What to look for in a hull for conversion

Discussion in 'Boat Design' started by cthippo, Mar 20, 2021.

  1. cthippo
    Joined: Sep 2010
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    Location: Bellingham WA

    cthippo Senior Member

    With the major structural work on the Vonda Lynn wrapping up, I'm considering what my future boat projects might look like. I've really enjoyed the building process, and while it has been expensive, I can take it in small enough bites to make it managable.

    For my next project I think I want to stick with the strip and rebuild concept of starting from a free or cheap hull, stripping it bare, and building up from there. There are always donor gulls in the right price range floating about, but I want to solicit thoughts on what characteristics would make one hull a better prospect that another. Sailboat hulls are probably not well suited, and while a planing hull off some old Bayliner is not ideal, it's probably a better starting point. Are there specific hullforms to look for, or something like more freeboard or higher weight rating that would be particularly beneficial? Perhaps look for something that originally had a fly bridge and would better handle topside weight?

  2. bajansailor
    Joined: Oct 2007
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    Location: Barbados

    bajansailor Marine Surveyor

    It really depends on what you want the boat to do for you.
    There are a lot of cheap secondhand boats out there - maybe you should start off by making a Statement of Requirements as to what your next boat should be capable of?

    This depends on if you want to be able to go fast, by getting up on the plane, or you are happy to cruise along at a fairly sedentary pace in displacement mode.
    Do you want to go offshore, or stay in calm sheltered coastal waters?

    How much weight do you anticipate carrying 'high up' on the boat to make this a concern?
    It might be better to wait until you carry out water trials (I am hesitant to say 'sea' trials) of the Vonda Lynn to see how she behaves with a much higher centre of gravity than what she would have had before.
  3. cthippo
    Joined: Sep 2010
    Posts: 813
    Likes: 52, Points: 28, Legacy Rep: 465
    Location: Bellingham WA

    cthippo Senior Member

    The origin of this project is that I enjoy wreck hunting. I've been doing it for years out of various kayaks, and a few years ago I got a hold of my first underwater camera (UC) rig to go after submerged wrecks. Various gear upgrades have followed, and I moved from using the kayak as a platform to a 12' rowboat with various motors. This works OK, but it is extremely hard to see the screens on the UC system in daylight, and the rowboat has never been that stable. What I end up doing is either watching the sidescan and guessing where the camera is, or else someone rides around with a towel over their head watching the screen. The goal with the Vonda Lynn was to permanently mount the sonar and UC gear in a enclosed cabin vessel where we can work in comfort even in rainy weather. The 16' hull is not ideal, but it was the hull I had available at the time. Last year I assisted in the recovery of a car from the lake with a dive team out of Oregon. They have been doing a lot of cold case work nationwide recovering missing persons from water, and I hope to use the boat to also support their work.

    With that as the background, my requirements for a follow-on vessel are:

    Capacity: 4 persons for day trips, or two for overnight. 1500-2000 lbs people and gear capacity.
    Propulsion: Can be any (Outboard, I/O or inboard), with a strong preference for fuel efficiency. 8-12 knot speed is acceptable. Slow speed / precision maneuvering capability a plus. If I/O or inboard, diesel or LPG preferred.
    Accommodations: Enclosed cabin with side by side helm and systems workstation that includes space for multiple systems (nav, sonar, UC, etc.). Bed for two (may be removable or convertible), pump out head, At least 6' of open deck space aft for handling marker buoys and towfish, UC rigs, etc.

    Vessel will be stored on trailer most of the time and will be primarily used for day trips, with perhaps one overnight trip per year. Primary operating area will be Puget Sound and the San Francisco Bay, but a near coastal transit capability would be desirable.

    The closest existing boats I have seen are the Hewsecraft 28-32 footers or the SAFE Boat designs. Both of those are probably larger than I want to deal with, but they most closely meet the brief.

    Even if I could afford one of those, I would prefer to do a rebuild myself because it is about the journey as much as the destination. I enjoy building boats and I have a LOT more time that I can work on a project than I do that I can go boating.
    bajansailor likes this.
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