Weighing the Options


Lisa Targal Favors

As you all know by now we are in between boats, having sold our Fathom 40 a few months ago. We are now actively looking at trailerable trawler models and exploring all of our options. I was initially surprised at all of the new things we would now have to consider when choosing our next boat. We are downsizing not only the size of boat but also, the time we dedicate to staying on the boat. Some of the things I needed in the past, to maintain a functioning household, (or should I say “boathold”) on our old boat will just not be as important as they might have been had we just traded sideways to a similar size boat and we were still liveaboards. In less than two weeks we head down to Florida for the TrawlerFest, in Fort Lauderdale, and a chance to do what we both love – look at boats. It’s been well over a year since we’ve been to a boat show. We helped our friends at HarborView Yacht Sales at the Annapolis Boat Show in 2009, showing our Fathom 40 and talking to boat buyers. So, we are excited and eager to get started. This time though, we’ll be on the other end of the dock, so to speak, boaters who are actively looking for a new boat instead of showing boats.

I know that Jim has stated in his most recent log some of the options available in the trailerable trawler’s that he is mulling over, now I’d like to share with you some of my requirements for our new mode of boating. Since the way we will be boating in the future has changed quite a bit, I need to totally change the way I look at the interior and exterior options along with how we will now stock the boat. This will have me looking at storage space with my new, pared down, list of items we’ll need to find space for. We’ve talked about future boating trips being a week or two in one place, a month or two somewhere else, with a lot of quick trips during the summer in our local cruising area of the Great Lakes. This will be so different from our liveaboard experiences of the past five years and quite frankly, a welcoming new adventure to add to our boating life.

As you can see our Fathom 40 had lots of big windows and they actually all opened to provide lots of fresh air and ventilation.

It goes without saying that at the very top of my list would be finding a boat that provides a safe environment and is easy to handle when docking and moving the boat. This is something that I will get a better feel for when we actually get on the boats we are considering. So, aside from those two very major concerns I am thinking, right now, more about the creature comforts available, or not, and whether we really need some of the ones we’ve enjoyed in the past.

Some of the features we opted for on our last boat were: a washer/dryer, a Trackit set up with DirecTV, generator, air conditioning, house batteries and inverter. All of these items seemed more standard to us since we were talking about the boat being our home, not a vacation or getaway situation so we looked at equipping her as we would a home. We also spent a little bit of time decorating to make her cozy and welcoming, we wanted her to feel like home. Since we are still working while boating we needed to have comfortable spaces to get work done. We loved the pilothouse for this situation because it gave us an extra space to work in and it provided just that little bit of separation sometimes needed when you boat 24/7 with a loved one. Some of these things will just not be as big of an issue as they were with our previous boating lifestyle. We’ll have more flexibility with trip plans and our time. Now, we can choose to leave the work at home.

We won’t need the washer dryer and the DirecTV set up anymore. I really don’t think that we’ll even need an oven. A convection microwave will do now and take up less space. Of course we will still pack our small Foreman gas grill since it’s a great way to cook while on board. The size of the refrigerator will still be important. This is one item that seems to never be big enough on a boat when you don’t always have access to stores and need to stock items to last a week or longer. I wouldn’t change the size of this unit; it will still be one of the important appliances. If the installed model is not big enough we’ll have to consider other add on options. On the Fathom, we also had an electric “cooler.” This is where we kept beverages and overflow produce, especially after we had just stocked up at a store. I think that we may still need this option and there will need to be a spot to install it on the boat. On our Fathom, the unit was stored in the lazarette.

Since I love to cook and we never wanted to sacrifice the way we eat, I had a fully stocked kitchen (tools and appliances) on board the 40-foot trawler. I had many electric appliances to fill in when the oven or stove were too small or could not handle a roast or stir-fry. Now instead of having several of these extra small appliances such as a big electric roasting pan (useful to roast a small turkey or make a big pot of slow cooked soup) maybe I’ll only stock a small slow cooker. Instead of having the bigger food processor I may just take a hand held wand/stick type unit with a small processing bowl. I am thinking ahead a little believing that now storage space will be a precious commodity and one of the main items to consider when choosing which items will end up on board when we shove off the trailer to go explore.

One of the activities we’ll want to continue enjoying on our new trailerable trawler will be a good game of cards while at dock or on the hook. I think Jim beat me good on this day while we were enjoying a free dock at Six Mile Creek on the St. Johns River.

There are a few other “must have” options that will need to be installed on our future boat. On the very top of my list are big windows, with screens, which open on both port and starboard sides for cross ventilation. The reason I’m traveling by boat is to see and smell the surroundings not sit inside with the air conditioning on. It’s not that I don’t appreciate the convenience and sometimes the absolute necessity of having air on a boat; I just don’t like to use it unless I am absolutely melting. It’s one thing to have air installed on board, to have it available when you absolutely need it, but it’s another thing entirely to always have to use it, in the hotter climates, because the windows don’t open. Heat and air are definitely important, especially in the summertime and in many of the southern regions. We must have both but my preference is not to have to use them and opt for fresh air whenever possible. Another must have on my list would be a well functioning inverter.

Because my whole view on boating has recently changed I have now pared down, in my mind, what the very most important activities will be, the ones I see myself doing in our new trailerable trawler. This will also help me define the items we’ll need to take with us to be able to support these recreations. We still have many places we want to explore and I can see us traveling safely and comfortably while spending many sunsets with a glass of wine, and many sunrises with a cup of coffee, sitting on the back deck with Jim as we take in Mother Nature’s gifts and experiencing areas unavailable to people unless observed from a boat. I love to anchor out because of this experience. I also see ourselves meeting and socializing with people on our trips so we’ll need a big enough back deck so that we can sit outside and talk about boating; where we are, where we’ve been but, more importantly where we’re going to explore next.


If you’re a boater, you’ll already know how important it is to congregate with friends and family on the back deck of your boat for happy hour. Here we are relaxing with a lot of our dockmates at our homeport in Charlevoix, Michigan.

Sure we’ll be sacrificing space and all the previously enjoyed comforts of “home” but we’ll be gaining a lot as well. We are looking forward to the new “flexibility” with a trailerable trawler. We have been checking out some of these boats online and I have to say they look very inviting. It’s amazing what the boat companies have accomplished with the fit and trim on their smaller boat lines and I can’t wait to get aboard to begin weighing our options.