During the 2-1/2 years we spent living aboard our own Selene 53, Celebrate, we got a lot of questions from new friends and old. We kept a page of Frequently Asked Questions up to date there.

Upon becoming a Selene dealer, we are also asked a lot of questions. This may be a useful place for you to start. As we meet more and more folks interested in what it's like to order, commission, and cruise a Selene, we will put the questions prospective owners ask most frequently at the top.

To save you the clicks, our original 'personal' Frequently Asked Questions are below. Some center around our personal experience on our own Selene 53, Celebrate, and reflect the views of an owner not a dealer. We think there is no inherent confliction in what we said then, or what we would say now.

Click here for other FAQs about Selene design, features, value, etc. that we get at boat shows, TrawlerFests, in conversations, and through this website.

FAQs about cruising our own Selene                            

Other FAQs about Selene design, features, value, etc.

What was your cruising speed?

We cruised at between 1800 rpm which gives us 8.7kts through still water, and 1900 rpm which gives us 9.2kts. These speeds vary a tenth or so depending on whether we have full fuel and water. As we get lighter, they pick up a bit. We have become very comfortable cruising at the 9kt pace. Sometimes we will crank it up to 2000 and see 9.6 when there is a particularly long day in store for us. In November 2005, the boat was run down the Chesapeake at 2300 rpms for several continuous hours clocking a steady 11 kts.

Current plays a big part, and at a constant engine speed we have seen SOG range from 4.9 kts to 15.1!

When asked in general, we simply say we have a 9-knot boat.

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What was your fuel consumption?

We kept very detailed logs, and even measured our fuel on a daily basis to do some consumption calculations. (Floscan meters would be really nice, but we don't have them.) So, after we subtracted fuel used by the generator at a conservative nominal rate of 1.25 gph (Westerbeke specs state 1.42), our consumption for the engines was averaging 5.3 gph in the mix of speeds we chose over the course of months of cruising. That is total consumption, not per engine.

[Note January 2006: New Selenes use electronic engines as mandated by Federal law. Electronic engines feature a wide variety of displayed data, including consumption rates.]

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What are your views full displacement vs. semi-displacement trawlers?

If you're a sailor, 9 knots in any direction, let alone straight into the wind or into zero wind, is just fine. If you're a power boater accustomed to double digit cruising some adjustment is needed. It is interesting to note, however, that there is a consistent theme when we talk with other cruisers who have trawlers capable of 15+ kts because of the semi-displacement hull and engines 2-3 times the power of ours. It's that they elect to cruise at 10 or less because the fuel consumption curve starts to go vertical as the boat moves up the speed scale.

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What features were you particularly glad you selected or specified?

The principal elections we made and are very happy with include twin engines, stabilizers (don't leave the dock without them), the rear stairs from the cockpit to the bridge, and the third stateroom/office instead of an 'alcove' off the master stateroom. These all worked just fine for us.

Wing stations were sort of an afterthought because they were part of the base boat we used to 'model' Celebrate as we spec'd her out. We are amazed at how useful they were docking, anchoring, and running locks. Some systems available today are electronic and can control things like you would with a radio-controlled model airplane. Our wing stations are simply extensions of our Hynautic controls plus the bowthruster control. That means we don't have to learn two modalities for controlling things, and I think that is important.

We almost skipped over the watermaker, but added it at the end and cannot imagine cruising in the Bahamas without one.

Similarly, we initially opted for the mast and boom, but changed to the radar arch and have never looked back. The arch handsomely holds the radar and two domes (KVH Tracvision and a dummy that holds GPS receivers). It drops our air draft by about 4'. The choice did force us to install a hydraulic davit for the tender, but that has turned out to be a blessing as well, compared to motorizing the mast and a boom to do the lifting.

Finally, we love the warmth, lightness, and color of our cherry interior.

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What would you change about the boat if you were going to do it again?

After over 14,000 miles in 2-1/2 years of liveaboard cruising, we'd take the boat again exactly they way she is. That said, there are a couple of things we'd change, but the bottom line is that none of the changes are really necessary.

There are two major areas: electrical power and electronics, specifically chart plotting and depth sounding. See our comments on those in the "Electronics" section of this FAQ.

On the subject of power, when we're at a dock we have no problems. However, we spend about 75% of our time on the hook in the style of cruising we have adopted, and have done little to modify our personal behavior. So, it isn't unusual to be making water, running the coldplate freezer, trying to wash or dry some clothes, and Andrea wants to blow dry her hair in the air-conditioned staterooms while dinner is cooking in the electric oven.

