Island Gypsy 36

By Jack Hornor

Revised by BoatUS editors in October 2012

Island Gypsy 37
Principal Dimensions & Specifications
Measurements should be considered approximate and the manufacturer’s specifications may be relied upon. Bow & stern appendages are generally excluded.
Length Overall36’
Maximum Beam13’ 1"
Maximum Draft3’ 11"
Displacement/Weight26,000 lbs
Fuel Capacity400-450 Gallons
Water Capacity200 Gallons
Speed Range15 mph

It's been more than 35 years since trawler-styled yachts were introduced to recreational boating. Their popularity over the years has had it ups and down but there has been a resurgence of interest in these small ship-like designs. Clear evidence of the trawler's rapidly growing popularity is the trawler festival held in Solomons, MD each year. Attendance at the 1998 event was 723 people, up 44% from the 1997 event and 129% from the 1996 event.

If you think this may be your style of boating but you're not quite yet ready to put out the quarter of a million dollars or more for a new 36' model, you may want to take a look at a trawler that's been around for more than 20 years.

Halvorsen Marine Ltd. of Kowloon, Hong Kong introduced the Island Gypsy 36 in 1977 and production continues today.

The Island Gypsy measures 36' on deck with about 20" added for the bow pulpit, the water line length is 32' 10" and the beam is 13' 1". The draft is listed by the manufacturer at 3' 11" although displacement ranges from 25,000 lbs. to 27,000 lbs. depending on model and engine option. This small difference is not likely to effect draft by more than three-quarters of an inch or so.

Over the years the Island Gypsy 36 has been offered with either a sedan or aft cabin deckhouse configuration. Each also offered several options for styling and interior arrangements, all with the emphasis on comfort and livability. All models were built using the same semi-displacement hull form.

One of the most popular models and the featured boat here is the classic aft cabin. This model provides separate and private accommodations for at least two couples. There is a master stateroom aft with a double berth and adjoining head and shower. Forward, Island Gypsy offered the option of one large or two smaller staterooms with a second head and shower. Between, is a comfortable, 95 sq. ft. main saloon that features a well-equipped galley and a dinette that converts to a double berth. The sedan model, not featured here, has a larger saloon with couch, in addition to the dinette, a larger aft deck and flybridge deck. To accommodate the larger deck area and saloon, the aft stateroom and second head were sacrificed.

Both models have dual helms, one at the flybridge and a second in the main saloon. Each helm station has a complete set of instruments for monitoring engine operation. Steering is mechanical and single engine models are equipped with a tiller for use in the event of any steering failure. There is no means for emergency steering of vessels with twin engines although, if both engines remain operable, twin engine vessels can be maneuvered with shift and throttle controls. If, considering your experience, an emergency steering method is an important safety concern; several alternatives are available for twin-engine boats.

Engine options available on the Island Gypsy 36 ranged from a single 120 hp diesel to twin 270 Hp diesel engines built by Lehman, Volvo, Perkins and Cummins. As indicated earlier, the Island Gypsy is a semi-displacement hull form which, simply put, means that given enough horsepower, the boat is capable of planing speed. In theory, planing speed is reached with the Island Gypsy 36 at about 12 knots (13.8 mph). According to the manufacturer, boats equipped with the maximum horsepower available can attain a top speed of 18 Knots (20.7 mph). Most Island Gypsy 36s were fit with more sensible engine installations than the maximum twin 270 hp models. Typically powered with twin 135 hp Lehman diesel engines the Island Gypsy 36 cruises eight to nine knots with maximum speeds of about twelve knots.

Island Gypsy 36

Photo by Don Martin

Fuel capacity is 400 to 450 gallons depending on year and model and fuel tanks are built of welded steel. Steel tanks are prone to rusting and eventual leaking if not adequately preserved with primers and finishes and should be closely observed to spot any potential problems before they get out of hand. According to the builder, fuel tanks on new Island Gypsies are stainless steel. The American Boat and Yacht Council (ABYC), which establishes voluntary, recommended standards for recreational boat construction, recently modified their standard to allow certain stainless steel alloys to be used in fuel tank construction. Stainless steel from the Far East sometimes fails to measure up to American standards and I'll look forward to seeing how the new tanks hold up.

The range of the Island Gypsy will depend, to a great extent, on how the boat is operated. At a cruising speed of 8 to 9 knots the range should be about 400 miles. Although, because fuel consumption increases at a disproportionate rate to speed with trawlers, the range is likely to drop to around 350 miles at 10 knots and under 320 miles at 12 knots.

The hull of the 36 is hand-laid fiberglass cloth and resin with molded-in seams to give the appearance of a carvel planked wood hull. There are molded rub rails below the sheer and above the water line capped with bronze half/round molding to help protect the hull from contact with pilings when maneuvering in and out of slips. Structural support is provided by bulkheads and a grid system made up of longitudinal and athwart ship fiberglass supports around foam cores. Engine stringers are fiberglass-encapsulated hardwood with aluminum channel caps. The hull to deck joint is bonded with fiberglass and resin and secured with screws on 6" centers. The result is a very stiff, solidly constructed yacht.

Decks are also constructed of a fiberglass and resin laminate with hardwood stiffeners glassed to the under side. Prior to the 1999 model year, forward, side and aft decks were overlaid with teak planking bedded and screwed to the deck. This is an attractive and secure deck surface but does add to the routine maintenance requirements. Because the builder does not use a plywood or balsa wood core in the deck structure, water soaked and deteriorated deck cores, commonly associated with teak overlaid decks, should not be a problem.

The hull finish is molded gelcoat. Once removed from the mold, imperfections are repaired and the surface finally spray-finished with marine quality paint. Maintenance is cleaning and waxing. Cleaners and waxes with abrasives may damage or shorten the life of these painted finishes and should be avoided.

Island Gypsy has always offered an impressive array of standard equipment including such conveniences as auxiliary generator, anchor windless, seawater strainers on engine cooling water intakes, LPG stove and oven and a hot and cold fresh water shower at the transom for rinsing off after a dip.

Now that I've whet your appetite, I have to tell you that, according Halvorsen Marine's owner and designer Harvey Halvorsen, only about 150 Island Gypsy 36s have been built and imported into the United States in the last 21 years.

Free State Yachts of Annapolis is the Chesapeake area dealer for Halvorsen and Island Gypsy & Halvorsen Marine Inc. of Warwick, RI is the New England area importer and dealer. Both would be happy to talk to interested people about new or used Island Gypsy models. Bruce Krause of Bristol Yacht Sales in Annapolis purchased an Island Gypsy 36 as his personal boat. At the time we spoke, Krause was not aware of any used Island Gypsy 36s for sale in the Annapolis area although he went to Long Island to buy his and is always on the lookout for good buys for customers.

The Island Gypsy 36 was not designed or intended for use as a true bluewater cruiser for extended offshore passages. However, they are solidly built, reliable and comfortable yachts suited very well to near shore of extended coastal cruising.

Naval architect Jack Hornor was the principal surveyor and designer for Marine Survey & Design, Co., based in Annapolis, MD. He was on the boards of the American Boat and Yacht Council, the National Association of Marine Surveyors, and the Society of Boat and Yacht Designers. He and his wife sailed their Catalina 42, Legacy, based on Maryland's Eastern Shore.

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