Transforming the Trawler – Introduction

Let’s begin with a  quick recap –

Bringing the boat home

Bringing the boat home in August, 2014

Ten months ago, we brought our 2003 Mariner Orient 38 home from the Chesapeake Bay after we closed on July 25, 2014. We enjoyed her on the water for about 9 weeks and began our adjustment to life without sails. On September 26th the boat was hauled out for her winter hibernation in Portland, CT, about 15 minutes from our home. Thank goodness she was close to home because Al was there several days working on her each week.

The past eight months were spent transforming this trawler into our boat. We have been through this process before as documented  in this blog (50+ Years of Boats.) Al loves working on boats, and I certainly enjoy the fruits of his labors.

After 20+ years of boating together, we have very definite ideas of what we want in a boat. As I have said before- “No boat is perfect, unless Al and I designed it from scratch. ….. You have to make compromises and balance what you need, what you want, and what you can afford. Especially the latter.” After considering and even making offers on a Grand Banks 36 and an Eagle 40, we chose this Mariner Orient 38 for specific features, and we have not regretted that decision. The 6 months that we spent living on our sailboat helped us to re-define what the type of trawler would suit us best and figure out The Answer to the Questions, “What’s Next?”

The features we liked on the Mariner Orient 38:

  • Aft deck with hard roof cover (shade and rain protection)
  • Transom door to access swim platform
  • Door at the interior helm station
  • Large comfortable salon
  • Centerline queen berth
  • Head with a separate shower
  • Guest cabin
  • Wide decks to walk forward
  • Engine size – 220 Cummins, diesel
  • 2003 — Wow! We never imagined we would own a boat built in this century!

A critical point was her price. Admittedly, we did go over our original budget. The more we searched, the more we realized that we would have to do that, within reason. Rationale –

  • We both love boating, together.
  • We needed a boat that would see us into our golden years, and be easier to handle.
  • We want to travel south again and have another adventure.
  • We have a limited number of years remaining to enjoy this together.
  • It’s only money. 🙂

I have kept detailed records of every dollar spent on this transformation. Al fondly recalls the old pre-retirement days when he could do his boat projects without someone (me) recording the cost of everything. It has actually been quite interesting. We could never, ever attempt this without Al’s talents. Of all the projects and changes on this boat, only a few were done by someone else – the bimini and salon cushions, welding the handrails, and the transmission repair. In addition to Al’s expertise and creativity, he is also a master at finding the best deals on materials and equipment.

This introduction brings me to the topic of the next few blogs – “Transforming the Trawler.” The original “to-do” list (from The Next Kindred Spirit (July 18, 2014) included:

  • New bimini (deteriorating) and a new enclosure for flybridge
  • New flybridge seating (cushions are deteriorated and there needs to be another nice seat for the admiral -me.)
  • Better refrigeration (powerboats don’t seem to understand the need for good refrigeration and freezer capacity the way sailors do.)
  • More galley storage
  • Solar panels for free energy to keep those batteries full (a necessity in our opinion)
  • Davits (we don’t like storing a dinghy on top of the flybridge and hauling it up and down all the time.)
  • Update the electronics (boat doesn’t even have a chart plotter, and the radar is small)
  • Autopilot
  • Our biggest concern was that steep ladder to the flybridge.

Even before Unfunded Requirement was renamed Kindred Spirit, Al had begun his “R & R” (Rip and Restore.) The first projects were described in Messing About in Boats, Sept 2014:

  • Settee removal – Poang chairs
  • Xantrex meter and invertor relocation
  • Hanging mugs
  • Davits
  • Solar panels

That original “to-do” list grew exponentially as time passed. Evidently that is the normal course of things. In the 1997 fall issue of PassageMaker magazine there was an article titled “Murphy’s Law of Boat Projects” by Nancy L. Mills. Two of these “laws” struck home for me —

  • “1st Law of Boat Projects: No single project can be accomplished without creating two or three new projects.
    • Corollary To First Law Of Boat Projects: The more complicated the original project, the more new projects it will spawn.
  • 3rd Law of Boat Projects: All projects, no matter how small, will result in the entire boat being torn up.”

