Planning to build a houseboat.

Discussion in 'Boat Design' started by birddseedd, May 2, 2016.

  1. birddseedd
    Joined: May 2016
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    Location: michigan

    birddseedd Junior Member

    so. I'm wanting to build a houseboat. Iv been speaking with a pro ship builder in Australia. He showed me a 50' one that used pontoons, aluminum frame and was capable of landing a helicopter on the top. Said the customer retired to it and lives in it up and down the coast of Australia.

    While I don't have 500 grand to buy one, I do have the skills to build one, and would like to do so. I learn best by picking peoples's brains, sota speak, and doing. So that is why i'm here.

    I would like to do a pontoon style the way he did, for the simplicity and low cost. Iv pretty much decided on doing it out of wood and using marine epoxy resin to seal it, same way they do with wooden hulls. Might do a trytoon, and was going to do square pontoons as they would give more lift, all be it maybe not as gentle of a ride.

    for propulsion I was planning on buying a used prop and hooking a fork lift motor on it. They are pretty powerful and quite fast, so i should work pretty well adn be nice and quiet, even if on the slower side. and free energy.

    navigation i have not fully worked out, I can program a computer to control hydrolics, there may be nice systems out there to buy, but probably expensive.

    Thoughts/advice?
     
  2. Skyak
    Joined: Jul 2012
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    Skyak Senior Member

    Start with what it needs to carry, the size, the weight, and where that size and weight need to be. Then tell us about where it needs to go -some sheltered lake? Sit at a dock? the ICW or great loop?

    'houseboat' tends to imply an emphasis on house and a crappy boat.
     
  3. rasorinc
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    rasorinc Senior Member

  4. birddseedd
    Joined: May 2016
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    birddseedd Junior Member

    My ultimate goal would be to go off shore of san juan island (where my wife says the orcas are). Then maybe up to Alaska along the shore.

    Carrying would just be my family, maybe a friend or two, Would need a pretty hefty battery or two. And supplies to live for a week.

    14' wide. not sure on how long. Originally i was thinking 50'. tho, 40 might do it.

    now. as far as weight. I really don't know what it would come to. Would be cheaper to make it out of wood, but heavier. I'm not sure how much it would take to make the frame out of aluminum. Obvioulsy the rest of hte cabin would just be typical building materials.
     
  5. Stumble
    Joined: Oct 2008
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    Stumble Senior Member

    If you want to use a boat then buy a good condition used boat and get to it. If you really want to build, then buy a set of plans and get to building.

    But the boat you have proposed is simply not sutable for open water, let alone operating in the pacific north west.
     
  6. birddseedd
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    birddseedd Junior Member

    The guy i mentioned said that i will need to use fiberglass as the epoxy soaked into the wood would not be strong enough to keep the joints together.
     
  7. birddseedd
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    birddseedd Junior Member

    What do I need to change?
     
  8. tspeer
    Joined: Feb 2002
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    Location: Port Gamble, Washington, USA

    tspeer Senior Member

    You don't want a houseboat. You want a motor cruiser or a cruising sailboat. A houseboat is not intended for the kind of journey you plan. The west side of San Juan Island, where I've sailed to see orcas, is exposed to the Strait of Juan de Fuca and is no place for a houseboat if the weather turns bad. Neither is the Strait of Georgia. Even the Johnstone Straight is rough when the wind is blowing north or south.

    It would be far better to purchase a used boat, either motor or sail. Either one will have accommodations for your family and an adequate galley and systems. A sailboat would be slower but more efficient, even if you don't sail at all. You can purchase the boat, do the trip, and sell the boat for not much less than you paid for it. You can't even buy the materials for a new boat for less than it would cost to buy a good second hand boat, let along the cost and time required to build.

    You really need to get some experience cruising before starting a project like this. If you are living in Australia, I recommend you charter different kinds of boats for short trips to find out what cruising is like and what you really need in way of a boat.

    I also recommend you familiarize yourself with what the Pacific Northwest and SW Alaska are like. There's no better way to do this than to take a one week cruise between Sitka and Juneau, Alaska, with The Boat Company. You will see whales and get an intimate experience of the PNW. It's gunkholing in style with a minesweeper.

    Once you have some cruising experience and have seen what the area is like, then you can prudently plan for your big adventure.
     
