I had spent most of my adult life hoping to own a trawler … a moderately large one of between 40 and 60 feet in length. I had familiarized myself with Nordhavn, Northern Marine, Kady-Krogen, Selene, Nordic Tug, Defever, MainShip and others (Fleming, American Tug, Cheoy Lee, etc.), learned about their propulsion systems, calculated their fuel burns, knew about their layouts, deposits, production time, and just about everything else a savvy yacht purchaser would have to know to make a good decision. I spent 30+ years deciding on which ones were economical and well-built enough to be candidates, what exactly we’d have to do to get one, and had set about the process in 2007 when the economy started to fail.
All of a sudden, my stock portfolio was worth much less than I’d predicted, the cost of fuel was rising, Cruise Club (my business of 25 years) was getting fewer calls (folks were ‘hunkering down’ due to the economic crisis) and the value of our home dropped by 35%. I realized that, even if the crisis didn’t last (it did!) it would not be wise to anchor myself to a big boat, whose value could dip with a number of eco-factors, and that required a full-time, in-water home that (including insurance and maintenance) would cost between $2500 & $4000 a month before the maintenance and operating expense of the vessel itself (I was imagining about 9 gallons per hour at 10kts, weather and current dependent … and doing the math based on that).
Discouraged and feeling a lifetime of dreams going away, I shelved all the boat plans, not knowing where to go from there. Meantime, our daughter had given us two wonderful grandsons, and our ‘off-time’ naturally turned to them. It became apparent that our idea of selling the house (if it were full value) and moving onto the trawler yacht, traveling part-time and living aboard full-time, wasn’t going to work for us, even if the stars had aligned.
Some months later I was paging through Passagemaker magazine, and saw an ad for the Rosbourough RF-246. Now I had looked at the C-Dorys, Ospreys, and Nimble Nomads and decided that either they were primarily fishing boats (not what we wanted) or, in the case of the Nomad, a fair weather/water dependent craft that traveled at displacement speeds (max. 8kts). I initially thought the Rosborough RF-246 was another C-Dory (a great boat, we recognized), perhaps along the lines of the Venture series, and that didn’t interest me.
But I did some online reasearch (wish there had been blog/website like this one then) and looked into the way Rosborough’s were being used, plugged into the owner’s website, viewed some photo’s and videos of the boat, and read with great interest the owner’s tales of how the RF-246 handled the water and took care of its occupants. It gradually became apparent that this vessel had almost everything I’d been looking for, plus it could do several times the displacement speeds (something I couldn’t appreciate until later) the other boats could … and it had one thing that all the big boats I’d fallen in love with did not … it was trailerable.
The Rosborough RF-246 is built in Nova Scotia. It features a venerable Canadian hull with roots in the classic down eastern boats that frequent the ports in that part of the world. Most of these are commercial craft which, by necessity, put to sea in all types of weather and into waters that no pleasure boater would seek out. Dozens of Rosborough RF-246’s are part of Fisheries & Oceans Canada, and as such must be reliable in all types of weather and water. Not to mention that the Canadian government chose the RF-246 over a myriad of other fine boats.
I’d learned, through reading and research, that the Rosborough had a true trawler hull on it, and was very comfortable (both the boat and her passengers) at displacement speeds (6-8kts) and cruising speeds (12-15kts). There are accounts of the boat in (very) rough seas, and it (the hull, and other aspects of the Rosborough) was regarded as solid and reliable in every story. The boat is available with diesel and gasoline inboard engines and a variety of outboard engines, so the top speed varies with how it is powered.
