Great Loop hull design help

Discussion in 'Boat Design' started by mikeasullivanjr, Jul 15, 2013.

  1. mikeasullivanjr
    Joined: Jul 2013
    Posts: 1
    Likes: 0, Points: 0, Legacy Rep: 10
    Location: United States

    mikeasullivanjr New Member

    WHAT!?! Another Great Loop thread?

    Yes. Another one. And warning, I'm a novice just starting out. I've never built a boat.

    With that said here is my reason for posting. I've been lurking around for about a week searching and researching some of the previous threads made in regards to great loop hull designs, and they're stability specifically in the Great Lakes. At some point in the future I'm interested in making the trek from New Orleans, or so, to New York via the mostly inland portion of the great loop. Part of my journey I hope can be made through the Erie Canal. I've been looking at houseboats for some time with this idea in mind, but am worried about their stability in the notoriously rough waters of the Great Lakes. So, here's my question. Is there a boat design that would be ideal for this adventure? I'd like a houseboat design if possible and I'm thinking of dimensions in the 80 feet long by 16 foot beam, by 15 feet tall, with a shallow enough draft for the canal. I was looking at the River Walker hull, but am wondering of the bow should be altered to more of a point to handle large waves. Also, I've been thinking about a catamaran. How would a cat with those dimensions handle the weather of the lakes? Obviously, I wouldn't be underway during really heavy weather, but I don't want to be caught unprepared either in case I can't make it to a safe harbor. I know there will be some negative comments forthcoming, but any help would be greatly appreciated and any input will be welcome.

    Thanks in advance

    Mike S.
  2. PAR
    Joined: Nov 2003
    Posts: 19,133
    Likes: 496, Points: 93, Legacy Rep: 3967
    Location: Eustis, FL

    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    Welcome to the forum Mike.

    The great loop is ambitious, so is attempting an 80' build. You'll find most will dismiss these out of hand, for a novice with no experience. The usual route for folks interesting in building is to start small, and work your way up. The logic is simple, you'll need experience to develop the various skill sets, to accomplish such a large build.

    The same can be said of the voyage, as it's long and fairly complex. Most of this passage is relatively easy, but again, some experience will be necessary.

    I'll assume you're talking about Buehler's 25' River Walker. This is a pig of a boat quite frankly. Costly to build, in spite of George's insistence, you pay for every ounce of material in a build and his seem, to weigh twice that of everyone elses stuff. It's a barge hull with a cobbled together Winnebago box on top. About the worst thing you can take to sea. It's not even remotely sea worthy, not particularly efficient and in my opinion has a look only a mother could love. An 80' version of this is a monolithic monstrosity from hell, that'll require an atomic reactor to power and globs of cash to build.

    I'm not sure why you think an 80' boat is necessary on this trip, but maybe a quick look at slip fees, for 80' yachts along your route, will bring you back down to earth. I have a 50' riverboat in my gallery, much better suited to the great loop and also a much better boat, considerably more efficient then the River Walker and it actually looks and operates like, well, a boat, instead of a barge. Personally, this isn't a boat I'd recommend (Belle) for the loop, as she's too tall, but she's got lots of room.

    At this point you need two things, out on the water time and building experience. Build a dinghy to serve your mother craft, preferably in the same build style as the mother craft, so the skills can be transferred. Next, steal, beg and borrow rides on boats of every shape and size, in every sea state you can muster. You might find the slightest chop makes you sea sick and you don't want anything else to do with it, which could save you a small fortune.
    Joined: Oct 2002
    Posts: 4,519
    Likes: 111, Points: 63, Legacy Rep: 1009
    Location: Conn in summers , Ortona FL in winter , with big d

    FAST FRED Senior Member

    worried about their stability in the notoriously rough waters of the Great Lakes.


    You will run across the lake, which only takes a portion of a day , even in a 5K boat.

    Most of the trip is very protected LOOK AT A CHART!!!!

    Only lake Michigan would be a hassle , and that is easily solved.

    The State has marinas built at 15 -30 mile intervals OR you cross to the Western side where the winds start.

    This trip has been done with jet skis , kayaks and Boston Whalers.

    Seaworthy is hardly required , if you can wait a day at times.

    Yes I have run the loop myself, and would do so in anything that has a comfortable layout.Even in a 25 ft Bayliner!

