THE PERFECT BOAT!
We have friends and family members who have very young children or grandchildren and they just can't stop talking about these little "bundles of joy." They go on and on - you know the type! Well Lisa and I, unfortunately, don't have any grandchildren - YET. So until that happens we'll continue to direct our unbridled attention to our passion of boating and lately, just like our friends and family, who have small children, this is all WE seem to talk about. I guess you'd have to say we are on a course with a laser like focus. So forgive us if we seem over the top enthusiastic about our new boating plans - until we have grandchildren I guess boating will continue to be OUR "bundle of joy."
After several months of planning Lisa and I flew out of the snow-covered tundra of Northern Michigan to the warm welcoming weather of southern Florida to look at trailerable trawlers. We left on a day when over one thousand flights were cancelled in New York City because of heavy snowfall. Our flight had to be rerouted so we felt fortunate to have arrived without any delays. When we landed in Fort Lauderdale we gladly had to ditch all the cold weather clothing for our more familiar boating attire. It felt good to pull out the shorts, t-shirts and sandals. After all it's no fun looking at boats when you're all dressed up as if you're going ice fishing.
This is the Aspen's roomy, comfortable looking, well thought out interior.
Our plans, for the first three days of our trip, were to attend the Trawler Fest in Fort Lauderdale, the Naples Boat Show as well as look at a privately owned boat north of Naples. So with little time to waste we spent our first full day at the Fort Lauderdale Boat Show crawling all over the Ranger Tug 27 and 29. We also toured the Aspen C90. We were surprised that these were the only trailerable boats on display at this show. Never having been aboard either of these boats we were excited to check out not only the fit and finish but how the boats were laid out and conversely how comfortable they felt to us. Did we feel like we could move around safely? How big was the cockpit? How was the access to the engine? How much storage space was there? We wanted to see the quality of the construction first hand. We needed to actually get on the bed to see if it would work for us. We wanted to find out if the side windows opened and was there enough visibility? Were there roof vents for proper air circulation? Pictures in brochures and or on the factory websites are one way to get a feel of a boat if you can't immediately get on one in person, a few have virtual tours which is really nice, but when you're face to face with the real McCoy, you get a much better understanding of the overall product.
Lisa and I spent a lot of time checking out the Ranger Tugs, mostly the 27' and we have to say, we were duly impressed. I say we were impressed because the 27' Ranger is not only well constructed but it's laid out in a very boater-friendly manner. Little things, like the engine access being from the cockpit instead of the cabin, gives easier access to it and a quieter ride. The fit and finish were exceptional and we could tell they spent a lot of attention to details, like an iPod docking station and a fold up flat screen TV in the saloon - both take up less room - this is key in a trailerable boat where every inch counts. We do, however have some concerns about the wood lined head, which also serves as a shower. Nice looking; but is it practical?
Lisa liked that the captain’s chair flipped up, to make more counter space in the galley.
Although we knew of the Aspen C90 we didn't know ahead of time there would be one at the Trawler Fest. The Aspen C90 is built with a 10' wide catamaran hull therefore providing a nice wide-open saloon with the added benefit of a king-size bed in the stateroom. Because we'll be trailering our boat all over the US and Canada the 10' wide beam makes this boat somewhat problematic for us because of the permits we'd have to purchase every time we travel. I think the C90 would be a fine, comfortable boat - it would provide a stable ride with low fuel burn but its better suited for folks that are not going to be transporting across country on a regular basis, as we will be.
Day two was a road trip across Alligator Alley, to the west side of Florida. Our objective was to look at a privately owned C-Dory TomCat and attend the Naples Boat Show, where we knew there would be a Rosborough RF-246 on display. Like the boats at the Trawler Fest we'd never been onboard a C-Dory TomCat or Rosborough Sedan Cruiser.
I caught Lisa climbing around the exterior of the Ranger 27, she was checking out how the Ranger Tug would handle during docking.
I'd just finished reading, River Horse, by William Least Heat-Moon, the true story of a cross-country navigation on a C-Dory 22. The writer traveled from the Hudson River, on the East Coast, to Oregon where the Columbia River dumps into the Pacific Ocean. The book highlighted the durability characteristics of the C-Dory while handling such a rugged excursion. The C-Dory TomCat, like the Aspen C90, is built with a catamaran hull therefore providing the boat with a more stable ride, less drag on plane therefore achieving greater fuel economy. The boat has a nice open cockpit with no fewer than four storage lockers. Upon entering the cabin, although very functional, it didn't seem to be as homey to us as other trailerable boats we'd been on. With that said what I want you to take away from my comment is that the perfect boat for us is not necessarily the perfect boat for someone else. What we might find desirable in a trailerable boat someone else might not find appealing at all. The important thing is to find what's right for you and get out on the water.
The Naples Boat Show had a little bit of everything, from exotic cars and motor coaches to fishing boats and runabouts but they only had one trailerable trawler, it was the Rosborough RF-246 Sedan Cruiser. We met Peter, the Rosborough Sales Manager, who showed us all of the features and benefits of the Sedan Cruiser. We liked the fact the boat is designed to provide one-third of its space to the stateroom, as well as another third to the saloon/galley and the last third to the cockpit. We liked the fact that the cockpit is available with an optional fiberglass roof extension, providing an area for getting out of the sun or providing a shaded area for an outdoor dinner. Another feature we liked about the Rosborough are the three available propulsion options (I/O diesel, single or dual outboards).
One of the ancillary benefits of our trip was meeting folks who owned trailerable trawlers as well as being able to talk with factory reps. We met one couple from Ohio, at the Fort Lauderdale Boat Show, who are owners of a Ranger 25. They've owned their trailerable trawler for about one year and could not say enough about the helpfulness of the Ranger Tug Company when they had a question or needed assistance. We found the same to be true with the owner we met of the C-Dory TomCat. In both cases we were able to get their unvarnished opinions of their boats handling characteristics, likes and dislikes of their respective vessels, and relationship with the builders. These types of testimonials are priceless when you're looking to buy a boat, whether it's new or used.
Shown here is the TomCat’s signature feature – its catamaran hull.
We had two full days of boat inspections and boarding's where we opened cabinets and lazerettes, looked at engines rooms and heads. We still have the Nordic Tug 26' and North Pacific 28' to examine. Until then we'll evaluate the boats weve seen but I need to state again that there is no one perfect boat! No one-boat design can fit the bill for everyone. With that said, if I could take the best parts of each of the first four boat boats we've boarded while in Florida, I think I could get pretty close to OUR perfect boat.
Here is how I think the perfect trailerable trawler would look like for US (subject to change, after we've boarded the Nordic Tug and North Pacific). First I'd take the hull of either the Aspen C90 or C-Dory TomCat for stability, we'd like to have the king-size bed on the Aspen and we'd like the Ranger Tug's fit and finish, layout and overall looks. If we could then add the sliding pilothouse doors of the Rosborough along with the cockpit hardtop cover we would be pretty darn close to OUR perfect boat.
Rosborough does a great job of maximizing the interior space of a trailerable boat.
I would guess this "fantasy" boat is just that, unless we decide to become boat builders sometime soon. So we'll need to be more realistic and continue the hard job of weighing the pros and cons of each of the models we've looked at. After we've looked at the Nordic Tug and North Pacific we'll be able to narrow the playing field down as our process of elimination continues. Meanwhile we'll be trying to contain our enthusiasm as we anticipate the continuation of our boating adventures.