I spent the better part of a year narrowing the yacht candidates down to three boats, then two (the North Pacific Yachts NP28 and the Rosborough RF-246). The deciding factors in my final decision were (1) the place of manufacture; the NP28 is built in China, and though it is a fine boat, the Nova Scotian heritage of the Rosborough was very attractive to me, (2) the fact that the NP28 (though an inboard diesel; something I’d always wanted) could make only displacement speeds and the RF-246, while we run her at 7-8kts about 90% of the time for ideal fuel burn, can be run up to 12-15kts if we want/need to get somewhere faster (and up to 30kts/35 mph on my boat), (3) the weight of the Rosborough, though a heavy boat, is considerably less than the NP28 and therefore I thought that launching and retrieving the boat single-handedly might be possible with the Rosborough, and not the NP28; and the difference of the weight on the trailer (and behind my truck) was a factor, and (4) the fact that the RF-246 has been around for awhile (and there are lots of them in service with Canadian Fisheries & Oceans; 48 at last count) and the NP28 has only a few years under its belt played a big part in my decision. I had trouble giving up on the pilothouse (the NP28 has a real one) and the inboard diesel (the NP28 has a Cummins!), but the trade offs were too compelling, and shortly after making the decision, I found myself searching for the right RF-246 to purchase, subject to space realities at the helm and in the berth (I am 6’4” tall and weigh in at around 285lbs.).
Lee Ann, who’d been my supportive companion through the yacht-quest since 2003 (and my wife and sweetheart for much longer!), liked the idea of the trailerable trawler, too. She appreciated the photos I had collected, but it was time to see the boat, handle her features and make a “pull the trigger” decision. We contacted a couple in Olympia, Washington, and they agreed to have us aboard “Iana” their 2008 RF-246. We set out on the 10-hour (one-way) trip, 80% certain that this was the boat for us. We met Steve and Eunice at Zittel’s Marina where they berth the boat (they don’t have a trailer) on Puget Sound, went aboard and fell in love.
The boat is perhaps the largest 25-footer built, and the ship’s systems (depending on who rigged your particular hull) are top-notch … overbuilt by many standards. The large aft cockpit is the boarding point on the RF-246, and (dependent on your engine configuration) there is a large engine mount that doubles as a swim platform/ladder mount for the swim ladder. The aft deck on “Iana” was open air; not covered by a hard roof extension (which comes from the factory and is one of most popular options on the Rosborough). I remember visiting with Eunice in the Washington sunshine, and drinking in the beauty. I hoped for this extended roof option because it not only provides shelter from the elements, but affords a lot of space for on-roof storage (often used for a dinghy, but sometimes used for bike racks, etc.). Because the boat featured the Honda 225hp four-stroke engine and the outboard extension (a floating extension that extends the boat 2 feet in length), it left room in the cockpit for another popular option, the transom seat that sits along the aft transom.
The fiberglass door slid to the side (a nice feature, and one of many thoughtful items we’d find aboard the boat), and the salon of the boat came into view. Along the port bulkhead was the full galley, and the convertible dinette (converts to a large single bed) is situated immediately to starboard as you walk in. The helm (complete with double bench seat) is directly forward of the dinette and the navigators seat is to port. The helm was plenty spacious enough for me, and with the pilot door open (there’s one on both sides) I was able to commune with the sea as it swept by. There is sense of space and light, created partly by the abundant windows and 360 degree visibility from the helm and partly because the 6’5” headroom cabin is, well, large.
Behind a closing, sliding door in the bulkhead that is just forward of the helm lies the hanging locker to port, the head to starboard and the V-berth and generous in-wall storage of the forward sleeping accommodations. The V-berth is slightly longer on the port side, and I quickly determined that it was comfortable for me, especially with the inserts provided. I had one more “space” check to do, and that was at the dinette table. Turns out the savvy Canadian designers had thought of that, too, and the table turned out to be adjustable to accommodate different body sizes on its respective sides.
The no-nonsense features of the Rosborough RF-246 (a 27-footer with the Armstrong bracket and without the engines; 28-28.6’ with a large outboard) weren’t lost on me. I took in the functional LED lights both overhead in the cabin and wall-mounted in the V-berth and head. I noticed that the main light (the one directly above the helm area) had both white and red LED’s, for night running. I noticed that Rosborough had installed a teak drawer or cabinet everywhere there was room for one, and engineered in clever storage spaces beneath the helm seat for charts, etc. I learned how the dinette berth was made up, and how an ingenious system of design was used to get the most length possible (6’ plus) there. The helm electronics are accessed through a hatch door in the head, making it unnecessary to detach a helm panel (there isn’t one) and deal with the problems associated with doing so. All seating except the navigator’s seat opens to sizable storage below, and there are convenient access panels for all below-decks spaces.
