Powerboats I Like

Wilbur 34


In the following pages, in a loosely organized sort of way, you will find my view of the powerboat world. Many types are omitted; some for subjective visual reasons, some because they don't fit my definition of a good sea boat. To navigate, click on any of the illustrations on this page to go to that section or select from the "Powerboats I Like" sub-menu above to go on a cruise of some boats I like. After the sections on types of boats, there is a discussion of various layouts available on these hull styles.

Where and what is Downeast?

The term "downeast" comes from the days of working sail in New England. Maine schooners returning home from ports to the south with the prevailing southwest wind were sailing DOWN wind to the EAST. Remember that the Maine Coast from about Portland to Canada runs essentially east/west.

In the powerboat yachting world, downeast boats began as lobster boat hulls finished as yachts, beginning with the summer residents adapting local boats to pleasure use. The most famous of these were the original wooden Bunker & Ellis lobsteryachts built in Southwest Harbor, Maine for the well-heeled summer rusticators of Mt. Desert Island. The handsome yellow boat in the upper left is a modern version built by Wilbur.

MJM 36z

The term downeast has also come to mean modern express yachts that have a similar visual profile but incorporate modern planing hulls and propulsion systems. The dark blue example to the right is an MJM 36z, which takes the idea of downeast to the future with lightweight, high strength composites, and joystick-controlled transom pod drives.

Grand Banks 42

Trawlers, Passagemakers, & Motorsailers

Powerboats that can make ocean passages, or at least look like they can, have picked up the trawler nameplate for better or worse. Passagemakers are trawlers that truly can make ocean passages. There is a third category I like, motorsailers, which can be displacement powerboats with sail assist, or sailboats with big engines and lots of fuel capacity. In this section I have enclosed pictures of all types.

Different builders, designers, or boating writers tend to push these names onto a variety of yachts. How many times have you read the such and such a boat "operates efficiently a displacement speeds, but has the speed to get you home in a hurry when you need it?" This is code for "this looks like a trawler but has really big engines which need to be run at higher than idle a good deal of the time."

The Grand Compromise…Semi-displacement

NT 39

Many years ago the (real) downeast lobsterboat builders decided they should race their boats to see which builder produced the fastest model. The builders got involved because it was good for business. At the same time, lobstermen were fishing more traps over bigger areas and were pressuring the designers and builders to produce bigger, wider, and faster models. Well, guess what, some of these hulls proved to handle well at low speeds, carry a lot of gear, and get up and go between strings of traps. These qualities add up in the pleasure boat equation as well. It didn't only happen in the east, either. The Nordic Tug on the right features a west coast version of the hull form, and the pilothouse configuration shows it can be adapted to many layouts.

© Peter Bass 2013-19