Get feet wet / Great Lakes / Loop sailboat - power conversion project

Discussion in 'Powerboats' started by KeithO, Jun 6, 2020.

  1. KeithO
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    KeithO Senior Member

    How is what you claim even possible? A semi displacement hull has an immersed transom that creates a huge suction drag at low speed. Furthermore, every engine has an operating point at which it achieves it's best specific fuel consumption and low speed just above idle is not it. In addition, the big high hp engines weigh considerably more than one producing possibly 1/10th of the output. If what you claimed was true, a Corvette with a 400hp motor would get better daily mileage than a Honda Civic.

     
  2. KeithO
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    KeithO Senior Member

    If I was going to build a custom vessel, no, one need not make it like a sailboat hull. But in the interest of cost and expediency this is a good option. If one has a bolt on lead keel, one could cut it shorter bit by bit until it had a more pleasant rolling motion and not a snap roll.


     
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  3. bajansailor
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    bajansailor Marine Surveyor

    What is your total budget available for this project Keith?
    I must admit to being a bit skeptical about your proposal to convert a sailboat into a displacement motor boat, and adding a suitable keel to protect the propeller - that will be a lot of work (and $$'s in materials).

    I know that Willards are almost like the Rolls Royces of smaller trawlers, but have you considered other such as a Fales 32?
    1976 Fales Seeker Pilothouse Trawler for sale - YachtWorld https://www.yachtworld.com/boats/1976/fales-seeker-pilothouse--3584141/
    This one is in Florida, with an asking price of $24,900, which sort of suggests you could get it for a fair bit less.

    Or here is a Gulfstar 36 in Michigan for $18,500?
    1973 Gulfstar 36 Trawler Power New and Used Boats for Sale - https://www.yachtworld.co.uk/boats/1973/gulfstar-36-trawler-3246627/

    Or a woody Grand Banks 32 restoration project in Michigan for $8,500?
    1973 Grand Banks 32 Sedan Power New and Used Boats for Sale https://www.yachtworld.co.uk/boats/1973/grand-banks-32-sedan-2417444/
    They do say though "Classic wooden sedan trawler. Single Ford Lehman power with generator. Flybridge needs rebuilding, some leaks and some rot in other areas.".
    'Some other areas' could be a tad optimistic.......
     
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2020
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  4. fallguy
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    fallguy Senior Member

    Another problem with your plan is pretty much noone will ever want to buy the converted sailboat, so any money you invest would be considered economic loss. The economy of boats is bad enough, but capital preservation is always nice. That is getting the original investment back and only losing operating costs. Something for you to think about.
     
  5. KeithO
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    KeithO Senior Member

    Bajansailor, one step at a time.
    First off, I would need a powerplant I'm guessing $5000 for an eBay scrounged Yanmar. The Betas sell new in Indonesia and the UK for that price. The original hull had 3000lb of lead ballast which is now gone. So assume putting 2000 of ballast back in at $3\lb (could be a better price for that amount.) So now we're at $11k. Generally speaking, if I look around at a "ready to go" sailboat, the bottom of the barrel seems to be around $17000. That's without any conversion to covered steering station or elimination of any of the sailboat clutter.
    Example here https://portsanilacmarina.com/product/1972-cc-39/

    Now a C&C 39 is a lot more boat, but it's still a sailboat with no conversion to powerboat yet. And I spent more money to get myself a bigger conversion project. The goal is to learn and think of the additional factors that apply to a bigger vessel ( larger solar array, significant battery storage capacity etc. Changing the stability characteristics to be more comfortable for a powered vessel.


     
  6. KeithO
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    KeithO Senior Member

    The Fales is hideous. Not interested in any high profile vessel.

    Something wrong with the gulfstar listing since it's supposed to look like a sailboat.

    Not touching a wooden boat.

    Generally, money spent on a refit cant be recovered so I wouldn't assume it would be possible to recover funds spent converting a boat, unless you start at a low enough price point that you are at what is considered "base value" for a boat of that size. I am not convinced one could not sell a converted boat. If tiny tugs can sell for $250k with a single small diesel and bow thruster (trailerable tugs) then I think one could potentially change the mind of a buyer who is used to the thirst and uncomfortable ride of all the planing boats and is intimidated by all the technical clutter on a sailboat and getting around heeled over and slow with a high workload.


