Monday, October 19, 2015

To trailer or not to trailer?

My sailboat shopping has leaned heavily towards trailer sailors. Of course, I've a nice little 19 foot trailer sailor that's given me lots of pleasure. It's tempting to get a boat just a bit bigger, yet not so big it can't be hauled on a trailer. Owning a tow vehicle powered by a huge 7.3 turbo Powerstroke diesel has given me the confidence that I can tow anything meant to be towed -and a lot of things not meant to be towed too.

Of course, now I'm here in Florida and my diesel van is back in New Hampshire. That's great for my daughter who's doing a house remodel. With all the camping gear removed, it's a very capable building materials hauler. Not only can it handle 12 foot lumber and 4x8 sheets, all that stuff can ride inside, out of the weather.

If I do find a capable trailer sailor I could either rent a truck or hire someone to tow it to a free storage place I have access to. In the spring I could the bring my van down and haul the boat north. That's pretty much where my thinking had been.

However, now my lovely wife is looking at boats we could live on for long periods of time. While there are trailer sailors that we could do that on, the choice is much greater if you aren't worried about towing. That does make us a bit more reliant on other facilities. Boats have to be kept somewhere.

I don't mind living on anchor. It's free. However, I don't want to leave a boat on the hook unattended for very long. Other options are mooring fields and marinas. The price and quality of those facilities varies considerably. When I do get some free time my lovely wife and I can go around checking out places in person.

How big is big enough? Ah, there's the rub. An amazing number of boat services charge by the foot, everything from bottom work to marina stays. On the very low end I've looked at 23 foot boats. Most people would say that's way too small. No one would ever go very far on a boat that small.

Except it's done all the time. There's a movie, “Dove” based on the sailing adventures of a teenage boy who sailed a Ranger 23 around the world back in the 70's. I actually found such a boat with new rigging, sails and bottom work for small money. Very tempting. You'd have to be nuts to take such a boat across oceans, but it'd do the job in a pinch. Sanity is overrated.

Lately I've been looking at a lot of boats in the 26 – 28 foot range. These days that's considered small for a cruising couple -however, 30 years ago it was a common to do so. People's expectations have changed. That's good for me, as it keeps the prices low. I'm not opposed for a slightly bigger boat, but it would have to be the right boat for the right price.

I have been pondering. A trailer and a tow vehicle keep me tied to land. Trailer sailors have compromises that bigger boats don't have to worry about. Something to think about anyway. This blog helps me work over different ideas by writing them down, plus the feedback from my readers is of great value.



  1. Non-trailered boats would have a tendency to keep you in unsafe areas during hurricane season, whereas you could load up and go inland with a smaller boat.

    1. That is a real issue. There are so many things to weight against each other. I've discovered that safe hurricane boat storage can get pricey. The other option is to sail down to the equator, but we aren't quite ready or willing to do that.

  2. I have no insight or advice concerning boats, Sixbears, but I certainly understand what you mean about writing things down to clarify your thoughts. I don't journal, as so many did for awhile, but putting thoughts on paper (or a computer screen) help me solidify and separate things in my own mind. Wonder if that's why my comments are always so long?

    1. Your comments don't seem long, but that's because they are interesting.

  3. I'm looking for a sailboat too. In my most intense Walter Mitty episodes I would sail to Europe. But realistically it would be for sailing Florida waters where I live. So a thin water boat is what I'm looking for. And Great Loop capable.

    And as it's just me that would be on it, it doesn't have to be very big. When I'm checking boats for sale I look for swing keel and 19' to 26' trailerable as I'm an hour north of the gulf. And it needs to be a bargain. I'm 70 in a few months and don't bend as good as I used to so something with headroom would be nice. A singlehanded stepable mast would be nice too.

    I guess I need to go down to Panama City and check the marinas a bit.

    Sailboats are compromises so just look for your boat that fulfills most of your wants.

    1. I keep refining what I'm looking for -then my lovely wife will throw in a request or consideration that brings me back to the drawing board. I'm enjoying the research as it takes my mind off other things.

  4. (justjohn) If you are mostly happy with your trailer sailer, why don't you hang on to that? Just add a larger boat to live on/keep down South.

    You might check out boats for sale around Michigan/Great Lakes too. At one time we registered more boats than any other state. People aging and poor economy have lots of boats on the market.

    You could buy before next season starts, sail freshwater for the summer and then head South.

    1. Definitely want to keep my trailer sailor. I've a history of adding boats.

      My schedule on these things depends on what happens with my dad right now as I'm here for him during his illness.