Moving forward after Ian, and a boat search

Ben Stein

Ben Stein

Publisher of, passionate marine electronics enthusiast, 100-ton USCG master.

25 Responses

  1. Bob McLeran says:

    Why are you looking for such large fuel capacity if you’re only planning on cruising for a couple of weeks at a time, several times a year in a fuel efficient trawler (essentially what you’ve defined)?

    • Ben Stein Ben Stein says:

      That’s a good question. The answer is, while for the next few years we anticipate more local and coastal cruising we have hopes of significantly longer cruising in our future.

      -Ben S.

  2. Bob McLeran says:

    Another thought if you intend to eventually do some extended cruising. If you think you might ever want to cruise through some of the most beautiful waters in North America (Canadian canals, Georgian Bay, etc), think about a lowering mast which can get you below 17 feet (the max height of fixed bridges on the canals, for the most part). Your criteria for a 4 foot draft will get you through the locks (max draft 5 feet). And, there’s nothing wrong with a single screw – half the maintenance, better fuel burn rate, etc. We initially cruised on a trawler with twins, but for our second we only considered single screws and were much happier with that choice. Full length keel with the prop mounted behind the keel with a skeg under provides nice protection and greatly increases the odds of getting through fields of Maine lobster pot markers without snagging anything.

  3. Jim White says:

    Ben, the perfect boat for you is a 49 North Pacific pilothouse. I bought one two years ago with exactly the same criteria in mind. I ordered it with a single QSB Cummins 355 hp and she cruises all day long at 9 knots burning around 1.5 nmpg. Her prop is fully protected by a skagg. The only problem I have is my health at 78 and I think I will be forced to sell her later this year. She won’t work for you though as I had her custom built with a center master stateroom and a king size bed. The compromise was a single queen berth forward and that would be your deal breaker. But the standard layout has twin berths convertible to a queen amidships and a queen forward. Good luck on your search for the perfect boat. Boondoggle is mine!

    • Jim White says:

      Oh, and I’m already a subscriber but I didn’t hit the button for notifications of follow up comments. Now done.

    • Ben Stein Ben Stein says:


      You’re right that North Pacific makes the exact type of boats we’re interested in. I’ve heard talk that insurers are basing their 50-foot maximum on LOA, not model designation or in some cases even what’s listed on the CG documentation. But, the 49 is a very attractive boat to us.

      Thanks for the suggestion!
      -Ben S.

      • Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

        The 51’4″ LOA made me wonder too, but LOA is a somewhat vague term in my experience. In fact, our Camden, Maine, harbor ordinances use the term TVL (total vessel length) for max size in the town marina slips and on the tightly packed inner harbor moored floats. TVL includes bowsprit and even the skeg of an outboard if the owner plans to leave it up. But I guess Geico is looking for an official number.

        So a little irrelevant, I know, but vicariously boat searching for a seasoned family that loves cruising is going to be fun.

      • Anonymous says:

        That’s the boat I have wanted!!

  4. Jim White says:

    Yup, we have the same LOA issues with moorages here in the Seattle area. North Pacific also makes a 45 pilothouse with two staterooms and two heads that may be closer to what you’re looking for.

  5. Orlando R Davis says:

    I can’t imagine that the Symbol 45 isn’t what your looking for based on what have described. There are others but that boat in particular for the length it is, has the amenities of a much larger boat. Before I read your article I was already looking at them as well. I am in the Chesapeake and wanting that style to go to FL and back in the winter time. Fits the bill perfectly.

    Very sorry to have read about what you have been through and I do wish you all the best in your journey to find the new boat.
    All the best,

  6. Phil says:

    It wasn’t until I read this that I realized I too am/was “a petulant toddler “. We are foregoing a search until we complete our trans-pacific cruise on the Grand Princess.

  7. Sven says:

    Thanks for the article Ben, it looks like this too shall pass.

    My “ideal” boat would be less than “45′” from a model/USCG perspective (WA state buoy legal) and 50′ LOA or less for moorage. a 51′ boat means a 60′ slip in many places, 30% more money, and a longer wait for a spot.

    Folding swim steps and anchor rollers are starting to look appealing.

    From a packaging perspective, I really like boats that have a separate (door to living area) pilot house or enclosed flybridge. Nice to have an area to focus without having to go below decks into a room.

    I’d be pretty keen on an Aspen C120 or C140 (newer model in planning) if they came out with an enclosed (fiberglass/glass, not canvas) flybridge and some bigger tank options. Downside is cat’s don’t carry weight that well, and they are less fun in a beam sea than a stabilized mono.

    For a mono I would like a long look at the zero speed electric fins. Much lower consumption than a gyro, and you can choose between main engine(s), generator, or batteries for power vs hydraulics which usually mean one or the other.

    The other thing I’d be looking long and hard at is the Diesel outboards. Some have no raw water loop even. Just not sure they are mature, or that there are boats that can handle that much weight at the aft end and still sit on their lines.

  8. Evan says:

    Ben – I sold my Bayliner 4788 pilothouse last year and just bought a Meridian 580. On my way bringing it from North Carolina to Texas this year, I spotted a Hampton 55 for sale in Panama City. I was actually hoping to buy such a boat but none were available at the time I was shopping so I jumped on the Meridian when it came on the market. The Hampton doesn’t meet all your criterion but it’s a very well designed and well built boat. Don’t know if it’s still available but it is still listed on YW.
    On the trip home, I spent a month in Riviera Dunes Marina in Palmetto, FL on the Manatee River. It’s a very well protected marina. We paid $26/ft which was very high compared to Texas prices but seemed like a bargain compared to what we were finding in Florida! I highly recommend it. There were several Flemings docked there and a particularly nice Nordhavn.
    Best of luck in your search.

