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Liveaboard Trawler: Living on the Water

In recent years, the popularity of living on a boat has increased dramatically. If you are thinking of joining the many people who are making this move, a liveaboard trawler may be the right type of boat for you. Many boaters who want to live aboard their vessels choose liveaboard trawlers due to their strong hulls, spacious interiors, and comfortable accommodations. In this guide, we will discuss many elements of living aboard a trawler, including what a liveaboard trawler interior includes and answers to some questions in the liveaboard trawler vs. sailboat debate. 


trawlers marina


What Is a Liveaboard Trawler?

The class of power boats known as trawlers are rugged motorboats built for deep-sea conditions and long-distance traveling. They are easily identified by their wide beams and displacement or semi-displacement hulls that may have single or twin engines. Originally designed to be fishing boats, trawlers today come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes to meet the needs of just about any boater. 

Trawlers with full displacement hull designs move through the water instead of on top of it, which makes them very seaworthy but not very fast. Designs with semi-displacement hulls still ride low in the water, but not having to push through so much water makes them a bit faster. Some trawlers have a steadying sail to reduce the rolling motion boats make while underway. Some have stoppers that can be lowered from booms extending over the sides of the boat to provide resistance to rolling on a mooring or at anchor.


Best Liveaboard Trawler

The best liveaboard trawler for you and your family will depend on how many people you will be living with and the comforts you want to enjoy on the water. Your decision will also depend on the size of boat you desire and your budget for purchasing it. 

There are currently more than 25 boat manufacturers that make liveaboard trawlers, with some sticking to the more traditional styles and others using new building practices and other innovations to create updated designs. Although there are many different models with various amenities, some boat manufacturers' vessels consistently top the lists of best liveaboard trawlers. These include Albin, Beneteau, Mainship, Nordhavn, Ocean Alexander, and Sabre


Advantages of Liveaboard Trawler vs. Sailboat

In the liveaboard trawler vs. sailboat debate, the liveaboard trawler has many advantages. Here are some of the reasons why a liveaboard trawler could be the better choice for you.


Wide hulls mean more personal space

The shape of a liveaboard trawler means there is more space available for roomy sleeping quarters, bigger kitchens, and storage space for all of your gear. More spacious interiors improve comfort, so the people aboard won't have to squeeze past each other all the time. Trawlers also have more headroom below deck than sailboats, adding to their comfort. 


Trawlers have high stability and easy accessibility

The shape of a trawler makes it more stable on the water than many other types of boats, resulting in a smoother ride in both calm and rough waters. It is also easy getting into and out of trawlers, making them more accessible than many sailboat styles. 


Their low draft is good for shallow waters

The draft of a liveaboard trawler is less than that of most liveaboard sailboat models. This makes it easier for them to navigate shallow waters and allows them to anchor in a wider variety of locations. Their size and shape also make it easier for them to clear most bridges without issues. 


More information: Living on a Sailboat: Is it Right for You?


trawler with birds


Liveaboard Trawler Interior

Liveaboard trawlers are considered some of the best boats to live on because the liveaboard trawler interior has the most living space per foot of boat length. The designs of trawlers built on full displacement hulls have excellent volume for their length and are often used for long-range cruising due to the space available for provisioning and stowage. The layouts are typically multilevel, with the living spaces on top and the sleeping quarters below.

The features and amenities of the liveaboard trawler interior will be major considerations when choosing the type of trawler that is best for your needs. Many are pretty spacious, with full-size kitchens, showers or bathtubs, full-size refrigerators, and washer and dryers. They usually have two bathrooms and can accommodate comforts like big-screen TVs and multi-speaker audio systems. They also have a sizable outdoor area and lots of natural light when the living space is above the water line. The features on each trawler will differ according to the manufacturer's specifications, but you can see many of the features available on each type of boat in Rightboat's listings. 


What Size Trawler for Liveaboard?

Again, the best size of liveaboard trawler for you will depend on the size of your family and the amenities you want. The more people living on board, the bigger boat you will need. As a general rule of thumb, the liveaboard trawler should be no less than 30 feet long for couples and no less than 40 feet long for families. For many boating families, trawlers of less than 40 feet simply don’t have the amount of living space they need to be comfortable. 


Cost of Liveaboard Trawler

The cost of liveaboard trawler boats is based on a number of factors, including the size of the boat, the materials used in its manufacture, the quality of its electronics and motor, and the amenities it includes. As a general rule, trawlers cost more per foot than the average sailboat. Liveaboard trawlers can range in price from as little as $21,000 to more than $5 million, with the average price for a new liveaboard trawler hovering around $250,000. It is important to remember that if you finance your boat, you will have a monthly mortgage to pay, just like buying a home on land. 

There are also some additional costs associated with owning a liveaboard trawler. One of them is associated with where you choose to live on your boat. Of course, the cheapest place is at anchor, which will cost you nothing, but choosing to live on a mooring ball could cost $150 monthly or more, and liveaboard slip fees can be more than $500 per month. However, slip fees come with all the benefits of living in a marina, including ample power, high-speed internet access, workshops, and shower and laundry facilities.

There is also the cost of liveaboard insurance, which can be more expensive than insurance for purely recreational boats. The cost can also vary based on whether you are cruising in local waters or intend to cruise internationally. While some boaters may choose to forgo this insurance, many boatyards will require that you have proof of insurance before they will haul your liveaboard trawler out of the water.




Liveaboard Trawler Safety

Liveaboard trawlers are considered some of the safest boats to live on for a number of reasons. They are designed to be pretty seaworthy, even in heavy seas. Their design also means that you won’t be dealing with obstacle-course side decks or bouncing decks with low handrails when the swells are large.

Liveaboard trawlers also do not have the issues that typically occur running at high speed, like mechanical problems and hitting debris. Their slower speeds put less stress on the boat and give boaters plenty of time to notice obstacles and maneuver around them. Their reduced speed is also good for navigating unfamiliar or tricky waters as boaters have more time to react to changes in the environment. 


Liveaboard Trawler Maintenance

Like any boat, a liveaboard trawler is going to have a number of maintenance needs. Power boats generally have higher maintenance costs than sailboats because of the motors and electronics needed to drive the boat efficiently. While your maintenance costs will vary based on whether you choose to do the work yourself or hire a professional for your maintenance needs, it is recommended that you budget 10% of the value of the boat annually for repairs.


On the Rightboat platform, we have a wide variety of liveaboard trawlers listed with various features that may be right for you. If a new model doesn't fit your budget, we also list previously owned models that can be acquired at a significant savings. The listings can be sorted by location, size, or a number of other factors to help you narrow down your choice. Check out the boats we have to offer today!


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Written By: Toi Williams

Toi grew up in coastal New England, Her parents had a second home on Newfound Lake, in New Hampshire. Because of this, Toi was able to enjoy boating at sea as well as in the Lakes Region of New Hampshire. Today, she regularly wakeboards and waterskis on her Malibu wake surfing boat. She also sailed at sea in Maine, and taken many trips to the Isles of Shoals.

More from: Toi Williams

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