For This Boating Couple, Less Is More

By Pat Piper

After trading their 40-footer for a 27-foot boat on a trailer, Jim and Lisa Favors have everything they need.

photo of Lisa and Jim Favors in Anacortes, Washington

The first hint of a change occurred last year, while they were cruising the East Coast in a 40-foot Fathom trawler. The Favors had been living aboard for almost five years since selling their home in Traverse City, Michigan. "An adventure" is how Jim describes the decision to see the sights from a boat, and how he describes the move to a trailer boat.

"The idea to get a smaller boat came in stages," Jim remembers. "It wasn't like a light bulb went off. I remember the beginning of the discussion, saying, we've been on this boat for a few years; we've done the Great Loop, traveled to the Bahamas, Florida, Canada, and the Chesapeake Bay, but we've been pretty much disconnected from our family and friends during that time. Still, during some initial talks there was never any intention to seek a trailer boat."

As is a theme with the Favors family, things are subject to change. They retired in 2005, Jim from his job as a financial advisor and Lisa as a graphic artist. "We'd made the decision to sell our home, buy a boat, and take off on the Great Loop boat trip for a year, and look at different towns along the way to see where we might want to live," he says. "One thing led to another, and we decided we liked living on the boat and it ended up being a five-year cruise."

After a sea trial, the new Ranger 27 is brought back to its trailer in Kent, Washington.

Lisa remembers the variety of reactions from friends, neighbors, and family when the words, "We've bought a boat and we're taking off," were first said. "You guys have gotta be nuts living on a boat," she recalls hearing, with a laugh. "And being in such confined space and being away from this and that, and who's going to get your mail? Others, though, were living the adventure through us and saying it was great. We have always wanted adventure in our lives."

That word again. It's what they got as they traveled from port to port, anchorage to anchorage, exploring towns, meeting fellow boaters, and seeing America by water. By early 2010, however, the idea to set foot on land once again had taken hold. They purchased a home in Traverse City, put the trawler in storage in Key West, and spent time with friends and family, some of whom had been the very ones to suggest they were a little looney for having left in the first place. But while the home was being renovated and they were getting used to solid ground, something happened. Lisa calls it "a revelation" as they started looking at what they wanted to do versus paying for what they wanted to do. "We realized we had an expensive boat that was in storage six months every year and it just made sense to get a boat that was trailerable."

Finding The Middle Ground

photo of Jim Favors navigating the Chicago River Jim at the helm as they cruised the Chicago River in the 40-foot Kismet during one of the Favors' many explorations of the United States. Today, they're doing the same thing along the West Coast in a smaller Kismet (below), next to their GMC. Made in America is a theme on this trip.

"We started boating together on a 21-foot runabout," Lisa remembers, "and we camped out on it and went all the way up to Mackinac Island to overnight on it, and those were some of the happiest times we've ever had boating. So we knew we could do that." Jim adds they were both aware that towing the 21-foot runabout to a local ramp and towing a 27-foot trawler long distances were two very different things. "We had to do a lot of research to get the right vehicle to do the job. And in the course of doing that research, I learned you've got your GVWR [gross vehicle weight rating — allowable weight of the loaded tow vehicle], you've got your CGWR [combined gross vehicle weight rating, weight of the loaded vehicle and trailer], tow capacity, tongue weight, trailer weight — electrical hydraulic brakes on the trailer. Do I get gas or diesel? It was all part of the adventure. There was a learning curve and you hear all these acronyms and all of those things, and what did it all mean? Those are all acronyms that have a significant impact on selecting a tow vehicle that is capable of towing. That's critical for safety reasons. I enjoyed the research immensely."

photo of the Ranger Tug R27 Trawler on a trailer

And in the proverbial chicken-egg dilemma every trailer boat owner has faced, the Favors first found the boat, a Ranger Tug R27 trawler, and then went looking for the tow vehicle to pull it, a GMC Sierra. "Our goal was to buy American-made products,” Jim says. "We wanted an American-made truck and an American-made boat to support our economy." This included taking a tour of the GMC plant in Flint, Michigan, where they learned it takes 17 hours from start to finish to build a Sierra. A Ranger Tug, built in Kent, Washington, requires about six weeks to be completed. They got the truck in mid-May and drove to Washington state to pick up the Ranger Tug in late August.

At that point, a few weeks were spent on Puget Sound learning the ropes and becoming familiar with their new Kismet before heading toward Gig Harbor for a Marine Trawler Owner's Association (MTOA, boat club) Summer Rendezvous, then northwest to the San Juan Islands, south to Bremerton for the Ranger Tug Rendezvous before they headed farther south to Oregon, California, Lake Tahoe, and Lake Powell. Then, they drive farther east to the America's Great Loop Cruisers' Association (AGLCA) in Alabama before heading back to Michigan for the holidays.

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