Capable of doing 24 knots, the Sabreline 36 is one of the new generation of "fast trawlers."
Is a fast trawler still a trawler?
The 8-knot crowd says pepped-up models leave true workboat values behind
 

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By Jim Flannery
Staff Writer
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    Speed and change – two concepts rarely acknowledged in trawler circles – are raising cracks in the fraternity that reveres the glamourless but supremely practical powerboat as the consummate cruising vessel.

    Since its emergence in the 1950s, the trawler’s liveaboard qualities, fuel efficient (albeit slow) hulls and cruising range have earned it a legendary owner loyalty.
 

 


Kadey-Krogen's traditional soft-chine
hull gives it great range.

But the faster pace of the ‘80s and ‘90s has bred a speedier, less frugal offspring. To some, it’s a natural and welcome evolution, but to the trawler purist it’s heresy.
    Sabreline, of South Casco, Maine, is building a “trawler-type” boat that retains the dowdy superstructure but shucks the displacement hull for a speedier, less economical planning hull.
    Singapore-built Grand Banks and other trawler models are coming to market with bigger engines that allow skippers to eke out extra knots. But that added

 

speed comes at a significant cost in fuel efficiency.
    Sabre claims a top speed of 24 knots for its 36-foot “fast trawler,” a screaming pace next to the 7 to 9 knots of a very traditional type,
    Grand Banks says its 42-footer will cruise at a brisk 14 knots and top out at 19 with a pair of 375-hp Caterpillars.
    To those trawler owners with Scotch souls and an unshakeable commitment to taking it easy, a fast trawler is an oxymoron.

 
 

    “There are those who can’t stand the idea of 9.2 knots being all the deafening speed they can get,” says Richard Tarr, 50, of Gloucester Point, Va. A conservative in the broad spectrum of trawler owners, he has spent 10 years patiently rebuilding an old wood hulled Grand Banks. “If three stinking knots are all you want, maybe you need another kind of boat,” he says.
   
Souped-up Grand Banks “are no longer trawlers in my opinion,” says Bud Perfit, 64, retired executive from  Treasure Island, Fla., and owner of

 

 a Kadey-Krogen 42. “They’re beautiful powerboats.” These two old-line trawler owners say the displacement or semi-displacement hulls typical of most trawlers aren’t designed for economical operation at high-speeds, and a planning hull is plainly not a trawler hull. It’s a motorboat hull.
    Grand Banks has offered the beefy power package for a decade, and about a third of its 42s now carry them, says Ed Roberts, the builder’s East Coast sales manager. “The people I talk to want to go 12 knots,” says Carlton “Cotty” Barlow, an Essex, Conn., Grand Banks dealer.

 
 

The Albin 43 is Taiwanese-built and usually twin screw. At right, E.B. and Glenda Beard cruise about five months a year on their DeFever 44 Whiskers.

The new Monk 36 is built at a yard in Clarks Harbour, Nova Scotia.
Owners say the boat is ideal for the meandering style of extended cruising.

    The trawler owner who buys extra speed pays for it in fuel economy. A Kadey-Krogen 42, with its ultra-fuel efficient rounded displacement hull reminiscent of a fishing trawler, burns about 1.8 gallons an hour at 7.5 knots with a 135-hp Ford Lehman diesel. A Grand Banks 42, with its hard-chined, semi-displacement hull, consumes 16 to 17 gallons an hour at 14 knots or 6 gallons at 8.5 knots with a pair of 375s. The Sabreline with the planning hull uses 31 gallons an hour at 24 knots or 11.8 gallons per hour at 12.2 knots with twin 250-hp Detroit Diesels.
    A keen observer of the frugality factor Euclid Hanbury of Belfast, Maine, owner of a Grand Banks 36 and a founder of the Penobscot Bankers, an association of Down East Grand Banks owners, has discerned a countervailing trend – away from faster, less economical double-

 


Bill Wilson

 
Trawlers like this Kadey-Krogen are favored for cruising and living aboard because of their space, fuel-efficiency and extraordinary range.
 

 screw to single-screw trawlers.
   “An awful lot of our people used to be in sailboats and are used to running at 6 knots,” he says. “When we go to 8 knots, we think we’ve died and gone to heaven.” Some may want to crank up the speed, he says, “but the rest of us are pretty darned chintzy.”
   Not so says Carl Traub, 50, of Essex, Conn., vice president of a commercial and industrial real estate firm. He has pepped up his

 

 Grand Banks 46 with a pair of 375-hp Caterpillars that will push the trawler at a 16-knot clip. Traub, a sailor for 19 years, says his busy lifestyle demands speed.
    “I put sometimes 80 to 90 hours a week [at work],” he says.
“When I go out on a weekend, I’m more of a destination person. That 4 or 5 knots makes a long-range cruise more reachable. If I have a long leg, it

 

 extends my cruising range by 30 percent.” Ivy Blumenfeld, whose husband Marvin, 65, is a New York City business consultant, agrees. “If you’re retired and don’t have a schedule, then you have time for long cruising,” she says. “If you work and have a schedule to meet, time is of the essence.”
    Besides, Blumenfeld says, she enjoys being at a place more that getting there, so the faster the better.

