Advice on Raft/barge/ferry from lumberyard material for occasional 6 mile trip

Discussion in 'Boat Design' started by Randall Brower, Apr 27, 2020.

  1. DogCavalry
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    DogCavalry Senior Member

    Sorry. Fat chick is not politically correct. I should have said 'ex girlfriend'
     
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  2. Randall Brower
    Joined: Apr 2020
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    Location: Tanana AK

    Randall Brower Junior Member

    There's one issue I completely forgot about. Even out here in the wilderness, far removed from society, US laws still apply and are enforced. I might have to get some kind of marine captains license to pilot the $%^&* thing. Does the fact that it doesn't have its own propulsion exclude that requirement?
    I was accepting the fact that it could sink and lose all its cargo.
    The owner of the local power company who was born and raised here flew into the village yesterday in his private bush plane. He owns a nice home here too but he's called Wasilla home for the last 30 years and owns other businesses as well, really smart guy. He said it would take 2 to 4 hours to push a log raft 6 miles upriver and it would burn a ridiculous amount of fuel. So all of a sudden hydrodynamics makes a huge difference. They push fish wheels 5 to 10 miles upstream but that's only once a year and they get hundreds of salmon ($1000s of dollars) for the investment. Well worth a couple hundred dollar fuel bill and the day that it takes to get it up there.
    As for waterproofing, I've talked to numerous lifelong Alaskan boaters. Minus 60 does ridiculous things to supposedly malleable materials. It can be done but there are certain materials and techniques you have to use. They say don't trust what "lower 48ers" tell you because they aren't experienced with this climate. After 50 years in Mississippi I've been shocked at how differently things work, or dont work at -50. I nudged a pile of snow with the schools truck at -50, backed up and pulled into the heated garage. Then entire right side of the bumper was completely gone. I walked out to the snow pile and there were 30 pieces of blue plastic. The bumper shattered like glass at -50 and the snow pile was as hard as a concrete block. Also, you do not roll down your car windows either because the plastic gears shatter. That's why all of the boats are aluminum or plywood with 2x framing like the pics I posted. They don't bother with waterproofing. They just bail them out.
    Perhaps I should have shared this video early on. This is a resident of my village who I know quite well. He needed to get his vehicle brought in so they gathered up these logs and built this for this one trip. It got turned into firewood afterward. See the comments below the video. This was before the road was extended to its current end in 2015.

    The Power Company guy said that's what they do. They go upstream and start gathering logs on the way down, lash them together for the one trip downriver. They do not push these upstream against 5 to 8 knot current due to the amount of drag. It's faster to build them each time.
    Thank you to the architect that mentioned the 3/4" plywood skinned 2x boxes. That was a great contender for a very long time but ultimately it was the cost of plywood and the continual waterproofing required to keep it seaworthy that caused me to dismiss that one.
    The solution is a steel barge. The power company guy has for many years known the owner of the barge company that services the Yukon river communities. He said he's got "small barges" laying around there that he doesn't need any more that he would sell for relatively cheap. They are in the 30x50 sized range and these are considered small. He said the problem again would be the amount of fuel required to push the 30 ft wide displacement hull against the current.
    So with that I think I've hit the proverbial brick wall. The fact is that yes, I could build a structure with any of the numerous suggestions here, each with their own pros and cons but at the end of the day the solution is to do what these guys have already been doing. You either pay the barge guy 15c pr lb for stackable or 22c for non-stackable items, or you go upriver and lash logs together for the one trip down. If we didn't have a barge service then that would be a whole different story. But we do. And its not that expensive. I've loved entertaining the idea of owning my own dock/barge and I've enjoyed/appreciated all of your feedback, but at the end of the day its just not financially feasible. Se la vie!

    So now I'm going to blow a few hundred hours looking into building a rather large plywood/ timber frame boat like the ones in the above pics. I've got a 30 year old 18ft Monarch Jon boat with a 50 horse Mercury 2 stroke that does all I need it to do, but I want a project for next winter. I've got a heated 20 x 40 garage and a whole lot of -30 to -50 degree days with only 6 hours of light to fill next winter. After its done I'll have a whole lot of bragging rights.

    Ill attach some pics of my boat restoration project. It was free because it was damaged so I paid a welder to bend it back reweld every rib, every rivet, and every attachment point. Stripped, primed, painted and built the superstructure. Then did the same thing with a trailer I bought in Fairbanks for $400. So for about $4000 Ive got a $7000 boat.
     

