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Inexpensive, no-nonsense passagemakers from China continue to be a hit Down Under. JOHN ZAMMIT takes the Coastal Gypsy 36 for a run…

Coastal Gypsy 36

When Asian-made trawlers started arriving on the market 40-odd years ago there were those who questioned how long the style would last. Their popularity even waned for a number of years as boats evolved, but they've been making a strong resurgence in the recent years with choices widening in accord with prices.

One of the latest trawlers to hit Australian shores is the Coastal Gypsy 36 and, you guessed it, she's built in China. It's not a bad thing, though, with this back-to-basics boat featuring non-electronic engines and cable controls for a no-frills approach that shouldn't create heartache.

Aimed at baby boomers - one of the few markets still able to locate the chequebook - and young families looking to get into a reliable, economical cruiser at a low purchase price, the Coastal Gypsy 36 is rearing to go without much in the way of pretence.

So what do you get for $390,000? In a nutshell, you get a reliable, economical, displacement cruiser with a proven hull design and a full keel that protects the running gear. There's a single non-electronic engine that any diesel mechanic anywhere can understand, two cabins, genset, air-con, bowthruster, and roomy living spaces inside and out.

What you don't get is a high level of sophistication and that's reflected in lots of small ways, for example: a helm sidedoor that's hinged where I'd prefer it sliding; the vertical dash for the electronics looks a bit of an afterthought; the only boarding point is via the aft swimplatform, through a transom gate - a problem if you're bow-in and the marina finger is shorter than the boat; and, for a boat that's designed for cruising, there's not a lot of thought put into accommodating a dinghy.

To be fair, this is hull number one and Nigel Smith from importers Maritime Coastal Cruisers Pty Ltd believes that it's almost impossible to get something off the shelf that suits everyone, so he's pinned his hopes on the belief that customers will spec this boat up to the degree they require. Buyers ordering new can address all of the issues mentioned above and, as Nigel says: "We're not aiming to build a production line, we'd prefer to work with customers to give them just what they want, rather than paying for stuff they don't need."



BIG 36

What this boat has going for it, apart from price, is its big volume. The high bow and high sides means she's roomy for a 36-footer.

Step into the saloon from the covered cockpit and there's L-shaped seating around a table to starboard and a settee opposite to port. Forward of the settee is the galley with twin-element ceramic cooktop set under a lift-up section of the Corian bench top, stainless steel sink with removable Corian cover, and easily accessible 240V power points. There's an under-bench 110lt fridge-freezer, a microwave and plenty of storage including overhead and under-bench cupboards, plus under-seat holds.

A utility cupboard going from bench top to the ceiling adds to the storage but, in my view, divides the saloon unnecessarily. I think if it was replaced with overhead shelving or shallow cupboards, it would open the saloon right up. The cabinetry is American cherry and, as it is, it's bright and airy with large opening side windows. Roller blinds give privacy, while doors lead out to the cockpit and to the sidedeck.

Engine access is via either of two hatches in the teak and holly sole of the saloon and, with lots of room around the single 220hp Cummins 6BT engine, servicing is no problem. (Cummins no longer make non-electronic engines so future models will be powered by John Deere). There's also easy access to things you need to check quickly, like the coolant top-up and the Racor fuel filter-water separators and plenty of room for the 3.5kVa generator, 45lt hot water supply (240V and heat exchange), and a Victron battery charger.

There's five batteries in total - two 200amp for house, one 200amp for bowthruster and anchor winch, one 200amp engine battery and one 125amp for the generator. An emergency parallel is at the helm.

Also down here is the holding tank for the electric toilet, with Y-valve for pump-out or overboard discharge, and forward of the engine, a 400lt freshwater tank with sight gauge and a second gauge located at the helm.




The lower helm is forward on the starboard side, featuring a big timber wheel, inbuilt seat with footrest and Morse cable controls. The dash houses a surprising array of instrumentation, switches and controls for what is a relatively simple boat.

As well as controls for the bowthruster, wipers, battery parallel, engineroom blowers, searchlight and anchor winch, there's a rudder indicator, depthsounder, fuel and water gauges and genset panel. There's no room left to add a screen(s) for electronics and instead the boatbuilder has added an additional (almost) vertical dash in front of the windscreen. Obviously, it seemed like a good idea at the time but the result is too high and obstructs the view forward. I think it would be better to delete this completely and just mount screens directly onto the sill.

That aside, the driving position is comfortable and the helm door out to the covered sidedeck is handy if the skipper needs to quickly go forward or aft to assist with anchoring, docking or whatever.




