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

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

  1. bajansailor
    Joined: Oct 2007
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    Location: Barbados

    bajansailor Marine Surveyor

    How about this trawler?
    1969 Morgan 36 Power New and Used Boats for Sale - www.yachtworld.co.uk https://www.yachtworld.co.uk/boats/1969/morgan-36-3656144/

    OK, she is ferrocement, but she was built in 1969 and she has not disintegrated / fallen to pieces yet. And she probably won't for the next 50 years with basic maintenance, so long as you don't hit a rock at full speed (but then a fibreglass boat will usually not be happy with such an encounter either).

    Or a 34' GRP Marine Trader for US$ 29,000?
    1977 Marine Trader Trawler Double Cabin Power New and Used Boats for https://www.yachtworld.co.uk/boats/1977/marine-trader-trawler-double-cabin-3016998/

    I am thinking that no matter what sort of sailing yacht hull you acquire, even if it is given to you, before too long you will be wondering where $20k has disappeared, and you will end up with a boat that is worth a fraction of the cost of the materials that you have put in to it.

    Edit - re why I searched in the UK Yachtworld, rather than on www.yachtworld.com - for some reason I can no longer do an 'advanced' search on www.yachtworld.com whereas the UK site will allow me to.
    For folk in North America - can you do an advanced search ok on www.yachtworld.com ?
     
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  2. KeithO
    Joined: Jul 2019
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    KeithO Senior Member

    Bajansailor, you are not much of a listener, are you ? Do you realize that in the US and other parts of the world, people shell out $12k to $100k + to buy kits to build airplanes, in some cases even building the engines for them... Many thousands of these airplanes have been built and flown, some have flown around the world, some multiple times... I find it extremely perplexing why it is that anyone proposing doing anything but being a consumer is so vilified on this "boat design forum" ? Once again, at least 80% of posts suggest doing nothing except buying a boat, when the attributes I seek are not being catered to by the market.

    I would have thought it would be a positive thing to recycle a few dock queens into voyaging machines that one takes out places and does things with, even in less favorable weather. I'm no longer a young man. I don't want to tend sails day and night tuning things constantly as the wind changes. I have also been in a 16 year storm on a small sailboat on the South African south coast, so I know what adverse conditions look like. Thus my aversion of many of the high profile boats you suggest. I do have long-term plans for some Pacific cruising and I am testing my ideas for that goal.
     
  3. missinginaction
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    missinginaction Senior Member

    Keith,

    How much experience do you have traveling by boat? The reason I ask is that you may find that after you spend some time on the Great Lakes, which are really an inland sea, you may decide that venturing out into the vastness of the Pacific Ocean is not for you. Or maybe it will be. Your experience in big lake boating will certainly go a long way towards giving you the experience you will need to make that decision.

    You say you want to take a trip down to Alabama. That's river boating. Something I'm very familiar with. A whole different world than being out in the middle of Lake Ontario in 600 feet of water. A boat like mine ( a 25 ) is great on the rivers but crossing Lake Ontario in a beam sea isn't much fun. I know because I've done it. But.....weather changes. I've learned to wait out rough seas and pick my window. 3 foot seas are a challenge for me but 1-2 feet are fine. I just have to wait a day or two sometimes.

    How about a smaller boat for the Great Lakes and river boating? Trawlers are very popular but for me they are too big and heavy and difficult to handle. In my experience when you travel a smaller, lighter boat is easier to handle. After you have amused yourself out on the lakes and maybe down the Mississippi you'd have a decision to make. Sell the smaller boat and buy something larger - pursuing your "blue water " dream in the Pacific, or perhaps you'll keep the smaller boat and be content to stay closer to shore here in the US and Canada. Maybe something like a Bertram 28 or 31. A single gas powered vessel. Not too expensive, very reliable (if well maintained) and reasonably light. Roomy for their size. Comfort counts. If you're a good mechanic you can do practically everything yourself on a boat like that. If you're not really handy any marina will be able to assist you. Boats like the older Berties have a following because they are well built.

