Container Transportable Boat

Discussion in 'Powerboats' started by SLM, May 12, 2014.

  1. SLM
    Joined: May 2014
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    Location: Sydney, Australia

    SLM Junior Member


    Can anyone suggest a plans buildable powerboat that meets the following criteria:

    1. Can be shipped anywhere in the world on its own trailer inside a standard shipping container (trailer drawbar could fold).
    2. Cruiser style boat - displacement hull.
    3. Low power for efficient long distance cruising.
    4. Ideally a diesel inboard engine (but open to other options).
    5. Sleeps two comfortably for extended travels (see below)
    6. Suitable for both sheltered and coastal waters.
    7. Room for a galley and other fit out necessary for extended time aboard.

    My idea is a boat that can be shipped from Australia to places such as the Fijian Islands, SE Asia (Thailand etc), Europe (canal cruising & the Mediterranean), the Caribbean and used for extended voyages with two persons on board (say 3 months at a time with some time spent ashore in accommodation - say 25% and the remainder on board). I don't need luxurious comfort. Basic accommodation - something of a similar standard to a smallish RV camper.


  2. rasorinc
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    rasorinc Senior Member

    container boat

    FIRST research the most common container sizes then you can determine the max beam and length of your trailer and thus your boat. A live aboard can be 8' x 26' and larger. Smaller ,I feel, will be difficult and uncomfortable
    as you need a head and shower, kitchen, sleeping and lounging area ( s ).
  3. SLM
    Joined: May 2014
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    SLM Junior Member

    OK to be clear ....

    Container internal sizes are:

    20 ft: Length = 19.35' Width (door) = 7.64' Height (Door) = 7.48'
    40 ft: Length = 39.39' Width (door) = 7.64' Height (Door) = 7.48'

    Ideally the boat would fit inside on its trailer to facilitate loading and unloading.

    I am hoping that someone reading this might be doing what I want to do (or at least know someone who is) and can offer some advice on a suitable boat and perhaps other practical tips on shipping boats by container to different corners of the world.
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    FAST FRED Senior Member

    The trailer will take too much of the volume inside the box,

    Better I think to have a boat that can be installed/removed with simple wooden rollers .

    Ship the boat box to any boat yard and have their travel lift plop the boat.A container port willing to allow you to unload on their property will have a crane to launch you, just set the boat with lifting points that match the smaller size box , so no rigging , or risk for them , is required.

    I have been playing with this for a decade and think the Atkin Seabright style hull would be ideal.

    These have a box keel that will support the boat , no cradle or trailer needed.

    The reverse deadrise used in many of Atkins promise above >hull speed< cruising with only displacement style power.

    It can be done , at least on paper, to have a fine cruiser for 2 or 4 people that should be economical to build , cheap to keep, and easy , and cheap to see the world.
  5. gonzo
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    gonzo Senior Member

    Are you looking for a sail or power boat?
  6. micspoko
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    micspoko Senior Member

  7. SLM
    Joined: May 2014
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    SLM Junior Member

    Thank you for the thoughts so far.

    In retrospect I agree that the boat will probably not be able to sit on a trailer inside the container - too tall.

    Thanks for the tip on the Atkin designs. I will have a closer look.

    The link to the containerised tug boat is interesting but I am really looking for a boat that will fit inside a standard shipping container to protect it from damage and theft of equipment in transit. Also this permits it to be shipped into one port and out of another (perhaps after remaking a simple wooden cradle). This tug boat looks like it requires a steel frame to support it with the standard container corners welded into it. I want to avoid this.

    I did find this:

    (In French) however realistically I need something a bit smaller.

    BTW ... this is where I got the original idea.

