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Old 03-08-2016, 15:46   #1
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Cruiser vs. Trawler - how to decide?

Hi,

The wife and I are looking at different types of boats, and we sort of find some overlap between what people call a trawler and a "cruiser."

I understand the displacement hull vs. planing, but when both are diesel the fuel burn seems to shake out reasonable close.

We want a solid boat with diesel motor(s) that sleeps us and a guest couple that we can make single runs between fuel ups of around 150nm absolute max (and that's padded a LOT). Mostly coastal, keys, and bahamas stuff. Overall cost of the vessel matters more than fuel economy or speed of travel.

I can find lots that we can afford in both of these worlds, but what am I missing here in the decision process?

Or am I just hung up on the cruiser/trawler monikers?

Thanks, and happy to have joined. A lot of good info here.
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Old 03-08-2016, 16:10   #2
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Re: Cruiser vs. Trawler - how to decide?

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Originally Posted by fargo007 View Post
Hi,

The wife and I are looking at different types of boats, and we sort of find some overlap between what people call a trawler and a "cruiser."

I understand the displacement hull vs. planing, but when both are diesel the fuel burn seems to shake out reasonable close.

We want a solid boat with diesel motor(s) that sleeps us and a guest couple that we can make single runs between fuel ups of around 150nm absolute max (and that's padded a LOT). Mostly coastal, keys, and bahamas stuff. Overall cost of the vessel matters more than fuel economy or speed of travel.

I can find lots that we can afford in both of these worlds, but what am I missing here in the decision process?

Or am I just hung up on the cruiser/trawler monikers?

Thanks, and happy to have joined. A lot of good info here.
Don't sell yourself short on range!
For example if you want to go to the keys from Ft Myers 130nm to Key west
If you want to go to the Dry Tortugas from Key West 140 min mile round trip no fuel anywhere in between no fudge factor
Bahamas Abacos ok Exumas not so much don't get caught in a situation where all your travel plans are based on where can I get fuel?
You may have to change plans, running to hide from weather for example.
Been there done that last boat 150 nm range new boat 700nm range one less thing to worry about better to have it and not need it than not having or being able to get it (in the Bahamas for instance)
Hope this helps
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Old 03-08-2016, 16:16   #3
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Re: Cruiser vs. Trawler - how to decide?

I don't think the terms mean much any more. I've always thought of "trawlers" as full displacement, single screw boats, but such is not the case now. It seems to be more of a "look".
If it were me, I'd go for a full displacement, single screw, fuel efficient boat, but that's me. If you like to go faster, and have a fat wallet for fuel, go for it.
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Old 03-08-2016, 16:24   #4
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Re: Cruiser vs. Trawler - how to decide?

It does help, that's a good consideration.

If I drop back into a little older boat I could increase range by a lot.
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Old 03-08-2016, 16:30   #5
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Re: Cruiser vs. Trawler - how to decide?

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I don't think the terms mean much any more. I've always thought of "trawlers" as full displacement, single screw boats, but such is not the case now. It seems to be more of a "look".
If it were me, I'd go for a full displacement, single screw, fuel efficient boat, but that's me. If you like to go faster, and have a fat wallet for fuel, go for it.

I second this and range is way more important than your figuring, if nothing else it allows you to bunker fuel, that means buy it where it's cheap and give the high buck places a pass. Plus if you have to drive into 25 kts wind and heavy seas, it will cut your range in half, and that will happen eventually, best to have to not worry about fuel. Places like the Dry Tortugas like has been said, you have to bring your own fuel and don't forget to add in the fuel consumption of a generator, it can add up after several days.
Only time you can have too much fuel is if your on fire. Aviation saying, but it works in the Marine world to.
Those "Cruisers" are sellable now, with fuel so cheap, but the fuel efficient boat will gain in value when fuel hits $4 a gl again, and the Cruiser will be hard to get rid of at any price.
For example, you can't give a Toyota Prius away now, but let fuel get back to $4 a gl again, and they will be sought after again.
I have no idea why energy costs are so low now, can't understand the logic, but I'm not betting it will stay there.


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Old 03-08-2016, 16:33   #6
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Re: Cruiser vs. Trawler - how to decide?

It is interesting to compare gallons per hour to gallons per mile.
If you burn 3 gph making 8 mph in a true displacement boat = 3 g /8 mi.
How does that compare with 6 gph planing at 21 mph = 6g/21 mi.

Just something to consider.
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Old 03-08-2016, 16:59   #7
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Re: Cruiser vs. Trawler - how to decide?

Another good point deblen.

Taking that further, the less time spent crossing open space during a weather window, I agree that's an advantage.

You guys have sold me on higher range.

It's interesting that a planing hull actually has its best fuel economy per mile at higher speed. The numbers are totally different than a vehicle. You have to speed up to get the best mileage. I take the point that weather and conditions each have a vote here too.