    The CN are very careful about your holding tank setup , do it right.
  4. tom28571
    Joined: Dec 2001
    Posts: 2,474
    Likes: 117, Points: 63, Legacy Rep: 1728
    Location: Oriental, NC

    tom28571 Senior Member

    There you have two opinions from people with experience and different ideas. You can make the trip in a bathtub if you are lucky. I have done many parts of it in sailboats, powerboats and a 100 foot paddlewheel riverboat. The paddlewheeler was something like a steel hull really large version of Riverwalker. It was only marginally seaworthy in any big water like the Chesapeake, Great Lakes or even N Y Harbor on a busy day. It would also be very expensive to build and maintain. The most open water on the great loop is from Apalachicola to Tampa Bay.

    If you consider any non positive opinion as only a negative restriction, you will not be happy with the answers here. There is a great difference between a negative reply and a critical one.
  5. brian eiland
    Joined: Jun 2002
    Posts: 4,976
    Likes: 194, Points: 73, Legacy Rep: 1903
    Location: St Augustine Fl, Thailand

    brian eiland Senior Member

    Canal Trawler, Coastal Cruiser

    How about that trip in a 40' trawler / coastal cruiser that should have a lot of visual appeal, be very economical to operate, and possible be available in a kit form.

    Have a look here. I am just developing the special construction method, and will expand on its scope in a few days or so.

    I'll likely bring some of this discussion back over to this forum sometime soon.

    And here is another couple of references to this idea:
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2013
  6. El_Guero

    El_Guero Previous Member

  7. Richard Woods
    Joined: Jun 2006
    Posts: 2,209
    Likes: 174, Points: 63, Legacy Rep: 1244
    Location: Back full time in the UK

    Richard Woods Woods Designs

    I assume you have studied this site

    and read the comments about boat size and type. 80ft would be a huge boat for the trip.

    I agree with the others that from a seaworthiness point of view pretty much any boat can do it, as most of the time you are either in sheltered water or close to a safe port. And there are weather forecasts available 24/7 for the whole time so you have no reason to be caught out in bad weather.

    A big boat will need a bigger crew. Imagine running round an 80ft boat when entering a lock or marina, assuming only two of you on board. For that is one big difference between ocean sailing and day sailing in enclosed waters. Ocean sailors can sail big boats alone as they don't come close to other vessels or the shore.

    If you read Slocum's book you'll see he hit his first boat on I think page 6, certainly before he left the US. Most singlehanded ocean racers have crew to help them leave and arrive in port.

    You mention catamarans and their seaworthiness. You won't have any problems with a well designed catamaran. Stability in waves is dependant on overall beam, regardless of the number of hulls. An accepted rule of thumb is you won't capsize until the wave height exceeds the overall beam.

    And there are other factors relating to seaworthiness, not just stability or swamping. My Skoota 28 powercat, for example, would be ideal Great Loop cruiser, in fact we are thinking of doing it ourselves in a couple of years. We have already made 7 ICW trips in catamarans from 26-38ft. The Skoota has twin engines and no skin fittings in the hulls. So, as the majority of rescues are due to engine breakdown or leaks, even our insurers think we are a safe boat.

    Richard Woods of Woods Designs

  8. Petros
    Joined: Oct 2007
    Posts: 2,936
    Likes: 148, Points: 63, Legacy Rep: 1593
    Location: Arlington, WA-USA

    Petros Senior Member

    I met a guy that has done this trip in a 15' all wood open sailboat with a small outboard. he motored most of the way, but used the sail where he could. He had a boom tent and slept in the cockpit most of the time.

    I see no reason to take an 80' monstrosity, cost goes up with the square of the length, maintenance goes up at twice that rate (you have both the inside surface and the outside surface to maintain, repair, paint, etc.). It seems to me a 35-40 foot boat would be plenty roomy and comfortable. It is not like you will be out at sea for 30 plus days at a time and have no where to get out and stretch your legs. No need for large amount of supplies storage for the same reason, a week or two at a time should be sufficient I would think.
Forum posts represent the experience, opinion, and view of individual users. Boat Design Net does not necessarily endorse nor share the view of each individual post.
When making potentially dangerous or financial decisions, always employ and consult appropriate professionals. Your circumstances or experience may be different.