You Can Take It With You

With threats from bad weather, boat owners are investing in new trailerable trawlers – boats you can take homeYou Can Take It With You”Trailerable” trawlers are the next big thing for sea dogs worried about slip rents and hurricanes

By Jason Dehart

In 1999, Darrel Lawson got the call he didn’t want to hear. A major hurricane had just grazed the Bahamas port where his 45-foot Chris-Craft yacht was based, and now a distant voice was reporting the damage.

“My boat dragged and hit all the other boats and knocked them off their place and wrecked totally, but mine just went on down through the harbor and ended up in the ship’s canal,” the 68-year-old Montana resident said. “So I get a call, and a man says, ‘You’ve got to get down here and get your boat out of the ship channel, because they can’t get the emergency supplies in.’ So my son-in-law and I had to fly out from Montana immediately and get the boat out.”

That incident – coupled with some other factors – convinced the longtime pleasure-boat skipper it was time to make a change. That’s why he was at Wefing’s Marine in Eastpoint in February – to take possession of the latest in “trailerable trawlers.” In this case, it’s a 25-foot, C-Ranger R-25 Tug, made by the same company that makes the popular C-Dory line of smallish cabin cruisers.

Lawson already was familiar with the C-Dory line, having owned a 22-footer since 2000. But he wanted something a bit more “livable,” so he traded the C-Dory to buy the R-25. He and his wife, Delaine, were on an annual trip to Florida when a deal was arranged. Lawson wanted to trade in his C-Dory for a C-Ranger, and the manufacturer told him there was a boat available at Wefing’s.

“So we steered on down in this direction,” Lawson said.

The reason the boats are called “trailerable” is simple. When you’re done cruising the Bahamas or the islands around Alaska – which Lawson loves doing – you can back up the trailer and take it home. That offers numerous advantages over larger yachts, he said.

“Marinas are closing up all over. They’re being bought out by condos, and slip rent has gotten tremendous,” Lawson said recently as he dined on fried mullet and cheese grits at Papa Joe’s Oyster Bar & Grill in Apalachicola.

“Plus, you don’t have to worry about every hurricane,” he said. “Hurricane Dennis (1999) ate my 45-foot Chris-Craft – about $38,000 worth. Plus, the trip (to the Bahamas) would be $2,000 to $3,000. Now it would be more like $5,000. This little pocket trawler will go 5 gallons an hour, while a big boat would use 25 gallons an hour. So you see, there are a lot of reasons to downsize. This little C-Ranger, being brand new, with a little diesel engine, is ideal.”

C-Ranger tugs are built in Kent, Wash. Lawson’s particular boat is a “new model year” and is the first one of its kind sold by Wefing’s.

“It’s probably one of the best first-year production boats I’ve seen,” said Lee Jones, Wefing’s service manager. “All of the reviews have been good, and the ones I’ve seen have lots of room and amenities for a 25-foot boat.”

The R-25 offers a lot of amenities for its size. It features air conditioning and heating; a head (sailor talk for a toilet) and shower; two sinks; an onboard generator; a four-cylinder diesel engine that generates 130 horsepower; and a set of Raymarine marine electronics, including radar, autopilot, global positioning satellite system, depth sounder, and a marine radio capable of broadcasting GPS coordinates with distress calls. The boat also has a Clarion stereo system and powered windlass. Best of all, down below the water line, bow and aft thrusters allow for tight turning and improved maneuverability.

But the big attraction is the boat’s portability, Lawson said.

“Lots of other trawlers, even the 25- to 27-footers, you can’t put them on a trailer,” he said. “If you did, you’d have to take the bridge down. You can’t have a fly bridge and get under (overpasses). So this is made where you don’t have a fly bridge, and is below the legal height.”

Even so, it can easily cruise across the Gulf Stream and into the Caribbean.

“Not any big dangerous ocean crossings, but it allows you to go to all the fun places around the country,” Lawson said. “And it allows you to run from hurricanes. Just take it home and put it in your garage.”

In addition, the R-25 is more comfortable than the smaller C-Dory he owned.

“That’s like living in a shoebox,” he said. “But this (Ranger) is only three feet bigger, and yet it has all the conveniences. It’s got more things in it than that 45-footer I had. So it should be pretty comfortable.”

Time will tell whether the C-Ranger tug becomes as popular as the smaller C-Dory. The C-Ranger R-25 can cost as much as $150,000 fully loaded, while a 22-foot C-Dory can run around $30,000.

Lawson isn’t alone in his admiration for these kinds of go-anywhere boats. In the 20 years they’ve been around, they’ve developed a cult-like following.

“We do have a great group of C-Dory boat owners,” said Marc Grove, president of Wefing’s Marine. “They are a tight-knit group. They’re a pretty active group;
we have gatherings, and they’re like Harley owners.”

And of course, they have a Web site, “The C-Brats,” at It’s a fun and informative site in which C-Dory enthusiasts discuss all things nautical. There even is an online forum within C-Brats, called “All C-Rangers, All the Time,” for C-Ranger owners.

Lawson said it takes a patient and understanding spouse not only to go to sea for weeks at a time but to allow for the generous costs associated with new boat ownership. To help smooth things over with his wife, he told her he’d name it “Miss Dee” in her honor.

“I told her I’d name it after her for our 50th wedding anniversary in June,” he said.

Categories: Forgotten Coast 2007, Forgotten Coast Archive