Posted by: Mel Crane | August 8, 2010

Plastic and “toy-like”

When building our first steel trawler and it came time to think about dorade boxes for engine room intake and exhaust, I called the only company that I was aware offered them for sale. When I asked the sales agent to describe the product for me he candidly replied that in his opinion the product was “plastic and toy-like”. He suggested that if we could build a boat we could build a dorade box that would be better than any that were commercially available.
That comment came to mind again while making some plumbing changes to an existing boat. I inadvertently applied slight pressure to a 1 1/2 inch hose as it entered a plastic shower sump. The plastic hose barb easily broke away from the plastic sump box and the whole unit had to be replaced. I resolved that for the next time a sump box is needed we will build it with stainless steel and a Lexan cover.
One of the advantages of a custom built boat is that components like these can be built to a higher quality than those that are routinely installed on production boats.

Posted by: Mel Crane | November 12, 2008

A day on the Nortumberland Strait

Our Roberts trawler, Maritana, spends the winter months on the wharf at Souris, Prince Edward Island, which is 96 nautical miles from its home port of Summerside.  Why?  Because Souris has a travel lift that handles the Maritana’s 32,000 pounds easily and there is lots of winter storage space on the wharf. The day long cruise either to or from Souris has been an opportunity to demonstrate the passagemaking ability of the displacement trawler in a beautiful maritime setting.  For a pictoral blog of the May 2008 voyage visit

Confereration Bridge spans the Northunberland Strait

Confereration Bridge spans the Northunberland Strait

Some designers don’t recommend integral tanks as they are not approved by classification societies. Some other designers indicate a preference for integral tanks on steel vessels with diesel engines. ABYC, ISO and the Canadian Small vessel regulations all allow integral tanks.
From my point of view:

1. Fuel tanks in passagemaking trawlers are large. If not integral they are very difficult to move and would at least require removal of the engine to enable under the tank inspection of the hull interior. With an integral tank inspection ports in the tank would allow visualization of the portion of the tank that is in common with the interior of the hull.

2. With non-integral tanks, the area of contact with the hull is one of the areas most prone to failure of the epoxy coatings and corrosion in a steel vessel.

3. If the contact between the hull and the non-integral fuel tank becomes loose, there is a potential for catastrophe in rough water.

4. Diesel fuel will prevent corrosion on the interior of a steel tank. With proper fuel conditioning water will not be available for deposit on the bottom of the tank to cause corrosion.

5. Integral tanks can be built with larger capacity and greater range than removable tanks.

This is a question where we could all benefit from some input from you.

Posted by: Mel Crane | February 3, 2008

Thinking of a trawler? How big should I go?

Thinking of a cruising trawler?  How big should it be?   Size does matter in boats.  A few feet longer gives you a lot more living space and a more luxury for extended cruising.  The hull speed increases in displacement boats with the length at the waterline. A long narrow boat moves faster and is inherently more stable than a short wider one.  However, bigger boats also are more expensive than smaller ones.  They cost considerably more to build and continue to cost more for fuel, docking fees, storage and maintenance.


I always admire the big 58 and 65 footers that stop by my home port in the summer months. I can imagine myself feeling secure at the helm when I slowly move out of the harbour on my way to the next destination. But my wife and I are not yet retired.  We do enjoy the passagemaking lifestyle when we have the opportunity but our most common destination is still an evening cruise around the fairway buoy with a party of eight or ten on board.  The larger the boat, the less likely these little voyages will happen.  So, in my opinion, bigger is not always better.  When building a boat, the most important consideration is to build one that you will use and enjoy.

Posted by: Mel Crane | December 19, 2007

Just what is a trawler?

With the increase in popularity of the passagemaking style of boating, many different types of boat have been dubbed “trawler”.  You hear of fast trawlers, pocket trawlers, traditional trawlers, cat trawlers and many other kinds of trawler when someone wants to sell a boat in today’s market.  So, what really is a trawler?

The trawler yacht or cruising trawler is named for its similarity in appearance to the commercial fishing trawler.  The commercial fishing trawler always has a displacement hull both for load carrying capacity and its ability to travel long distances with minimal fuel consumption.

To me the designation trawler also implies a vessel that is rugged enough to withstand heavy seas and has a bottom that is shaped so it will not bang or thump in rough water.

Most trawlers have a single diesel engine and a large fuel capacity.  Because displacement boats traveling at hull speed do not require high horsepower, a single engine is adequate.  A single engine is half the cost of two engines.  Also, an engine room with a single engine has more room for maintenance and repair.  Most diesel engine failures are due to fuel problems.  Proper fuel care and maintenance will contribute more to reliability than a second engine.