Trawlers for Sale – A Trawler Buyer’s Guide
This is a guide for assisting persons looking for trawlers for sale; it will give you a good understanding of what to look for.
A trawler is not to be confused with fishing vessels although the idea originated with the seagoing fishing vessels. A trawler is in general a boats with a long, deep keel, top cruising speeds of 7-10 knots, and boats with large panoramic windows for good views.
Typically a trawler has a large fuel and water capacity to enable extended cruising and have crew creature comforts that will match any vessel afloat. The primary draw of a trawler is the traditional salty lines that turns heads at every dock.
Don’t forget to look at our Trawler School.
Differences Between a Trawler, Motor Yacht and a Cruiser
The primary differences that make a trawler different is:
- A trawler has smaller engines whereas motoryachts have larger engines to provide more speed
- A trawler is built for 8-10 knot cruising speed, where as motoryachts and cruisers are built for higher speeds in the 17-22 knot cruising range
- A trawler will burn much less fuel thus are much more economical to operate
- A trawler is generally more suited for long-range cruising than motoryachts and cruisers
- Cruisers are generally not equipped with large storage capacities thus are better suited for a weekend getaway rather than long term passages
- A trawler is provided with large water and fuel capacities where cruisers do not
The advantages of owning a used trawler may not be so obvious. In addition to the graceful lines, here are some of the most important traits.
- Very economical to operate. A used trawler uses only from 2-8 gallons/hr. at cruising speeds of about 9 knots.
- Large fuel and water capacity.
- Very large onboard storage in the many lockers, cabinets and drawer.
- Large rudders make docking simple.
- Most were embellished with exotic teak, even below decks in engine rooms. Teak is resistant to rot.
- Slow RPM diesel engines produce anywhere from 10-20,000 hours of use before any serious work is needed.
- Very high resale value due to tight market. Unlike cruisers and motoryachts, the trawler market exceeds the supply.
How Hulls Affect Performance
In choosing used trawlers for sale, one needs to choose between full displacement and semi-displacement hulls.
Displacement hulls are generally found on ocean going vessels. These hulls can carry more payloads due to their design. The hulls do not plane and power is directed to pushing the hull rather than raising it. The hulls are generally rounded which produced a soft ride.
Semi-displacement hulls combine round bottoms forward and flat bottoms aft. As it moves the hulls partially raises out of the water. These hulls give a bit more speed but may sacrifice a soft ride. These hulls are not suitable for blue water crossings.
Used Trawler Styles
There are five trawler styles. Each style features unique floor plans and layouts. Trawler styles are as follows.
- Classic or Trunk
- Sundeck – you can vist my personal sundeck trawler here
Trunk styles are considered to be the classic, double cabin trawler. They have wide walk-around decks and access to the salon from both side doors. It sits low to the water making boarding easy. The fly bridge is normally 3 steps up from the trunk deck and has ample sitting area for guests. The traditional mast with boom holds a sail to prevent rolling in heavy seas. The boom can also be used to launch the dingy. The interior provides an aft stateroom and private head. Two steps up is a large salon for entertaining. Forward is the galley, which may be up or down. A dinette is usually provided adjacent to the galley. Further forward is the guest quarters with another private head. I love the look of the trunk but it does not allow a place to be when the weather is bad other than indoors.
The sundeck model made its appearance in the mid 80s. Sundeck models are similar to the classic trunk styles except that the sundeck is enclosed allowing access to the bridge via the sundeck from the salon in inclement weather. Sundecks have wide bodies with decks higher than trunk styles. This allows for a very large master stateroom. A swim platform is provided which allows access to a dingy while away from the dock. Some are fitted with wet bar on the sundeck to entertain. Bridges are large that will allow 6 to sit while underway. If you consider yourself to be an outdoor person, this is the model for you! You can view the interior of a sundeck by visiting our personal trawler, the Patricia Ann.
The sedan model is a trawler preferred by many due to few steps to negotiate. Everything is on one level with the exception of the bridge, which must be accessed by a ladder. The model has no aft cabin and all of the cabins are somewhat smaller than other models of similar lengths. There is a salon aft, with the galley forward generally with a dinette up. Two staterooms are forward, generally with a single shared head. The cockpit allows entertaining but only in favorable weather.