    Just some food for thought.

    MIA
     
  4. bajansailor
    Joined: Oct 2007
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    bajansailor Marine Surveyor

    I am not trying to vilify you Keith; rather, I am simply offering suggestions which I hope will help you to avoid making bad decisions.

    If you really want to chuck a truck load of money at converting a sailboat into a motor boat for a Great Loop Trip, and end up with a boat that will be worth maybe a quarter of a truck load of money at the end (not even counting your labour), then fine.
    I was simply trying to offer helpful suggestions for a Great Loop trip.
    Now you are suggesting that your boat has to be able to cope with a 16 year storm and crossing the Pacific as well?

    Methinks best to just buy any one of the 100's of suitable 'Great Loopers' that are available for sale and ready to go, and then when you have finished, sell the boat for not too much less (hopefully) than what you bought it for, and look at another boat that will be suitable for your next adventure if a Pacific crossing is on your agenda.

    I think that most folk on here will agree with me that realistically now, unless you want a labour of love, it does not make sense to spend thousands of dollars on a re-fit / conversion when there are suitable boats available 'off the shelf' (you just have to look), probably for less cost than what you would spend on your conversion.
     
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  5. KeithO
    Joined: Jul 2019
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    Location: Michigan

    KeithO Senior Member

    Given how expensive education is in the US, I think a project like this could be considered cheap education, even if there is no recovery on the asset. On the other hand, if one develops a worthwhile skill, it could potentially save me more than the cost of the experiment.

    The end game here is how to get a blue water boat configured the way I want it for an affordable price. Im not learning anything going off and buying a semi displacement high profile trawler which was never really intended for ocean crossings in the first place, and I might find one of those to be another pit to throw my money into in the meantime. I think the potential to contain costs with a small sailboat with a small diesel that I can pull myself and rebuild if needed and doing limited fiberglass work is more limited in scope creep than a boat with 2x 200hp+ engines which could nickle and dime me to death.

    Other than the keel and rudder modifications after removal of the mast and sailing paraphenalia, I would not make any changes to the cabin until I have the stability issues at a comfortable point. Obviously I would need a working powerplant, prop and rudder. Extruded polystyrene, uni and bid fiberglass and epoxy only cost a certain amount and the fiberglass work is just a fraction of what is involved in building a hull. Finding a supplier for lead is probably worthy of some time investment given the cost. The biggest risk is the engine, buying used. If I could find a used Beta I may be able to replace the engine itself with a remanufactured one and add some certainty to that part of the puzzle. Otherwise potentially buy, dismantle, evaluate condition then either overhaul or re-assemble if in spec.
     
  6. KeithO
    Joined: Jul 2019
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    KeithO Senior Member

    Looks like lead shot is less than $2/lb bagged. Edit: under $1.50/lb once you reach 1000lb+. So the engine is by far the biggest expense.
     
  7. missinginaction
    Joined: Aug 2007
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    missinginaction Senior Member

    Keith,
    This will probably be my last comment. A restoration or conversion done properly isn't going to save you any money. If you do your conversion right you will get the boat you want (or think you want) but it's gonna cost you. How do I know that? Because I actually did it. I'll post a link to a thread I started some time ago regarding the costs of doing a restoration. Now, I spent way more money on my boat than was necessary because I knew that it would be the last boat that I will ever own. I still feel that way, it suits my purpose. Nevertheless, doing a real first rate conversion takes a lot of time and a lot of money. Remember my boat is only a 25.

    Want to know how much a restoration might cost you? Read on..... https://www.boatdesign.net/threads/want-to-know-how-much-a-restoration-might-cost-you-read-on.62104/

    Pearl Aft.jpg
     
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  8. KeithO
    Joined: Jul 2019
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    KeithO Senior Member

    MIA, you did your restoration the way you wanted it and arrived at the price that you got. When I posted the earlier thread, the consensus was that fitting out the interior of a 55-60ft hull would cost $500k+. Clearly it is possible to spend any amount of money one wants doing this kind of work, especially if one pays a yard to do it, which I understand was not the case with you.

