I have done a ton of research
on this type of question, so I'll share a bit with you. Note that none of this is yet tempered by experience. I have just begun the purchase
of my first cruising boat, a Grand Banks
For reasons why many are skeptical about Sea Rays and Cruisers, check out David Pascoe's yacht reviews
Boat Reviews by David Pascoe, Marine Surveyor - Index
He would put you on a Bertram or Hatteras, but check fuel consumption
numbers before you choose that route
- they get under 1mpg in the size range you're talking about.
If you can tolerate low speeds, the trawler is the best type of boat considering its spaciousness. It's worth spending a few extra bucks for a true powerboat as compared to a sailboat shorn of sails
, mainly because maintenance
is much easier when engines and machinery are easy to access. Maintenance
is almost prohibitively difficult on many sailboats. The smaller the boat, the harder it will be, because things are packed together very tightly. Check out Pascoe's review of the La Fitte 44 for more information on this topic.
Trawler interiors tend to have beautifully crafted dark wood finishes. They look a little like an old style gentleman's club. Depending on your wife's sense of style, she might love or hate it. Punch up trawlers in Yachtworld and see what she thinks of the interiors. Give her a budget for home decor items and she will probably brighten up the interior
a bit with linens and be happy with the result.
Trawlers have big windows and tend to be light and bright for this reason. Contrast that with sailboat interiors and your wife will probably see reasons to love a trawler compared with competing boats.
There are two types of trawlers: "True" trawlers and semi-displacement. Almost all trawlers sold are semi-displacement, because they are faster. The Grand Banks
Trader, CHB, etc are all semi-displacement. Kady-Krogen and Nordhavn are full displacement
boats are considered better in extreme weather
conditions, and essentially force economy on you, because they cannot go fast. The "hull speed", a figure based on boat length at the waterline, is essentially their top speed no matter what power they have in them. In the 42' range, hull speed
is about 8 knots. So with a full displacement, you absolutely, positively, cannot exceed that speed. Fuel economy is going to be around 3mpg.
Semi-displacement boats are likely to be the wiser choice for most people. The Grand Banks 42 is the most popular and well liked version of this design, but there is a bewildering array of choices. The 42 almost always comes with twin engines, which make it significantly easier to control, albeit more expensive to run. It gets about 2mpg at 8 knots. You can get to 12 knots as top speed with twin 135hp engines. At your price
range, you are unlikely to find faster engines.
A major problem with the full displacement designs is that they have layouts designed for miserable conditions. The Nordhavn 46, for instance, is designed for almost exclusively indoor living. There is no flybridge or significant outdoor spaces for lounging. It is beautifully made - perhaps even more so than the Grand Banks - but it's woefully impractical for enjoying the tropical lifestyle that you (and I) want to experience.
A Grand Banks is considered a superior quality brand, and for that reason is significantly more expensive than other trawlers. There are two schools of thought regarding this: First is that you get what you pay for, second is you pay for what you get.
That is, you get a higher quality boat with Grand Banks, but at the age we are talking about, quality maintenance and upkeep is more important than original boat quality. So if you can find a Marine
Trader that has been completely rewired and redone by a passionate owner, it's likely to be a better deal than an average condition Grand Banks. However, you are more likely to find a Grand Banks in that kind of condition, because most Grand Banks owners have a lot of pride in their boats. This in turn helps resale values.
At the same time, if you do buy a Marine Trader, and upgrade it to superb condition, you are likely to lose almost all your money
on resale, because nobody will really believe you because they are familiar with the reputation of the boat. In other words, no matter what, the higher quality brand will keep its value better and most likely be less frustrating to keep running.
Not that a boat is an investment, you understand. It will decline in value. But a brand name known for quality will decline less in value, and be less difficult to resell.
As you can see, this is an exceptionally complex subject. There are a lot of parameters you should understand. Bear in mind that you are spending close to the purchase price
of a house on boats like these, and so you should put the same amount of care into the purchase.
Hope that helps.