     
  7. Blueknarr
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    Blueknarr Senior Member

    Keith O
    To be blunt, small sailboats make lousy motorboats.
    An earlier poster suggested that "without the sail pushing it over, it would be more stable". Nothing could be farther from the truth. Small keel sailers really on the sail for a good portion of their stability. Sails are often referred to as "vertical Dacron stabilizers".

    If you want a motorboat- start with a motorboat's hull. Converting hulls is a land lubber's day dream. And a Mariner's nightmare.
     
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  8. missinginaction
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    missinginaction Senior Member

    Hi Keith

    Just reading through this thread. I'm trying to understand what it is, exactly, that you want your boat to do for you. Are you single handing this boat or are we looking at 2 or 3 people on board? How much time do you plan to spend on the boat? If you're planning to travel, what is your budget? There are other considerations but those are starts.

    There are a lot of good posts here. Ondarvr and Blueknarr make especially good points.

    If you're wanting to sail, buy a sailboat. If you're wanting to live onboard for any length of time I'd say find a powerboat. The economy is lousy right now. Boats will be one of the first things people rid themselves of. We're not seeing a flood of boats for sale around here, yet. It's likely coming though. If you can be patient, a nice boat (or at least one that is fairly easily cleaned up) may come your way.

    Have you considered making some inquiries at boat clubs or yacht clubs in your area? Being a member of a small yacht club in eastern New York for many years I have some experience with the process we use to rid ourselves of abandoned boats. Some of these boats are clearly junk but some are remarkably well cared for and though they may be dirty from sitting in the yard for a number of years they are easily brought back into service. You need to look and look carefully.

    What typically happens is this: An owner dies. His wife pays the yard charges for a couple of years then gets tired of it or forgets/moves, whatever. She's gone. We try to contact for a period of time. We put a lien on the boat for the back storage/yard charges. Eventually after a year or two we go to court and a process takes place whereby we get title to the boat because it is deemed abandoned. At that point we can scrap it or we can auction it off if it's in decent shape and serviceable. Most of the time club members have first dibs for placing a bid but many times members don't want to tackle a project and they have their own boats anyway. We can usually find a bidder by word of mouth and that person ends up with the boat. Often for very little money. The club gets rid of the boat, we get yard fees again and we probably get a new member and his/her dues and dockage fees, etc. Everyone wins.

    A couple of years ago we put this mid thirties Hatteras convertible up for auction. Twin diesels. Back cockpit big as a dance floor. It was full of water but the water wasn't over the oil dip sticks. No water in the engines. This girl needed a good cleaning and everyone was scared of the engines. One of my fellow club members looked her over. A few weeks go by. No bids. Next thing I know he tells me he decided to take a chance on her. This guy was the only bidder. At $300.00. This was an exceptional price but Gary was the only bidder.

    A week later I'm doing some work on my boat in the yard and hear the rumble of a diesel starting. I look out and there's Gary giving me the thumbs up. Later that day engine #2 fires.

    Long story short that Hatteras went in the river later that season. She runs great. Gary sold his smaller boat and continues to make improvements to his "new" Hatteras.

    So take your time, shop around and you might find something out there that will surprise you. You might not get the steal that Gary did but who knows?

    One last thing. After spending some time traveling on my boat I can tell you that unless you're in the 40 foot area sailboats are quite small inside. It's the nature of the hull shape. I almost always travel alone. I restored a 25 foot Silverton Convertible and have been using her for the past 7 years. She's only a 25 but she has a 10.5 foot beam. A wide boat will never be as efficient as a narrow boat of the same length. But she she sure will be more comfortable.

    At displacement speeds up to about 8 knots I get 3 statute miles per gallon. I have an auxiliary high thrust outboard that I sometimes use when I'm in no particular hurry to get anywhere. The 9.9 Yamaha burns gas at the rate of 8 miles per gallon. That's not a typo. Now you're only running at about 4 - 4.5 knots but if you're just putting around that's pretty efficient.

    Good luck in your search. Just think it through.

    MIA
     
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  9. KeithO
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    KeithO Senior Member

    [​IMG]

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    Some of the best long range trawlers have hulls that are quite "sailboat like". So I disagree with the assessment. However I would agree that the use of stabilizers probably contributes to comfort significantly. In the absence of them, one would probably have to use "fish" like recommended in most of the trawler handbooks.
     