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  3. Tiny Turnip
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    Tiny Turnip Senior Member

    Sounds very much like the right decision, Randall. Best of luck!
     
  4. BlueBell
    Joined: May 2017
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    BlueBell Ahhhhh...

    That's too bad Randall.
    Could have been done with logs pretty cheap and easy.



    Three years of planning and you overlooked fuel requirements to get up the river?
    It could have been carried on the empty barge.
    This is the kind of thing that would have been addressed in the SOR.

    You'd have to check into your laws about licensing.
    In my hood it's motorized vessels that require you to have a license but as soon as you attach it to a barge,
    then the skipper is responsible for that too, and licensing would have to include the barge and towing.
    This too would have been addressed in a SOR.

    Good luck with your new boat build.
    Will you be following a plan or just winging it?

    Edit: Does this still reflect your situation?
     
    Last edited: May 7, 2020
  5. gonzo
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    gonzo Senior Member

    The membrane will rip apart the first time the barge hits a rock, of which those rivers are full. The reason log rafts survive is that they are tough and can take the impact on hard, sharp things like rocks.
     
  6. Tiny Turnip
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    Tiny Turnip Senior Member

    I take it there's no chance of the City or State pushing a dirt road through on the North bank to opposite the Fairbanks roadhead, for a simple ferry crossing point?

    I can see on google earth that there's quite a ridge to the NE of the city that 3rd street runs along and then switchbacks, but maybe a more roundabout route forking off from the Allakaket trail?

    And I guess that the river beach/shore isn't driveable in most conditions?
     
  7. hoytedow
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    hoytedow Wood Butcher

    That is true at the glue plane. Mechanical fasteners bring the full thickness of the pieces into play, not just a few fibers of wood at the joint. Conifer shears off woodgrain easily under any torsional stress.
     
  8. hoytedow
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    hoytedow Wood Butcher

    I remember back in the day when the aluminum center aisles of airliners were ruined by stewardesses in high heels.
     
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  9. gonzo
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    gonzo Senior Member

    A deck membrane will not withstand stiletto heels with a hefty lady on top.
     
  10. gonzo
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    gonzo Senior Member

    For $4,000 you got a $3,000 boat.
     
  11. hoytedow
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    hoytedow Wood Butcher

    This is a very educational thread. Thank you for the vignette into life on the Yukon. I will look forward to future posts from Tanana.
     
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  12. Rumars
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    Rumars Senior Member

    Educational indeed. Going downriver is solved, going upriver is so expensive that you better wait for the ice road. :)

    Better not tell anyone that pushing logs or barges with outboards designed for speedboats is not a great ideea. Or that in your situation you can have a vessel with almost zero fuel costs (total operating costs are another thing).
     
  13. Dejay
    Joined: Mar 2018
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    Dejay Senior Newbie

    Ah too bad, it's such a unique problem and would make an interesting project.

    So would something like a big wooden catamaran barge drastically reduce the fuel costs going upriver? Or does it have too much draft when loaded with 5000lb?
    I imagine something like two gigantic flat bottom canoes connected by two (steel) beams. If you build traditional carvel planking you'd caulc the seams between planks - all made with a chainsaw mill yourself like a true frontier man ;)
    I assume there are adhesives and sealant products that can withstand the cold without shattering. Would a carvel build boat still take on a bit water? Would it need to be open so it can be pailed out?
     
  14. Randall Brower
    Joined: Apr 2020
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    Location: Tanana AK

    Randall Brower Junior Member

    I'd rather just wing it. It's more interesting! :)
    I didn't overlook the fuel requirements, I assumed they were reasonable.
    As for the three years of planning, of course that was an exaggeration. Several times Ive come back to the idea of building something but each time Ive decided it just wasn't worth it, too expensive.... This is the first time Ive actually been serious enough to reach out for help and ask several people about it. And when I started this post it was looking pretty good but the more information I got the less likely it became.
     

  15. Randall Brower
    Joined: Apr 2020
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    Location: Tanana AK

    Randall Brower Junior Member

    Boat are like real estate. Location location location. Here that boat and trailer is worth $7000 or more. Back home in MS its only $3000 because they are everywhere.
     
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