“Trawler Fest” is a boat show for trawlers, a self-proclaimed festival of trawlers. We have always enjoyed going to sailboat shows, such as Strictly Sail or the sail portion of the Newport Boat Show. A few months ago when spring was only a daydream, we learned that a Trawler Fest would be held in Essex, CT in early June. Perfect! Why not go? It would be fun and perhaps we would get some more ideas for our boat (Hmmmm….. Do we really need more ideas??)

As we walked over to Essex Island Marina we glanced over at the next boatyard. Sure enough, our old Tanzer 26 is still sitting there “on the hard,” for the past 21 years. Yes, it has been 21 years since we traded that boat (we only owned it for a very short time and never really used it) for an Irwin 37. For that story, take a look at 50+ Years of Boats.

It is still hard to believe that  the "new" owner of our old Tanzer 26 has let her sit on land, unused, for 21 years. Just like he did with his Irwin 37, which became our "Patience."

It is still hard to believe that the “new” owner of the old Tanzer 26 has let her sit on land, unused, for 21 years. Just like he did with his Irwin 37, which became our “Patience.”

TrawlerFest entrance

The entrance to TrawlerFest seemed to indicate an identity crisis. The tent said TrawlerFest, but the banner read “International Cruising Boat Expo.”

Essex Island Marina is separated from Essex by a channel, so a little ferry takes you across.

Essex Island Marina is separated from Essex by a channel, so a little ferry takes you across.

Trawlers - big ones and small ones, 26 feet all the way up to 56 feet. The prices spanned an even greater range from around $100,000 to well over $1,500,000.

Trawlers – big ones and small ones, 26 feet all the way up to 56 feet. The prices spanned an even greater range from around $100,000 to well over $1,500,000.

This is one way to dress a boat with signal flags and weigh them down. BU would you really leave the whiskey in the bottle?

This is one way to dress a boat with signal flags and weigh them down. But would you really leave the whiskey in the bottle?

Over our heads, a drone with a go-pro camera flew above. I am not really comfortable about these things flying over my head.

Over our heads, a drone with a go-pro camera flew above. I am not really comfortable about these things flying over my head.

We stopped at a booth labeled “MTOA.” Truthfully, we were called over to it as we passed by a small group of very friendly and gregarious people. MTOA is the acronym for Marine Trawler Owners Association. The group was originally founded as a Marine Trader (a specific make of trawler) Owner Association in 1990, but it has morphed into a more inclusive organization, embracing all types of trawlers, as well as some sailboats and fishing boats. Membership now numbers 2000 active members, 1000 boats and 40 different states. The group is “not about a specific brand of boat; it’s about friendships, rendezvous, cruising and ‘messing’ around in boats.” That philosophy certainly sounded like a match for us, so we decided to give it a try.

Turtle Times, MTOA quarterly publication

Turtle Times, MTOA quarterly publication

 

The benefits of MTOA membership Include a  website, active list-serv, rendezvous and social events in various locations, port captains to help you as you travel in new areas, and a quarterly magazine, titled Turtle Times. The choice of a turtle as the mascot must be connected to a trawler’s slow speed. As sailors, we like the slow speed! It is not uncommon for sailors to move to a trawler as they grow older (ouch!)  I guess we are just another statistic. 🙂

Turtles everywhere!  Our new MTOA burgee, one of the MTOA pins, and the logo for the Northeast Rendezvous in mystic this summer. Turtles everywhere!

Turtles everywhere! Our new MTOA burgee, one of the MTOA pins, and the logo for the Northeast Rendezvous in mystic this summer.

What are our thoughts on the Trawler Fest? It was a nice day, it was nice to see boats, especially trawlers; but…. there were two big negatives. First, the seminars cost $50 each, but did include the entrance fee of $15, if you registered early. Some of them looked worthwhile, but that seemed to be an excessive additional cost. Most of the boat shows we have attended in the past included the seminars in the ticket price. Second, there were very few vendor booths compared to Newport.

Final conclusion? We walked away from all of those shiny new trawlers, feeling very happy with our little Mariner Orient 38.

Next blog post — Transforming the Trawler – Part 1, The Systems

3 thoughts on “Transforming the Trawler – Introduction

  1. Pingback: A Bale of Turtles visits Mystic Seaport | Kindred Spirit

  2. It was exciting to me to see your blog notice in my inbox this morning. So happy to hear your new girl is being “Watson’ized!” Cannot wait to meet up again far too long! Be Safe Anthony & Annette

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