ISO 'Wide Beam Canal' Boat Builders in US.

Discussion in 'Boatbuilding' started by Brian Carig, Apr 16, 2021.

  1. Brian Carig
    Joined: Apr 2021
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    Location: San Diego

    Brian Carig New Member

    Hi everyone,

    We want to build a steel hull canal boat, like the ones you see in the UK/Europe canals for the Erie Canal/Hudson river live aboard cruising.

    I was curious if anyone might be able to point us in the right direction for a US boat builder? I'd prefer this route rather than importing one from the UK, avoid shipping/tariffs and other associated fees.

    The boats I've been looking at on UK builder sites range around $250-275K, all in. Another option might be to have a hull builder over there build one, ship that over and outfit here, saving some on tariff fees, but still would have to bite the bullet on shipping.

    Yes, I'm aware that might not be the way you'd spend your money, but that's a different thread/post. Looking for boat builders that might take on this challenge and are realistic.

    If this was your goal, how would you go about achieving it? Thanks in advance for your suggestions/replies. I've attached a few photos of a boat a friend in the UK is building and a couple of finished ones for reference. Thanks

    174227799_10223371188941153_2853516688609887742_n.jpg 174198229_10223371189741173_2548855578689696795_n.jpg 173874185_10223371189901177_1055061262491010926_n.jpg 173736643_10223371188421140_461327678677565722_n.jpg 174431222_10223371187621120_3185009153931554699_n.jpg 174514434_10223371188741148_6558884746021416064_n.jpg 173463509_10223371188661146_6711815302618015844_n.jpg 174227799_10223371188941153_2853516688609887742_n.jpg 174198229_10223371189741173_2548855578689696795_n.jpg 173874185_10223371189901177_1055061262491010926_n.jpg 173736643_10223371188421140_461327678677565722_n.jpg 174431222_10223371187621120_3185009153931554699_n.jpg 174514434_10223371188741148_6558884746021416064_n.jpg 173463509_10223371188661146_6711815302618015844_n.jpg
     
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  2. bajansailor
    Joined: Oct 2007
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    bajansailor Marine Surveyor

    Welcome to the Forum Brian.

    A similar question was asked on here 10 years ago - here is a link :
    Looking for US steel boat builders https://www.boatdesign.net/threads/looking-for-us-steel-boat-builders.32904/

    In this thread Eric Sponberg mentions Custom Steel Boats in North Carolina - and their website is valid, although it only provides basic contact info.
    But you could try contacting them to see if they might be interested in your project?
    http://www.customsteelboats.com/about.html

    Who designed / built the boats shown in your photos?

    I guess that you are familiar with the boats built by Peter Nicholls?
    Europa Barge with Seagoing Option https://www.steelboats.co.uk/europa_barge.html

    And the designs from Selway Fisher?
    Motor Boats over 30' https://www.selway-fisher.com/Mcover30.htm
     
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  3. Tiny Turnip
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    Location: Huddersfield, UK

    Tiny Turnip Senior Member

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  4. DCockey
    Joined: Oct 2009
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    Location: Midcoast Maine

    DCockey Senior Member

    Why the reference to "ISO" in the thread title?

    Building steel canal boats, both narrow and wide, is a very competitive business in the UK with many builders who only build canal boats. That means any UK builder who wants to stay in business needs to be efficient and cost consious.

    In contrast buildng a UK style canal boat will be a new experience for a US yard. Most US yards who build custom steel boats will typically build larger, more complex boats. That means a US yard will very likely be more expensive than a UK builder.

    The duty on motorboats imported into the US is 1.5%. https://www.usitc.gov/publications/docs/tata/hts/bychapter/1001c89.pdf
     
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  5. Kate Miller
    Joined: Apr 2022
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    Location: Chicago

    Kate Miller Junior Member

    Hi, Brian -
    I am pursuing the same interest…a design currently in early concept stage but with a steel hull form basically matching the red/black/grey barge in your photos. I, too, would like to find a builder Stateside but am aware that import option may end up being most beneficial all round.
    Understanding this thread is more than a year old, I’m hoping you’ve located your source. If you’d be willing to share your experience, it would be appreciated.
    In the meantime, I will check out these options others posted.
    Thank you!
     
