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The following was inspired by a recent question from one of our readers.

When examining the options for cruising boats, it’s really not simply a question of one hull or two, the power vs. sail argument needs to be addressed as well. I’ll admit that power boats, trawlers most notably, are in the minority when it comes to cruising boats, especially this far south, but we have met many couples who call boats like that home.

What are our thoughts on them? We are envious as hell! The trawlers we have had the good fortune of being invited upon have all had a tremendous amount of room. The word “house” comes to mind! They are normally kitted out with all the latest gadgets and their big engines drive big alternators which in turn keep their battery banks nicely topped off. What does that mean? They almost always have a big icemaker!

Is there a downside? The only obvious one to me is money. I have no idea how much fuel a typical trawler burns at cruising speed but I imagine that the diesel costs alone would break us. We needn’t really worry about that though because we couldn’t afford any of our friends’ trawlers anyway!

That’s what I’m talkin’ about!

The moral of this post? If you have power boat experience and feel more comfortable on a boat like that than you do on a sailboat, don’t let that stop you from heading south. We have met many people on trawlers who have blazed the trail for you. Come on down and join us, and please bring your icemaker with you.

Here are few “Trawler” blogs to prove that I’m not just making this up:

Have you been cruising on a trawler, especially south of the US? Please comment here and let us know!


  1. A power boat (we have had 4 over 34 feet to 41 feet) will cost obviously more money up front for purchase. Whether it be a tug, trawler or any other power boat, the annual costs will run about 10% of the value of the boat. Obviusly if you stay on the hook, use lower fuel burn, do everything yourself,etc., that cost will go down. The one question we have to answer is “which boat will provide me with freedom”

  2. Even if you don’t go further south than the Florida Keys trawlers are more comfortable and can be used as a mini-condo. When you are travelling the ICW you are mostly under power no matter what you are in and once you hit Florida you rarely have to call for a bridge opening in a trawler. This year travelling the gulf stream to the Bahamas was our next destination until Al had his devastating health incident. We don’t have an ice maker but we do make ice.

    And I know you are not a brokerage, but Close Knit in all likelihood will be sold. So anyone wanting a sweet 34 ft trawler (circa 1977)with a new engine and transmission, she’s a comfortable little boat.

    Yes, I am one of the women you make fun of for their boating ignorance. Other than helming for pee breaks I don’t nor am I interested in learning the electricity nor engine workings on a boat. So me learning to captain her and continuing the dream with a disabled partner, is not going to happen.

    Keep living your dream while you have your health. This getting old isn’t for sissies.

    • Add an icemaker… it’ll help Close Knit to sell faster. 🙂

      And YOU are not one of those who I make fun off. In fact, I don’t make fun of anyone. The post to which you are referring was not intended to be funny. That subject actually pisses me off!

  3. Mike,
    Thanks alot for the info. It is getting harder and harder to go to work in the morning. Might get down your way sooner than planned!


  4. Saw some real nice Trawlers while at a state park marina on the FL Gulf coast. They’d all come out on the weekend and would travel less than 3 miles to the park. Rarely did they go further. One guy even envied me my little sailboat as we were making our way down the coast by sail. Mainly he envied the fact we could take the time for a long trip, but we don’t have big boat payments with the jobs needed to support them. I’d thought it was an expensive fuel week as we’d bought 2.5 gallons. Most weeks we’d use a quart or two.

    There were a few exceptions to the short trip folks. One even had a full sized motorcycle onboard and the crane to move it. Sweet boat.

  5. I’m a sailor, that being said I own a Trawler, for 3 reasons, Comfort, Safety and one hell of a lot less maintenance than a sailboat, been there, done that, fuel is an issue, but my boat burns 1.5 gallons per hr. I only need to fuel up once a year and it costs 1200.00, in my opinion that ain’t bad. I want a sailboat too. a Shannon !!!

  6. The fuel costs for our 53′ trawler are not the largest expense by any means. Even for this 80,000 lb displacement boat, we burn 4 gallons per hour at about 8 knots or 2 miles per gallon.

    But if you’re going to compare movement costs against a sailboat, you really have to compare all costs. The wind might be free but sails and rigging aren’t. For the typical cruising sailboat, we can purchase a lot of fuel (even today) for the price of a new set of sails that need to be replaced every now and then. I know it isn’t the same cost but it helps to even the score a little.

    Bottom line – my wife and I like the added comfort of having all the power we want, all the water we need, and the safety of being able to travel in most all conditions in a predictable way.

    And yes, we have an ice maker and a large store of ice all the time.

