Best Trawlers for 2023 – Top 5 Options to Consider
Swift Trawler 50
Nordic Tugs 54 Trawler
Ranger Tugs R-23
If you love the idea of long-range cruising on the open ocean in a seaworthy vessel that offers the creature comforts you need to live in your watercraft for extended periods, a trawler is precisely what you need in your life.
It’s the closest thing you can get to a yacht without the hefty price tag that comes with it. If you squint hard enough, trawlers look like mini-yachts.
They are stout vessels fitted with powerful engines, a skeg, and a displacement hull designed to plane on the water. Below deck, you’ll find a pilothouse forward, an engine room, a freezer hold, a galley, and accommodations that can host a small crew.
But, perhaps the most important feature of trawlers is that they are designed for fishing. Most come with heavy fishing machinery such as net rollers and trawl winches, which incidentally, is how these vessels get their name. They tow a net through the water to herd and capture fish – a technique known as “trawling.”
So, what are the best trawlers, and how do you choose the best one? We’ve reviewed the top 5 options and put together a comprehensive buyer’s guide to help you pick the best one.
How to Choose the Best Trawlers – Mistakes to Avoid
There’s an old saying that trawler owners have some of the most impressive cruising résumés in the boating world. That experience has come, in large part, from trial and error.
And, make no mistake about it – the opportunity to make a big blunder is always lurking around the corner. In this buyer’s guide, we explore some of the mistakes to avoid when you go trawler shopping, as well as some useful tips that will come in handy when looking for the best trawlers.
1. Setting Unrealistic Expectations
This is the easiest of mistakes to make, especially if you’re a first-time buyer. But, as long as you do your homework and research on the boat you want to buy, it’s easy to minimize the chances of making this classic rookie mistake.
The first step involves a serious introspection about what you want to use the boat for – for the first five years, at least. Five years is the sweet spot.
Do you plan to use it for some heavy-duty fishing, or do you intend to use it more for recreational purposes like cruising the open ocean waters with your family? Once that’s clear in your mind, then and only then can you start the search for your perfect boat.
There are three main things you need to think about when looking for the best trawlers to buy.
First is the hull design. This is important since it will affect the way your boat handles in rough waters. Ideally, you want a boat with a full-displacement hull that’s ballasted.
It should be able to give you the range you need to make long ocean passages and economic enough to get you to your destination and back without having to spend a small fortune in the process.
If, on the other hand, you want to get to your destination faster and don’t plan on venturing into exceptionally choppy waters, a trawler with a semi-displacement hull will suffice since it runs faster compared to its full-displacement counterparts.
The next thing you need to consider is the overall safety of the trawler you want to get. Some of the features you should be looking out for include its ability to navigate extreme weather conditions, remain stable in the rough open seas, and carry heavy equipment on board. The vessel you buy should also be unsinkable.
Finally, you should think about the comfort and convenience features that come with the boat. You are, after all, going to be out at sea for long periods.
Now, if the purpose of the boat you’re getting is exclusively for fishing, then you can get away with buying a basic boat with Spartan accommodations. Such a boat would be more focused on the fishing features built into the boat’s design and less on luxury.
On the other hand, if you intend to use it for recreational purposes, the majority of the time, get a boat whose interior setup makes it ideal for the whole family. It should have plenty of comfort and convenience amenities that make it feel like a home away from home.
Once you know the type of trawler you want to get based on what you plan to use it for, you can now start narrowing down the specific models that embody your vision for the perfect boat. Sea trials should soon follow to give you a feel of the trawler’s handling characteristics.
We cannot emphasize enough how important this step is. This is why you should take the sea trial bit very seriously. So, while the boat is still at the dealer’s dock, schedule a long sea trial, preferably in iffy weather, to put the trawler through her paces.
If you’re happy with the results, you can now address your expectations of the boat one at a time. Keep in mind that you may need to compromise on certain aspects of it. Nonetheless, based on how much customization the manufacturer allows for, you may be able to get a good number of the features you might want it to have.
2. Underestimating the True Cost of Owning a Trawler
This is yet another common mistake most first-time boat buyers make. You may become so fixated on buying a trawler that you end up overlooking the operational costs that come with owning one.
Now, owning a boat is nothing like owning a car. While both pieces of machinery need regular maintenance and occasional repairs to keep them in good running form, the costs associated with each are worlds apart.
A seemingly simple task like cleaning your trawler is nowhere near the price of taking your car to the drive-through carwash to get it spick and span. The process may involve getting experienced scuba divers to clean the underside of the trawler for you. That aside, other costs you have to factor in include:
- Boat insurance
- Fuel and oil changes
- Monthly slip fees at the marina
- Servicing and repair
- Spare parts
- Waxing it every 6 months
- … and several other expenses
Once you add all these up and break the figure into a monthly rate, you’ll be able to get what the true cost of ownership is. Buy a boat that’s within your budget while factoring-in what it will cost to run it.
3. Buying the Wrong Type of Boat
Again, this all comes down to your intended use of the vessel. If you’re looking to buy a liveaboard trawler, you might want to get something with a little more room. Boats can start to feel a little claustrophobic after a while. So, if that’s going to be you and your family’s full time living space, you might want to consider how much livable space the boat in question comes with.
The other thing you need to think about is the overall speed of the boat. A trawler with a full-displacement hull may offer the stability it needs to combat the high seas’ rough waters, but the tradeoff here will be speed. Boats with this type of hull move painfully slow through the water.
Think – A snail riding on a turtle’s back going, “Weeee…” as the wind blows across the snail’s head. In this case, you would be the snail, and the full-displacement-hull trawler would be the turtle. You may even experience the occasional sailboat zooming past you as you trudge along the water.
So, if speed matters a great deal to you, you’ll need to buy the right type of trawler. Perhaps one with a semi-displacement hull instead?
4. Not Involving Your Partner in the Purchase Process
The secret to the successful purchase of a trawler is a lot like relationships themselves: compromise.
To avoid putting your trawler up for sale less than a year after purchasing it, ensure your partner is involved in the decision-making process. You need to find a boat that you’re both happy with; otherwise, that’s just a disaster waiting to happen.
Since you’re both going to be spending considerable amounts of time out at sea, it’s important that boating is an equal passion for both partners. The boat in question needs to have the features and amenities you both want in a great trawler.
Granted, you may not get a vessel that addresses all the individual needs of each party, but it’s about compromise once again. Find a middle ground that makes you both happy.
5. Impulse Buying
Trawling is a lifestyle, not a hobby. If it’s a day cruising boat you’re after, this isn’t it. Trawlers are designed for people who intend to spend most of their time on the water, fishing in the high seas.
So, if you recently attended a boat show and fell in love with that swanky-looking trawler you came across, you might want to pause before you go ahead and purchase it. As a rule of thumb, never sign a contract when you’re at a boat show – tempting as it may be.
Don’t get sucked-in by the artificial pricing of boats, only to end up entangled in a long-term financial commitment simply because you made an impulse decision in the heat of the moment. Understand what trawlers are intended for and take the time to figure out if that’s the lifestyle you envision for yourself for the next five years.
If it is, avoid making the mistakes outlined in the previous sections when choosing the best trawler to buy.
The Ultimate Adventure-Filled Lifestyle
If you’re passionate about the trawling, we recommend getting any of the 5 boats we’ve reviewed in this guide. Ensure that you avoid making the common mistakes made by first-time boat buyers when shopping for the best trawlers.
One thing is for sure, though. You’re about to embark on the most thrilling adventure of your entire life.
In the meantime, if a yacht is more your speed, we’ve reviewed the best yachts. They’re worth checking out.