Grand Banks 32 Sedan (Production Years: 1965-95)
A modern classic, the Grand Banks 32 is one of the most popular small trawler designs ever produced. A total of 861 were built during her production years and used models are always in demand. Her distinctive profile remained essentially unchanged since the original wood models were introduced back in 1965. Indeed, at a distance it’s very difficult to distinguish between a pre-1973 wood Grand Banks 32 and more recent fiberglass models. Powered with a single 6-cylinder Lehman diesel, owners report long hours of 7-knot cruising burning just 3 gallons per hour, the kind of fuel economy that results in a range of 500+ miles. A shallow keel protects the running gear, and hard aft chines help to stabilize the ride. Below, the 32’s straightforward and practical cabin layout — compact, yes, but efficiently arranged — will satisfy the basic requirements of the average cruising couple. Storage is adequate, the teak woodwork is elegant, and visibility from the lower helm is very good. The aft deck is large enough for a couple of deck chairs, and wide side decks provide good foredeck access. Regardless of their age, Grand Banks 32s are dependable and seaworthy small cruisers with classic trawler lines and excellent resale values. While late models GB 32s are pricy indeed, it may be possible to find an early all-fiberglass model (1973, 1974, etc.) for close to the $50,000 mark. It won’t be easy — used Grand Banks models generally attract a lot of attention whenever one comes on the market. With luck, however, a patient buyer might find one that’s structurally sound in need of only moderate mechanical and/or cosmetic work.
Marine Trader 34 Double Cabin (Production Years: 1972-2001)
The Marine Trader 34 remains the best-selling small trawler ever imported and sold in the U.S. Built by CHB in Taiwan, there were other distributors besides Marine Trader and she may be recognized on the West Coast as the La Paz, Eagle, or CHB 34 DC. She enjoyed her best years during the 1970s when powerboats, with their big fuel-guzzling engines, were out of favor. There were several updates to the 34 over the years. Prior to 1975 she was built with a plywood house and a fiberglass cloth overlay. Until 1985 the decks were teak-planked and fastened through fiberglass to a balsa sub-deck – a constant source of deck leaks – and after 1985 the 34 was constructed of solid fiberglass. The flybridge was revised in 1991, and the teak window frames were eliminated in 1992. Belodecks, the all-teak interior is arranged with small staterooms fore and aft, two heads and a very practical passageway from the aft stateroom to the cockpit. A lower helm is standard, and a sliding salon door provides easy access to the deck. A single 135hp diesel cruises the MT 34 at 7 knots burning just 2-3 gallons per hour. While the Marine Trader remained in production through 2001, buyers looking to keep the price under $50,000 should look for models during the late 1970s or early 1980s.
Californian 34 LRC (Production Years: 1977-84)
Traditionally styled and showing a distinct trawler profile, the Californian 34 is a still-popular family cruiser with exceptional low-speed economy and-when equipped with the right engines-true planing-speed performance. Her solid fiberglass modified-V hull has a fine entry forward that gradually levels out into nearly flat aftersections for stability and greater speed. While most trawler-style boats have been imported from Asia, the Californians were among the few to have been built in the U.S. Wide side decks give her a rather narrow salon, although the two staterooms below come as a surprise on such a small boat. (While a single-stateroom layout was available, the two-stateroom arrangement was more popular.) Dark mahogany woodwork is applied throughout the interior. Outside, the aft deck area is large enough for a few deck chairs, and there’s seating for a few guests on the large flybridge. Cruising speed is about 7 knots with standard 85hp Perkins diesels. Among several engine options, Perkins 85hp diesels cruise at 7 knots; optional 210hp Cat (or 200hp Perkins) diesels cruise at 16-18 knots (20+ knots wide open). Used Californian 34s priced at (or close) to $50,000 are fairly common for model years 1977-78.
Gulfstar 36 Trawler (Production Years: 1972-76)
A very popular boat in her day, it’s interesting to note that the Gulfstar 36 Trawler was built on the same semi-displacement hull used in the production of the Gulfstar 36 Motorsailer — a sailboat. The profiles are about the same, but the twin diesels of the Trawler provide the maneuverability and performance required of a powerboat. Not that she’s fast; her 80-hp Perkins diesels will cruise at 7.5 knots and reach 9-10 knots top. Her soft-chined hull is constructed of solid fiberglass and the keel is ballasted, making her a “real” trawler in the eyes of many purists. In 1975 the Gulfstar 36 MK II version was introduced featuring a raised aft deck, a full-beam master stateroom, a slightly larger flybridge, bigger rudders, and a new teak interior to replace the previous woodgrain Formica (or mahogany) paneling. The engines were also relocated further outboard in the MK II model, which is said to improve handling. Several two-stateroom floorplans were used over the years with the latest having the dinette to port and a starboard deck access door. An easy-riding boat with a comfortable motion, the Gulfstar 36 is economical to operate and requires little maintenance. Twin Perkins 85hp diesels cruise efficiently at 7-8 knots.
Mainship 34 Diesel Cruiser (Production Years: 1978-82)
Introduced in 1978, the Mainship 34 (often called the Mainship 34 Trawler) is one of the most popular small cruisers ever built. She was constructed on a solid fiberglass, semi-displacement hull with a deep forefoot, slightly rounded bilges, and a full-length keel. The great appeal of the 34-aside from an affordable price-had much to do with her salty, trawler-style profile and her superb fuel economy at better than trawler speeds. With a single 160hp Perkins 6-cylinder diesel, the Mainship’s easily driven hull will cruise at 10-11 knots burning only 6 gallons per hour. At a more relaxed 7-knot speed, the fuel consumption drops to a remarkable 2 gallons per hour. Belowdecks, the practical single-stateroom floorplan is well suited to the needs of a cruising couple. A lower helm was standard in the roomy salon, the galley includes all the necessary food-prep necessities, and a separate stall shower is included in the head. Topside, the flybridge seats two, and a bridge extension shades the cockpit. Note that moisture in the balsa-cored foredeck is a known problem. Additional features include a teak swim platform, windshield wiper, wide side decks, and a foredeck mast. In spite of her age, used Mainship 34s remain very popular today. Well maintained models are generally priced below $50,000.