The three battery system (which is customizable) is accessed through aluminum, removable hatchways in the floor of the salon, and (along with the hatchways, which look like they’re off a freighter) is professionally installed with heavy cable, professional fittings and heavy-duty breakers. The Xantrex or ProSine (also Xantrex) inverter/charger system (2000W in mine) is installed with similar professionalism under the rear dinette seat, and a monitor panel is flush-mounted in the face of the galley counter. The ceiling-mounted, over-helm cabinetry was added by E.Q. Marine, the folks who rigged both “Iana” and “Kokomo” (my boat), is top-notch, and provides me with ample space for VHF, stereo, tidal clock, barometer and thermometer. It also provides covering for all the cables that support the extensive electronics, routing of radar, GPS, VHF antenna and Sirius satellite cabling through the ceiling to a custom aluminum radar tower, coverage of the wiper motors, cables and washer system lines, and a mounting surface for behind-the-scenes componentry including the auto-helm remote receiver, the Sirius satellite receiver, AIS gear, etc. The bottom line is that Rosborough, and the folks at E.Q. Marine, used the space available to them very wisely, and created more (with the overhead cabinets) functional and attractive space that serves the owner well.
One of the many things I appreciated about the “Rossi” turned out to be the helm. It didn’t feel ‘added on’ (though it was a separate molded fiberglass assembly) or positioned as an afterthought as I’d experienced on other boats. The Rosborough helm was all business (I found myself designing what instruments I’d put where), was designed for comfort (I wanted the same destroyer wheel that was in “Iana”), and was the same overbuilt quality that one could find throughout the boat. Ample opportunities for radar, autopilot, chart plotter, fuel analytics gauges, etc. were there. When Steve told me I could drive, I felt instantly at home behind the wheel.
The boat was responsive at all speeds, and I found myself flashing back to articles I’d read, testing her at those speeds, etc. I told everyone to hold on and put the RF-246 through a series of “S” turns and some sudden stops and starts. No matter how abruptly I handled the controls, the yacht handled it with grace, and I didn’t succeed in getting one drop of water on the high fore deck or the windshields. The truth is, we had a glorious, clear, sunny day on Puget Sound, but it was clear that the Rosborough was ready for anything (which I’ve verified since, during trips across the Rosario and Haro Straights to Victoria, B.C., and “out the gate” in San Francisco Bay in ‘Kokomo’).
We spent a few hours on the sound that day, and Lee Ann and I got all our questions about the Rosborough RF-246 answered, either by Steve & Eunice or their wonderful boat. There was no doubt left in my mind after “Iana” was my first RF-246 experience … this was the boat for us. Back at the slip, we enjoyed more conversation and comparison and then, new friends, parted ways.
By now you know that I ended up finding the Rosborough of my dreams a couple months later. I’ll leave it to you to read about how I came to that particular boat, the fifth Rossie we ‘experienced’, in the article “30 Years Later We Found The Perfect Boat For Us” in the Op-Ed section.
The Rosborough RF-246 has proven to be a fine combination of trawler, and a very reliable and comfortable yacht, for Lee Ann and me. We ended up with twin 150hp four-stroke outboards, that burn about 1.8-2.1gph at 7-8 knots (roughly the same as a single diesel), a reasonable rate at cruising speeds (12-15kts), and lots more on those rare, brief W.O.T. runs (as much as 1gph for every knot of speed we travel at). You fans of details (like me!) can see the official Honda Marine report at the link following this article (the official Honda test was performed on my boat).
The boat has a dinghy davit (heavy duty, from Rosborough; which can be used to rescue an individual from the water), an Achilles dinghy with a 4hp four-stroke Tohatsu outboard, and an anchor windless with a 22lb Delta plow-style anchor. Take a look a the photos for an idea of how the boat is rigged … a top-notch job by E.Q. Marine.
We may have compromised on some of the boat’s features which I initially thought were important to me (a pilothouse and the idea of an inboard diesel) but we got so much in return that those, like the memories of wandering through the Nordhavns, Krogens and Selenes, are just pleasant memories along the journey to the perfect boat.