  9. Dave Fuller says:

    Kadey- Krogen 48 Whaleback

  10. Rob Slifkin says:

    Even if Geico won’t insure a bigger boat you want, it’s worth shopping around for insurance. After a few years of owning a 57, chances are one of the insurance companies will be happy to cover you. Geico has gotten very picky recently, as if they don’t really want to insure boats, but are still willing to take certain ones.

  11. Curious if you have looked at the American Tug 435. Friends in Jax have one and Stick and I have been aboard many times and it feels a lot like a newer, shinier, version of our Selene 43. It meets 90% of your criteria including hinged mast, comfortable staterooms and living/kitchen space, newer Cummins, pilothouse, etc. The draft is 4’10” so that may be a hard stop. The only drawbacks we found were that the front deck has no “living” space (a feature we love on our boat) and while it is walk-around, it’s narrow and railed vs. our fully enclosed “playpen”. The extras you and the girls might enjoy is the swim platform set up is excellent (especially at anchor to swim from – easy on and off) and the bunk set up is slightly offset so that it seems like there is more room (and space between them) then there really is. It’s also a very open and light interior with space for six adults to sit comfortably for docktails. If you want more details, our friends would be more than happy to discuss. Might be worth a look.

    • Ben Stein Ben Stein says:

      I LOVE American Tugs. The biggest problem with them, like so many of the boats we like, is that there just aren’t enough of them for sale. Right now, it looks like the only option would be new and that means right around $1-million. That’s north of our price range! However, I’ve long assumed this search will take some time, so maybe the perfect 8-15 year old example will hit the market and we can get out on the water again!

      -Ben S.

      • Sven says:

        Buying new is a 1-2 year wait as well from LaConner. The “Cons” when looking at your list are the single after cooler Diesel (though a 435 loaded light can hit 17+ knots), and the deeper draft (which is also a plus since it’s a nice keel that helps stabilize things). That said – you would be hard pressed to find a boat with more space in a ~45′ LOA. I do know of one that will be coming up for sale on the West Coast soon if you need the details…

        • Ben Stein Ben Stein says:

          Agree about the deeper draft cutting both ways. I will also say that a single screw with a full keel and skeg below the prop at 4.5+ feet is a whole different proposition than Have Another Day’s 5-foot+ with nothing but nibral for the bottom 18-20-inches.

          -Ben S.

          • Sven says:

            We _really_ like our 41/435. Mid-master, 2 heads, washer/dryer, protected running gear, solid build, nav desk (great for work from boat), local support from the people who made it, can sneak into some 40′ slips that allow some overhang, good economy with the ability to go fast when needed. Despite going over many boats at boat shows, nothing I would rather have that fits into a 50′ slip exists.

            One thing I may change: our 12v thrusters work well, but I don’t 100% trust that I can really lay on them for any length of time. Some sort of 48v system or maybe hydraulic. Holding position waiting for the locks isn’t as easy in a single as with twins or even a sailboat with a massive rudder.

            The 485 does give more salon space, and a more advantageous LWL:Beam ratio. It’s also less than 50′ LOA.

            Also just saw on the owner’s group: there is a 435 going up for sale in Florida shortly.

  12. Ben Stein Ben Stein says:

    I want to say how happy it makes me to read all the suggestions. It’s great to get other people’s opinions and have my assumptions challenged. I have heard from a few people offline suggesting that we’re compromising too much by looking at a smaller boats and that the insurance problem is surmountable. I hear that perspective and agree that, if we wanted to overcome them, the insurance challenges can be beat. But, I”m not sure I want to overcome them. The truth is, towing around all 57-feet and 62,000+ pounds of Have Another Day was, in many situations, a pain. When we travelled with others, we were always the biggest boat, always the deepest draft boat, highest windage, etc. I kind of like the idea of being a little smaller, a little shallower, a LOT better protected props, and generally, maybe just a little easier. There’s a reason our 22-foot center console has probably averaged 5:1 more hours than Have Another Day.

    I’m not saying we won’t swing back and start looking at bigger boats, but right now, there’s something pretty attractive about smaller.

    -Ben S.

  13. Jim says:

    Great choice Ben! The AT485 was one of my two finalists for a new boat, but I ultimately went with the North Pacific 49 because of the wider walk-arounds and interior, high forward bulwarks, and their willingness to customize, which I did a lot of. The AT435 has the same very wide beam as the AT485 which helps interior space but may cause some squatting and affect fuel economy. But the people were great and they make a fine product. And they’re made in the US!

  14. Lawrence Cremia says:

    Try Marine Max Fort Myers. Every in water boat made it through Irma and Ian with no issues. They are set up for 16′ surge. Our 43′ sat in its 50′ slip in 144 MPH wind (we have the weather station you reviewed) and surge that buried everything on land around it with no problem.

  15. Will says:

    So happy you are looking again, it took us 5 years to find the right one. Don’t overlook well made custom or one-off boats, someone in the last 20 years may have had almost your exact vision as happened to us. Might look beyond Geico, in general insurance companies don’t like to reinsure after a total loss even if it is completely without fault. Specifically, I think a restriction on an aluminum boat is silly, I serious doubt there is actuarial data supporting that position. Pace yourself and enjoy the hunt. We found a Kanter 57 that I might have designed myself if I was as smart as Dave Gerr!

  16. Rich Gano says:

    Simple solution to the issue of Geico not insuring a vessel you love but maybe a tad over 50 feet is to switch carries. I just don’t think you can live with less that 50 overall. Even my Grand banks 42 was 46 feet overall, and it did not come close to meeting your desires. Here in Panama City going on five years since Hurricane Michael (note the capital letters – you gotta respect a cat five!) we are still looking at some blue roofs, and both large city marinas remain gaping holes.

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