The Krogen Manatee 36’ is a boat and a half.  However, when I first saw it, out of the water and on display at the Moscone boat show, I had to giggle, an unusual, rather bulbous appearing superstructure perched atop a deep, heavy hull.  Once aboard and into the salon, the giggle turned into a grin.  What had seemed to be an ungainly, houseboat sort of trawler, turned out to be one of the most livable marine designs I’ve seen in a month of Sundays.
    So “houseboatish” does it appear, that at first blush the Manatee seems to be just that, some sort of a houseboat.  On closer look, however, it becomes apparent that the unusual looking house is fixed to a rather conventional, full displacement hull, similar to those used on heavy-duty offshore commercial fishing trawlers.  Unlike “real” houseboats, whose seaworthiness on sometimes turbulent S.F. Bay water is often questionable, the Manatee actually looks like she’s built to run.  Which she is.
    Inside the unusual craft is where the functional aspects of the unorthodox design become apparent.  This is a layout so roomy as to surpass many 50  footers.  Tastefully done in teak, she’d be an obvious delight to

 

be aboard for extended periods. The salon is large, almost square because of the boat’s nearly 14 foot beam.  A U shape settee/dinette is to port with occasional chairs facing.  The settee, of course, makes into an extra double bunk.
    This layout is opened up by the aft-faxing galley with counter pass-through on the single stateroom model.  The effect produces a feeling of spaciousness, to the extent that the salon appears more like the living room-dining room combination in a woodsy resort home.  It’s definitely adequate for a comfortable liveaboard and would serve beautifully for a two week Delta cruise for a small family of two couples.

    Overhead in the salon is a ribbed glass ceiling, capped with wood, with all glass surfaces nicely gel coated.  The appearance is similar to a beamed ceiling and gives the Manatee the feeling of being beautifully furnished. Actually, the joinery throughout seemed better than average, and the use of interior wood is quite lavish and tasteful. 

 

Fittings are of bronze, and heavy enough to provide years of service.  Forward, a companionway leads past the two-compartmented head to starboard. The shower is separate, which makes the single head layout quite practical.  Fully forward is a large master stateroom with queen size, walkaround bed.  Also, there is

 

a family this layout would likely prove more practical but it would be a tough decision for me, so attractive is the space and open feeling of the single stateroom model.  However, both are functional and nicely finished.
   The reason I’ve spent so much time describing the interior of the Manatee, is that this is where folks are going to

   
   

hanging locker space galore – plenty, in fact, for enough gear for extended cruising or everyday living –a practical feature which many boat builders seem to overlook.
   The two stateroom model lacks the openness of the single version but does, of course, provide separate accommodations for two more people.  For

 

spend a good deal of time, it’s that attractive and usable.  For nice weather, however, the topside will get a lot of traffic, too.  The large covered cockpit, with clever foldout swim and boarding door, also provides access above via ladder through a closable hatch.
    Above is a large lounge deck aft of the pilot house which would be a perfect vantage point from which to cruise the Delta. The house itself, housing the craft’s single steering station, is enclosed with a hardtop and glass forward and to the sides, and Plexiglas aft. It’s a rather unusual arrangement, but does provide some advantages.

   

    First, it’s an all-weather helm and, while the boat will probably see most of its running during fine weather, is, nonetheless, a sound idea.  Because she makes just eight to nine knots, typical of a true trawler hull design, early morning and late afternoon running will likely be necessary.  So, the weather enclosure makes good sense.  The addition of a windshield wiper would be desirable, too, although precious little sea spray should reach the bridge.
    The day we tested the boat was dry but very breezy on the estuary.  The Manatee is single screw with a 90 hp Volvo diesel as standard power (110 hp if you want a breakneck 10 to 11 knots!).  Considering the height of her topsides, I figured we’d be in for some real handling problems.  I was wrong.  The Volvo delivered enough power against her barn-door rudder to make handling reasonably simple.  She responds to her helm like a commercial troller, which also has an oversized rudder for that purpose.