Well, it just doesn't all work that way with a 12.5kw genset. We have learned to schedule and balance our consumption, and have no major issues but given another chance we would consider either a larger (15kw) genset or alternatively a second smaller one (4-5kw) to handle light loads and take the pull off the inverter. Additionally, we might think of a couple solar panels on top of the pilothouse (where there is plenty of unused room) to keep the batteries topped up without moving the boat or running the genset.

Let me reiterate, however, all this is nice to have but we have found power management to be a de-minimus issue.

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Why did you decide on the Selene 53?

Go to "Why the Selene 53" on our personal cruising website, but that is now gone because a gentleman from the Ukraine hijacked our URL while we were not looking. :-( Be cautioned - the views we wrote were from the vantage point of an owner living aboard and continuously cruising. Now (7/09), as a dealer, I don't think our views have changed.

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What did you do with your house and your "stuff?"

Our plan was to cruise for just a few years, then sell the boat and return to our professional lives in mid-2006. We originally planned to sell the house and store the furniture and belongings, but seeing how real estate values were climbing, we worried that we would not easily be able to return to a place we loved. So, we rented the house and stored the furniture. Others have had struggles with this but we would do it again.

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We want to do a trans-Atlantic crossing? Will the Selene handle it?

The Selene will handle it. Will you? Respectfully, ocean crossing is a tougher test of crew than of vessel, assuming the boat is well found.

We know that Selenes have been delivered on their own bottom non-stop from Hong Kong to Australia and Japan so there is little doubt as to their ocean going capability. One is currently circumnavigating; a Selene 48 departs in September from Seattle bound across the Pacific to Hong Kong. But spending hours, and sometimes days, in even 6-8' seas is grueling. It is a romantic notion to make a crossing, but too many have started and done a 180 less than a day out.

Even the runs down the West Coast of the US, Mexico, and Central America can be something to contend with. The passages are long, and there are only a fraction of the easily accessible harbors of refuge one finds throughout the East Coast, Bahamas, and Carribbean.

A factor many cruisers sometimes overlook is insurance. Underwriters really want to see a lot of credentials, put down a lot of special requirements, and heavily surcharge those pointing their stern to the mainland. They will often require an owner to hire one or two licensed captains in addition to whatever "crew" the owner recruits.

If you do want to cruise distant shores, there are services like Dockwise that will load the boat on a ship with other yachts and transport it to Europe, the Pacific, from the west coast to the east coast, etc. It saves all the slogging and wear and tear, and you and your boat wind up at the destination you're seeking relaxed and none the worse for wear.

An alternative, considering all the cost involved is to just charter for a month or so in those distant waters that are so alluring. Less expensive, and no wear and tear on the vessel or her crew.

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How did you handle your mail?

There are many mail forwarding services that collect your mail and send it to you wherever and whenever you request it. We used Annapolis Post Box and had flawless service in the three years we played tag with bills, magazines, and other stuff. They were kind enough to trash all the junk mail (non-first class). They use FedEx two-day unless we requested otherwise. In the Bahamas and in Canada that actually takes 3-4 days because it has to cycle through customs. You don't have to be in Annapolis to start their services. www.geocities.com/annapolispostbox/

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How did you handle your email when out of the US?

In US coastal waters, we subscribe to Verizon's "Aircard" wireless service. It's a PCMCIA card that plugs into the laptop and goes for around $60/mo gives you 24/7 high speed access to the internet and whatever email service you use. It works offshore to about 10 miles sometimes. We frequently surfed the web as we cruised a couple miles outside the real surf. Coverage is great from around Portland, ME thru Florida. We also took it ashore when we traveled - it works all over the country. North Carolina has little or no coverage in its coastal waters.

Outside the US, we were delighted with our email provided by OCENS.. [www.ocens.net] It is blindingly fast and supports Microsoft Outlook or Outlook Express. We connect via our Globalstar satellite phone (see below). Although it only works at 9600 bps, the technology compresses stuff and does not turn the 'line' around continuously - it sends and receives all messages in burst mode. It even recovers if the transmission is interrupted mid-way through and picks up where it left off. As an example, we routinely sent half a dozen text emails in less than 25 seconds of connect time!. We got the software from Chris Parker who is the weather guru in the Bahamas and Caribbean (The Caribbean Weather Center www.mwxc.com).

Finally, in nearly every Canadian town or Bahamian settlement we visited, there was highspeed access to the internet available. Often free, sometimes with a reasonable fee.

