|© 1993 - 2016 CaptainJohn.org
| Whether you are cruising America's Great Loop or sailing the seven seas, the type and size of boat,
the distance you plan to travel, the time it takes, the amenities on board, are all important factors. The most important of these
however, is to remember that the moment you choose your boat, you predetermined your cost of cruising and ownership. Most often,
it is the shocking reality of on-going expenses, why so many great "used boats" are on the Market for thousands of dollars in savings.
When you think about a boat and budget for living a-board and cruising the Great Loop, you must think first about what it
takes for you to be comfortable and happy. For sure, the boats that are great for over-night or long weekends simply won't work over
the long haul of a year or more cruising the Great Loop.
Indeed, If you choose the right boat, then your individual choices in lifestyle will be the majority of your cruising cost. This means
you can spend the majority of your budget on yourself and on what makes you happy, rather than on your boat, fuel and boat related
expenses. Choose the wrong boat, and it could end up being a vessel of burden, rather than a vessel of freedom and happiness.
|Cruising the Loop in a sailboat - click NEXT
|The "Trawler" is by far the most popular boat on the Great Loop, and for good reason. For its length, the Trawler offers more
interior live aboard space and open airy cabin than any other vessel on the market. Be careful however when shopping for one, as
some are not really "true" trawlers at all - they just look like one. (The one above in the picture, for example, is not.)
A "true" trawler will have a full displacement hull. That means it will have a single engine, a slow (10 mph) cruise speed, and will
NOT get up on plane. A true trawler, like a sailboat, has a hull designed to move smoothly and economically through the water at a
slow speed. Typically, or I might say "under normal conditions" a true Trawler running at its most economic cruising speed is only 2 or 3
knots faster than a sailboat.
The "true" pleasure boat trawler: has a full displacement hull, a single engine, and an economical cruising speed of about 9
knots or 10 mph. Displacement hulls are a trademark of ocean capable long distance vessels. These hulls can carry more payloads
(due to their design) and are extremely fuel efficient. The hulls do not plane and therefore all the power, power train, and hulls are
specifically designed and engineered to push the vessel forward through the water.
The "other" type Trawler - looks like a true trawler above the water, but it sports a semi displacement hull. The semi
displacement hull along with the power train is designed to provide lift as well as forward motion. The "lift" is designed to raise the
front of the vessel out of the water to help the vessel on plane. These vessels will have twin engines and offer more speed (typically
15 to 18 knots or about 18 to 20 mph. Yes, you get 2 times the speed, but it comes at 2 to 4 times the fuel.
Typically both type trawlers have a large fuel and water capacity to enable extended cruising and offer wonderful interior live
aboard space and creature comforts that are simply unmatched by any other type pleasure vessel of the same size.
Full displacement vs semi displacement & What the difference means to you:
The full displacement trawler is designed to direct all its power to pushing your vessel forward through the water, whereas a
semi displacement hull is designed to lift the bow as well as push your vessel through the water. Therefore, much of vessels energy
(and therefore fuel economy) is used "lifting the bow" the bow of the vessel out of the water, rather than moving it more smoothly
through the water. The semi displacement trawler is engineered to provide its owner with more speed - but speed comes with the
sacrifice of fuel efficiency.
The full-displacement trawler is built for 8-10 knots sustained cruising speed (barely faster than a sailboat).
It will burn much less fuel at its recommended cruising speed and is second in fuel efficiency only to a sailboat. The semi displacement
trawler, along with cabin cruisers were designed for higher cruising speeds in the 18-24 knot sustained cruising range and are not very
economic vessels for long distance cruising.
The "problem" with a semi displacement Trawler is - actually, there is no problem if you can afford the fuel. Most
semi displacement trawlers come with twin engines, so the problem with fuel efficiency is actually three fold:
1. You have a vessel that uses a good amount of energy to lift it's bow rather than move it forward.
2. You have twin engines, and believe me, 2 engines = 2 x the money, 2 x the maintenance, 2 x the trouble and 4 x
3. You have speed available. This is why you will burn 4 x the fuel instead of just 2 x the fuel. When cruising
America's Great Loop, speed is not necessary. In fact, it is why most Loopers run aground or find themselves in trouble.
