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Date: 27 April 2017. Buying a Big Boat (part 3)



I rambled on at the fingertips. You might wish to pour yourself a cuppa caffeine. "Buying a Big Boat" turned into a three part series. This is the third article in the series:

  1. Buying a Big Boat (part 1)
  2. Buying a Big Boat (part 2)
  3. Buying a Big Boat (part 3) ←this page

For those that prefer to read the entire series on one page, this is the link you want:

Buying a Big Boat Series


Search criteria for boat buying is something each individual has to decide for himself. Having elbow room in the engine room is critical in my view. If you cannot easily get to engine components to do routine maintenance you will not do it. I can practically guarantee that the previous owner did not do preventative maintenance either.

If it is not easy it will not get done. I find that true in many aspects of my life.

The larger the boat, the more complicated ship systems will be. Make sure your pre-purchase surveyor has the experience to do a great survey for you. He needs to be able to interpret what he is seeing. His conclusions should be detailed and accurate.

A fellow who routinely surveys fishing boats is not the guy
you want looking at your inboard propulsion motor yacht.

Regarding Power:

My Seaweed has one 30 amp power inlet. A larger more complex boat would require additional power. A cord capable of carrying 50 amps is likely necessary to run larger capacity air conditioners, washers and driers, microwaves, etc. Your surveyor needs to understand wiring and more. The surveyor I hired pre-purchase was not very good incidentally.

So you have decided you want a 45-60' trawler. One decision will be determining hull composition. Do you want fiberglass, steel, aluminum or wood? For goodness sake, pick a surveyor who knows your hull type. A person who knows and understands steel might not be so well versed in the intricacies of a wooden boat. The obverse may well be true too.


Make sure you have chosen the correct surveyor.


How to Find a Surveyor:


Your best bet for finding a surveyor is to ask for recommendations. Be specific. Tell what type of boat you are considering and where it is located. There are *some* excellent wood boat surveyors. Ditto steel and aluminum. Most surveyors have far more experience with fiberglass and are better able to offer an educated review of said 'glass boats.

DO NOT ask the seller's broker for a surveyor.

I would first ask on Trawler Forum. The folks there are primarily power boaters, though many were once sailors. It is a good group of folks.



Because I have plenty of power, the niceties that make life pleasant for those of us past the half century mark are on my Seaweed. I am quite comfortable now. I do not have to conserve power because my solar panels keep up with my usage. Thank you Bucky.

What I would have enjoyed at thirty will not work now. I want decadence!


Finding a Last Boat when we are of "a certain age" brings into play many things that those younger might not consider. Often early retirees want spare cabins for their children and grandchildren to use when they vacation. All too any times those cabins become storage rooms. Younger people simply do not have the time to devote to leisurely cruising. That is most unfortunate.

John and Tracey aboard their beautiful Selene 4714 named Pairadice.

I would encourage couples to focus on what will work
for them and not count on many overnight visitors.

The original Hatteras advertising showed crew quarters forward of the galley. That stateroom could easily accommodate visiting grandchildren. The extra cabins on your yacht might become an office, tool workshop or sewing nook.

There are a lot of options with the extra cabins found in larger vessels.

Lady Catherine is a gorgeous motor yacht.

In Pete and Deb's letter they said "So after lots of reading, looking and talking to people we have decided on a 45-60ft Trawler type boat with full/semi displacement hull.. more towards an *LRC... small displacement natural diesels (prefer twins) of the "old school" type with manual pumps etc... Fiberglass hull, preferably no teak decks"

*LRC - Long Range Cruiser. A motor yacht capable of extended voyaging without the need to take on supplies such as fuel, water or foodstuffs.

That search criteria does not seem unreasonable. Know this though: finding a gem is not easy. Be prepared to pay $$ for one that meets your needs. Do not dawdle before making an offer. Your broker can advise of contingency wording so if the vessel does not pass the survey you can back out.


How we sold our 40' sedan cruiser with fly bridge back in 2001:


Mother put a sign in the starboard forward window on Saturday. Sunday a broker saw the sign and Mother listed with said broker that afternoon.

We had an appointment with a fellow Monday. A second appointment was scheduled for Tuesday with another guy.

First guy offered full cash with a closing on Wednesday. Tuesday's fellow called Monday evening meeting our asking price as well, sans survey. We had already signed off on #1. From listed to sold took less than a week.


When you are ready to pull the trigger, do not wait.
Do make your offer contingent upon an acceptable survey.


