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When the original design draft was written for a new trawler in 2014, it included a list of desired characteristics that formed the parameters of this design. It was to be a serious cruising trawler with above average range, and a long keel in a chined hull flat enough to sit on the hard without supporting jack stands or other supports. The trawler would have a large midship cockpit to allow crew to venture outside when under way and serve as a fine social and utility space at anchor.
Additional requirements included simple mechanical systems of high quality, with superb access for service and maintenance. Protected storage was also important, again with easy access. And the overall design package identified a low center of gravity, shallow draft, and offer good headroom and simple yet comfortable accommodations. Enter the all-new SeaPiper.
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When the first SeaPiper 35 launched, it embodied all the above requirements, as well as the benefits of being easily trailered without special permits. The 36-footer was also deemed unsinkable from its five watertight compartments, and the efficient, seaworthy hull shape proved it had the range and seakeeping ability to take its place among the trawler cruising community.
What is interesting is how closely this SeaPiper design aligns with those of Robert Beebe, recognized originator of long-range voyaging under power. Beebe was keen to have a safe, well-protected cockpit that allowed crew to step outside during their watch to scan the world around the horizon, while staying safely inside the boat, unable to fall overboard.
A midship cockpit is also a key feature of the offshore fishing trawlers of the North Sea and Shetland Islands. These rugged, go-anywhere fishing boats have sheltered cockpits that are well protected behind whaleback structures in the bow. Crew members can work offshore in relative safety, shielded by high bulwarks.
With port and starboard side doors in the cockpit, access to and from marina bulkheads and dinghies is particularly easy and safe, especially with pets or when transporting SCUBA and other gear. At anchor it is not hard to imagine the social aspects of a table and chairs set up in the cockpit, perhaps with an awning, that take advantage of the breeze coming over the bow, something aft cockpit trawlers do not enjoy.
The midship cockpit also breaks up the interior layout, putting sleeping accommodations forward, along with the head. The saloon and helm are aft, where the motion is less. At anchor or in port this layout arrangement provided privacy and comfortable sleeping for owners in their stateroom.
Whenever the motion in the forward stateroom becomes uncomfortable, as when driving into head seas, the aft saloon has a table and settee that easily converts into a comfortable double berth.
The value of well-designed systems and good access is highly regarded by most professionals and experienced trawler owners. Having switchable fuel filters installed in a quickly accessed location, for example, ensures that all fuel-related issues are minimized or even eliminated.
The original performance goal of SeaPiper was to achieve long range by using a smaller, efficient diesel engine with sufficient tankage. Range of 1,400 to 1,800 nm was achieved in the SeaPiper 35 using a Beta 85hp diesel engine fitted to a 22-inch, four-blade prop on a shaft set almost level to the waterline. Cruising at 7-8 knots is the intended sweet spot of the boat, with a WOT speed just above 10 knots.
A single diesel engine is a viable choice in the modern trawler, as bow and stern thrusters make light work of all close quarter maneuvering.
To achieve the least motion at sea, the SeaPiper is an ideal candidate for a gyro stabilizer, such as the SeaKeeper2. This system will make the motion aboard the boat even more settled, especially important with a narrow hull intended to satisfy the appealing option of trailering the boat to distant cruising grounds.
Four watertight bulkheads provide a high resistance to flooding and reduce the possibility of sinking. This unsinkability factor is an asset of the SeaPiper brand.
As already mentioned, the side doors in the SeaPiper’s cockpit offer great boarding access from floating and fixed docks and bulkheads, and getting on and off the ship’s dinghy is superior to most other boarding options, especially when dive gear, dogs, older crew, and provisions are involved.
Striking a balance that favors seakeeping and safe cruising over dockside living with maximum accommodations clearly resonates with a large segment of the cruising community.
The SeaPiper is a wonderful choice for those who want to get the most cruising enjoyment by choosing to simplify instead of adding complex equipment and systems that demand ongoing attention and frequent repair. Many of the world’s most successful cruising sailors choose basic sailing yachts with simple systems. They are rewarded by arriving in paradise without a long list of repair projects. Cruising on a SeaPiper will be less demanding, less expensive, and more enjoyable.
To see if the SeaPiper fits your ideas of the ideal cruising trawler, contact your Seattle Yachts dealer. SeaPiper is built in Anacortes, Washington, by talented craftsmen in the Seattle Yachts family, who take pride in building boats right, close to home.
Let one of our experienced brokers help you work through your own list of requirements and see if the SeaPiper should make it near the top of your short list.