I was contacted this summer by a gentleman, who has become a yachting friend since, who wanted to learn more about the Trusty 23, and her newer big sister the Trusty 28. I know the Trusty name, and know the British boats to be stable and well-built. I shared with him what I knew, and agreed to look into the Trusty Motor Boat company (Trusty Motor Boats Limited) and to review their famous 23-footer in compactyachts.com. The result has been a fun and informative voyage into the British boat building culture, and a deeper appreciation for the philosophy, boat-building prowess and the quality vessels built in Kidderminster, England by Blue C Marine.
I chose the 23 to explore, as the 28 is brand new and the 23 has track record. Blue C Marine doesn’t compromise their craft with substandard design or componentry. Everything about each yachting project they build is first quality. Their boats are finished at a level we normally find on much larger yachts at much larger price points and, when completed, each yacht shows and performs as if it was built with extraordinary care for the founder of the company. The Trusty 23 demonstrates the company’s dedication to building well above the level that would be expected, by a discerning owner, in a 23-foot yacht.
From a distance, the Trusty 23 looks like it has the classic lines of boats that have plied the restless waters of the English Channel and British rivers for ages … in fact the rounded bilges and “plucky” hull resembles trawler-style fishing boats seen for decades, up an down the British Isles. Up close though, there’s a precision to the way she’s put together that reflects Trusty’s years of commitment to building fine vessels. The boat is referred to as a “gentleman’s cruising yacht”, and has both the seaworthiness and “fit out” (a British term we don’t use very often) to match.
The spacious cockpit is your boarding point and one steps over the side onto pre-molded steps, as British boaters don’t go for ‘swim steps’, preferring a simple boarding ladder (in case one goes overboard) instead. The extra long stainless ladder is mounted to the starboard transom. The size of the cockpit, with it’s transom L seating and table, first deceives you into thinking you are on a bigger boat. Many happy days will be spent here, doing or not doing a variety of things, in good weather. The floors and even the steps are covered in optional fine marine teak flooring. To the port and starboard sides of the finished hardwood doors leading to the yacht’s salon are raised shelves. Depending on what options the buyer chooses, the port shelf converts to sink and the starboard offers an outdoor steering station, or they’re handy in their native forms as shelves, with or without cabinets. There’s a raised stainless railing surrounding the cockpit for safety and footlights on each step leading to two 7” side walkways that lead to the bow. Sturdy railings and stainless grab rails on the salon roof protect you as you head forward, and quality ground tackle makes the anchor chore easier.
Back in the cockpit, the overhang above the twin doors is lighted and stylishly curved (extending topside to approximately the center of the salon roof, which limits the rooftop storage options) to make entering for a person of 6’ easier, without a section of the roof that must be lifted. Through the center line fine wood doors (which have latches so they can be left open) and you’re in the Trusty 23’s 6’3” tall salon, and the lap of luxury (marine style). The floors are all finished in the fine wood we found in the sole of the cockpit, and the joinery work is nothing short of excellent. Matching moldings trim the interior and wooden cabinetry adorns the compact galley. The galley, with stainless sink, two-burner stove, fridge (optional) and microwave (optional) sits to starboard as you enter, while a convertible dinette for two is to port. The dinette is smallish for serving more than two, although four might squeeze in. It makes down into a single bed for an adult, or a double for children, and there is storage space beneath the cushion surfaces.
If the boat is not underway, the galley counter space can be added to with the folding helm seat, which folds forward to reveal a level space that effectively doubles the limited counter area. This won’t work while the helm is in use, though, so the cook needs to be good at preparing enroute dishes with very little work space.
The helm chair is a double-wide, comfortable affair that makes up for the fact that the Trusty 23 doesn’t have a port-side navigator’s seat. One wonders why the forward dinette settee doesn’t reverse until one realizes there’s no for your room legs with the hanging locker positioned where it is. If you were to have the factory omit the hanging locker and fashion a way to reverse the forward dinette settee, you’d accomplish a navigator’s seat, but forfeit valuable storage (and the boat’s only hanging locker) in the process There is a wide stainless footrest to starboard that serves both the skipper and guest, and a spacious helm with a high mounted, quality, wood covered metal wheel. Mounting surfaces for a nice selection of electronics is built-in and up at eye level, which is helpful when keeping your eyes on the sea is important. Access to the throttle control, wheel, switches and electronics is excellent, and it’s clear that this helm was designed by people who have lots of experience at sea.
Step to port and down two steps, and you’re in the sleeping quarters. There’s a small door to starboard which leads into the head with sink and shower (there’s also a shower in the cockpit, which is good since I’m not sure how I’d fit through the door or in the head, but at 6’4” and 285lbs I’m not the size of the average person) and to port there is the hanging locker. The double bed is a bit tight at the foot (6’ X 4.5’ overall), but overall I was quite impressed with the sleeping accommodations (and the versatility of the enclosed head, which expands somewhat as you enter) aboard this 23-foot yacht.
Overhead lighting is thoughtfully placed throughout the interior. An over-the-bed hatch, quality windows (some that open for ventilation), and Trusty’s signature, real (opening) portholes make for lots of light, airy light. The yacht really shines with its open floor plan, lighting where you need it and flowing ventilation.
The Yanmar 54hp engine that comes standard in the Trusty 23 is an economical, quiet and dependable workhorse. It reaches cruising speeds of 7.5 knots (at 3800rpm) and does 6 knots (2500rpm) at less than 1 gallon per hour. At this pace, just 1.5 knots shy of the boat’s maximum speed, the Trusty 23 can cruise approximately 24 hours between fill-ups on its 24 gallon tank with a small reserve (at 0.8 gph). Excellent access to the engine is through large, gas strut-supported hatches in the cockpit floor. Depending on how you equip the boat, there is room for storage here too, and there’s room to get down into the engine compartment should the need arise. A second hatch delivers easy access to the fuel tank, fuel filter and an engine-side fuel manifold. An engine liner, molded at the factory for engine compartment cleanliness, reminds us that the quality thinking behind this boat is similar to that of big yacht builders.
The rounded bilge form, that unique shape that makes the T23 like generations of fishing and cargo boats before her, gives her a unique ride. Seakindly and sturdy, she seems to rise up and greet each new wave with grace and agility. Her substantial keel limits rolling in most seas, and the majority of owners we spoke with commented positively about the “little ship’s” on-water motion, both when underway and when picnicing or relaxing in the sun.
Like we’ve found with other of the world’s compact yachts, the Trusty 23 attracts the more discerning yachtsman, one with a wealth of on-water experience. We found that there are a number of sailboat and power yachtsman, from much larger vessels, that stepped very comfortably into this boat, and have had many accolades to shower upon their T23’s. The yacht’s price may give you some pause (currently approximately $125,000 for a moderately equipped vessel, before getting it to the U.S. and buying/outfitting a trailer … $40,000?), but once you’ve examined it and measured its build quality, that price will seem well worth paying.
If you’re looking at a trailerable small yacht (under 23’!) that sports the build quality of a fine ocean-going yacht (read: Nordhavn, Krogen), you’re under 6’1” (lets me out) and you’re happy with low trawler (displacement) speeds, the Trusty 23 deserves to be on your pre-purchase sea test list.
***Photos courtesy of mftr. website at: www.trusty-motor-boats.co.uk