Love the Waggoner guide, which is our onboard bible. I especially enjoy the sidebars, which are often so beautifully written.

I am emailing to see if you have time to answer some newbie questions on Tollycraft vessels.

We are looking at moving up from a 1991 3288 Bayliner to a larger twin diesel boat. Our boat is lovely, but this model is a real pig in weather, particularly a following sea, and can be tricky to dock as she is round bottomed with high windage. Based in Vancouver, BC, Canada, as we approach retirement we’d like to cruise north of Desolation Sound up into Alaska, something our present boat really couldn’t safely do. Secondary considerations are: we’d like more room, and more speed (our top cruising speed is about 8-10 knots when fully loaded).

While I don’t know much about Tollys, I understand they have a fine reputation for being well built, durable and seaworthy. As someone new to them, I note that while Tollys have been out of production for years, their prices remain high (the idea that they hold their resale value is attractive). I take it they age well? How are they for ongoing maintenance and repair, given their age? And do they really live up to their reputation for seaworthiness?

Finally, are there certain things to look out for in Tolly’s? We are thinking of a 40′ to 45′ vessel, depending on budget.

Kindest Regards,
Janet L. Wilson


Hi, Janet,

I’ve always thought the 3288 Bayliner is one of the nicer cruising packages around. It’s good looking, has lots of window area, has a stateroom under the settee, the works. Many have cruised very successfully the entire length of the Inside Passage. With the tunnel props I would expect the 32 Bayliner to be a little delicate in close quarters around the dock, but the boat has a huge number of happy owners. It’s a genuine classic for Northwest cruising.

Granted, I don’t see many 3288s north of Cape Caution, although that doesn’t necessarily mean anything. The number of Tollys north of Cape Caution seems to be declining, too. They’re being replaced by 45 and 47 Bayliners and the new Meridians, and Ocean Alexanders, mostly in the 50-foot range.

One of the good things about Tolly (Ocean Alexander, too) is that Ed Monk did the hulls. Robert (Tolly) Tollefson dictated the kind of boat he wanted, but Monk did the final design and engineering.

The real classics in the Tollycraft line are the 26, the 37, the 44/45, and the 48. Also the 61 if you want a boat that big. Other models are very good, but to me these are the classics.

We had a Tolly 26 for nearly six years, and for the past nine years we’ve had a 37 that the previous owner repowered from gas to diesel. Since you’re not interested in a 26-footer, I won’t say any more about it. The 37 is a wonderful boat for a couple, but except for short times, not so good for more than two.

Although I pine for a 48, I think the 37 will be our last boat. It’s very strong, has lots of window area, a big main cabin, excellent galley, adequate head with stall shower, and a large forward sleeping area. Tankage is 300 U.S. gallons of fuel, 140 U.S. gallons water.

The 37 is a marvelous sea boat. Tolly says the 37 and the 48 were the two best sea boats he built. The hulls of the 37 and 48 are quite fine forward, so they knife into a sea instead of pounding and splashing. They most definitely are not — to use Naval Architect Bill Garden’s term –“pushwaters.” Our top cruising speed is 16-20 knots, although we run at 8.5 knots much of the time, burning 4 U.S. gallons per hour. At 16 knots we probably burn around 16 gallons per hour.

The 48 isn’t as fast as the 37, but it’ll go all day at 12 knots with another 3 knots in reserve. Of course 8-9 knots is a no-brainer.

I happen to like the 48’s styling, layout and seakeeping qualities, and I’m not the only one. I think the good ones will hold their value forever.

The 44/45s are the same boat, with the 45 having a sloped transom and the 44 being vertical. They’re good looking, and have a lot of room. No one complains about their seakeeping. With 375-hp engines, they’re plenty fast. With smaller engines, naturally, they’re slower. The 40 of the same era is the 44/45 without the cockpit. A few 40s were built as sport fishermen.

Whatever you settle on, remember that the older the boat, the more things that can go wrong. Perfectly good equipment wears out. In the case of 1970s Tollys, the wiring is not the best. The wiring in our 1979 Tolly 37 works, but one day somebody will tear it all out and replace it properly. The later models are better.

I can’t speak for other brands, but if you are looking at Tollys, don’t assume that if you’ve seen one example of a model, you’ve seen them all. Many were built to order, with individual preferences. With the passage of time, other modifications get made. It would be a mistake to buy one sight-unseen.

The 2006 Canadian Tollycraft rendezvous is September 15-17 at Telegraph Harbour Marina in the Gulf Islands. Since you won’t be taking part in activities, you don’t need to register, just show up.

Saturday, September 16 is the big day. The event usually draws 80+ boats and includes most models — in many cases several examples of the same model. If you are interested in Tollys, I urge you to overnight at a B&B on Thetis Island or at one of the many places in Chemainus, and spend the day at the rendezvous walking the docks and crawling around boats. The ferry runs regularly between Chemainus and Thetis Island.

An even better alternative would be to take your 32 Bayliner over and stay at Thetis Island Marina in Telegraph Harbour. You could walk around the head of the bay to the rendezvous at Telegraph Harbour Marina, or take the dinghy across. Don’t worry about imposing on people with your questions. They love their boats and won’t let you go. When you get back “home” for supper you’ll be exhausted and your poor little minds will be overflowing with information.

You’ll also know if you are interested in Tollys, and if so, which models.

Bob Hale

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