A bigger and better cruiser with easy access and plenty of room for the kids
The Mainship 350 Trawler has quite a heritage to live up to. Back in the 1970s, when OPEC shut off the oil supply, boatbuilders responded with fuel-efficient, displacement- hulled yachts for long-range cruising. Some resembled commercial fishing boats of the Pacific Northwest, known as trollers, and some looked a bit like the East Coast boats that pulled shrimp trawls. Thar was close enough, and the new genre of no-nonsense pleasure craft came to be known as trawlers.
One of those boats was the Mainship 34. She had classic styling, a narrow displacement hull, one cabin, and a small, single diesel that pushed the boat at 8 or 9 knots. A friend of mine owned one, and my family occasionally went along on day trips. It was on that boat that this unrepentant speed demon learned the virtues of enjoying the trip, rather than just looking forward to the destination.
Mainship introduced a new model last year, the 350 Trawler, and the new is so tied to the old that the sales brochure includes a sepia photo of the original boat. I intended to get aboard the new model at the Ft. Lauderdale boat show shortly after its introduction, but the line was long, the sun was hot, and my patience was short.
That's why I welcomed the opportunity to try out the latest hull off the line~ a special version of the 350 Trawler destined for charter work. This boat differs from the stock boat in several ways, all available as options. The carpet in the saloon is replaced by teak and holly, and the finish is beautiful. The custom sofa to starboard, along with its built-in helm seat, is omitted. And the galley range is gas rather than electric, for quieter evenings at anchor.
The new boat is only 18" longer, but it's 2' wider and has chines aft in place of the old round bilges. I didn't have a chance to measure the effect on roll damping, but it should be remarkable. Not only will the chines help, but form stability varies with the cube of the beam. This means that if all else is equal, the new hull will be nearly 60 percent stiffer than the old.
The extra length and beam result in a lot more interior space, too. The galley's been moved up to saloon level, leaving enough room for a second "crawl-in" double berth tucked under the galley. The master cabin is forward, with a queen berth on centerline. Drawers and hanging lockers are provided port and starboard. The berth binges up with little effort, and lift-out tubs are provided for additional stowage.
The galley and lower helm share space with the saloon. A small desk is built into the aft corner, and is topped with Corian, as are the galley counters. A sea rail is provided overhead, a sensible touch not often found on yachts of any size.
It's on the exterior that improvements are most obvious in the new boat. A full-height sliding door to starboard of the lower helm allows easy docking or anchoring in a short-handed situation. Shore power book-ups are located both forward and aft, a nice feature that allows docking either bow-in or stern-in. A warm water shower is provided at the swim platform. Integral transom boxes are fined with d rains, and are suitable for use as either fish boxes or rope lockers. The bow locker is fitted with separate compartments for rope and chain, as well as a clever stowage set-up for a second anchor.
And the most obvious improvement, the ladder to the flying bridge stowage has been replaced by a solid and comfortable stair of molded fiberglass. It's really easy to get up and down, and it's fitted with the sturdiest rails I've seen on a boat this size. The more you live with this boat, the more you'll appreciate this feature
But all is not new. One of the nicest of the old boat's features remains. The bridge deck st ill extends all the way to the transom. expanding the topside deck area and providing blessed shade for the cockpit.
A range of engine options is available, including a single gas Crusader, as well as single and twin diesels with a lot more horsepower than the old boat could have used. The single engine boats are equipped with a SidePower bow thruster as standard, so maneuverability is not a problem.
Our test boat was equipped with the highest power option, twin Yanmar diesels at 230 hp, and topped out at over 21 knots. Unfortunately, it didn't do it comfortably, and I think this power option may be overkill. At higher speeds, the bow rode higher than I liked. It wasn't objectionable on the flying bridge, but from the lower helm, visibility could be a problem.
In addition, vibration in the uncarpeted saloon sole was uncomfortable at the upper end of the speed curve. And although the engine room is quite adequate for singles, or twins of moderate size, two big diesels definitely fill up the space. With the standard wing fuel tanks, access to the outboard side of the engines is always going to be a squeeze.
When you back off the throttles, even just a bit, things quiet down quickly and she becomes a well-mannered lady again. My advice? Opt for one of the lower power options and enjoy the ride. The Mainship 350 Trawler lives up to her heritage, and then some. And why shouldn't she? Mainship is headquarted in the old DESCO plant, where shrimp boats were built by the hundreds back in the '70s. What could be a more inspiring venue for a trawler builder?
This review/article originally appeared in Yachting Magazine, August 1998 and is written by Dudley Dawson. For more great yacht reviews, visit their website and subscribe at: https://www.yachtingmagazine.com/subscribe-to-yachting-magazine
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