    Gene Miltenberger, 65, a semi-retired developer from Fair Haven, N.J., another one-time sailor and now a Sabreline owner, says he needs the speed to get from his marina to cruising grounds on Long Island Sound. Purists’ views notwithstanding, Miltenberger says the boat’s salty looks get rave reviews from other boaters. “I still say it’s a trawler because of the
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"I still say it's a trawler because of the layout. It's a well-built boat and it moves - very fast."
--Sabreline owner Gene Miltenberger

___________________________ layout,” he says. “It’s a well-built boat and it moves – very fast.”
    If there is a trend emerging, count on it that a lot of trawler owners won’t tag along because they are by temperament contrarian and pugnaciously loyal to their idea of what a trawler should be. Their feistiness is born not just of stubbornness, but of enough experience that they seem to have made up their minds about a lot of issues, including “the speed thing.”
    “I don’t care to go 40 miles a day,” says slow-cruiser Perfit, who takes time out to read, and finish, great novels when he cruises.

    Jack and Anne Allen named their Monk 36 Largo for the musical notation that means “slow and stately with ample breadths.” Anne Allen of Worthington, Ohio, a retired assistant director of the Ohio State University School of Allied Health, and her husband used to cruise in the meandering style of “river rats.”
They loved to explore rivers.
    “We decided we wanted something slow, so we could look at the scenery and watch the wonderful vistas go by,” she says.

 

 They circumnavigated the eastern U.S., making their way up and down rivers, canals, lakes and other inland waters.
    Like the Allens, many choose trawlers for extended cruising. “To me, the boat is a movable home,” says Roger Imhof, 49, a Dallas telephone system engineer who bought his DeFever 44 Hey Mon II to travel the Caribbean. “The only thing different from a regular home is I can sit on my back porch and get a different view every day.”
    Owners like the slower trawler for its liveaboard space and economy, but beyond that there are areas of sharp disagreement. “No matter what owners you talk to, they swear by their trawler,” says E.B. Beard, 58, of Fort Lauderdale, a DeFever 44 owner. “Everyone thinks they’ve got the best one on the market.”
    Everyone knows, for instance, that a Grand Banks is the end-all and be-all of trawler yachts, if you can afford one, but don’t tell that to a Marine Trader owner. Pride in that boat was out in force last September when the 350-member Marine Trader Owners Association held its rendezvous in Baltimore.

    Association president Mike Creedon, 44, a medial supplies representative from Mount Pleasant Beach, N.J., says it’s no secret: “People are in Marine Traders because Marine Traders are affordable, period.” A 36-foot Marine Trader is less than half the price of a Grand Banks. “They’re virtually identical boats,” he says. “You’d be hard-pressed to tell where that other $150,000 went on a Grand Banks.”

 


Roger Imhof and Carin Grant bought their twin-screw DeFever 44 to live aboard and cruise the Caribbean economically. Their trawler has a 1,000 to 1,200-mile range cruising at about 8.5 knots.

 
Grand Banks form up at a 1988 rendezvous in Newport, R.I.

Grand Banks owner Hanbury knows exactly where it went. “It’s in the quality of the boat itself,” he says. “It’s like a Bentley or a Rolls Royce. It’s the ultimate in workmanship.”
    Trawler prices span a real gamut. Delta Marine of Seattle, which builds fishing trawlers, custom-builds a luxurious pleasure boat version of its 70-foot Bering Sea Crabber for a cool $2.5 million. At the other end of the spectrum, Willard Marine Inc. of Anaheim, Calif., sells a 30-foot single screw trawler with 50-hp engine for $97,000. In between, Grand Banks’ twin screw 42-footer with 135-hp engines
fetches $336,000; Kadey-Krogen’s single screw 42 with 135-hp diesel, $255,000, DeFever’s 44-footer with twin 135-hp diesels, $275,000, and the Marine Trader 42 with single screw 135-hp diesel, $162,500.  Powering up

 

isn’t cheap. Souping up a Grand Banks 42 with a pair of 375-hp diesels add about $35,000 to the cost.
 
  Though their boats may not be the most prestigious, Marine Trader owners are a loyal, rah-rah bunch. Bob Borden, a 62-year-old retired IBM service representative from Poughkeepsie, N.Y., has owned the same 34-footer for 16 years. He still is customizing small things on the yacht to he and his wife, Carolyn’s, tastes. Borden finds it unthinkable to buy a new boat and start over. “I don’t think we’ll ever own a different boat than this one,” he says.
    Grant Breining, 63, a trawler broker who lives aboard his Kadey-Krogen 42 in Annapolis, takes the purest purist view that the only true trawler is one with a

 

soft-chine rounded hull, because it behaves well in heavy seas and is the only hull fuel-efficient enough to take him to Annapolis to Panama without refueling. His Krogen carries 750 gallons of diesel fuel.
    “We can do a good 2,200 miles at 7 knots on that,” Breining says.
    Parochialism aside, the owners of pokey trawlers feel a real camaraderie even if they don’t own the same brand because they know “real” trawlering isn’t for everyone and they’re proud of that. Besides being slow, their displacement hulls roll, though builders have tried to control that some by hardening the chine.

    Perfit says these characteristics cause

 

some new owners to defect. “What you find is that those who didn’t have a clear idea of what they want put their boat up for sale in six months,” he says. “They didn’t think it would be so slow, they didn’t think that it was going to roll. God knows what they thought about.”
    Maybe they just weren’t looking for the kind of boat that Pat Warfield, 71, of Clearwater, Fla., had in mind when he bought his Albin 40 seven years ago and decided on a single screw model. He thought then, and argues persuasively now, that one screw is twice as fuel-efficient and held as much work to maintain as two, and better protected by the hull’s skeg in shoal water. So why double his trouble with a second screw? If the one engine fails, he has his single-side-band radio to fall back on. “That’s my second engine,” Warfield says. That’s one man’s idea of a practical boat.

Reprinted with permission from Sounding Publications L.L.C.