I have been on innumerable boats since last fall with a neighbor. He is shopping for his Last Boat. We have not found a suitable one. Yet.

Every boat we have seen thus far described as "turn key" (meaning ready to go, perfect) was not. I wish folks would say needs major overhaul or leaks like a sieve but otherwise okay. All boats need something, at least at the lower end of the dollar scale. I recently wrote
Turn-Key versus Fixer-Upper about this very topic.

"I remember coming to grips with the notion that I could spend six digits
on a boat and still come home with a fixer upper."  6-Pack on TrawlerForum.

Congratulations folks. This life can be yours too.

Taking a training course is a good idea. Chartering a variety of boat types is an excellent idea. Being aboard for a day or three at a dock is valuable. You will want to know what layout works best for you. Do you prefer the galley down or up? Do you want a pilothouse or a sundeck? Is your dream a go-fast cruiser or would a stately Dock Queen better suit your needs?

Boating is a lifestyle. Pick the vessel that best fits you.

For the social set, a marina is a great place to have potluck dinners.

At anchor I've shared meals with folks too. I met Bear and his son Drew three miles offshore.

I provided power while Bear tried to get his engine up and running. That  wasn't successful but we/he tried.

Now Bear's garlic bread was super. I made New England style clam chowder. Bear had spent a fruitless afternoon working in his engine room. A shared meal made the unsuccessful repair experience less onerous I suspect. The story of our meeting is found in the
Three Miles Out (Thursday's Child) article.

Charting a course to large boat ownership can be daunting. Pete and Deb intend to take trawler lessons and charter. Pete says "Then if we liked it, and we can't see why we wouldn't, we'd start looking avidly for a boat..." This is a wise couple.

Pete and his wife Deb are not jumping into yachting without learning all they can. Yes, that will cost some upfront money for charters and such. The value is in discovering that "yes this is absolutely perfect" or "what was I thinking?!?" Either lesson learned is worthwhile.

A boat like Lady Catherine could be in your future... if boating is right for you.

Those new to the trawler world should charter a variety of vessels in order to drill down to what is absolutely necessary. Try a trunk cabin model such as a Grand Banks, a sports fish, motor yacht, a sundeck and more. The more styles of boats you can get aboard, the better.


How to Find the Best Boat for Your Needs:

Selection Process
  • Spend time aboard a variety of yacht styles. Decide which best suits your needs.

  • Do you want a galley up or down? Is a sundeck perfect for entertaining or do you prefer a sportsfish? Pilothouse, fly bridge or both? Walk in engine room or not?

  • Will you be going anyplace where air draft (the height over the waterline) or depth (how deep of water does your boat require) matters?

  • Is there good access to the engine and generator? Can you swap out an impeller, change the oil, replace filters, etc.?

  • Which model(s) fit your requirements and budget?

Know that whatever structure you buy is what you will live with forever. Do not compromise on this issue.

Survey Process



  • Ask on Trawler Forum or Cruisers Forum for surveyor recommendations.

  • Be specific. Tell what type of boat you are considering and where it is located.

  • If your hull type is not fiberglass make sure your surveyor is thoroughly versed in whatever you're interested in.

    Specifically, for wood, steel, cement or aluminum hulled vessels go with an Expert for that particular hull type. You want first hand experience and knowledge.

  • Hire a mechanic to provide a thorough drive train and engine inspection.


Imagine life aboard your vessel.  Does your heart sing? Mine does, and yours should too.


No boat will ever 100% suit you. There is always
something that needs changing, upgrading or tweaking.

After nine years, Seaweed still has a list. Next up, the tuna door creation and possibly a fan installation in the overhead of my pilothouse. Both of those may be done this month. Or next. However, it has been nine years. On a tight budget one must have the patience to work toward perfection.

This life is ideal for me. If you think it is for you as well don't forget this aphorism:

A goal without a plan is just a wish.

Make your dreams come true.


Good luck and happy cruising. Wish me luck on the tuna door and fan installation projects. The fan is rather critical what with summer almost here. Plus I am not quite so flexible as I was nine years ago when I bought Seaweed. Climbing over the transom has gotten old. I would like a tuna door back there.

Thanks for reading. I will see you along the waterways.

How long did you boat shop before finding the one?
And, was your boat local or a long distance away?

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2017, 2023

Categories: Boat Talk, Boats, Characters, Memory Lane,

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