Right package for fit and finish

Trawlers: Based on commercial fishing craft, the vessels offer efficiency and ranges of 800 miles or more.

October 12, 2003|By Doug Beizer | Doug Beizer,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Standing in the cockpit of his sailboat with cold rain and wind hitting his face, Vic McCloskey remembers the instant he got the idea to switch to powerboating.

"I'm in the rain feeling miserable and a trawler passes me," McCloskey remembered. "The captain is in the pilot house, wearing short sleeves and drinking a cup of coffee. I thought to myself, these guys know something we don't know."

So after more than 40 years of sailing, McCloskey purchased a powerboat, a trawler.

And McCloskey is not alone, said Rick Franke, a spokesman for the U.S. Sailboat Show.

Not only are sailors making the switch to powerboating, companies known for building sailboats are increasingly expanding their powerboat building, Franke said.

Many of the new designs will be on display at this year's U.S. Powerboat Show in Annapolis.

"Sailboat owners seem attracted to trawlers because the fit and finish is generally more traditional," Franke said. "Down below, they look a lot like sailboats."

Trawlers, which in many cases are based on commercial fishing boats, are well suited for people used to cruising for months at a time in sailboats. While faster than sailboats, trawlers are efficient vessels with ranges of 800 miles or more, Franke said.

Trawlers are often similar to high-end sailboats, in that many are custom or semi-custom built.

Beneteau's 42-foot trawler, for example, costs about $200,000, not including options, shipping and customization. The Beneteau 423, a 43-foot sailboat, costs about $175,000 not including options, according to the company.

Companies like Gozzard Yachts and Shannon Yachts will have new trawler designs on display at the powerboat show. And Hinckley Yachts will display its new Jet Boats.

"This year Beneteau, which most people think of as a sailboat maker, is showing a line of fast trawlers," Franke said.

Gozzard Yachts, based in Goderich, Ontario, is generally known for a series of sailboats, including a popular 36-foot model, said Mike Gozzard, production manager.

But when McCloskey wanted to make the move to a powerboat, Gozzard designers worked with him in designing the 51-foot trawler.

"The Gozzard 53 motor yacht we're taking to Annapolis is the evolution of this design," Gozzard said.

Trawler customers want the boats to be built to the same standards as ocean-going sailboats, Gozzard said.

"So we built our furniture like it is in our sailboats," Gozzard said. "The furniture is built in for rough seas and all the floors are hardwood."

McCloskey and his wife Sarah like to go cruising for months at a time, from Maine in the summer to the Caribbean in the winter.

"We wanted more elbow room and the wide trawler design gives us that," McCloskey said. "We also wanted the ability to go faster."

McCloskey's boat, the Dawn Zephyr, has a top speed of about 20 knots. Cruising at 15 knots, it has a range of about 560 nautical miles.

"Trawlers get around very economically," Gozzard said.

While The Hinckley Company has built both sailboats and powerboats in its 75-year history, in the 1970s the company was almost exclusively a sailboat maker, said Peter Howard, sales director for the Mid-Atlantic region. The company produced a popular Bermuda 40-foot sailboat.

Now, if Hinckley builds 80 boats in a year, 75 of them are powerboats, Howard said.

"In this day and age, people have less time. Sailing is wonderful, but it's time-consuming," Howard said.

"With one of our Jet Boats, people can easily go out for a dinner or cocktail cruise without a lot of fuss," he said.

Hinckley introduced its Jet Boat in 1994 and it soon became the company's focus. Ease of use is a major aspect of the design. The boat is jet-driven, so there is no prop below the waterline, and no need to worry about getting tangled in a crab pot or other hazard.

Hinckley's T29 has an 18-inch draft and a range of 260 nautical miles. And for tight maneuvering, it has a joystick style control call the JetStick.

A 44-foot version of the Jet Boat, which can be built out with twin estate rooms, is popular with people who used to own sailboats, Howard said.

While Beneteau is mostly known as a sailboat manufacturer in the U.S., the company has made powerboats in Europe for years. At this year's powerboat show, the company will introduce a trawler, the Swift 42.

The Swift 42 is projected to cruise at mid-teens to mid-twenties depending on engine size. It has a master stateroom with queen-sized berth, a guest cabin and upper and lower steering stations.

And the industry promises this trend to continue with new models now on the drawing board.

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