Building a little house boat

Discussion in 'Boat Design' started by chimere, Jan 2, 2011.

  1. chimere
    Joined: Jan 2011
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    Location: NY

    chimere New Member

    Hi all,

    I'm new here, and I have this idea in my head that won't go away. I'm hoping some of you may be able to help. I'm going to be graduating from college in the spring and I would like to take some time off relaxing before I join the workforce. My dream is to build myself a little house boat to live on for the summer and float around in the Northeast anywhere from Ocean City MD up to the Hudson and through the Erie Canal. I have never owned a boat before, but I'm good at working with my hands and have about $5k I'm willing to spend on the boat. Am I crazy?

    My initial thinking is that I'll buy a used 14 or 16 foot fiberglass pleasure boat (seem to be a lot on craigslist for around $2k or less) to start. On top of that I figure I can build a small shelter with basic necessities, maybe out of aluminum tubing and plywood.

    My main concern right now is taking it in the ocean. I plan on staying close to shore but I imagine it can still get pretty rough. How can I tell if a boat is ocean-worthy? Have you heard of someone doing something similar? I've googled around but haven't found anyone doing something quite like this. Any advice from you guys is appreciated. Thanks for reading!
     
  2. gonzo
    Joined: Aug 2002
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    gonzo Senior Member

    It will not be ocean worthy. You can , however, stay inshore in the Intracoastal Waterway. In the canals it will be fine. There are a lot of fun. I have done them all. You may be better off to find a sailboat with bad or no rig. It will have a cabin with basic accommodations. It will definitely be in the same price range. The canals have a 6 MPH speed limit on most places anyway.
     
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  3. Carteret
    Joined: Jan 2004
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    Carteret Senior Member

    Gonzo is right. Buy something that is sea worthy and safe with a comfortable cabin. Sail or power. Stay inside the ICW and canals. Plenty to do and see. There are a lot of deals out there right now. Craigs List, ebay, boat trader etc.
     
  4. rasorinc
    Joined: Nov 2007
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    Location: OREGON

    rasorinc Senior Member

  5. chimere
    Joined: Jan 2011
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    Location: NY

    chimere New Member

    Wow, I'd never heard of the ICW before, that's really cool! I've been looking at maps of it all day. I'm currently going to school in Ithaca, NY and it looks like I can boat all the way from here up to the Erie canal, down the Hudson, and then down to MD with only a little time on the ocean. Neat!

    I hadn't considered a sail boat originally, but after looking at a few for sale I think you're right. They'd be perfect for this! I don't need a big cabin or anything fast. Would something like a 26' sailboat be okay on the ocean? How much practice would I need sailing on a lake before attempting the canal or ocean?

    This is very exciting :D
     
  6. PAR
    Joined: Nov 2003
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    Location: Eustis, FL

    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    More then anything else you need experience, so find a way to beg, borrow or steal a ride (actually many rides) on family, friend and buddies boats. You may find the romance rubs of pretty quickly and never speak of it again. You may find your belly is very prone to sea sickness and have to go through years of therapy to over come the memories. On the other hand you also may find, it's just what you want and with some experience you'll have a better and more refined idea of what you need, want and desire. Trust me on this, you haven't a clue what you want, nor what you're in for. This isn't an attempt at disrespect, just some frank talk, which is what all novices need. Get out there and absorb some sea leg time. It's the only path to success for a dream like this.
     
  7. tinkz
    Joined: Jan 2011
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    Location: indiana

    tinkz New Member

  8. Dave Gentry
    Joined: May 2010
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    Location: Charlottesville, Virginia

    Dave Gentry Junior Member

    Plenty of 26' sailboats are up to ocean travel. But, as you seem to understand, sailing takes acquired skills and experience - PAR is right, get as much as you can. Check out the local sailing (even your school might have one) and yacht clubs - there is usually regular racing going on, and someone always needs crew, no experience necessary.

