The Upside of Downsizing


By Jim Favors

It was amazing to me to see how much “stuff” we kept taking off of our old boat, the 40’ trawler, when we sold it. Lisa kept reminding me that it had been our home for the last five years so I kind of understood, but it seemed to me like we made a lot of trips up and down the dock moving our personal belongings off. What I understood Lisa to state was that our boat home was no different than a land based home in that we filled every nook and cranny with personal and work items. Because we lived on Kismet full-time and worked from the boat, we gradually began to miss out on the spontaneous attributes that drew us to boating in the first place. We think traveling by trailerable trawler will return us to the exploring vagabonds we truly are because now we’ll be able to leave most of that “stuff” at home.

So, what exactly is a trailerable trawler? I’d like to break down the words and what they mean to me as well as the various rules that different states apply toward towing your boat through them. First of all, for Lisa and me, the trawler part means that the boat would be a smaller version of a large trawler. The boat would have the same basic amenities as their larger counterparts with the understanding that most things would need to be downsized in order to fit into the skin of the more lean and nimble version. The boat could have a diesel inboard or gas outboards, a genset, bow thruster, GPS/radar, master state room, galley, head, dinette, a raised pilothouse if possible. The list of equipment from a full-size trawler to a trailerable trawler would be very similar it’s just that the capacities and dimensions are downsized.

Here’s an example of what a trailerable trawler looks like on it’s trailer, gives you a good idea about overall size, etc.


When I say trailerable it would seem rather straight forward that the trawler in question would need to be able to be towed to qualify. However, just because the boat fits onto a trailer doesn’t mean it automatically qualifies to be considered. In checking various websites, I found that there are no universal, national laws as it relates to towing a boat on a highway. Most states have a height restriction of 13’6” but some are different, most states have a width restriction of no more then 8’6” however, some are more and some less, some have safety chain and breakaway switch rules while again others do not. I also discovered that in states where the width is limited to 8’6” you could purchase a temporary permit, if your boat’s beam is wider than the limit, to tow your boat legally through that state. My research also found the wider boats could not typically be towed at night, some times not on weekends and almost all must travel at a reduced highway speed.

Lisa and I have been gathering information on trailerable trawlers and plan on doing more in-depth research by attending the Fort Lauderdale Trawler Fest (January, 2011-( and later several of the boat manufacturing facilities. We really have not formed any definite opinions yet on any of the makes and models because we’ve never actually set foot on one of these trawlers. We think the more research we do, the better informed we’ll be, enabling us to make an intelligent buying decision. Based on boat magazine reviews and website browsing of several of these companies we’ve begun to put together a list of boats that, in our opinion, have great potential.

Our preliminary trailerable trawler “wish list” (subject to additions) includes: The C-Dory 26 Venture as well as their 26’ TomCat Catamaran, all made in Ferndale, Washington. We’ve also included the Nordic Tug 26, produced in Burlington, Washington (first introduced at the Seattle Boat Show in 1980). North Pacific Yachts has a 28’ raised pilothouse model that’s on our list, built in Asia – their commissioning and warranty service center is located in Oak Harbor, Washington. Ranger Tug has several models that are trailerable but it’s their 27’ model that is appealing to us, they are built in Kent, Washington. Lastly, only because I’ve listed everything alphabetically, is the RF 246 Sedan Cruiser from Rosborough, located in Murphy Cove, Nova Scotia Canada. The Rosborough Boat Company has a long history of boat making, dating back to 1955.

Here you see the 25’5” TomCat Catamaran from C-Dory with twin outboards, which I’ve read has a very stabile ride.

At 28’9” length and 9’6” wide this Nordic Tug has a lot to offer, least of which is its 30-year heritage. We especially like the raised pilothouse.

This North Pacific, at 27’10”, has an impressive list of standard equipment and again we like the raised pilothouse.

This stylish 27’1” Ranger Tug also has a long list of standard equipment, a mini pilothouse not to mention it’s easy on the eye.
Photo by Billy Black

This nice looking Rosborough 25’ Sedan Cruiser is just one of several models built by the Rosborough Family. The twin outboards shown are just one of the power plants available.

So with our early list in hand it’s time to decide what features, benefits, standard and optional equipment are important for our future boating needs. We understand that we’ll not be able to have everything on our wish list, but our objective is to get as close as we can. Our last boat had a washer/dryer so I’m guessing this would need to be scratched from a trailerable boat (not really important to us with this new boating plan). With this aside we do want a generator, an inverter with house batteries, heat/air, refrigerator/freezer, head w/holding tank, shower, hot water tank, dinette area, windlass and a raised pilothouse would be great but it’s not a deal breaker.

Because a boat’s design, layout, construction quality, standard and optional equipment availability are all a bit different the ability to make an intelligent decision requires a face to hull personal inspection as well as a sea trial. The best “first blush” impression, in our opinion, is to board and inspect as many of the models we’re interested in at a boat show, where all or most of the models will be on display. Most of these boats are surely to be at the Fort Lauderdale Trawler Fest in 2011.

Our plan is to attend the show in late January, tour as many of the boats on our list as we can, maybe add a few new ones and narrow our list down for the second round.

Stage two of our plan would be to make a trip to the manufacturing and or service/commissioning centers for as many of the boats we still have an interest in. As luck would have it four of the five companies, on our initial list, are located in the Pacific Northwest. A trip to Seattle, sometime after the Fort Lauderdale Show, to tour the plants, view the production process and take a sea trail, would help us narrow our list down considerably. We may have to make a separate road trip to Nova Scotia, where the Rosborough’s are made.

One of our three sons, Ross, lives in Portland Oregon so a trip out west would be an added bonus. Although Ross has visited us several times over the last five years, we haven’t been to Portland to visit him in about three years. My thinking would be to fly into Portland, visit Ross for a few days then head north to Washington State to start the factory visits. Then, Lisa and I can really dig into the nitty-gritty of the “upside of downsizing.”

The Little Toot, with Lisa and me in the background, did not make our short list of trailerable trawlers, but it sure would be a conversation starter.