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Mainship 400 Trawler

A reliable, roomy design that encourages owners to take it easy.

October 4, 2007
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Of all the folks who head to the sea on yachts, I have always believed the luckiest are those who do so aboard trawlers. After all, when you are blessed with the luxury of an unhurried pace, you can enjoy the voyage as much as you do the destination. Mainship’s trawlers, with their unexpected comfort, good performance and excellent value, have allowed owners to do just that. The builder’s new 400 Trawler maintains that tradition.

In response to the fuel crisis of the 1970s and ’80s, Mainship built more than 1,200 trawlers from 30 to 40 feet LOA. These fuel-efficient designs were relatively simple, and they earned a loyal following that helped spawn an active segment of the brokerage market.

In the 1990s, Mainship reintroduced its trawler line with two new models: a 35- and 39-footer. The company delivered more that 300 in five years, so it had a fairly broad base of owners to tap for input when the time came to develop the 400.

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As you might expect, these folks wanted a bit more space, particularly for a dinette in the cabin and additional seating on the bridge. What they did not want was complication. Mainship’s demographic data suggests most of its trawler owners are retired, with semi-fixed incomes. For them, creature comforts are important but cannot come at the expense of reliability. With this in mind, Mainship used the KISS approach in the design of the 400, and as a result, she is easy to operate, clean and service.

The choice of a single engine complemented by an electric bowthruster keeps the engineroom uncluttered. Large hatches in the cabin’s sole open to well-organized systems that are easy to reach and understand. The 8kW Kohler generator has a sound shield and is accessible from a hatch in the afterdeck. The hatch is guttered, and the generator is not directly beneath it, which should keep it dry. Fifty-amp shore service can be brought aboard at the bow or stern-a nice touch. Those who ride on the hook will want to spring for the optional inverter package, which includes an extra pair of batteries. In fact, several options, such as the dripless shaft log and internal sea strainer, should not be overlooked.

The laminate of the 400’s hull bottom begins with a 20-mil gelcoat, followed by two layers of 1.5-ounce mat and a combined five layers of 24-ounce woven roving and mat. Fiberglass-encapsulated marine plywood stringers and bulkheads provide support. Her hull sides and exterior decks are cored with balsa. Fuel is carried in two aluminum tanks outboard of the engines.

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The term “trawler” is a misnomer when applied to yachts, but it is commonly used to describe any cruising pleasure craft with a salty, traditional flair. That said, the 400 is neither a slow trawler nor a fast trawler. Though she is certainly most efficient at displacement speeds, she is capable of operating in the semi-displacement range, even when powered by a single engine.

At the 400’s hull speed of about 8 knots, her single 385 hp Caterpillar 3126 turned a relaxed 1800 rpm. This setting should be excellent for long passages. (The company’s data indicates a fuel burn of 8.1 gallons per hour at this setting.) As the boat accelerated, her speed hit a flat spot from 1800 rpm to 2100 rpm (transition speed). After that, she accelerated steadily to a maximum speed of 16.4 knots at 2650 rpm, a bit short of the 2800 rpm recommended by the company. I suspect bottom fouling was the cause.

Twin engines are optional. Mainship says they should push the boat to a top speed of 20 knots. My sense is that she can handle the power. Just the same, I would go with the single-engine option for the economy and comfort of displacement-speed operation. Even with a single engine, she should perform well when running an inlet or dodging a thunderhead. Around the dock, the bowthruster has enough muscle to swing her into the wind, and her five-blade, 26-by-191/2-inch wheel has a solid bite.

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The centerpiece of the bridge deck is a built-in Jenn-Air grill. The thought of sharing cold Kalik and fresh dolphin with family and friends in the islands is intoxicating. At the helm, the 400 has a stout, go-anywhere feel, although I prefer the ship-like touch of the interior helm’s vertical wheel. The instrument panel is simple and well organized, with enough room for key electronics. Those familiar with the 390 will note that the companion bench seating beside the 400’s helm is more accommodating, as is the aft lounge area. Here, there is room to spread out or belly up to the foldaway table. Space aft can be used for additional seating or stowage for a small tender. The optional hinged mast would be a wise choice for those cruising the waterway.

A straight, built-in stair leads to the afterdeck. It accomplishes its mission far more efficiently than the 390’s curved stair does. The afterdeck has room for a couple of captain’s chairs and an insulated coaming well that looks an awful lot like a fishbox. I would not hesitate to add outriggers, since I know a number of owners who have done so with excellent results. A transom door and a molded swim platform are standard. Side decks finished in an aggressive molded nonslip lead forward to the bow. A pulpit designed to accommodate two anchors is standard, while a windlass is not (add that to your list, as well).

Inside, the 400 is a bit less traditional than you might expect. Mainship chose cherry joinery rather than teak. This makes sense, as the lighter finish helps keep her spaces from feeling confined. The cherry-and-holly sole provides a tasteful link to the past. A side-deck door allows for single-handed operation. This, with her hatches, polished aluminum opening windows and a swinging cabin door, provides excellent natural ventilation. Still, for those headed south, air conditioning ($10,093) is a must.

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The galley has a Corian counter and is fitted with a dual-voltage refrigerator/freezer, microwave, coffeemaker and range with an oven. A dinette seats four, and the settee can be configured with internal stowage or as a convertible berth. A flat-screen TV is fitted to a hinged cabinet for optimum viewing. The two-stateroom arrangement includes a master with a queen island berth forward and a mid-cabin with two single berths that are partially tucked beneath the saloon. The head, which has a small tub, is accessible from the master stateroom or passageway.

If you have earned the right to slow down, the Mainship 400 Trawler would be an ideal choice for exploring the waterway or poking about the islands. Our test boat, with a single engine and just about every option, was priced at $324,714. Not bad for a ticket to paradise.

Contact: Mainship Corp., (912) 884-9595; [email protected]; www.mainship.com.

Mainship 400 made the list of our top trawlers – _read more about Trawler Treasures._

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