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The Trawler - A Fishing Boat, a Pleasure Boat

Updated on October 10, 2014

A Mainship 40 Foot Trawler

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A Trawler is Classy, Comfortable and Slow

The trawler is a boat with a loyal following and for good reason. Trawlers are designed with interior space in mind as well as ample deck space to move around. Because you can walk around the entire outside deck on a trawler, it's an ideal boat for fishing.

As with any vessel, it's a good idea to brush up on your nautical terminology, if only to show the boat salesman that you're not a rookie.

Well-liked as they are, trawlers have their share of critics. Start with one big thing in mind. A trawler is slow. At 12 knots you can save storage space by leaving your water skiing equipment at home. Beginning at the start of the new century, the world of trawlers has seen a new kid on the block: the fast trawler. Some trawler lovers question whether these boats are trawlers at all because their hull design, which makes it possible to plane or skim along the surface of the water, are not true trawler hulls.

But before you decide on a trawler you should ask yourself the question that any boater or would-be boater would ask: Should you buy a boat at all?

Popular Trawler Manufacturers

Albin Marine, Inc.

Beneteau - They also make a "fast" trawler, which some old salts don't consider a trawler

Grand Banks - The Cadillac of trawlers, and priced accordingly

Island Gypsy

Island Packet

Kady-Krogen Yachts

Mainship - The company also makes the Luhrs line of boats

Sabreline Boats

Tollycraft Boats

Express Cruiser - Fast but is it as Pretty as a Trawler?

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The Displacement Hull and the Planning Hull

A displacement hull means that the boat displaces the water in which it floats. It does not sit on top of the water. Think of the difference between a submarine and a canoe. Get the picture? The submarine squats in the water and displaces all of it except for the conning tower. The canoe just sits on top of the water and displaces only a small amount. Cruising sailboats share this same characteristic, except the design is more extreme. That's why the term "hull speed" refers to displacement hulls. The hull speed on a displacement hull sailboat is about seven knots. You can put a jet engine on the back but all you will do is bury the boat; you won't go any faster. There's just so much water that it can push out of the way. Trawlers are displacement hull boats or sometimes semi displacement. A semi displacement hull does not displace all of the water in which it floats, just most of it.

A planning hull on the other hand enables a boat to plane or skim along the surface. Because it's not pushing water out of the way like a displacement hull boat, a planning hull boat is much faster.

Trawlers come with single or twin engines. Most are diesel powered, and most newer single engine trawlers are equipped with a bow thruster. How to dock any single engine boat, with or without a bow thruster, is a skill worth learning.

The Benefits of a Trawler

Because of its slow speed, some boaters can't understand why anyone would buy a trawler. But speed is a quality that not everyone cares about. Moving slowly through the water in a boat of spacious surroundings works for a lot of people. Here are the good points of a trawler.

Appearance - A trawler just looks nautical, unlike, for example, an express cruiser. The salty appearance of a trawler adds to its popularity.

Spaciousness - Because of its design, with vertical bulkheads above and below, the trawler is one of the roomiest boats you can buy. The space design of a trawler allows for the installation of a lot of cabinet space, as well as bunk space and entertainment areas.

On deck accessibility - You can walk completely around the outside deck of a trawler, unlike a typical cabin cruiser or an express cruiser. This feature creates one of the most significant qualities of a trawler: it makes for easy line handling and docking. Especially in rough weather, the ability for you or a crewmember to walk around with a high rail protecting you cannot be overemphasized.

Fishing - The easy accessibility of on deck spaces makes the trawler an ideal boat for fishing. Indeed, that's what the trawler was originally designed for. If you land a large fish, you can walk around the boat while steadily bringing in the line. The ample storage space makes for convenient stowage of fishing gear, and ample space for preparing the fish for a meal.

Steering stations - Many trawlers, depending on size, have both upper and lower steering stations. The top deck is great for enjoying the scenery. A trawler captain will often steer from the top station until he approaches the dock, and then he simply goes below for close maneuvering.

A boat for former sailors - Because of its nautical appearance and conveniences, former sail boaters often move to a trawler. It has the maritime feel of a sailboat without the complication of sail handling.

A trawler is a great boat, if you're not in a hurry. But what's the rush? Once you're on your trawler, you're at one of your favorite destinations already, even if it's docked at your house or a marina.

Copyright ©2012 by Russell F. Moran


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    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Very interesting read my friend; all things I did not know, and I appreciate the education.

    • rfmoran profile image
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      Russ Moran 4 years ago from Long Island, New York

      Thanks Bill.

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