    Actually, the slow speed doesn’t seem to be a particular drawback for this type of boat.  It’s what she’s meant to do and seems comfortable doing it.  From the lofty perch of the pilothouse, the vessel has a rather yacht-like feel as you look back over the long sun deck to the wake.  Steering visibility is excellent forward and to the sides and, with practice you’d probably be able to stern her in without too much fuss.  The large rudder facilitates backing her in either direction, too.
   In short, the Manatee 36’ has the makings of a boat which could be run as well as lived aboard.

 

Some detailing is probably going to be necessary for all-weather use-large stowage areas exist on the forward side of the pilot house faring, which are accessible through forward hatches.  The hatches didn’t look water tight, and will likely require rubber seals.
    Also, the pilot house stanchions seem fairly light.  If radar is to be installed atop the house, some vertical pipe supports might be desirable to handle the extra weight swinging in a seaway.  Such units as the ultra lightweight Raytheon 1200, however, could probably be mounted without undue concern.  The active, all weather user will probably find a few more such items.  None appear to be overly critical, however, and all present fairly simple and inexpensive solutions.
    For fair weather Bay and Delta use, the boat is ready to run as she is.  Standard equipment includes a VHF radio, adequate instrumentation, heavy duty batteries, proper running lights, dockside power hook up, bottom paint, and the like.  I’d certainly add some gauges, through, to augment the water temperature and oil pressure alarms.
    A digital depth sounder, too, should be an absolute must, but is about the only additional requisite piece of gear the average cruising boater will need to get away from the dock.  Her three foot draft will enable her to get in and out of a lot of places.  Plus, of course, a set of charts and 280 gallons of diesel fuel.

    Fuel consumption of about 1 ½ gallons per hour at speed gives the Manatee a more than adequate range for even extended Delta cruises.  Over 1,800 nautical miles, actually.  With this sort of range, a full circumnavigation of the Delta would be possible without undue concern about fuel stops.

    Extended cruising should be the Manatee’s forte.  The galley is equipped with a three burner propane stove and

 

AC/DC 7.5 cubic foot refrigerator. Underway or at dockside, electrical power should be adequate, although the addition of a small generator would make her truly self-contained.  She has a set of double rollers on her pulpit too, making a heavy-duty anchor setup practical.  An electric winch, though, would be a nice addition.  The ample bilge has plenty of room for the installation of such equipment and, based on our brief running experience, the engine room is very adequately sound proofed.  Two inch quilted insulation is in place and with the engine at full speed, the noise level inside the saloon is low enough for normal conversation.  Certainly, the hum of a generator shouldn’t be unduly obtrusive.
    The Manatee 36’ has several other nice touches worth mentioning.  Fuel and water fill caps are conveniently located at the cockpit, plus she is equipped for freshwater washdown and even had a fitting for connecting dockside

 

freshwater supply. Boarding access is made convenient through lift-off doors in the cockpit sides, and the cockpit is fully scuppered for water run-off.
    The boat would be a cinch to outfit for permanent delta use, too.  The cockpit overhang lends itself nicely to a full delta canvas installation or even to screens.  And, because she’s diesel, a marine diesel heater could easily be added to a salon wall.  Or, to lend and even cosier note, a solid fuel burning fireplace could be accommodated in this spacious area, which would add a very warm accent to the teak paneling.

    So, if cruising comfort and convenience and liveaboard luxury and accommodations are your cup of tea, the Krogen Manatee 36’ is certainly worthy of inspection.  Just remember my experience – try not to giggle when you first spot her rather bulky cabin enclosure.  Because once aboard, your almost certain to grin at what you find.  And, if the boat itself elicits a grin, the in-the-water price of under $90,000 is sure to make you smile.

   


Manatee Standard Arrangement
Length..............................................................36' 4"
Length Waterline............................................34' 0"
Beam.................................................................13' 8"
Draft....................................................................3' 0"
Displacement..........................................18,000 lbs.
Fuel................................................................280 gal.
Water.............................................................300 gal.
Speed Cruising..........................................8-9 knots
Estimated Range......................................1800 miles
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For further information:
KADEY KROGEN YACHTS, INC.
290 North Dixie Highway, Stuart, FL 34994
Telephone: (772) 286-0171

 
     
     
Reprinted with permission from Bay & Delta Yachtsman magazine.