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How did you handle voice communications when out of the US?

We got a lot of conflicting stories on what cell service works and doesn't work. Gave up on sorting it out and subscribed to Globalstar, a satellite phone service. We were very satisfied with its use in the Bahamas. They offer several plans. Because Andrea kept up some of her coaching practice, we subscribed to a package that got the cost under 50¢ per minute including voicemail and unlimited long distance calling to or from the US. This compares to cellular roaming charges that seem to be $1-$2 per minute plus long distance charges. We subscribed to the service through Andy Cool at Explorer Satellite Communications, http://www.explorersatellite.com/, in Ft. Lauderdale. Tell him "Hi" for us.

In Canada, our ATT cell phones worked the same as in the US, but now since Cingular bought ATT, that is no longer available.

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How did you get weather forecasts when out of the US?

In Canada, weather forecasts are broadcast continuously on the same VHF channels as in the US. The Maritimes are subdivided into 15 regions, and one must attend to which forecast is applicable at the moment. Reports alternate between French and English every 20 minutes. Cruisers must listen to wind forecasts and check the fetch and currents to make their own projections of sea state. All units of measure are metric.

In the Bahamas, NOAA weather is not available . Near popular destinations, forecasts are provided daily via a volunteer VHF network. They all start on VHF-16 and switch to another channel. These include:

Nassau Ranger (Nick Wardell) @0730
Highborne Cay 0800
Staniel Cay area Blue Yonder @ 0800
Georgetown Cruisers Net @ 0810 (VHF-68)

In addition, and to cover us when out of range of these stations, we subscribed to OCENS Weathernet. (www.ocens.net) Using our Globalstar phone, we download from a huge menu of text and graphic (GRB) files and can get 3-5-7 day forecasts for our current lat/lon for winds, precip, sea state, etc.

In the Bahamas, our best source is the above mentioned Chris Parker (www.mwxc.com) who, for $25/mo or less on a long term deal, emails us a comprehensive weather summary and forecast every morning.

A lot of cruisers get this kind of information using SSB radio. This requires a lot of investment in radios, antennas, tuners, modems, etc. We did not feel the investment was justified in light of the fact that our satellite phone seems to be riding the wave of the future and services available are becoming more and more economical.

By the way, given the plethora of sources of weather info, be prepared for some serious conflicts. We have found it best to stick with one source as primary and the others as interesting incidentals, but to avoid trying to reconcile one with another.

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How did you care for your teak decks?

Some wince at the thought of teak decks, but we opted for them because we just like them a lot. We actually were delighted with them. They are about the best non-skid surface available short of that mil-spec sandpaper you see on USCG and other commercial vessels. The decks are laid down with adhesive, not the traditional screw and bung process. Therefore, the problems with leaking that characterize teak decks sometimes just don't apply. About once every two weeks we use regular boat soap and a fine-mesh 3M pad on a mop handle to wash them down. Every 4-5 months we use a 50% dilution of teak cleaner and the same pad, followed by a 50% dilution of brightener. It only takes about an hour, and they are still golden.

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What were some of your initial problems with the boat and how were they solved?

It is no surprise that after commissioning, problems surface that were not detectable in that process. That's what a warranty is for, and in our case Jet Tern stood squarely behind every issue we had. Specifically, it turned out that the stabilizer hydraulic and cooling systems were improperly installed at the factory. The solution was to re-hose the pump, and change the cooling to take water off the engine instead of a separate electric pump.

The other issues were minor and most involved a leak somewhere in the fresh water pressure system, all of which were solved by another quarter turn on a hose clamp. We did have to replace half a dozen teak planks in the deck. Again the manufacturer stood behind us, even shipping the teak so as to get a perfect match.

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What are your thoughts on the 2-stateroom vs 3-stateroom layouts?

The layout of the master SR with its alcove did not work for us because we really needed an 'office' where I could do my 5am puttering while Andrea stacked some more zzzzs. Also, we had guests aboard from time to time so there was bunk space if there were more than 4 of us, and great suitcase/clothes space on the bunks in the little stateroom if there were only 4. In our boat, the guest head was in the shower compartment, fully covered, and has never been a problem even to the most sensitive tush.

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Some owners eliminate the rear spiral staircase from the cockpit to the bridge deck to have more room in the cockpit. Why didn't you?

