Life On the Water in a Trailerable Trawler


By Lisa Targal Favors

Since Jim and I have downsized from a 40-foot trawler to a 27-foot trailerable trawler, friends and acquaintances have been asking questions about how our recent change in boats has affected me as a woman boater. They also want to know if I am still as gung-ho about boating as I was previously. During our planning and discussion stages, I asked myself several questions. Will we be comfortable on a smaller boat? Will we get in each others way? Will I feel safe on the water? How will I deal with limited storage after being used to all that room on the Fathom 40? Will it now feel more like a vacation rather than a lifestyle and my number one question would we still be able to feel a sense of freedom and adventure on a trailerable trawler?

Here is our Fathom 40 and our new Ranger R27. You can see the considerable size difference.

Last year Jim and I made this change to our boating lifestyle, we sold our Fathom 40 trawler and downsized to a trailerable Ranger Tug R27. Long story short, while we loved our Fathom, we had to acknowledge that our needs were changing and when faced with change we like to go with the flow rather than fighting the inevitable. It’s never fun to fight change, you’ll only come out on the losing end, better to recognize the new circumstances and hop on for the ride. I believe the secret to staying young at heart is not being afraid to make changes in your life when the stars are not aligned and you want them reset, fortunately this comes easily for Jim and me. If I was hesitant at all about selling our Fathom and resuming our lifestyle on a smaller boat it was only because with change comes a need to reflect on what’s passed. I had to do this before I could actually focus on what we had to look forward to and how a change might better suit our new situation.

One of my favorite spots on the boat is the canvas covered cockpit area. We can relax here playing games, eating, reading or socializing. When the weather cooperates, this is where we like to be.

During our many discussions we realized we didn’t want to live aboard full-time any more; it was a mutual decision. We wanted to have a house again. We felt we needed a base to return to once in a while. Sometimes we felt constricted by having a bigger boat. We could never, without great effort and time, bring our boat home to the Great Lakes, just for the summer. In addition, in the back of my mind, I was starting to worry about where we would go if one of us got sick. Would we be in an unfamiliar spot and have to leave the boat and rent an apartment or house for a period of time? We are both in great health, but worry-wart that I am, it was gnawing at my mind. After five years of life on board the wheels were turning and so were we. On the flip side one question that came up a lot in our discussions was if either one of us wanted to give up boating? It was always a double, resounding, NO!

My answer to everyone concerned about our switch to a smaller boat is an emphatic, YES! It works for me, for us really. As soon as I stepped on board our new Kismet, I knew everything would be okay. I think I realized fairly soon on that the size of the boat doesn’t matter to me, once on the water it feels just the same whether we are cruising in a 40-foot boat or a 27-foot boat. I guess that’s because the most important thing to me is the freedom and adventure part. However, beyond all that, a well thought out trailerable trawler can offer everything a larger trawler will boast – just in miniature.

Our v-berth doubles as a sitting area where we can lean back and stretch our legs out during the day when we want to read or take a snooze.

Our Ranger Tug is outfitted with numerous amenities. We have a refrigerator, stove, oven, microwave, a roomy cockpit, lots of screened windows, overhead vents, both incandescent and LED lights, heat and air conditioning, an iPod docking station with speakers inside and out, HD/DVD TV, windlass, inverter, generator, solar panel, water heater, both bow and rear thrusters and a roomy, canvas covered, cockpit. My concern about storage was quickly set at ease when I realized that since we’re not living aboard full-time any more, I don’t need to take as much stuff on board because we’ll be returning to a house (and home) periodically where all our other “stuff” now resides. I also discovered that there really is a lot of room, for provisioned items, in the cupboards provided on our boat, as they are much bigger inside than appears, at first glance, on the outside. The little cubby under the oven reminds me of a “clown car.” You just would not believe what I have stored behind that little door.

This is how much stuff I can store behind that little door under the oven.

You would think cruising on a considerably smaller boat would make a big difference to a woman cruiser and truth be told there are some differences, but in my opinion, none that have caused me real concern. Sure, there’s not much to “decorate” on a smaller boat, we are more concerned with function and being comfortable, but now I have a house to fix up, so that’s not great a concern for me.

My friend Diane, on Bella Luna, who knows me well, was concerned that I would get seasick easily on a smaller boat. Well, in our four months of cruising on the new Kismet, I have only had to take Dramamine once. It was when we were at dock in Fort Myers Beach recently and an extremely windy day presented itself, the docks at the marina and our starboard side took the full brunt of the wind, we eventually just left the boat for several hours and it finally calmed down. We have always tried to plan our movement on good cruising days, and I have not noticed a discernible difference on the smaller boat.

In all honesty I have to say we could use another foot of space in our v-berth, it’s rather “cozy,” to say the least, but maybe this is really a good thing. When we return home we can always wallow in our king-sized comfort zone. We know there will be times when we’d like to accommodate another couple for an overnight stay, but we have adjusted to the fact that our 27-foot boat is perfect for just two. What is that saying? “Cocktails for six, dinner for four, sleeps two.” This is reality on our little red Ranger Tug.

RV Park

It takes much less time to clean a smaller boat when we get to port. This gives us more time to get off the boat to explore harbors, towns or visit with other boaters.

Another bonus for both of us is the fact that a smaller boat takes less time to clean, inside and out. Jim would spend up to 4 hours cleaning the outside (about 2 hours for me on the inside) of the Fathom vs. 1.5 man-hours on the outside (only under an hour for me to clean the inside) on the Ranger Tug. One of the reasons I boat is for the simplicity of it all and a smaller boat is definitely simpler – less to fix, clean and maintain. Then comes the savings in the pocket book; less boat equals more savings. A smaller boat costs less to dock, store, maintain, operate, and let’s not forget the difference in the cost of insurance.

For us, Boating has always been about the excitement of exploring new territory, but now that we have added the flexibility factor to the mix we know we have expanded opportunities for new adventures. We will also be able to tow our boat home this spring to use in the Great Lakes – all summer long. At a moment’s notice we will be able to tow it anywhere in the United States and Canada and fairly quickly compared to if we moved the boat by water to the same places. We do not have distant foreign destinations in mind for our cruising activities, we think what’s available in our own country and neighboring Canada will keep us busy trailering, exploring, and cruising for a long time.

We are currently cruising south along the west coast of Florida headed towards the Keys. This photo was taking on our way to an anchorage in Englewood.

I am glad to report, the freedom and adventure factor is still alive and well for the captain and crew on Kismet. Having put my number one fear to rest, we have picked up where we left off. While cruising the west coast of Florida this winter, heading towards the Keys, I’ve virtually forgotten that we used to travel on a much bigger boat. We are living and traveling as we did before. We’ve moved down Florida’s west coast as if we were still living full-time on a boat, moving from anchorage to marina like live-aboard nomads, making new friendships along the way and sometimes changing course when a whim arises. Guess you could say we are just two happy peas in a floating pod.