Many boaters, especially in northern climates, prefer the pilothouse model. The pilothouse models feature a single helm, which is completely enclosed. It affords excellent visibility. The typical layout includes a large galley, salon and cockpit on the lowest level. The master stateroom with private head is located amidships below the pilothouse. The guest stateroom and head is located forward of the master stateroom. A fly bridge overhang protects the aft deck and side decks. A large deck extends beyond the fly bridge allowing room for dingy storage etc. An advantage of this boat is operability in inclement weather. A disadvantage is having to use the generator and air conditioning during hot months in southern climates.
Passagemakers are the last type of trawler, which are designed, and intended for making the Trans-oceanic passage. Passagemakers are usually full displacement and over 45 feet in length.
Once you feel you have just the layout that will suit you, what’s the right length to choose from the many trawlers for sale? You need to know that the overall room in a 36 footer compared to a 40 footer is very different even with just a few feet added. The following is a basic guide.
- 30 – 35 foot: This is fine for day cruising and two people. One head and shower may make day-to-day living a chore. Overnight guests aboard may be difficult. Fine for inland and light offshore use. Consider this to be analogous to a pop-up camper.
- 36 – 39 foot: This size boat is easy enough for a couple to handle and suitable for light cruising and offshore use. It’s large enough to cruise comfortably for 2 people and accommodate guests. Think of this as a condo.
- 40 – 44 foot: This boat length has the beam to insure stability and roominess. Think of this as a single family home. They have more than enough room to accommodate guests for extended period. This is probably the most popular length trawler found in the cruising community.
- 45 – Plus: These are your blue water long-range cruises. These vessels have luxurious accommodations but come with a handsome price tag. Think of this as a second home villa in the islands.
Now that we have covered the basics of trawlers and their designs, what is best for the actual living part? Trawlers generally come with 1-2 staterooms maybe three, 1-2 heads, salon, galley, and dinette.The salon is where we turn on the tube to catch the latest news and read the latest issue of Living Aboard. Like most trawlers handcrafted teakwood cabinetry is throughout with large windows.
Sundeck models have stairs leading to the aft sundeck. Most also have parquet teak floors, which looks nice with a nice oriental rug. Most trawlers have engine room access panels in the salon as well. Most salons of the 40-foot class will accommodate a couple of lean-back chairs or sofa, two small tables and an entertainment center. Placing a teak magazine rack close by and you have about all you need. Staterooms are the private areas aboard. The sundeck model has an aft master stateroom that is very large and separated from the forward stateroom by the galley and salon.
Staterooms have a variety of storage lockers so make sure the boat you like has ample. Like everything, price is not always an indicator. Carpeting in the stateroom is a matter of choice. Many prefer to use rugs as not to hide the beauty of the teak flooring.
The galley is where you will spend a considerable amount of time. Most galleys, depending on the size of the boat will come equipped with range, propane or electric, microwave, and a refrigerator/freezer. Ample storage again should be evaluated. Galleys that are down have separation from guests in the salon.
The galley down, has a dinette across from the cooking area with seating for 4. The dinette also converts to a berth for two. You can use the storage beneath the seating for seldom-used items used in the galley.The heads are something we really rather not discuss, but its part of life on a boat.
Many master stateroom heads have a separate shower, toilet, and vanity. Having a separate shower is a must if guests are expected. Even so, it’s like two people getting showered and dressed in a phone booth. Older heads had hand-pump toilets but the newer electric flush or Vacuflush models are much better and easier to use. Some boats have one head to be shared by all on board so consider who may join you on your new boat.
Boats can be found with both single and twin engine configurations. There is no shortage of articles about the advantage of both. The primary advantages to twins are 1) easy maneuvering at close quarters, and 2) get home engine if one fails. The disadvantage is having to maintain two of everything. Fuel consumption is about 30% more. Single engines offer low fuel consumption but require more difficulty in operation at close quarters. There is usually no get-home engine so that may be an issue to some. An advantage in most boats is the ease of maintenance due to more room in the engine room.
Ok, now we have gone through most of the differences between a variety of trawler styles and accommodations. So where can you find your perfect used trawler for sale? I recommend a number of sources.
- If we do not have the right used trawlers for sale in inventory, we have access to hundreds of other boats and can find you the best available at a price you wish to pay. Go to the Buying a Boat page to learn how we do it.
- Go to every marina and boat show you can find. Compliment any boater on their boat and they will gladly show you around.
- Have fun shopping as you browse our trawlers for sale selection.
Paradise Yachts – Trawlers 101 – Trawler Buyers School
Due to an increase in demand for trawlers from our customers, we now offer a pre-purchase trawler school designed to educate you in what to look for and how to buy a trawler. See details of our trawler school here.