    A podcast which discusses the concept in detail (although for yachts not a power boat).
  8. Steve W
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    Steve W Senior Member

    I believe there are high cube containers available which could possibly solve the trailer problem. I like the idea of the Atkin tunnel hull style, if you wanted to do a custom design Dave Gerr would be a good choice as he has a lot of experience with this hull form. It would be possible with any hull form to utilize bilge keels so the boat could sit upright without a cradle or trailer and with slick, maybe uhmwpe,wear strips on the bottom of the three keels you could just drag the boat out of the container without damaging anything. Bob Perry designed a containerable motorsailor which someone was trying to market. I would consider high thrust 4 stroke outboards although with the cost of fuel in other parts of the world maybe the small diesel would be better. I did a 1500 mile delivery last summer of a 30ft Gemini catamaran (no sailing rig) powered by a 9.9 high thrust Yamaha and were able to average abou 6 knots and 7.5 -8 statute mpg, very impressive imho, I love those motors. Big advantages of outboards are the ability upgrade at relatively low cost, simple install, the ability to remove and take to the mechanic, and keeping the noise and smell out of the accomodations.

  9. Squidly-Diddly
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    Squidly-Diddly Senior Member

    I'd disagree with FastFred on need for trailer in box.

    Lots of places don't got Boat Yards, much less with cranes big enough for a max-container-able size boat, and whole point of container-able is to be able to hit the 'hot spots' and I'd guess you might find yourself waiting WAY in the back of the line for the boatyard crane behind those with 'real money' and long standing 'relationships' with the yard.

    I'd at least want a trailer that could be easily assembled after dragging the boat out, jacking up the trailer frame, few bolts here and there, attach wheels, etc. Then you can go from cheap shipping rail station to nice lake.

    This one says "10 hours of standard boatyard work" to unbox it. What does that cost during the busy season on the French Rivera?:confused::eek: And how many weeks till they get to you, and how bad will their 'seasonal hires' screw it up and not tell you and deny they did it? Yeah, its a sailboat with fixed keel, but still.

    I'm thinking with a little design work a trailer(semi in parts) could fit in the empty space around any trailerable boat.
  10. SLM
    Joined: May 2014
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    SLM Junior Member

    I agree that this whole idea is much more practical if the boat can somehow fit inside the container on its trailer. The shipping process will definitely be a lot less hassle and cheaper as well. I like the idea of removing the trailers wheels to reduce height. Failing that the idea of using bilge keels is a good one.

    The container yacht is the same yacht that I linked to the podcast on earlier in this thread. I think there is some exaggeration of the shipping costs on their web site. Yes $5k for shipping the container one way but the cost of derigging and rerigging will increase that considerably. From memory they were talking more like $25K to ship that yacht return anywhere in the world. I am thinking of a more modest boat.
  11. Tad
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    Tad Boat Designer

    But won't it always be cheaper and a lot less hassel to fly and rent a boat at your chosen destination? Anyone that can afford to think about this type of lifestyle will not want to live longterm in a 38' by 7'6" tunnel. They only want the boat short term, so renting makes sense.
  12. Stumble
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    Stumble Senior Member

  13. rustybarge
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    rustybarge Cheetah 25' Powercat.

  14. Tad
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    Tad Boat Designer

  15. SLM
    Joined: May 2014
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    SLM Junior Member

    Tad: The thing that started me considering the idea of a container boat was the cost of renting boats. A short term rental is fine but when you start considering renting for say 3 months, the cost seems to become prohibitive and it would be definitely cheaper to ship your own boat. Perhaps I am looking in the wrong places for rentals but that is a question for another forum. Shipping your own boat also has the advantage that you know the boat, that it is reliable, clean and well maintained and equipped as you want it. Also I can leave it in location for another season of cruising if I like the place or ran out of time to see everything. I agree that a 38' x 7'6" boat would be like living in a pipe. However the more I think about this, I feel that I am gravitating toward a 26-28ft boat with a well designed interior. Yes at 7'6" wide this is still a narrow beam but not too bad. I need to accommodate one double berth and the basics for living aboard. So far I have not found a boat that meets this requirement and it looks increasingly like I would need to design a boat from scratch.

    Stumble: Interesting concept. Not sure about laying a fully equipped cruiser on its side though. The Australian McConaghy factory is just up the road from where I live. I have been in there. Impressive place. I am guessing that the MC38 you linked to is designed to allow shipping from their Chinese plant to customers around the world.

    Rustybarge: Do you have any drawings of your cat you could share that show the general configuration ?
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