    1 person likes this.
  9. Stumble
    Joined: Oct 2008
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    Stumble Senior Member

    In no particular order...

    1) pontoon boats are grossly inefficient
    2) the building of any large boat will cost more than buying a good used
    3) the amount of power necessary to drive a 50' inefficient hull at a reasonable speed is going to be orders of magnitude more power than a forklift motor will provide
    4) props need to be tightly matched to the engine, transmission, and boat. You can't just grab anyone on the shelf
    5) computer controlled stearing is a disaster waiting to happen
    6) the pacific NW is one of the roughest areas in the world for a boat, no reasonable pontoon boat will survive long in the open water there
    7) you have no idea how to design the scantlings for a hull of this sort
    8) no idea how to predict weight
    9) no idea of the cost
    10) amount of material
    11) required equipment
    12) battery requirements
    13) holding tank requirements
    14) navigations requirements
    15) etc...

    You have a general SOR... Take 2-4 people in some comfort up the pacific coast to Alaska in a reasonably safe manner.

    There are hundreds of boats already designed to do that, which would be safer, faster, cheaper, and ready to go tomorrow. Building is almost never the answer to how to get a boat cheaper than the used market. There are good reasons to custom build a boat, but price is simply not one of them.
     
  10. gonzo
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    gonzo Senior Member

    Joints made with epoxy will be stronger than the wood. They won't fail at the glue line, if done properly. Also, multihulls (including pontoon boats) are more expensive and complicated to build than monohulls. On top of that they have less carrying capacity. If you are set on building, and cost is not your main concern, find plans from a reputable designer that have all the technical details included. Avoid all the free plans that consist of only a set of lines. Also, there is no "free energy". There is always a price to pay for collecting and using it. Do a cost analysis and that will give you the true cost of whatever energy source and system.
     
  11. birddseedd
    Joined: May 2016
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    birddseedd Junior Member

    I looked into buying a boat. They started around 20 grand. I can build my own for a quarter that cost.
     
  12. gonzo
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    gonzo Senior Member

    A 70HP outboard costs more than that. Add all you need on a boat, including space rental, towing to a launch facility and labor.
     
  13. Skyak
    Joined: Jul 2012
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    Skyak Senior Member

    Based on the inside passage location you should put 'houseboat' and 'pontoon' out of your vocabulary. If you were at the dock ready to depart in such a boat they would just kill you where you stand rather than let you make a mess perishing in ecologically sensitive areas. 'Trawler' or motor cruiser would be the terms. That is remote, cold, wet, beautiful country. It can be accessed safely with smart light gear see "A2K race" but it also sounds like you expect to carry unskilled passengers (still don't know how many) and provide comforts of home -that's what pushes the weight into the tens of tons and cost into six figures. Building such a boat is not a viable way to save money -buying used and fixing will be better use of your time and money. Shopping for boats will also open your eyes to the resale value of home builds and re-purposed gear -it's negative.

    Your profile says you are in MI -the great lakes tend to have old, pristine, low hour boats that would be good to compare to the cost of building. Georgian Bay is beautiful remote location to get started in. The great lakes, Erie Canal, ICW are another interesting choice for the year round weather options.

    For my last recommendation I will just say listen to the far greater experience of the other posters (I am in the superlight camp ie gear weight<crew). A couple regulars that have yet to comment -Richard Woods designs and lives on a cat (part of the year) in the PNW. PAR has many great motor cruiser designs and immense experience.
     
  14. Stumble
    Joined: Oct 2008
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    Stumble Senior Member

    So your plan is to build a 40-50' boat 18' wide for $5,000?

    Assuming the small end of that so 40'x18' = 720 square foot. So you are going to build an ocean going boat for about $7/sqft? You can't even build a dog house for that price, let alone a boat that need to be capable of being dropped off of the roof of a house without suffering any damage.

    This has just gone from honestly mistaken to down right rediculious. Why not build a concrete submarine while you are at it?
     
    Last edited: May 5, 2016

  15. rwatson
    Joined: Aug 2007
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    rwatson Senior Member

    Dont take any more advice from this guy.

    If he means that you werent going to use fibreglass cloth over the entire hull with the epoxy, then you need to have a serious think about your own design skills.
     
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