Sunday, 8 April 2007

Trailer Trawler - Why?

I think I'm a true sailor at heart. I really do!!. Except I don't like to fold sails anymore. Or pull them up and down, or get hit by the darn jibbing boom.
Time to change !!

I've been cruising the South Pacific and the USA over a 30 year span.
During that time I experienced long enjoyable ocean passages as well as enjoying the inside passages of both coasts of the US, crossed the great lakes and 3 trips to Alaska.

One thing I realized over these many miles was you don't actually need a huge powerful fuel sucking boat to see some of the most interesting places.
While we were cruising the inside passage to Alaska in "Billabong" and "Foreigner" (Sailboats,43' and 41' respectively) we would watch HUGE power boats come in a bay fill their fuel tanks and race off into the horizon (watching the $$ fly out the window). At the end of the day we would typically end up sharing the same anchorage, but I really think we got to enjoy more of the scenery as we traveled along at our 6 knot max.

The other thing that did be come apparent to me was that I actually motored many thousands of these miles in my sailboats !! Now granted, Alaska isn't the best place for a sailboat (not much wind or too much) and the East Coast's ICW is just a no go to sail, but it did trigger a thought..

If I could (and did) travel a fair old amount of the US + 3 Alaska trips on a 20,000lb sailboat with a 45hp diesel and not even notice the fuel costs !! then, a light weight, trailerable cruising trawler, with a lower horsepower engine, designed specifically for these situations would be a winner for me !! Especially, as with a reasonable size vehicles I could travel from coast to coast lake to river. superb !!

In order to develop such a boat I needed to focus on the weight of the hull design and turned to my previous training on vacuum infusion.
I perceived a boat, designed using vacuum infused panels which can be far superior to conventional hand laminated or molded techniques for weight to strength ratio.
Fellow sailor and boat Designer /builder John Sayer assisted with laminate schedules which we chose based on those used for a 40 foot ocean going catamaran. Having built my first composite boat back in 1974 (and its still going great) I was comfortable with handling the structural design Myself.

I chose a displacement hull over a planing hull to provide best fuel efficiency at the speed the boat was intended for (6-10 knots). Typical planing hulls only reach their efficiency after getting up on a plane, causing increased fuel consumption at lower speed (not planing). Lower speed constraints were based on regulations (large potions of ICW east coast), debris (big big logs in Alaska, many of which I hit) and the enjoyment of the passing scenery.

John Sayer currently uses this vacuum infusion technique on his world class ultra light racing yachts with outstanding results.

Advantages I saw:
  • Trailerable - Extended choice of cruising grounds (move between East and West coast's) Using the Highway instead of exposed ocean passages for more expansive crusing
  • Store and work on the boat on land, reducing slippage and anti-fouling maintenance costs.
  • Reduced fuel costs and extended range.


Anonymous said...

Aloha Steve, You make good sense. Having traveled with you up the East Coast's Inland water way, Alaska, and Hawaii, I'm ready. Especially since I've grown old like you too. Another popular cruising area this could work is Mexica/Sea of Cortez. What does your brother Phil think?

Wife Cindy thinks we're all buggered, but she will come around.

Aloha, Jim

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