  7. My husband and I, former sail boaters, retired in 2010. We bought a 1985 42 foot Chung Hwa Present sundeck trawler in March 2011. We moved aboard April 5th 2011 and cruised from Charlotte Harbor, FL across Lake Okeechobee and down the coast, harbor hopping to Key West. We decided we liked Marathon and stayed there for 9 months from June-February. There’s a great cruising/boating community there and things are very convenient. We left Marathon in February 2012 and cruised slowly north up the Intracoastal Waterway. We reached the Georgia border in April before heading south again. We chose to make Port Salerno, near Stuart, FL our home base for awhile. We cruised across to the Bahamas for a month from May 5th to June 5th and had a wonderful time! We left our boat in June, hauled out in Stuart for hurricane season, and have been traveling by car visiting and staying with family. We will be back home on our boat in October. We hope to spend Jan-March in the Bahamas, then head north next spring to do the Great Loop! I love living on our trawler, it is so much more spacious than a sailboat and has all the comforts of home. We get good gas mileage, for a motor yacht, because we only cruise at about 6-7 mph. We choose to anchor or catch a mooring ball most of the time so we seldom pay marina fees. Anyone considering the live aboard lifestyle should definitely consider trawlers when making their decision. We always assumed we’d retire onto a sailing catamaran and had never even heard of a trawler until 2010! There is a large trawler community with a club and website for questions, advice, etc, also. Sincerely, Sue

  8. My 370Hp Turbo Volvos cost me a gallon a mile at full tilt 22 kts, but a single Lugger in one of those would be about 2 to 3 GPH at 6-8 kts maybe. Stick to a sail cat and do the mileage, low carbon footprint and ecologically more friendly. IMHO Rob

  9. At marinas by me, gas is at $4+ a gallon. To fill up a 37′ Pacific Pilothouse (400 gallons) would be $1,600. Which by the way is about 1.% of the cost of the boat I see on Yacht World. Quick Google(happy birthday by the way 🙂 ) search brought me to There someone stated moving at 8knots they burn 8gph, at 7 knots they burn 4gph. So lets say about 1.5mpg. With these rough estimates, I figure they get 600nm a tank. So a trip from Cape May,NJ to Fort Lauderdale, FL is roughly 900nm if you stay in the Atlantic. So that nice trip is costing you about $2,400. Personally, I would go the more economical way and sail. Although, I have to say that in the thread I was reading they said sailboats have some extra costs to them such as a new set of sails, new rigging, and other varied costs. But how often do you buy a new set of sails(use a sewing machine to repair) or buy new rigging. But I guess it comes down to space and price. With a trawler you have more livable space per foot than a sailboat. Although this space comes at a premium, do you value livable space more or extra months or even years cruising with the money saved? Have any input into this comment?

  10. This getting to be a phobia of mine. 🙂 How is it that EVERY picture you post of the sea and boats, it is ALWAYS calm!!!!! ?????

    Every time I go to my little cat here in the UK, it is anything but calm, and getting out to her on the mooring can be unpleasantly exciting.

    It makes me green with envy! 🙂 🙂


  11. Thanks for the plug Mike!!! Yes we share our ice and large aft deck with all our sailor friends !!! I’ve seem the studies that show at the end of the day trawlers and sailboats ultimately cost about the same go operate (see Jeff Seigle ‘s comment)…but I envy you your ability to go further than we can — unpredictable the wind , but you’ll eventually get there– anywhere on the world. When we run out of fuel we are dead on the water and screwed!! We equate operating our trawler to
    the cost of operating a house — which we don’t own. Rationalization will get you anywhere and everywhere !!!! Just follow your dreams!!!

  12. Now compare Power Cats that’s my dream!

  13. Hi,

    When we first thought about cruising we intended to do it on a trawler. Then the economy and housing market went in the tank and we were faced with a choice – give up the dream or learn to sail. We bought a sailboat that we’re happy with and here we are living our dream.

    Trawlers are great – but at the end of the day you either adapt or you stay home.

    S/V Sweet Escape

  14. I have an Albin A25 “pocket trawler”. It’s very pleasant for up to 4 people for about a week or indefinitely for me alone. It has a reliable little two cylinder diesel and I only burn .4 gallons per hour at 7 knots. It’s a great, solid rig and very seaworthy.

  15. Hi there, here is a great resource for similar products:

  16. hello- I am looking for a way to spend some time on a trawler cruising theBahamas with my almost grown kids this summer. We have always had power boats-for fishing, diving and skiing, but the kds hear tales of the “GreenEyed Lady” that we cruised on for several years before we had them, and we are considering going back to that style of travel. Can you suggest anyone interested in a private charter in July?We are completely open to the itinerary, and would cruise as friends.In the past we mostly spent time around the Abacos. Any suggestions would be wonderful as this is something we always wanted to share withour children and life got in the way.

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