Most of our journeys are going to be "let's get there safely and as quickly as reasonably possible, then dig in and chill for quite a while."

I don't think a 7 knot boat shows me a whole lot in this respect. I could do at least as well under sail.
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Old 03-08-2016, 18:05   #8
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Re: Cruiser vs. Trawler - how to decide?

The term "trawler" is now absolutely meaningless and is largely a marketing affectation that the builders have applied to a wide variety of boats that have nothing to do with the full displacement, single engine, trawler heritage.
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Old 03-08-2016, 18:05   #9
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Re: Cruiser vs. Trawler - how to decide?

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Originally Posted by deblen View Post
It is interesting to compare gallons per hour to gallons per mile.
If you burn 3 gph making 8 mph in a true displacement boat = 3 g /8 mi.
How does that compare with 6 gph planing at 21 mph = 6g/21 mi.

Just something to consider.

Good luck getting 6 gal/hr on plane in a boat big enough to cruise on. Perhaps 60 gal/hr!
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Old 03-08-2016, 18:39   #10
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Re: Cruiser vs. Trawler - how to decide?

Quote:
Originally Posted by deblen View Post
It is interesting to compare gallons per hour to gallons per mile.
If you burn 3 gph making 8 mph in a true displacement boat = 3 g /8 mi.
How does that compare with 6 gph planing at 21 mph = 6g/21 mi.

Just something to consider.
I haven't seen any boat that 2 couples could live on comfortably for a week that will do 21 mph on 6 gallons an hour. I have a friend who's 36 foot will cruise at 16 knots on more than 25 gallons an hour.
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Old 04-08-2016, 03:04   #11
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Re: Cruiser vs. Trawler - how to decide?

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Originally Posted by deblen View Post
It is interesting to compare gallons per hour to gallons per mile.
If you burn 3 gph making 8 mph in a true displacement boat = 3 g /8 mi.
How does that compare with 6 gph planing at 21 mph = 6g/21 mi.

Just something to consider.
These numbers are way off.

We used to have a 31' planning boat and it got 1.5mpg when running at around 20mph.
Our 34' sailboat at 6.5mph got around 6mpg.

A single engine trawler doing 8mph won't quite match this but it demonstrates the point. Speed costs fuel.

And yes, trawler is mostly marketing term unless you find a low HP single engine boat.
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Old 04-08-2016, 04:01   #12
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Re: Cruiser vs. Trawler - how to decide?

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Originally Posted by fargo007 View Post
Hi,

The wife and I are looking at different types of boats, and we sort of find some overlap between what people call a trawler and a "cruiser."

I understand the displacement hull vs. planing, but when both are diesel the fuel burn seems to shake out reasonable close.

Or am I just hung up on the cruiser/trawler monikers?

Trawler and cruiser are marketing terms; just shop for boats you like with the features you want/need.

There are semi-displacement hulls, too; sort of in the middle for performance, but also with some of their own advantages. That said, just because all three might be diesel... fuel burn might NOT (not!) be close. Mostly depends on speed. And planing hulls often have large engines that want to be driven at higher RPMs (operating temps).. although slow is certainly possible with management. In any case, large means more fuel (slightly, even at low RPMs), and higher RPMs means more fuel. Too, planing hulls may not be as comfortable at slow speeds, especially in beam seas. Useful to compare NMPG on various boats.

Yes.

-Chris
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Old 04-08-2016, 05:04   #13
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Re: Cruiser vs. Trawler - how to decide?

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There are semi-displacement hulls...
In fact, it is getting harder and harder to find a true, full-displacement hull in a recreational boat. Almost all of them seem to be semi-displacement. I guess most people want to go fast, and don't care if the fuel bill costs them an arm and a leg!
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Old 04-08-2016, 06:18   #14
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Re: Cruiser vs. Trawler - how to decide?

My take on all the above.

The term "trawler" has been misused for marketing and in some boats can be more the look of the boat than the hull design and performance but that doesn't change the fact that a real trawler design is optimized for fuel economy, comfort and stability at displacement speeds. If you decide on a trawler you just need to look beyond the appearance to make sure the boat has more than the looks.

That being said, you can come close to the same mpg results in a cruiser with a planing or semiplaning hull by going at trawler speeds. Then if you want or need to go faster you will have the option. Just because the boat can go 20-30 kts doesn't mean you have to go that fast. And by the way, going faster will absolutely drop the mpg rates a LOT.

Range, I would recommend at least double your 150 nm max.
- you have to consider round trips
- don't want to tie your trips to fuel stops
- sometimes out of the way places might be out of fuel, have contaminated supply or other problems
- if you have a generator or need to run engines to charge batteries you have to factor that fuel use into the calculations.
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Old 04-08-2016, 08:45   #15
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Re: Cruiser vs. Trawler - how to decide?

Why not consider a motor sailor? A good compromise, perhaps?
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