  10. KeithO
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    KeithO Senior Member

    MIA, I understand what you are saying. To me this is a bit like the guy who wants a Porsche, then buys a ragged 87 model because he can afford it. Then he limps along until something fails that he can only get at a dealership.. Then it's time for sticker shock.

    I don't want a semi displacement boat because they generally have large engines that would be very expensive to buy or overhaul today. Parts for the big engines are expensive too and are large and heavy enough to preclude most owners from doing the work themselves, especially when away from home port. I think a lot of people don't go far from port because of the anxiety of potentially needing an expensive haul out and repair that is unplanned. The hour meters on most boats don't lie.

    My plan with a smaller boat would be to do trips a week or 2 long on the great lakes. I also have plans to do a partial loop down to Mobile but I would need to do my research on where I could haul out to break the trip up into mànageable segments. It would just be myself and my wife, maybe a dog or 2.

    I'm well aware of the nature of sailboat interiors. I'm certainly not planning to live aboard a 27-32 footer, but on the other hand from 45'+ there would be enough room. For the Pacific boat I want as much length as possible because length is speed. A 50 foot boat like the Goetz IMS is a high tech composite boat and very much weight optimized. Being narrow and light vs water line length will equate to good speed potential while not needing a lot of power and thus very good economy.

    The 27' sailboat probably has a wll of 20ft giving a hull speed of 5-6kt vs a 50' would be 9.5kt. On a long crossing that's a huge difference. 125 nm days vs 218nm days. Barring bad weather, that means some of the major passages like Panama to the first Pacific islands would be 10 days or less. Harbor to harbor hopping on the great lakes with the smaller boat would not be so fraught.

    The most likely place for me to keep a boat like this would be Monroe MI or somewhere close to it. From there to Mackinaw Island, for example is 300nm. There are at least 1 set of locks probably 2 so this would be at least a 3 day trip minimum 1 way. If on the other hand I kept the boat at Muskegon, that puts the whole Lake Michigan coast within reach within a couple of days. There are a lot of terrific places on the west side of the lake where so far I have only camped like Fayette state park, Manistique etc. It's just a longer drive to get to the boat and possibly supplies would be harder to come by in Muskegon if working on the boat. Of course today most of us buy online anyway.

    At this stage, I don't have a better plan for a long distance trawler than a converted sailboat. Sailboats are relatively cheap and plentiful. I feal that for the educational experience, doing this conversion on a smaller scale is a worthy exercise. One is going to deal with a lot of the same issues as with a bigger conversion, just at a smaller investment. If the result is terrible and I can't fix it, then I saved myself a lot of money and headache by not getting into a big project right away. If I get it sorted, then I can feel confident that doing it on a bigger scale is just going to need more money, but I already have the knowledge needed.
     
  11. DCockey
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    DCockey Senior Member

    No locks between Monroe and Mackinaw Island. Only locks on the Great Lakes are at Sault (pronounced Soo) Sainte Marie between Lake Huron and Lake Superior, and at the eastern end of the Niagara penninsula between Lake Erie and Lake Ontario.
     
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  12. fallguy
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    fallguy Senior Member

    I see a really nice trawler for sale for $29,500 on Trawer Living and Cruising on the Facebook.
     
  13. bajansailor
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    bajansailor Marine Surveyor

  14. KeithO
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    KeithO Senior Member

    I saw the listing. Seems exceedingly small inside. Laid out like a fishing boat with all the deck space at the back. The engine compartment is great, looks like at 1000rpm the engine is putting out 72hp with a 1.5gal/hr fuel burn. Looks like just a fabric enclosure on the back of the cabin ?

    For that amount of money I should be able to convert a 40-45 foot sailboat which should have a <50hp engine. I'm finding the stated economy a little hard to believe, but perhaps with short/wide light boats that plane easy it's possible. I did find one data point which was a 18' GlenL skiff powered by a 50hp Honda Outboard which is reported to get 10mpg (statute) at 20mph on the plane. It has a hull weight of only 500-600lb so that seems reasonable.
     

  15. fallguy
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    fallguy Senior Member

    How many sailboats have standing headroom at the helm or was a cabin build in this plan?
     
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