    In the case of the racing yacht I mentioned previously (50' high tech aramid and fiberglass hull with PVC core) which was listed for $45k, the owner "fitted it out" in a manner suitable for his goals for very little money or weight, although I think it hardly fits most peoples idea of comfort. This is clearly an extreme position, race boats without even a coat of paint on the interior..., no portholes etc. Now do you still want to suggest I would lower the value of this boat by making some changes ? Only in so far as its purpose as a racing boat. This particular boat has a carbon fiber mast and boom, is brimming with various winches etc and pretty new high tech sails all over. There is bound to be some salvage value in all this hardware which could help fund some of the work I need to do, and minimum tear up of an existing interior....

    One needs to realistically assess what one really needs vs what one wants and do that which one can afford and nothing else. Later, when one is living on board and it is serving as "house" one can continue to make improvements as time and budget allows. The youtube channel "Sailing Emerald steel" is an example of a couple who applied this tactic ruthlessly and put out to see with no interior and no operating engine, but that's probably too extreme for myself.



    6872501_20181012172531744_1_LARGE.jpg
    6872501_20181012172535296_1_LARGE.jpg
     
  9. fallguy
    Joined: Dec 2016
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    fallguy Senior Member

    Bajansailor is a good guy. He has good financial advice for you. Very few people I know will want to buy a small cabin, modified sailboat. Your market shrinks and so does the return. Most boats have a sort of intrinsic value. For example, a 40 year old sailboat 27 feet long is worth say 2-6k; depend where it is.. No matter how much you spend on it; that value does not change. I had a boat I liked, paid 3k, it needed 3k materials and like 2000 hours and it would never be worth over 8k and the 6k didn't include engines. My labor was essentially of zero value.

    As a boatbuilder, I can think of a number of expected problems with your plan. Removing the decks to install fuel and engines for one.

    As to your cheap race boat. Be careful. Race boats are often designed for speed only. They are not very durable. Some of them are considered throw aways. I would be a little wary of buying a racer. Mostly to make sure the scantlings are proper.
     
  10. ondarvr
    Joined: Dec 2005
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    ondarvr Senior Member

    My comments weren't meant to be a buzz kill, I just see this happen all too often.

    You mentioned being older (sort of), I wouldn't want to take on a project like this at my age, I'd rather have those years using the boat not rebuilding it.

    And I can do all the work myself fairly fast, plus I have a 60'x60' shop to do it in.

    I also live on the water, so I can work on it any time even after its been launched.

    I would currently like to buy some type boat for exploring the lake I live on. The lake is large with few people living near it.

    I can buy a bare bones nothing boat for about $5,000. New motors, not large, are going to cost $15,000, electronics another $5,000.

    This is without a complete rebuild of the cabin and everything that goes with it.

    I've found almost exactly what I want in the $16-28,000 range. They still need a little work, but everything is there in working condition.

    It's not worth it to me to trade several years of my life working on it and spending more money when I could be enjoying it.
     
  11. KeithO
    Joined: Jul 2019
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    KeithO Senior Member

    Ondarvr, my goal is not to make perfection out of the conversion of the small boat. It's to test ideas and concepts. I can try to structure the whole experiment so that I can take everything but the raw materials with me when I move on to a bigger boat. If it was not for the flameability issue, I could make things simple and put an outboard into a well and steer it. Then take the outboard with me for a dingy or sell it afterwards. There seem to be no inexpensive outboards and I just hate the idea of that much explosive fuel aboard... But the installation would be quite simple and it would eliminate the rudder in this test and improve maneuverability. Right now a 20hp Suzuki brand new with remotes is $3550 (20" shaft). The ballast side of the equation is already down to $3000 for 2000lb of bagged lead shot. Most of these 2 expenses would be recoverable if I scrapped the project.