From the flybridge, the skipper gets a commanding view with a central, single helm chair located forward facing a wide dash with instrumentation duplicated from below. It's a bit hard to see the stern of the boat from here, so if you were berthing in a tight spot I'd be inclined to do that from the lower station.

There's roomy bench seating either side in the flybridge that, with a drinks table, makes a pleasant spot to relax underway or at anchor. Protection from the elements comes courtesy of the canvas bimini. A fridge can be provided in the (pre-wired) cupboard and I, for one, would be ticking that box on the options list. Farther aft, a small open section beside the stairs leading to the cockpit is a nice place to sit and soak-up a few rays, but if you're thinking of storing a small dinghy up here some modifications to the rails will be needed.

Downstairs, the cockpit - covered by the flybridge overhang - features overhead LED lighting, a handy sink, and a hot and cold deck shower at the transom. Access to the lazarette is through a hatch in the cockpit sole where you'll find the 740lt fuel tank. It looks like a single tank but is divided in two internally and interconnected, with sight gauges plus gauges at the helm.

The fuel tank and the steering gear is all that's in the lazarette, leaving room to store water toys, tools, picnic gear, maybe even a rollup dinghy and even space to carry some spare fuel. The 740lt might be alright if you're somewhere you can regularly get fuel, but I'm not too sure if that's enough if you were passagemaking up north or going somewhere like Tassie.

At the bow is a Quick Aries 1000 winch with a 45lb anchor connected to 66m of chain with foot controls and a handy freshwater outlet. The full walkaround deck and cockpit is self-draining with large scuppers and there are large hawsepipes and cleats in all the right places.




The comfortable accommodation below decks has excellent headroom, a queen-size island bed in the master, and upper and lower bunks in the guest cabin. Good use of all available space results in ample storage and hanging space, while opening windows and deck hatches provide plenty of light and ventilation.

The head/shower is accessible either from the companionway or the master and incorporates a hand basin with cabinet and mirror, electric toilet and an overhead shower. Again, there's good headroom, plus an opening window with insect screens and blinds.

Overall, the Coastal Gypsy 36 has the makings of a nice boat, the price is right, and it's uncomplicated. To me, it just needs some owner tweaking. If you wanted to do some serious passagemaking, I'd start with some electronics, another freezer, davit and dinghy, more fuel and a watermaker.




Idling out at 1000rpm, the prop was just turning over producing 5.5kts. At around 1800rpm she felt like she was running just right at 8kts. There were no electronics onboard our test boat, but we're told that at cruise speed she uses around 17.5lt/h.

When ramped up to 2000rpm, the Coastal Gypsy increased speed slightly to 8.3kts, but you could feel we were past true hull speed with the stern going down and the bow lifting slightly. At 2200rpm the result was 8.5kts and at 2600rpm (WOT) we managed 9.5kts, certainly enough to get you through some strong currents or over a bar.




(Facts & figures)




Unfortunately, we never got the opportunity to test the Coastal Gypsy 36 in any sort of a sea. During our test on Moreton Bay the water was as flat as the proverbial night carter's hat. Having said that, when a passing cruiser threw up a bit of wake I expected to be thrown around, but all she did was slice straight through.

With a big keel and large, free-swinging rudder (no shoe below the rudder) she tracks well, even when going astern. With a bowthruster, it's easy to make small corrections backing into a berth. The rudder stock on our test boat needed adjusting to limit the turn, though, because when I moved the wheel around to full lock underway she responded almost too sharply with a pronounced outward lean that was a bit disconcerting, especially up in the flybridge.









Bimini, windscreen cover, anchor and 66m of chain, flybridge railings and covers, and cockpit carpet








MATERIAL: Handlaid fibreglass
TYPE: Displacement monohull
BEAM: 4.05m
DRAFT: 1.3m
WEIGHT: 9500kg (dry)




FUEL: 740lt
WATER: 400lt




MAKE/MODEL: Cummins Diamond Series 6BT5.9SW 
TYPE: Six-cylinder turbo-diesel
WEIGHT: 508kg (dry)




Peter Hansen Yacht Brokers,
Raby Bay Marina,
14-16 Masthead Drive,
Cleveland, QLD, 4163
Phone: (07) 3821 4144




Couples or a family with young kids will find the Coastal Gypsy an inexpensive boat, ideal as a home-away-from-home, for heading away for weekends or a week or two, maybe even short hop coastal cruising. The idea with this trawler is that you decide what's important and spec her up to suit your boating needs, rather than have a pile of gear and its cost foist upon you.


Find Coastal Gypsy boats for sale.


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