In our case, the reality is that the staircase to the boat/bridge deck was a major selling point. We used it constantly as a convenience, and when raising or lowering the dinghy. It is an essential safety feature. Absent the stairs we'd have to leave the dink at some stage of hanging while we changed places via the pilothouse/salon route. It would demand two to handle that operation, whereas in most conditions, I could handle it safely alone.

Having said that, we found the cockpit to be more than adequate for all our needs. It's not as though we were entertaining a dozen guests - the bridge is fine for that.

A huge bonus was the storage space we gained under the staircase. We stored two 30-Amp cords, a 30/50 Amp combiner, a 50-Amp cord, two 50' water hoses - all comfortably coiled and easily accessed. Without the staircase that pile would consume the lazarette.

Finally, we keep two folding bikes on the boat deck. The thought of hauling them down through the pilothouse and salon with all those pedals and handles to engrave the beautiful cherry woodwork along the way was terrifying.

So for us, it's an unequivocal bias toward the staircase in the cockpit.

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What was the size of your tender? Was it big enough?

We had a 240 Zodiac 'Yachtline' dink with a 25 Yamaha 4-stroke. It's about 11' long, but when it is raised to the boat deck for cruising, the tilted up motor adds about a foot. Everything still fits fine.

It came as a package and was more than adequate for all our needs. Running lights are standard, as is an integral fuel tank. It was trouble free.

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How did the boat handle in heavy seas?

We have run in serious conditions ranging to 6-8' on the nose and on the beam in 20-35 kts of wind. On other occasions we ran in calmer winds and even larger swells, but they are gentle and even pleasant in a way because the period is so much longer than wind-driven seas.

The stabilizers did a great job; do not be without them. Even with them, we did roll a lot once in Long Island Sound out by the Race when we got 6-8' of square green water on the beam when max tidal current opposed unforecasted 25kt winds creating that awful short steep chop we all hate. Otherwise she's really steady. In a head sea the pitching is not a distraction. We never got green water onto the bow. She was particularly dry on the bridge - I can only think of one wind-assisted splash finding us there. In our Grand Banks 46 we were well practiced in ducking! I think the immense weight of the Selene gives her strong shoulders and she just chugs ahead shrugging most of the weather aside.

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Was the draft (5' 6")  an issue in your cruising? Does the twin design draw less than the single?

We are 'bottomphobic.' Even had two independent depth sounders. We believed we drew 5'7" with full fuel and water. We planed 5'9 - 6'0 for margin. The specs indicate less, but remember, we were living aboard as we cruised and had a TON of stuff on that non-liveaboards would not require. I bet we had 300 lbs of books alone. In our five months in the Bahamas in the winter of 2005, we were vigilant, but never really felt we were pushing the margins. Charts are in metric, and 1.8 meters is 6', and we draw the line there easily.

As it turns out, the draft on a Selene 53 single is 5-9 and on a twin it's 5-5. But even on a twin, it's the keel that counts, and that hangs almost 15" below the bottom of the wheels on our twin.

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Were you satisfied with the electronics?

First, a confession/disclaimer - the configuration of electronics was of our own design based on boat shows, literature, and some dock talk. We did not sit down with a professional, and in reflection, perhaps we should have. We do have most of it right and the specs are laid out on our Electronics page.

Second, our experience is terribly outdated. We selected things in 2003, and they have all come a very long way so our observations should no longer hold. For example, the new Garmin stuff seems mind-blowing and several of our Selene Annapolis customers have been highly satisfied. So, too have other of our customers been with Raymarine, Furuno, and the several PC-based systems - or even a combination of purpose-built and PC systems.

Our main complaint was with the Furuno Navnet chartplotter/radar. The radar is fine, but we think the chartplotter is slow and cumbersome. Next time I'd put a Dell under the pilothouse helm (there's enough room for a server farm), and set up a wireless network with a high nit display in the pilothouse and on the bridge using Maptech or Cap'n software. Put the screens side by side with either Furuno or Raymarine radar.

We had two digital depth sounders for comfort and backup. I'd pick the Interphase forward looking / side looking sonar for one of them if I were doing it again. We calibrate one to depth of water, and the other to depth under the keel.

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What is your air draft and has it been an issue in cruising the ICW / Erie Canal, etc?

Our air draft measured from the water to the anchor light on the mast atop the arch is 20'6". We had a Benett Brothers Yachts in Wilmington, NC, cut the steaming light mast and make it removable - pretty simple. That dropped our air draft from 20'6" to 19' and let us easily travel the Erie Canal which maintains a 20' clearance. As we did travel it, though, I'd bet we never encountered a bridge with less than 21'.of clearance.