    As far as the bigger boat, its quite clear that I would never be able to afford an appropriate size trawler which would have the needed range. So as far as that is concerned this is a do or die concept. I have family scattered around the world in New Zealand, Australia, Tasmania, South Africa and a few here in the US. I would really like to see some of them and spend some time in some of the pristine places in the Pacific before I die or worse, get too old to do this... The Goetz as an example already has a suitable size engine, but perhaps the saildrive may not be the perfect configuration for a primary propulsion system. I would have to install fuel tanks for at least 800 gal of fuel. Remove the mast and the rigging and get rid of all the winches blocks etc and seal up all the holes in the deck. Come up with the new cabin layout with solar array on the roof (I already have 1.8kW of panels). Davits over the stern for the dingy. In the way of electronics GPS, Radar, sonar, autopilot. VHF. Already have SSB equipment. Tesla battery modules. For the interior, I figure everything will be made from PVC foam cored fiberglass faced panels. It will be cheaper than marine plywood and a lot lighter. I can also make any length panel I need. It would be painted mostly white with some contrasting trim. My wife is a seamstress, she can make any kind of mattress covers/shades/ cushions one could imagine. There would have to be a heat pump system for heating and cooling, I have already seen systems that are capable of being run totally off solar during the day and batteries at night.

    In the case of the larger boat, the major cost is adding the cabin and interior fit out in addition to systems. The racing yacht had pretty good navigation equipment already, probably also an autopilot. Keel and rudder would have to be shortened, possibly some ballast added in locations to damp roll and pitch rates, which may otherwise be too fast with all the mass concentrated in the keel. I have some time to save money for the larger boat and hopefully don't lose too much of it in the stock market.....
     
  12. KeithO
    Joined: Jul 2019
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    KeithO Senior Member

    During the 16 year storm in 1992, that lasted 4 days, (my sole offshore sailing experience in Africa) the wind blew at 90-100mph sustained and peaked at 130. The wind was blowing in exactly the opposite direction to the Agulhas current (Agulhas Current - Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agulhas_Current), the swells built to 40 ft in height, steep and were marching across the horizon at 40-50mph, so way faster than any ship. Supertankers lost lifeboats off the back of their bridges 5 stories above the waterline. A boat for the Pacific needs to get you through those conditions alive and without capsizing. I wont be trying it with a 27 or 28' boat, although others obviously have, but they are braver or more foolish than I....

     
  13. Rumars
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    Rumars Senior Member

    Keith, I say do it, spend the money and tell us what you learned. But please budget some more for the lead, the sailboat had 3200lbs and it was down there 5ft under in the fin, if you put it up in the bilge you will need a lot more. Your best bet to not puke your guts out would be to use bilge keels with cast ballast bulbs at the end.
    Forget the diesel, just buy a freshwater cooled Atomic 4, that's 500$. Isolate the engine compartment and fit bilge blowers.
     
  14. KeithO
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    KeithO Senior Member

    Rumars, why do you think so much lead would be needed in the absence of a large capsizing force (absence of sails and mast windage?). I have read time and again that sailboats without a mast had a "snappy" motion in pitch and roll. I was thinking that the primary reason for ballast was to get the hull to float on her lines and lower the cg so it had an effective righting moment, but not too much...
     

  15. Rumars
    Joined: Mar 2013
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    Rumars Senior Member

    As you say, you obviously need to bring her down to her lines wich will require the same amount of ballast as she initially had, regardless of where you place it or what it is. Then you need righting moment, and to determine where to put the ballast you would need to recalculate the stability with out the mast and sails. Simply putting less ballast higher up and adding fuel tanks is not going to make a safe boat. Sailboats without masts have snappy rolls because the mast acts as a counterweight and a lot of hulls do not have much form stability making the matter worse.
     
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