches - in a gain, in height
- combined with, too narrow a track (or beam) can have a serious effect on stability.

Nicely covered up - in the case of a trawler - by all those stabilizers.
Everybodys so fond of.
During sea trials, before purchase, I'd suggest finding out in heavy seas
- how the vessel feels. With out the " flopper stoppers ".

Cheers !
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Old 04-11-2007, 05:12 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Well, we just had 3 good sized boat shows for yachts in Florida. Did those of you who got to prowl the docks notice any difference in activity between the various types? Trawlers (expedition) vs conventional flybridge vs sport yacht (open) vs sportfishing?

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Old 04-11-2007, 08:41 PM   #12 (permalink)
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From my perspective, the trawler market is hot!

Closed last week on a 41' steel Dutch trawler and a 42' US built steel trawler. Have a contract on a 50+ steel trawler scheduled for sea trial and survey towards end of April and a contract on a 60+ steel trawler surveying this week. Have a contract working, but not concluded yet, on a 60+ fiberglass trawler.

Judy Waldman
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Old 09-27-2007, 02:08 PM   #13 (permalink)
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sea sick

While Trawlers might be know as a safer platform to travel in, you need to remember that a good deal of the working part of the boat (the helm or helms) are quite a bit above the water line and you WILL get a lot of rocking and seasick people onboard in a rolling sea
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