After returning to the PNW, we took up the semi-bold plan of spending many enjoyable summers cruising up to Alaska and back. For that we needed a small but safe boat for cruising two people and a dog for up to two months. Shopping for a new boat? I was on it! The humorous thing about all these plans, is that they all changed.
Why A Motor Boat For Going North?
In younger days I had traveled the Inside Passage on sailboats. The locals up north call sailboats stick boats, because they are nearly always motoring. That was true for me. The outboard did the majority of the work, the sails not so much, even though I love sailing. And I experienced many, many, many days of rain. I recall the very moment when my allegiance shifted. My buddy and I were in my sailboat, waiting for a few hours until the tide went slack, so that we could safely transit a dangerous narrows in British Columbia. We were in our slickers and rubber boots, sitting in puddles of rain that had not let up for days. A small one man fishing boat pulled up besides us. He opened a cabin window to talk with us, sitting in his t-shirt in a bright and warm cabin, drinking a cup of coffee. As we chatted it hit me like an epiphany; “Galen, you are an idiot. That is the way to do this.” Anyone with experience traveling in these waters would naturally choose an inside helm, out of respect for the environment and taking care of themselves. Sure, there is some adventure to an open cockpit sailboat, and more power to you if that is what you enjoy. But right then and there I decided that the right boat for me for long Inside Passage trips is a motor cabin cruiser, with a heater. Although, a lot has to be said for how much mileage and fun I got out of my $4000 26′ Thunderbird sailboat back then. Ideals around the best boat are almost always expensive, and get you out on the water less, which will be proven out below.
Picking A Semi-Displacement Boat
I evaluated my needs and looked at the options. Building a boat of this size was out of the question after time and cost considerations. I was looking for a trailerable boat, with comfortable cruising accommodations. Because of travel time restraints, and strong currents in these waters, I also wanted a boat that was capable of a moderate turn of speed. So a slow and super fuel efficient displacement hull was out. And high horsepower super fast planning boats held no interest. My first choice would be a displacement power catamaran. With about 40 horsepower you could run around at 12 knots, sipping gas. Perfect. But that is an almost non-existent creature, particularly trailerable. One of the larger Tolman Skiffs would be pretty darn good. But my absolute top pick for making these journeys was one of Sam Devlin’s Black Crowns, with its semi-displacement hull. In fact Moon Glow pictured below was the first Black Crown I fell in love with at a dock in Friday Harbor, in the mid 90s. Dead sexy!
Alas, I could not afford even a used Black Crown. But the semi-displacement hull form was settled upon. This hull type is designed to cruise in the 12-18 knots range, without a massive amount of horsepower, with a bit more top speed when necessary. Many Downeast lobster boats from the east coast use a similar hull form. You have a sharp entry, a full midsection with a bit of a keel, that transitions back to broad and shallow flat planing section in the stern. This hull can maintain a good cruising speed in a nasty chop, without pounding too bad, when a more flat bottomed planning hull would have to slow way down, or beat itself to death. That is one reason we decided against a C-Dory, although they were in the top final two of our choices. Semi-displacement boats can also travel at hull speed efficiently. It is a good compromise hull for someone with a sailing mentality who wants some extra speed.
About The Rosborough 246
The boat that came out on top was a Rosborough 246, which is just shy of 25′ feet, with an 8’6″ beam. These fiberglass boats are popular on the east coast, and have been made for many years, first in Nova Scotia, and later continued by Eastern Boats in the states to this day. They were used by the Canadian Coast Guard for their comfort and safety. They have positive buoyancy through large foam filled areas under the sole, which is a rare safety feature in a production boat of this size and weight. These were some of the very first “Trailer Trawlers”, even though they are not a trawler. They have some similarities to a Nordic or Ranger Tug, although are much more of a work boat in finish and style, which I prefer. Certainly not as attractive as a Black Crown, but not bad to look at. They are a very popular choice for doing the Great Loop on the east coast.
These are also not inexpensive boats, being popular, and there are only a handful of them on the west coast. I happened upon a boat in California that had been left to a family after their father had passed. Instead of the more popular outboard power, it had a diesel inboard/outboard motor with a tired outdrive. After a bunch of negotiating I flew down to California for an inspection and test drive, and suddenly I owned another boat. I paid a professional truck driver to bring it up to my home in Port Townsend.
Converting To Outboard Power
Then, as planned, I removed the Volvo diesel that was taking up a lot of space in the cockpit and began the conversion to gas outboard power. Every owner I have talked to who has made the switch from the diesel to outboard on these boats said they wish they had done it from day one. You free up tons of cockpit space, greatly reduce noise and vibration in the boat, there is no diesel smell, and outboards are more reliable and longer lasting than the outdrives, although the Volvo motor itself could probably run three to four times the hours of an outboard.
Uh Oh – New Plan
Then our plans changed. For a few different reasons we decided that taking those long trips together was not going to work. Instead I would make quick trips myself. And the big 6,000 pound Rosborough, with a 150hp outboard was more boat than I need for myself. It just does not fit my small and simple boat mentality. So I will either sell the boat as is, a great project for someone, or I will refurbish the boat and sell it. Fortunately the values of these used boats has increased significantly over the last few years.
I have purchased a Lavro Dory, that I will convert into a small cruiser, that should do the job.
Rosborough 246 Power Options
These boats are very unique in that people use as little as 60hp on them, which might give a top speed of 8 mph, or up to 300hp for nearly nearly 40mph on the newer hulls with less keel (more about that below). There is no speed hump on these hulls. You decide what your desired cruising and top speed is, and apply the right amount of power. A 90hp will get you around 18mph. The general consensus though is that the hull was designed for 150hp, which gives a top speed of around 25mph. Cruising then at 18 mph will not tax the motor too hard or be as loud as a smaller motor.
To complicate things more, some people like a single motor and a little kicker, some like twins and no kicker. They also become married to specific outboard brands. Even the outboard mounting brackets have many options. So I will sell it sans-motor to give the new owner the opportunity to power it exactly like they want.
LSV vs HSV Rosborough
For those in the know and wondering, ours is the earlier low side version (LSV), with the larger keel. Later versions had higher cabin sides and much less keel (HSV). The company gave in to the demands of those wanting maximum room, maximum power and high speeds. I prefer the earlier version, for better tracking and less rolling in a rough sea, less cabin height, and a good bit less trailer weight.
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