” There’s something special about the trawler community and the way this style of boat overlaps into the realms of utility, classic lines, simplicity and economy! It blows my mind to think that I can make passages of hundreds of miles on a single tank, through heavy weather and in great comfort.”  

Theo Toko, Trawler 36’ 

Interview with the Captain – Joe Lovejoy 

About the Boat 

Why did you choose to buy a Trawler?
I bought a trawler (sort of) on accident, believe it or not. Really, it all started with my budget and as time has passed I’ve come to realize that this trawler fits all my needs and then some! I was looking for a boat that fit a couple of criteria: live-ability, within a modest budget, offshore capability and systems I could learn to fix myself. A few other non-negotiable were: fiberglass hull, diesel engine, single prop and the ability to single hand the boat. As I began shopping, I quickly came to love the look of old trawlers and quickly narrowed my search to mostly 32-40ft “Taiwanese Trawlers” because they were the most available option. Little did I know, the trawler would become the perfect home for me! 

What other kinds of boats did you consider before buying this particular model (and how did they compare)?
I considered sailboats, but really didn’t know how to sail at the time and pretty quickly realized the space available vs LOA was tremendously higher on a trawler. Some of the other trawlers I considered included a 34’ Californian LRC, another Monk 36’, a few CHB 34’s and a couple of Grand Banks models. 

How did you come to find/locate her before purchasing (and what’s the boat’s history if you know it)?
Toko is actually the first boat I seriously looked at when I got to San Diego. I kind of knew she was the boat for me on day one, but forced myself to look at lots of other boats first just in case she wasn’t as special as I felt that day. After a few more months of shopping around, it was pretty apparent that she was the boat for me! I became friends with the previous owners and their broker (friends with a broker?? Yes its true!), and they made the whole purchase and sea trial process so easy and unintimidating. Toko has had several previous owners, and I believe each gave her a new name (including me), but had been owned by the same family for 13-14 years before me. They kept her in amazing mechanical shape and rarely went outside of San Diego Bay. I love going on longer voyages now because each destination is another step further than Toko has gone in decades—maybe longer! 

What features/improvements have you added or do you plan to add?
My project list is never ending! But so far the completed projects include: installing new navigation electronics, radar and autopilot (SIMRAD), captains chair replacement, galley refit from propane to electric, new faucets, new upholstery all around, complete overhaul of all exterior bright work, engine paint and a new sound system! Future plans include (hopefully): solar, new fuel tanks, exterior painting and about 1 million other ideas! 

What are the features you like most about your boat?
She’s a home. I couldn’t have stumbled into a better combination of seaworthiness, space, reliability and style. There’s something special about the trawler community and the way this style of boat overlaps into the realms of utility, classic lines, simplicity and economy! It blows my mind to think that I can make passages of hundreds of miles on a single tank, through heavy weather and in great comfort. She’s the perfect platform for all of my aquatic hobbies (surfing, diving, SCUBA, etc.) without sacrificing the comforts of life. 

Who first introduced you to boating/sailing?
A friend of mine named Dave is the guy who really started to get me thinking that I could do this. Having grown up on land with no “legitimate” experience at sea, I had my reservations, but sailing with him and talking over beers quickly made me realize that I could do it and, in fact, I needed to do it! 

Do you belong to a yacht club or other boating/sailing organizations?
I am a member of what I guess you could consider a “social media yacht club.” Very 21st century, I know! It’s an Instagram based club called “Young Cruisers Association” and they basically have created a platform for connecting with other young boaters around the world. The idea is that if you see the “YCASS” burgee somewhere—they’re an instant friend!  

What boats have you previously owned?

How do you typically use your boat over the summer, and where do you go?
Lucky for me, San Diego boating season isn’t limited to the summer! I take Toko out pretty frequently for cruises on the bay or out to dinner, but also love to load up and chase the sunset offshore. Typical destinations for me include: Catalina Island, Oceanside Harbor, Mission Bay and Coronado Bay. These trips usually include SCUBA, surfing, lobster diving and anything else the local waters have to offer! 

What is the biggest challenge you have in servicing your boat?
Hmmm, I’d probably say the hardest thing is growing the confidence to “just do it.” Whether it’s cutting a hole in something, removing a hose line, wetting a brush or anything else, it’s a bit scary tackling projects for the first time. The good news is, I can find a YouTube video for almost every single job I take on, and once I take that first step I usually realize it’s not so scary after all! These old boats are built tough so I know I can’t do anything too too bad on accident! 

Do you have any notable boating resources you use?
“The old guys on the dock!” I say that somewhat in jest, but it’s actually so true. Most of the people I’ve run into that own trawlers are retired or close to it, and will drop everything to chat about systems or lend a hand. The boating community as a whole really is that way, which is one of my favorite things about living aboard. They don’t tell you that ahead of time! 

Do you have any advice for those looking to buy a Trawler like yours?
Yes I do! This is one of my favorite questions actually because I wish I could give myself the advice that I have compiled in my 2 years of life aboard! I have three major bits of advice, in this order: 1. Read books about boats and living aboard. 2. Walk the docks and talk to people who have boats like yours. In today’s age you can do this through online forums pretty well too, but nothing beats real-life conversations. 3. Watch YouTube videos. I say this one last because it can get a little tricky and a lot of what I’ve found on YouTube in terms of lifestyle afloat can be misconstrued by pretty videos and nice swimsuits. Start with books and real people, and use YouTube for inspiration and instruction for more technical things! 

What’s the story behind the boat’s name?
Theo Toko is my creative adaptation of the Greek term “theotokos” which literally translates to “the one who carried Jesus.” I reckon that’s a pretty safe name for a vessel that will carry me around the ocean! I’m also very fortunate to have had her blessed by a close friend of mine who is a Catholic priest, so she’s officially a holy boat! In short, thought, I usually call her Toko and explain the name to mean “Mary, queen of the sea!” 

Click the gallery below for more photos and information about Theo Toko!  Toko has also been featured in Proptalk, to see the article click here, and be sure to visit her IG at @crown_city_trawlers