50’ Steel Troller

In early 2004 I got what appeared at the time to be a very exciting commission. A guy had bought a fine old double ended troller with a tremendous old 100 HP Gardner diesel in it. He drove it to Port Townsend from the south sound, hauled it out, and had a local repair outfit start working on it. They pulled the engine and then, after some serious digging around, he understood this was going to be a bottomless pit to shovel money into and he'd STILL have an old boat.
I write about restoring old fishboats in my The Troller Yacht Book and if you're interested in such things I suggest you read it. I DO understand the yearning; going by some dilapidated old troller pulls me just like seeing a homeless dog; I want to take it home. Some of them are so beautiful and so many are ending up being chain sawed into pieces and burnt. Here's photos one one I shot in Florence, Oregon, two years ago.

This boat is gorgeous; look at her shape. She could have been bought from the Port for probably 25 bucks. And while her shape is prettier than many, like so many others, briefly, unless it is a true labor of love and either you have more money than Bob Hope or are able/willing to do the work yourself, it could be an overwhelming thing to get yourself caught up into. But some people do it and I'm sure they will be rewarded by admittance to Paradise for their kindness.

You can practically see the tear at the pilot house window. Posting this photo reminds me how close I came to buying her, but christ, just getting it the 400 miles home would have been a big deal....


Anyway, the guy I was working with rapidly made this conclusion (money and work) himself, and decided it made sense to have a new steel hull built that looked a lot like the old wood boat rather than try to restore the wood one. He hired me to work with him and create the design.
He took the general dimensions off the old boat and described what he wanted. I thought the multi-chine hull form was unnecessary but grew to like it. The small drawing shown here doesn't really do it justice but perhaps you can see that the “middle chine” disappears at the ends making a smooth almost round shape. Plus, there's quite a lot of flair; the “chine” chine is well inboard making a narrow WL; she should have a very smooth roll motion plus, she gains buoyancy very rapidly as she is loaded.

She has an interesting body plan.

This is real NW Troller profile; I love it!

Things went very rapidly and in just a matter of weeks a shop in Seattle had the frame half completed. And then something odd happened that I still don’t understand.
Perhaps the paper plant next to Port Townsend emitted some particularly noxious odor or some failure in the city water system allowed an alien bug to enter, something, I don’t know what, but, the guy who's vision this boat was, suddenly lost me. He fell under the spell of a degree Naval Artichoke who told him the thing needed 200 HP and 5 to 1 reduction gear to go hull speed, that it needed a bulbous bow, and that of course the double end was simply no good.
There was no way at all I could go for any of these things so we parted ways, with me asking that polleeease make sure the new guy gets all the credit for what ya’ll create. Hey, I've been fired before; my ego can handle it! But it’s to bad because I think what we had come up with is pretty damned slick.

Here she sits, in Pt. Townsend, WA. From this vantage she looks fine but you should (or rather shouldn't) see the stern... At least there's no bulb bow on it. Yet, anyway.....

I'm to busy at the moment to work up a spec design on this hull but I really like the hull and want to see it turn into a finished design. It seems so damned graceful to me that I'm tempted to add a bit more sail than I normally put on my troller yachts. Nah; a "real" sailplan is to much hassle. But she will get a low rig, a wheelhouse near the mid-section. In fact, I saw a gorgeous restored and yachtified old troller in southern Oregon recently (photo below) and maybe this is the way to finish out the design.


If you like this boat's hull lines too I'd be interested to see what house and interior you'd come up with. The study plans include large scale sheets showing the top and side views and you can sketch in your ideas. If I like what you come up with I'll draw in your idea on the finished plan if you order it. That makes this almost a custom plan for a stock plan price, the difference being the hull is already designed.


LOD: 50' ....... LWL: 44' 7-1/2" ...... Beam: 15' ...... WL Beam: 13' 9-1/2" .........Draft at DWL: 6' 6"

The displacement is interesting because it changes rapidly depending on the loading. Here's de figures....

Displacement at DWL = 69,668 lb
floating 3” high = 61,42
at 4” high = 59,497
at 3” LOW = 77,572
at 4” low = 80,074
at 5” low = 82,829

This shows she'd make a good fishboat because she's a fine load carrier, rapidly requiring increased weight to settle in the water. To bad small boat fishing is about dead..... BUT, there is still one fishery she could do; tuna! Flash freeze them and sell them off the boat in tourist traps. Beware of aging designers with a cocktail at the elbow..... but, just for the sake of conversation, there are still so many tuna on the west coast of the US that licenses are easy to get, and, there are some guys doing what I said.

Finally, she moves easily too. Here's figures my computer developed. Please keep in mind they refer to calm conditions which means no tide or wind. In real life you're generally pushing against something but just the same, they give a good reference and in one case, we found the 38' DUCK actually surpassing what the computer said she could do. "V/L" stands for "speed length ratio." Displacement boats are said to be able to go the sq of the WL x 1.35 before they start sinking looking for more WL. Or planning, if they're flatish shaped.

 V/L .. Knots .... HP
1 ...... 6.96...... 12.9
1.1.... 7.65...... 19.8
1.15.. .8.0........ 24.3
1.20... 8.35...... 31.5
1.25... 8.70...... 42.4
1.30... 9.04....... 57.3
1.35... 9.39....... 77.9

Unlike the poor old girl above, PETREL here is a very lucky old Troller. Docked in Coos Bay, her owner has done an amzing restoration. Down in Brookings, Gene & Bodil Chickenell are finishing up another "resurection" too. It can be done, but starting over and building from scratch is usually simpler and even less expensive. But it isn't the same thing I know. But if you WERE to build from scratch, this 50' troller hull would be a good place to start!

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