Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Impure thoughts

Deb and I went to look at a Trawler the other day. It is for sale in the marina at Dinner Key, a short dink ride and walk to see how the other half lives.

We have had a lot of talks about the difference between what we thought being full time live-aboard cruisers would be, and what it turns such a life is really like. And so far, the "living-aboard" part outweighs the "cruising" part by a better then 10 to 1 margin, if one just compares days spent swinging on a hook, mooring ball, or at a pier to days underway. Kintala, as I have said before, doesn't really set the world on fire when it comes to living-aboard but flat lights up the waves when running under a full press of sail. Sadly, this last stretch of weeks on a mooring ball with family nearby has put a spotlight on her shortcomings. We all get together for our evening meal. Having six aboard for dinner is an exercise in getting in each other's way. The tiny cockpit and vertical companionway, which completely isolates the galley from the outside, are the main constraints to an otherwise pleasant gathering.

So, anyway, we thought we would take a short venture to see what we see. After all, having never been around boats until we started looking for a way to escape corporate America as soon as possible, Deb and I ended up as sailors kind of by default. I've never actually spent any time on a live-aboard power boat of any kind, and we have been thinking that might be some pretty good living for a lot of reasons. Reasons that this look-at confirmed.

First and foremost the thing was huge. Okay, it was 44' to start with, making it slightly longer than Kintala. But there was easily 4 times the living space inside the boat, and maybe 10 times more storage area. The engine room held more stuff, two engines, generator, huge battery bank, four fuel tanks, two water tanks, a holding tank, than would fit inside all of Kintala. There was a massive salon, two cabins, two heads, and an office. The outside usable deck area was again, easily 4 times that of Kintala. There was a back porch big enough for a table and chair set. And then there was a flying bridge big enough to seat 4, with another small table.  Kintala is a single living floor with a deck over it.  This trawler was split level with four different "floors".  Having lived on Kintala for most of the past year it was just an overwhelming amount of living space.

There was heat. There was air con. There was an inside steering station. There was a big 'fridge, a freezer with room for ice cream, and an ice maker. There was a microwave.

I couldn't get off the thing fast enough.

No, I don't think living on a trawler would cost that much more than living on Kintala. Sure it burns gas to go and has a big 'ol generator to make power. But the only reason one would ever be near a pier would be to fill the tanks, and that might be once a year. Other than that one could live almost completely independently, and do so comfortably. One would have to pick a Gulf Stream crossing day rather carefully, but we do that anyway. I don't think it would be as comfortable a ride while underway, but it would be fine swinging at anchor. In fact it would likely be more stable than the bowl-bottomed Kintala.

I still couldn't get off the thing fast enough.

It is no secret that I have had my disappointments with Kintala. It is no secret we picked the wrong boat for what we are doing.  But on the dink ride back I had to admit that she is, without a doubt, the best looking boat in the marina or on the mooring field. She is a capable, long distance cruiser with near perfect lines, even if we are not capable, long distance sailors. I like her interior, the feeling of being on a boat and not in a floating condo.  And really, just how much space does one need anyway?

There is much I don't like about her, but she is my boat after all. Being able to say that has come to be important to me. She is a total failure of a live-aboard when there are more than two people on her, but Deb and I are just two people.

I don't know. We are hoping to do this for many years, and there is much about living easier that appeals. We will be in Ft. Lauderdale for a couple of months more with plenty of opportunity to look around. Maybe some powerboat somewhere will fit the budget and the life better. Maybe a different sailboat is the answer.

And maybe we have the answer already, and she just needs a little more work.


SailFarLiveFree said...

As usual, we love your honesty TJ. You know the saying, "It's not about having what you want but rather wanting what you have."

Unknown said...

You may want to consider a catamaran similar to our Gemini.
Tere's a Yahoo Gemini Group you can join to read about the boats and interact wit owners.

The Great Loop Cruisers Association has a lot of blogs which dtail the cost of travelig by trawler. The actual fuel costs may surprize you.

Our Gemini is a 105M with 27 HP Westerbeke. We burn 3/4 gallon per hour which works out to about 8MPG.

Geminis are very stable. Sail well when the chop isn't high.

Ther's a Gemini blog that I remeber as Jabsco, or similar name. Folks are from Texas and just spent time in the Abacos.

Unknown said...

We have to replace our Raratan. Looks as if I have toilets on the brain.

Sailblogs Jascat is the search which will get you there.

I may never live down the Jabsco / Jascat error!

Chuck said...

Pat and I are thinking about our next cruise and the best boat for us.
We want a ketch or schooner rig, to reduce the size of the sails we will have to handle. We also want a bridge height of 50' or less to allow getting up the Teen-Tom to Kentucky Lake and back down without lowering the masts. A draft of less than 4'6" would make life easier for coastal cruising and islands.
All these things limit the size of our boat to 30-38' or so. We hope to spend a reasonable amount ( as in cheap) and fix up the boat ourselves, as we did our Cheoy Lee 31 a few years ago. We want a dependable engine, hull,rig and sails. The emphasis will be on function, and safety; not shiney "Bristol" condition.
If we sink the boat; we'll find another, and carry on.

Honestly, on our trip in the Cheoy Lee; we talked about how a cruiser would be best for someone doing the loop, or ICW. However; we enjoyed sailing offshore so much, it was no contest for us.

Chuck said...

I neglected to say that, even though numbers don't mean everything; I would look for a boat with an easy motion, capsize ratio of 160 or better, and a motion comfort number of 38 or better. Those were the numbers for our Cheoy Lee, and even though it was only 31' long; I never got sea sick on that boat.

An easy, comfortable motion at sea and at anchor, trumps the extra .5 knot a faster sailboat has, any day.

Robert Sapp said...


My heart sank as I started to read this post. "NOOOOOOOOOOO!" I shouted at my monitor, convinced that you had already crossed over to the dark side. What a relief to read that you came to your senses and refused to succumb to the seductive lure of a self-propelled condominium.

Upon reflection, though, I realized that it's about your choices and preferences, not mine. It all comes down to what sort of cruising you truly want to do. If you have any hope of heading further down island, I think you would forever regret trading your ocean greyhound for a wallowing, fuel guzzling barge. Likewise, if your goal is to complete the Great Loop, well, trawler owners I've spoken to as they pass through Pensacola say that their fuel bill runs in the tens of thousands of dollars for the trip. Quite expensive for someone trying to live within a tight budget. But if all you really want to do is live the slow life at anchor in Florida with an occasional hop to the Bahamas, then maybe you'd actually be better off on a stinkpot, I mean, trawler. At least you'd still be on the water, which means you'd be a person well met.

I'll monitor the evolution of your thinking with interest.