    Some issues to consider about the trip:
    - Sailboats often require 4+ feet of water to operate in, which severely limits where you can explore or anchor. Some sailboats have a lifting keel or centerboard, which is a nice compromise. Small powerboats typically have much shallower draft.
    - Outboard engines - at least the older two-stroke ones - are noisy and consume gas quickly. Listening to one drone on for hours at a time (while you are going all of 5mph) gets pretty darn old.
    - You'll need stuff like charts and cruising guides and a VHF radio and ground tackle and safety gear and a dinghy and spare parts et al. Be sure to budget for that, too.
    - Living on a small boat is not comfortable. Think backpacking, but with more mildew and no exercise.
    - You'll be the only person your age that you ever see in a marina or anchorage. Cruising is, stereotypically, an older persons, or family, activity.

    But, most importantly:
    - Inexpensive European and Australian hostels are filled with unbelievable numbers of unattached and exotic foreign college-aged girls each summer.
    Really.
    And Europe has lots of other things to see, too.

    I think you have the right idea about your plan, though - buying a cheap used boat, and understanding that there are things you need to learn first.
    It could easily make for an amusing summer (assuming your other option would be mowing your parent's lawn, rather than checking out London, Paris or the French Riviera).

    I'm not trying to dash your dream - because you can do both! I have. But, the ICW should be there for a long time, and you're only young once . . . .
     
  9. gonzo
    Joined: Aug 2002
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    Location: Milwaukee, WI

    gonzo Senior Member

    I started cruising when I was 13 and never regretted it. At 52 I'm still at it. Go for it, but maybe start small, like in the canals and Intracoastal.
     
  10. wardd
    Joined: Apr 2009
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    wardd Senior Member

    where did danial disappear too?
     
  11. PAR
    Joined: Nov 2003
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    Location: Eustis, FL

    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    Daniel Skira has left the forum, at least for a while. He was participating in discussions he felt passionate about, though with people that had considerably less sensitivity then he, so it's likely feelings got hurt. He's probably buried up to his *** in snow for the next 8 months so, maybe he'll calm down and get back to it.
     
  12. Carteret
    Joined: Jan 2004
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    Location: Eastern NC

    Carteret Senior Member

    Well that is a shame about Daniel Skira . I thought and I am sure many others thought that his house boat building thread was the best thread going in these forums.
     
  13. Submarine Tom

    Submarine Tom Previous Member

    I know I can piss people off but he (Skira) responded to me one day and I have no idea what he took the wrong way or why. I told him and apologized and he said it was fine. I had zero intent and was dissapointed the misunderstanding had happened.

    -Tom
     
  14. PAR
    Joined: Nov 2003
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    Location: Eustis, FL

    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    I'm pretty sure I know the few involved in the pit bull attacks on Daniel, who's clearly a soft souled person. One has been asked to leave the forum and the others are precisely who'd you might expect in this sort of thing. Let the snow heal him.
     

  15. peter1962
    Joined: Jan 2011
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    Location: Belgium

    peter1962 Junior Member

    Just registered on the forum, but i am almost daily reading over here since at least a year. Amazing how much knowledge is here about all aspects of boat building. I think too it is sad that Dskira is no longer actively participating. As a noob, i find it fantastic the way he describes some ancient and traditional boats and the technique to build them. It is also obvious that he not only has the friendship but also a lot of professional respect from NA's en boat building professionals over here.
    Those are the people that we learn from : they give clear explanation on the methods, the type of material and the way to use them.
    Since I started reading here, i developped the habbit of taking notes, and a lot of things i noted come from dskira, and even more from apex1. Who also is a name we do not see anymore.
    Experienced boatbuilders like Wynand, dskira, apex1 amongst others are doing us a favour by sharing theid knowledge. I for sure respect them, and i think it is sad that other members are costantly challenging them to the point where they seem to get tired of it. Captains of spain, or catamaran passagemakers will never replace them.

    "Quand tous les dégoutés s'en vont, il n'y a que les dégoutants qui restent"

    Peter
     
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