  6. gonzo
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    gonzo Senior Member

    The first question is : why steel? Aluminum can be competitive and has little corrosion issues in fresh water. Also, there are many more aluminum builders of small boats in the USA than in steel.
     
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  7. fallguy
    Joined: Dec 2016
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    fallguy Senior Member

    I'm curious as to why noone asks about the SOR.

    A stateside boat has really not too many canals, per se. The typical 'sailing' conditions are different.

    A canal, for example, experiences very little seastate variation.

    A canal, for example, is very narrow, which forces a very narrow boat. The question here is for wide canal boats, but that requires more power for heavier current..

    A narrow boat tends to roll greatly in heavier seastates that we experience here.

    While I have not boated the St Lawrence, I imagine it is a heavy current. A heavy canal boat in heavy current does not sound wise. A deep draft in a high current river, I also question, although a seaway certainly has enough depth, so long as the boat has enough power for the currents.

    So, I think this idea is a bit like growing oranges in Alaska. It can be done, but the efforts and end result may not be all that desirable. And, so, we don't see much of it here.
     
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2022
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  8. fallguy
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    fallguy Senior Member

    I could not agree more. I think people don't realize the sor needs and get lost in the romantic notion of canal cruising. Can't fault them for it, but it can lead to undesirable results.
     
  9. bajansailor
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    bajansailor Marine Surveyor

    @Kate Miller welcome to the Forum.
    Where will you be using your barge?
    Gonzo and Fallguy make very valid comments above re using aluminium rather than steel - and in view of how there are so many more aluminium boat builders in the USA when compared to steel boat builders), then the price of an ally boat built in the USA is very likely to be competitive with a steel boat, and especially so with a steel boat imported from somewhere like the UK.
    And the maintenance costs re painting on ally boats are usually much less than on a steel vessel - the cost of the initial paint job on a steel vessel, both inside and outside, can be considerable. If you use marine grade aluminium, you do not need to paint the hull above the waterline, you could just let it assume a uniform dull grey colour. Which again reduces the amount of maintenance time re touching up paint from dings and such.
     
  10. gonzo
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    gonzo Senior Member

    There are a fair amount of canals in the USA. I think we can add the Intracoastal waterway to them, since it is comprised of relatively narrow and sheltered waters.
     
  11. Kate Miller
    Joined: Apr 2022
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    Kate Miller Junior Member

    @gonzo @fallguy @bajansailor appreciate the insights…
    I’d originally decided I would prefer aluminum hull for all the reasons you cite but pushed off that idea due to considerably higher material prices viewed at the time. This may not be the case in current market.
    The short answer on SOR - very aware of the need to refine scope as well as stave off romantic notions. My desire is to build a boat capable of cruising canals and rivers in the NE - Erie and Hudson (aware of shallow draft) - and including the St Lawrence, as well as function well as a liveaboard.
    Your post re: Peter Nicholls design, specifically his FCN steel seagoing barge’s hull design is identical in concept to where I’d like to go in terms of hull shape. While I don’t currently plan to navigate intracoastal waterways, the boat’s responsiveness under the kinds of conditions found in those waters is the goal. Currently in early stage of design brief and development of SOR. The goal is to balance scale of build, “seaworthiness” and cost of build prior to full on design development. I would like to be in $250K range, as well. Currently, inflation is not my friend but expect this is will be several years in the making.
     
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  12. Kate Miller
    Joined: Apr 2022
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    Location: Chicago

    Kate Miller Junior Member

    While I don’t currently see myself heading down the entire length of the IW, having the capability to navigate to the Delaware and Chesapeake Bays is on the list.
     
  13. comfisherman
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    comfisherman Senior Member

    Hull form isn't exactly rocket surgery.... guessing any outfit could slap together a pointy barge. If you spend the money on having someone draw up the basic plans this is a project that a welding shop with a wide enough door could handle. I'd be shopping outfits that have a bay big enough to handle a connex, and have a lines plan and materials list. Any quality shop should be able to make one.
     
  14. fallguy
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    fallguy Senior Member

    What does a wide beam canal style boat offer that a diesel trawler does not?
     

  15. gonzo
    Joined: Aug 2002
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    gonzo Senior Member

    Interior space, shallow draft and vertical sides.
     
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