You can learn a lot spending time on a boat — how comfortable it is, how seaworthy, how it rides. You also find out if it just “feels good.” Mike and Charlotte Hechler and their extended family spent most of last summer, as usual, cruising and day-tripping on their 36-foot Egg Harbor Sedan. But the Massapequa, N.Y., couple didn’t learn anything they didn’t already know.
“This [boat] is a honey,” says Mike Hechler, 70, a retired steel erector who’s worked on New York landmarks from the United Nations building to the Nassau County Coliseum. “It’s just a great boat.”
Hechler, a Brooklyn, N.Y., native, has owned a fleet of vessels with which he’s cruised and fished western Long Island waters for 50 years. Bygone days are filled with “old favorites.” His first was a14-foot runabout with an 18-hp Johnson. Then there was the 19-foot Lone Star, an aluminum boat that came powered by a 35-hp outboard with a modern innovation: electric start.
“It was the biggest motor on Sheepshead Bay,” recalls Hechler.
In the late 1960s, he bought a 25-foot center console for $1,800. He owned that boat for 12 years, ranging as far as Nantucket, Mass., and Provincetown, at the tip of Cape Cod. It was a simple, fun boat for the family and their boat cat, Hechler says.
Around 1980, he moved up to a 1971 Egg Harbor 33. This was the “family boat,” a “wonderful boat” that Hechler owned for some 25 years. At one point, he invested in a 15-foot-wide condo slip for it on Long Island at The Anchorage in Lindenhurst, N.Y., on Oyster Bay.
In 2005, the Hechlers started looking for a bigger boat, hoping to find a suitable Egg Harbor. But the newer models were too beamy to fit in the slip. Then they ran across a 1984 Egg Harbor 36 Sedan, which had the same 13-foot, 3-inch beam as his 33. “We fell in love with the boat, and the owner was motivated to sell,” says Hechler. “We made the deal.” The price was around $40,000.
The bigger boat has been a step up not only in size, but in cruising comforts and performance, as well. “That extra 3 feet makes a big difference,” says Hechler. “We’ve got a nice big shower and a Vacu-Flush head. There’s a real dinette this time, and the galley has an oven, along with the cooktop and a refrigerator. And there’s plenty of teak, too.”
Good electronics — radar, GPS/plotter and VHF radio — helped seal the deal. Power comes from twin gas Crusader 454s, each producing about 350 hp. Cruising speed is about 20 to 22 mph at 3,400 rpm.
The boat sleeps six inside and two on the flybridge. With Hechler’s extended family, including grandchildren, the boat is often full, but there’s room for all, he says. Down below, there’s a V-berth cabin with adjacent head to port, and the dinette/berth is to starboard. It’s a step up to the saloon, which houses the galley and a convertible sofa. Water capacity is 70 gallons, and there’s a 12-gallon water heater.
“We can handle eight people on board, with the grandkids sleeping on the flybridge,” says Hechler. “The more the merrier.”
Fire Island is a favorite destination, along with most of Great South Bay. And the Hechlers are out there almost every weekend, the big cooler attached to the swim platform filled with ice, cold drinks and “plenty of food,” says Hechler.
“You see, we really use this boat. You know, we’re not rich, but we enjoy the life.”
The Egg Harbor 36 Sedan has a moderate Jersey look, with its long, cambered foredeck, flared bow and flybridge helm. The sheer is fairly even, giving the boat ample freeboard to the large cockpit, with room for a fighting chair and tackle center.
The boat was available in several galley-up and galley-down layouts. In the Hechlers’ galley-up model, there’s an enclosed V-berth cabin down and forward, with an adjacent head compartment to port that has a marine head and standup shower. Across the way is a dinette, which converts to a bunk for two.
The saloon is up two steps and has a couch (convertible to a berth) and a table and chairs. The galley-up is situated along the port bulkhead. The flybridge is reached by a ladder, and the helm station is to port, with a pedestal seat and companion. Models from 1978 on had bench seating in front of the flybridge helm station.
Gas engines of around 350 hp were standard, and the 36 Sedan rides a modified-vee hull. Many were outfitted with diesels.
The Egg Harbor 36 typically sells for between $70,000 and $100,000, depending on the boat’s condition and location. We found one “must sell” 36 (vintage 1984) for $35,000 and an “excellent condition” 1983 model for $109,000.
Steve Knauth is a contributing writer for Soundings Magazine. This article originally appeared in the August 2009 issue.