Fact is, if you have available speed, you will use it. Think on this: when you take a long distance road trip, do you
maintain the speed limit? Or do you exceed it, say 10 mph or more?
Now convert that to your boat. Think about cruising 8 hours a day at 10 mph. After about 30 minutes of that, you realize
your moving at a snails pace. If you are in a "full displacement" vessel or motoring in a sailboat - you can't go any faster. If you
are in a "semi displacement" vessel, you can give it a little gas and double your speed.
This is why you will burn 4 x the fuel. Two engines running 9 mph will be 2 x the fuel as one. Now bump your speed up to
a comfortable 18 mph and your burning 4 x the fuel.
Now, having said that - Make no mistake about it, Trawlers are fantastic live aboard & long distance cruising
boats. In the 28 - 38 foot range: trawlers make excellent live aboard vessels for a cruising couple. Trawlers in this range:
are easy for a couple to handle and very roomy and comfortable for their size.
|The Great Loop Boat - Part 1.
| Some would have us believe cruising America's Great Loop is ONLY for the rich.
Trawlers and Trawlering not long ago featured an article on "The Great Loop's Ideal Boat" wherein, they outlined
all the wonderful features of a Trawler - and indeed, they are wonderful features. What they failed to mention however,
is that the "Trawler" in question was a twin engine with a semi-displacement hull. It was a 36 footer and had the vessel's
actual final stats for cruising America's Great Loop: Total fuel consumed = 8,724 gallons. Average cost of fuel = $4.17 per
gallon. Total cost of fuel = $36,370.00.
Of course, I enjoy reading Trawler and Trawlering Magazine as much as anyone, but problem is they are
certainly not about to offend any of their primary advertisers who want to sell you a Trawler. . . I on the other hand don't
have a problem offending their advertisers. So, if you think spending $36,370 for fuel is NBD (No Big Deal) go right
ahead and buy that twin engine semi displacement trawler. I assure you, it will make a wonderful live aboard. In fact, I don't
think you will find one better. My only problem with the article is they should mention the alternatives.
It is articles like this, along with many Great Loop "Looper blogs" that fuel my fire to keep this website
going. . . As many Loopers would have you believe it takes $250,000 plus to purchase a boat suitable for cruising
the Loop, another $20,000 or so to properly outfit her, $36,000 in fuel, $20,000 in Marina fees, and another $35,000
or so to eat out and see the sites. When the fact is, you don't have to do this. It is a matter of choice - not a matter
|If you plan to go cruising on a frugal budget:
Then the problem with Trawlers is that
there is not a problem. . .
| Single engine, full-displacement hull Trawlers make great comfortable live-aboard vessels. . . And most
Trawler Owners will tell you they average about 2 to 3 gallons per hour (fuel burn rate) at 8 knots, depending on
I owned two, and I may own one again. Right now however, I'm experimenting with motoring around the Loop
in a 36' sailboat. I've even gone so far as to "cut" the masts off to 13 feet above the water. So far, it's worked
great. I'm burning less than 1 gallon an hour. Only problem is it takes a much larger sailboat to provide the same
room and comfort that one gets in a Trawler of the same size.
|My boating philosophy:
I am much more about the voyage
than the boat. My dream is the voyage
and all the freedom that comes with it.
The entire purpose for my boat is to
get me safely where I want to go and
back again comfortably!
My boat is not to show the world how
far I've come, it is to discover for
myself how far I can go.
As a result, "more fun than fuel" is my
never ending quest.
It is all about voyaging on a frugal
budget, going small, staying out
longer, and keeping my boat and
everything on it as sweet and simple
|The very popular Trawler
for cruising America's Great Loop
|Interior of a 36' Trawler
|Capt. John - The Frugal Voyager - Capt. John - The Frugal Voyager - Capt. John - The Frugal Voyager - Capt. John - The Frugal Voyager - Capt. John - The Frugal Voyager - Capt. John - The Frugal Voyager - Capt. John - The Frugal Voyager -