Are you thinking about spending a few days at sea on a boating adventure? Living out on the ocean on a dive trip or an extended deep-sea fishing journey is an experience you’ll never forget.
Some boats allow you to live permanently out on the water. Liveaboard trawlers are an example of a vessel equipped to spend days or weeks at sea without the need to return to land.
Trawlers also make popular liveaboard boats for marinas, allowing you to escape the hustle and bustle, and the expense, of living in the city. Liveaboard trawlers suit everything from student accommodation in a marina to a research vessel for marine scientists.
The liveaboard trawler gives you all the conveniences of living in an apartment. Sure, you might not have the floor space you get with an apartment, but not everyone needs that in their life. Liveaboard trawlers provide you with a snug, comfortable living space.
This post unpacks everything you need to know about liveaboard trawlers.
- What Are Liveaboard Trawlers?
- What Is the Layout of a Liveaboard Trawler?
- What are the Benefits of Choosing a Liveaboard Trawler?
- What are the Cons of Liveaboard Trawlers?
- What Is the Suggested Length for My Liveaboard Trawler?
- Take the Liveaboard Trawler for a Sea Test
- The Best Affordable Trawler Under 40-Feet
- The Best Affordable Trawler Over 40-Feet
- Wrapping Up – Get the Best Liveaboard Experience with a Trawler
What Are Liveaboard Trawlers?
So, what is a liveaboard trawler? These vessels are ideal for traveling long distances up and down the east or west coast or around the Great Loop. They make sturdy vessels for deep-sea conditions and can handle rough weather.
Trawlers typically feature displacement hulls and wide beams, with single or twin outboard or inboard motors powering the boat. Trawlers are one of the more popular fishing boats, and they work well as liveaboard dive boats.
What Is the Layout of a Liveaboard Trawler?
The trawler layout comes in many designs and setups, and they are highly customizable if you’re buying a new model from a dealership. If you’re buying pre-owned, it pays to shop around, and you might find an owner with plenty of additional customizations to their boat.
The good news for buyers is that pre-owned boats don’t fetch any extra market value for the accessories and extras included in the vessel. So, there’s a chance you could find a fully-kitted boat at a great price on the secondary market.
Regardless of the layout, most trawlers come with the following design features.
Berths and Cabins
The large displacement hull of the trawler means that there is plenty of room for a large berth. The size of the berth depends largely on the length of the boat. Depending on the boat manufacturing brand and the layout, a 40-foot trawler may accommodate up to eight to six people.
The berth usually features four small living quarters with bunk beds or full-size queen beds. The range of finishes and fittings varies depending on the price of the boat and the manufacturing brand.
Most trawlers under 40-feet come with a center cockpit and aft cabin layout. You’ll find a standard-sized bedroom and queen size bed in the aft, separated from the other living quarters.
These berths are far more spacious and accommodative than v-berths, and the cabin with Pullman berth, typically in the bow of the boat, provides a standard size bed with enough room to sit up in bed.
Dining and Entertainment Salon
The salon is the lounge and dining area of the boat, and it’s where people hang out during the day. Salons vary widely in design, depending on the manufacturer.
Some features, such as a drop-leaf folding table in the salon center, might make no sense to the design, making it hard to walk around the table. Some plans also offer you better natural lighting than others.
Look at the positioning of the port hatches and lights to get an idea of the light you’ll get inside the salon. You don’t want to feel like you’re living in a cold basement. Most trawler designs offer better lighting in the salon compared to other styles of boats.
Many have panoramic windows and other features to bring in more natural light. However, the more glass on the boat, the higher the price tag.
If you’re out at sea for a few days, you’re going to need somewhere to cook your meals. The galley is a small kitchen in the boa, usually in an L-shape design. The design allows the chef to wedge themselves into the L to give them stability when cooking in rough weather conditions.
Look for features like double-sinks, plenty of counter space, burners, refrigerators, and electrical outlets. Don’t forget about the dedicated storage space for your dinnerware and cookware. If the stove features a propane burner, check to see that you have enough space to fit a 50lbs tank, at minimum.
The captain’s cockpit sits high up on the trawler, overlooking the ocean, giving the driver a 360-degree view of the water. Most cockpits come sealed from the elements, with sides and walls. Some boats may have an open-back design to the cockpit, while others come with folding doors.
A few models come with an open cockpit design featuring waterproof consoles and a windshield. The issue with this design is that it’s not very weather-friendly. You’ll need to invest in a Bimini top for shade and rain protection when driving the boat.
If you’re regularly operating the vessel in cold and rainy conditions, we recommend going with a canvas bridge and full enclosure if you have the budget.
Boats’ storage space comes at a premium, and the more you have, the better. The galley should feature cupboards for your plates and dry goods, the bedrooms should have closets and drawers for your clothes, and the captain’s area and salon should have enough storage to accommodate your fishing and dive gear.
Older boat models tend to have more storage space than newer designs. The cost of having a streamlined design with spacious living areas means that you have less storage space on modern models.
If you need extra storage space for your boat, consider purchasing dock boxes and using one of the cabins as a storage area.
