We may never know who first coined the term “boater-homing”. Rumor suggests it might’ve been a man with a parrot on his shoulder in a Washington State casino parking lot (more on that later). But the term signifies a growing trend in boating where trailerable trawlers or “pocket yachts” enable a combined experience of RVing and boating, allowing people to chase the sun around the U.S. throughout the year.
Above: A Ranger Tugs boat on a trailer being towed by a pick up truck at a campgrounds in the American Southwest. Photo by Ranger Tugs.
Boater-Homes: A Twist On An American Classic
Familiar to many, the classic American pastime of RVing gets a marine twist with boater-homing. This concept merges the classic American motor home road trip with boating. Your trailerable boat serves as a mobile home on land, leading to hybrid land/sea journeys. The result? Savings on accommodations, fuel, and food. The preferred boats, frequently referred to as pocket yachts, are designed for convenience, efficiency and comfort.
Trailerable Trawlers Defined
A “trailerable” boat typically has a beam less than 8.5 feet and a length below 30-35 feet. U.S. regulations mostly limit trailered boats to 8.5 feet in width, with most states capping height at 12-14 feet. Boats beyond this width require wide-load permits. Regulations also demand trailer brakes for boats over 1,500 pounds, with some states limiting length to around 40 feet.
Pocket Yachts: A New Breed of Trawler
Traditional trawlers are heavily-built private motor yachts with full displacement, ballasted hulls designed for slow but efficient long range travel and based off utilitarian fishing trawlers. Modern more compact trailerable trawlers combine some traditional elements from their larger cousins, such as pilothouses, safety rails, and walk-around passageways along with modern cruising features and innovative cabin amenities. They achieve faster top speeds for a smoother ride in rough water and excellent fuel efficiency and maneuverability due to lightweight hulls. Outfitted with modern 4-stroke outboards, these trailerable boats also offer space-saving benefits and performance, like the Ranger Tugs R-23, which reaches top speeds of around 38 MPH.
Above: A Ranger Tugs R-23 pocket yacht underway on the water. Photo by Ranger Tugs.
Pocket Yachts are one of the fastest-growing segments of the marine industry and offer a unique blend of manageable size, efficiency, performance, simplicity and livability. In fact, the largest dealer of these boats in the country—The Pocket Yacht Company—takes its name from the style of boat. Founded in 2011 by Mark and Tony Schulstad, this father and son team now has three sales offices in the U.S. and places a significant premium on the Pocket Yacht’s ability to deliver “Big Boat” amenities in a compact, efficient design.
Above: The Pocket Yacht Company is the largest dealer of Ranger Tugs, Cutwater Boats and Solara Boats in the country. Image via Pocket Yacht Company.
Driving the Boater-Homing Trend
This trend is driven largely by retired baby boomers and millennials seeking adventure and aligning with eco-friendly lifestyles. The remote work era, “tiny home” trend, and popular hashtags like #vanlife and #traveler further propel boater-homing. There’s also synergy with movements focused on reducing carbon footprints and living outside the box. A community known as “Tugnuts” engages thousands of owners in boater-homing discussions.
Above: The 2022 annual Ranger Tugs and Cutwater Boats Tugnuts Rendezvous in Roche Harbor on San Juan Island off the coast of Washington State. Photo by Boat Trader.
Key Boat Brands and Features
Boat designers, including Ranger Tugs, Cutwater and Beneteau, among others, have revolutionized innovative use of space on boats. Their feature-packed pocket yachts have an array of onboard amenities, blending some design elements of traditional boats with trendy aesthetics and modern creature comforts. Advanced hull designs paired with powerful propulsion systems allow these boats to handle adverse weather and long journeys while remaining manageable for owners to operate.
Spotlight: Boater-Homing Pioneers
The community of boater-homing, trailerable trawler enthusiasts, consists of some of the kindest people you’ll ever meet. They form one of the most cohesive boating groups on the water. Actively engaging in events while providing support and technical guidance, this community readily shares their tales and voyages with each other. The Tugnuts group organizes joint cruising events and provides insights, recommendations and guidance to their peers. I recently had the opportunity to speak with two couples about their experiences as members of this unique and vibrant group.
Jim And Lisa Favors
Jim and Lisa Favors first transitioned from larger yachts into more compact trailerable trawlers years ago. They are long-time boaters and have become the veritable poster couple for the boater-homing lifestyle. When they first met, Jim made a heartwarming promise: “I told Lisa, I’d take her to places she’d never imagined.”
After completing most of the Great Loop route on multiple trips, using two different 40-foot boats, the Favors learned a lot about what works and what doesn’t and ended up buying a Ranger Tugs R-27. Here’s where the aforementioned mysterious stranger with a parrot on his shoulder comes in. While packing provisions in the parking lot of a casino in Washington State, the stranger approached and asked if they were “boater-homing”. They chuckled at the term, but the name stuck.
Above: Jim and Lisa Favors, seen here on the bow of their Ranger Tugs named KISMET, run a blog called Trailer Trawler Life, where they share content from their boating journeys. Image via Jim and Lisa Favors.
The Favors later upgraded to an R-29 named KISMET and the couple documents their journeys and experiences on TrailerTrawlerLife.com as engaged members of the boater-homing community. They utilize their ideal pocket yacht as a “boater home” across North America, staying at RV parks and campgrounds nationwide and their story underlines the unique exploration opportunities that trailerable trawling presents.
Jerry And Colleen Walker
Jerry and Colleen Walker, owners of a Cutwater C-28 named CRAZY HEART, were partly inspired by the Favors. Their boating journeys have spanned from Utah to the Pacific Northwest and more. Colleen reminisces about the first time she laid eyes on their pocket yacht. “The moment I saw that Cutwater Boat, with its expansive glass and beautiful cabin, I knew it was the perfect boat for our adventures.”
Above: A 2023 Cutwater C-288 C boat, similar to the Walker’s C-28, underway on the water. Photo by Cutwater Boats.
The Walker’s approach to boater-homing and adventuring is collaborative and democratic, with both contributing equally to boat operations. As Jerry proudly mentions, “Both Colleen and I are at the helm, making decisions together.” Colleen typically takes the lead in monitoring the weather and determining whether they should proceed or wait for more favorable conditions. She studies weather patterns, using various apps to analyze wind conditions and plan routes with Jerry.
Always the practical one, Jerry emphasizes the need for proper trailering equipment, “It’s vital to have the right setup for towing, especially on longer journeys. It’s about safety and efficiency.” He uses a 1-ton GMC pickup with a Duramax diesel and Allison transmission, which easily manages the boat. His rig includes features like a transmission cooler, exhaust brakes, extended mirrors, a backup camera, and a heavy-duty trailer. Their triple axle aluminum trailer is ideal for salt water. It boasts oil-filled hubs and electric over hydraulic brakes, which Jerry prefers over surge brakes for better control. Additionally, all six wheels have disc brakes, enhancing their effectiveness.
The Rising Tide of Trailerable Trawling
It’s easy to see why these boaters believe that trailerable trawling is one of the most exciting trends in boating today, and offers unique perspective on shared explorations. Boater-homing is more than a passing fad; it’s about opportunities for exploration, adventure, and a free way of life. Advances in boat design and the appeal of mobility combine for an unmatched off-grid adventure experience.
Shop For Ranger Tugs and Cutwater Boats For Sale on Boat Trader Today