What’s the best way to arrive to Trawlerfest in Bremerton, Washington? On a trawler, of course! When invited by the new owners of a Kadey-Krogen 50’ Open, the company’s newest build, I leapt at the chance for a functional sea trial and private ferry to Bremerton. What’s that saying about two birds and one stone?
First, some context for the uninitiated. Kadey-Krogen as an American yacht brand is about as established as it gets, although they’ve been building them in Taiwan (like just about everyone else in the industry) since 1977. When describing a Kadey-Krogen, the terms “traditional” and “classic” are often used for good reason. These motor trawlers have clear aesthetic inspiration from the fishing boats of the North Sea, with slightly curved lines, pronounced bow, high freeboard, and generally salty air. However, a Kadey-Krogen is a luxury yacht first, with a large salon, generous accommodations, and machinery made to keep up a 7- to 9-knot cruising speed for as long as possible. These are popular for liveaboard, long-distance cruising for a reason.
Flash forward to 2018, and the 50’ Open exterior looks very much like her forebearers. In this era of storied brand names throwing aside their signature looks in favor of completely encasing their new builds with glass windows, slapping on a plumb bow just ‘cause, and blowing up the beam for a fifth mini-bar, it’s refreshing to see builders like Kadey-Krogen stick to their guns. The majority of boardings will take place at the swimstep, which is modest but perfectly functional.
There are also two boarding doors port and starboard in the cockpit and port and starboard up forward at a higher level for taller docks. The robust transom opens to provide access to the covered cockpit. This transom means business, a contrast to many other contemporary builders’ moves to open, lazy weekend, semi-covered cockpits with giant swimsteps aft. The Open 50’ is the transom of a proper open water boat.
The rest of the 50’ Open’s exterior maintains the philosophy of open water consideration, notably the single forward walkway starboard sheltered by fiberglass all the way to the bow where high railings take over the supporting role. The walkway wraps around the wheelhouse to port at the bow, and another robust fiberglass structure serves as both walkway shelter and a forward-facing bench accessible through a pair of beefy doors.
One should feel confidant walking about in even the foulest of weather. Interestingly, the single stairway up to the gigantic flybridge is located inside, another design option that errs on the traditional and safe. Above is a second helm station with lots of seating and a dinghy davit with plenty of space for tender stowage.
There’s also dual wing stations forward on the main level, one port and one starboard. Between all the control angles and the bow and stern thrusters, the fine maneuvering on this yacht may be about as precise as it gets. The owner on this maiden voyage had zero problems navigating the Ballard Locks, despite never having done it before. This fine control was on full display to me as I scribble down my notes and tended the stern line.
However, what’s truly novel about this new Kadey-Krogen is not the exterior, but the interior from which the Open takes its name. The interior is 100 percent luxury modern, fully embracing the popular trend to do away with interior partitions between salon, galley, and helm station. All three exist in the same palatial space inside, the salon (with seating, large table, and deployable flat screen TV) is aft, galley oriented port amidships, and helm station with small table is the furthest forward.
The build we explored featured an American cherry interior that is a great wood to lighten up an enclosed space. One notable feature in the galley is an electrically deployable appliance garage that should keep those toasters and blenders out of sight and safely stowed under the granite countertop.
Moving down a spiral staircase forward brings a visitor to the accommodations and into the guts of the yacht. The version I saw had a three-stateroom and two-head layout, the star of the show being the increasingly ubiquitous master suite with island-style berth and en suite head. It is down here where one also has access to the engine room.
I was very impressed with the seven feet of standing headroom and ease of access for maintenance, for I have flashbacks of contorting into tiny lazarettes to get to equipment. The model I was on had twin John Deere 4045TFM85 125-bhp diesel engines with 24-V DC electric start. Single and double screw options exist.
As far as performance goes, a typical cruiser will be running at 1,700 rpm on the Open 50’. In our test on a calm day with our two engines and less than 10 knots of wind as a variable, we burned about two gallons of diesel per hour at 1,700 rpm that yielded about 6 to 7 knots. When we opened the throttle up to 2,500 rpm, the fuel burn increased into the 7 to 12 gallons per hour territory at about 10 knots. Clearly, she’s good at what she’s meant to do; put in those long distances at around 1,700 rpm and 6 to 8 knots where she sips the fuel.
Her motion was easy and sea-kindly, handling large wake from passing container ships and the Seattle-Bremerton ferry with fitting grace.
So, what’s the verdict? The Kadey-Krogen 50’ Open successfully carries on the torch for the storied line, drawing from decades of yacht building while innovating to stay fresh. The open interior is a good step forward, and at times it was hard to believe that I was on a yacht with only 52’9” length overall. Feedback is all minor. Perhaps the space between the captain’s chair and the forward table is a bit of a squeeze, and maybe the Dutch doors leading out onto the deck from the wheelhouse eat up the walkway space a little awkwardly. She does burn a lot of fuel at higher rpm, but what yacht of this class doesn’t?
If you want a proper seaworthy trawler to live comfortably aboard and see the world, the Kadey-Krogen 50’ Open should be on your short list. While the base price is $1,549,000, Kadey-Krogen is a highly custom builder and a typical completed build will cross the $2,000,000 threshold.