The head, or the bathroom, differs between boats. The higher the price tag, the better the bathroom. Regardless of the price of the vessel, the head should include a shower, basin, and toilet.
Many boats don’t come with showers, but we recommend going for one with a shower if you can find it; it helps with rinsing the salt from your skin after a dive or swim.
The shower should connect to the water heater, and the boat should come with enough capacity for storing fresh water for a long trip at sea. The larger boats come with two heads on board.
What are the Benefits of Choosing a Liveaboard Trawler?
The liveaboard trawler offers you a unique on-the-water living experience compared to sailboats and other common watercraft choices for long trips at sea.
Here are the top advantages of buying a liveaboard trawler.
Wide Hulls and Roomy Interiors
As mentioned, the wide displacement hull of the boat means the trawler comes with plenty of generous space below the deck. You get bigger sleeping accommodations and better finishes and fittings than small boats.
Plenty of Headroom
The trawler comes with plenty of headroom, and you’ll find it easy to stand up straight in the bedrooms, kitchen, and salon. They are the ideal entertainment vessel, and they also have plenty of deck space for having a party in great weather.
The hard chines of the trawler bring exceptional stability to the boat. As a result, there is less rocking effect than in other boat designs using rounded chines.
The trawler has a shallow draft, thanks to its displacement hull design. As a result, it’s the ideal choice for navigating through shallow waters where yachts and sailboats can’t go. It’s a great choice for waterways around the Florida Keys, where the water can get shallow fast.
Good Bridge Clearance
Most trawlers are bridge-friendly, and they can sail under without raising the bridge.
What are the Cons of Liveaboard Trawlers?
Liveaboard trawlers have a few drawbacks compared to other liveaboard options on the market.
Slow Cruising Speeds
Trawlers are not performance vessels. Most of them reach speeds of between six to seven knots, and they don’t benefit from the wind.
The trawler’s engines are noisy, and they can detract from the experience on the vessel.
Trawlers are Thirsty
Trawlers have one of the highest fuel consumption rates of any boat design.
High Maintenance Requirements
The larger the trawler, the larger the maintenance bill.
Hard to Handle in Rough Weather Conditions
The displacement hull in the trawler makes it more suitable for calm weather conditions, and they tend to “slap” on the water in rough weather conditions. Sailboats and other designs will slice through the water.
What Is the Suggested Length for My Liveaboard Trawler?
If you’re looking at sizing your trawler, follow these guidelines.
- 25-35 feet for singles.
- 35-45 feet for couples.
- 40+ feet for four or more people.
Take the Liveaboard Trawler for a Sea Test
We recommend downloading the Boatsetter app. This app is like the Airbnb of the boating industry, and you can rent a trawler directly from its owner. It’s a great way to see if you like the trawler layout and design before finalizing a purchase.
If you get out on the water and find that you don’t like the boat’s handling or the noisy engines, a test drive could end up saving you from making a big mistake. The reality is liveaboard trawlers are expensive boats, and you don’t want to spend all that money to end up with a vessel you don’t like.
The Best Affordable Trawler Under 40-Feet
This trawler is an excellent example of a 40 footer that’s a great choice for cruising. The Nordhavn is an established sea-faring brand with a reputation for high-quality builds and designs. It successfully completed a global circumnavigation and the Atlantic crossing.
The N40 is the shortest vessel in the Nordhavn range of ocean-crossing trawlers, and it comes with a real pedigree backing it. You get a full displacement hull design with a 900-gallon fuel capacity providing a range of up to 2,400 nautical miles per tank.
The boat features a buoyant bow design with a dry ride, and the forefoot in the bow design helps the boat cut through the water like a sailboat to avoid slap in choppy conditions. We like the Seakeeper gyro-stabilization system that minimizes rocking and rolling.
With the N40, you get an amazing vessel and one of the highest-quality trawler designs available.
The Best Affordable Trawler Over 40-Feet
Beneteau Swift Trawler 44
The Beneteau “fast” trawler range, including the “Swift Trawler 44,” debuted back in 2011, and it’s one of the top-selling trawlers of the last decade.
You get twin Volvo Penta 300-HP diesel engines, providing a top speed of up to 23+ knots, which is far above the seven to eight knots you’re going to get with most other trawler models. The boat has one of the best cruising speeds in the market, and it comes with an elegant look.
You’ll find plenty of room topside on the deck, and a spacious cockpit in the aft, loaded with teak trim. There’s a large foredeck on the boat ideal for dancing, fishing, or any other activity where you need plenty of room.
The cabin top and sun pad area feature a large flybridge deck and plenty of seating with storage available for an inflatable dinghy. Drop anchor and paddle to the shore of an island for some exploring. The boat’s interior features a two-stateroom design plan, with a master bedroom in the bow and guest accommodation in the aft.
It’s an amazing boat, but it comes with a heavy price tag. The base model starts at $500,000, and you could end up adding another $200,000 in accessories.
Wrapping Up – Get the Best Liveaboard Experience with a Trawler
Whether you’re going out on the ocean for a liveaboard dive trip, or you need the boat for a few days to go on a deep-sea fishing trip, the trawler is a great choice. This boat is a cruiser’s dream with plenty of space, luxury accommodations, and living quarters.