We were pleasantly surprised to note how many bridges on the ICW that we used to wait for on our Grand Banks 46 were easily cleared in our Selene. At the same time, we became comfortable making daily runs off shore, and did so as much as we could to avoid bridges as well as ICW traffic and thin spots. That's what a Selene Ocean Trawler is built for, after all.

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Dod you add any electronics you later felt needed, or conversely found a piece of originally installed equipment of questionable value?

We did not add any electronics. In addition to some dissatisfaction with the Furuno NavNet chart plotting system mentioned above, we have found no value in the cellular amplifier we put in. We aren't even sure it works correctly, but given the ubiquitous coverage of cellular nowadays, it has been a moot point. We have really never felt out of touch because of limited cellular range.

As a point of fact, the owner who purchased our Selene when we were through did add AIS, and I would certainly second that decision. It is a tool not available when we went on our way, but we would not leave home without it today.

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We want to go cruising like you did but don't know whether to sell our house as we do. Any advice?

Of course that question depends on your own circumstance and means. In our case, we knew we would only be cruising a very few years and would then sell the boat and return to our professional lives. Looking at the real estate market in Annapolis, we realized that the appreciation of our home was likely to be greater than the returns we could get in the market if we liquidated our equity. So we leased it out and have had a very fortunate experience. Most importantly, we knew we had a base, and could return to it in 2006 when we wraped up our adventuring.

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Why did you sell Celebrate in November 2005?

We made our plans in early 2002 to take a break from our busy and stressful professional lives and go cruising for up to three years. It was a time that worked well with our careers, and it was a time that worked well with our families. As much as we miss the life, it was everything we had hoped for and some more. Mark Twin correctly said that we'll never look back and regret the things we did, only the things we didn't do. What are you waiting for?

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General FAQs about Selene design, features, value

Why are Selenes inexpensive compared to other Tier I trawlers?

There are a number of high quality trawlers, displacement and semi-displacement, out there. You know a lot of them - Grand Banks, Krogen, Nordhavn, etc. And this is not to say many of the popular other brands are not great boats. It's just that the Tier I group is designed to a higher Lloyd's rating which results in yachts that have what is accepted internationally as a certain level of strength, stability, and seaworthiness. Top quality parts, equipment, and components are used - American and European engines, equipment, fixtures that are backed world-wide. Selene is a leader in this select group, so why are they often 15-25% less expensive when like-configured yachts are compared?

There are several reasons:

Selenes are built in two yards, both owned by Jet Tern Marine  and dedicated to building only Selenes. One is 10 years old, one only 5 and it is being expanded to a complex of 8 new buildings comprising nearly 2M square feet. They are modern and efficient. Efficiency helps in any undertaking, particularly one as labor-intense as a semi-custom luxury yacht like a Selene.

An average Selene 53 requires about 40,000 man hours to complete. Obviously this ranges on other larger or smaller model. Average labor rates in China are decidely more attractive than in other boat-building locations. The savings are significant, and are one of the major factors in the price differences. Be assured the Chinese workers are not exploited as some would suggest. The company provides food, housing, and clothing as part of its employee benefits. By company practice and by Chinese law, things like minimum wage, unemployment, vacations, and health care coverage are  other reasons why there is a line in front of the two shipyards daily for job-seekers. Jet Tern Marine can attract and retain the best of the best.

A very significant part of the Selene success story, and the attractive pricing, is that many sales leads generate by word-of-mouth. There is only limited advertising by Jet Tern, and the remainder of advertising, trade show, and other promotional activities are the undertaking of the dealers - of which we at Selene Annapolis are one of four in the US. Marketing dollars that are spread worldwide by a builder, be it advertising, magazines, rallies, direct mail, etc., understandably filter down to costs which eventually must be covered by the sale price. Such is not the case with Selenes.

Jet Tern Marine's sister company, Jet Tern, is the largest manufacturer of stainless steel flatware in the world. This explains why the stainless steel components on Selenes are so impressive - all 316 or 316L, and crafted on a proprietary basis.

Jet Tern Marine is a young, lean company which has not built up internal overheads over the decades. Those kinds of things really ratchet up costs which, of course can only translate to customer prices.

Selenes are not inexpensive; they are simply an excellent value.

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Coming soon . . . 

  • Why are the pilothouse windows raked forward?
  • What is the impact of all the new "Deep Hull/Cruiser Stern" molds used in the Next Generation series of Selenes?