Widebeam narrowboat long distance cruiser

Discussion in 'Boat Design' started by Greenseas2, Jul 1, 2007.

  1. Greenseas2
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    Greenseas2 Senior Member

    While Dutch style barges have been discussed at length as potential homes on the water with long distance inland crusing capabilities, another similar and aesthetically pleasing vessel is also a strong consideration for the DIY builder, the widebeam narrowboat. Unlike the canals of the UK and other parts of Europe, one of the greatest deterents being able to build and use British narrowboats on US inland waters is the need to cross wide, and sometimes turbulent inlets, and most of all, the wakes caused by other boaters. The widebeam narrowboat while having somewhat less freeboard than a Dutch style barge has a wide enough beam to comfortably navigate most US inland waters. Too, the boats being flat bottom with plumb bow, plumb sided are significantly easier and less expensive to build than the larger Dutch style barges. Interior space for accommodations on a widebeam is much greater than a motor yacht of the same length and less power is required to cruise these shallow draft vessels. Due to these qualities, it may well be assumed that there is a good market in the US for such a vessel as well as building plans, especially among the baby boomers that have the time to build a widebeam at moderate to low cost in sevral mediums such as steel, fiberglass, strip plank/epoxy, plywood/epoxy or PVC sheets. The widebeam narrowboats can be built bt relatively unskilled people with few tools.
     
  2. Pierre R
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    Pierre R Senior Member

    How are we going to define cheap? To a certain degree we have kicked around the idea of the narrow boat's design in the other thread but have not yet approached how to build. I think you could put together a minimal comfortable boat of 45' to 48' for around $125k.

    Here is the problem that most people who construct a boat have. I call it the "I don't like that and would prefer that" complex. As in, I don't like the square corners on the windows, I want round corners. Round corners adds significanly to time and money but is typical of something easily overlooked by home builders and people having a boat custom built.

    Most people run way over on build time and budget. Most builders start with an incomplete plan and quickly do not stick to it.

    I think your narrowboat idea is a good one but most builders are hell bent on screwing up the best of plans.

    Question; Could a plan be put together that has a straight path to completion that requires a lot of stupid thought to screw up. In other words, not just a narrow boat plan but a package plan of design and build that fairly unskilled people can look at and think they have a chance of completion.
     
  3. Pericles
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    Pericles Senior Member

    Square windows are ok.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Narrowboat

    For a long time I have thought that an epoxy/BS 1088 ply narrowboat a viable concept, especially as the scantlings can be increased by cold moulding additional layers on the hull in strategic locations. A box section hollow bottom is created first for stiffness and the sides are built up from there. Graft on stern and bow of your choice and away you go. For a 11' wide body version, I'd look at giving the craft some flare to the sided to increase buoyancy and seakeeping qualities crossing those inlets.

    Mark Van Abbema has already started down the path http://www.duckworksbbs.com/plans/markv/index.htm and the Lady Lotus houseboat is also a great starting place for ideas. http://www.common-sense-boats.com/lady_lotus.htm

    Because the craft should be designed to use full size sheet of BS 1088 and butt joints, with overlaps when cold moulding, the cutting is minimal. Chine protection is external and sacrificial, then construct the massive sheer clamps with laminated BS 1088 and a rope bumper.

    Or, construct an egg shaped section tube, rather like an aircraft fuselage. No side decks, window openings cut through as necessary. Ballast well and take seasickness pills. The benefit of such a narrow boat design is relevant on UK canals. It will prevent oiks jumping onto the cabin roof and creating mayhem.:D :D

    Regards,

    Pericles
     
  4. Greenseas2
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    Greenseas2 Senior Member

    Widebeam design

    In answer to both of your questions. First th original narrowboats were designed with simplicity of construction as a criteria as it was important to profitability in transporting various bulk cargoes and initial overhead costs. This was accomplished sans flare on any part of the hull and was, for all intents and purposes, a type of constant cord hull for ease of building. The widebeam is no different. As to rounded corners, this poses no problems in places such as deck house corners, etc. Round corners are simply accomplished by cutting round corner supports and over laying them with several layers of thin plywood stock to the desired thickness (laminating) then encapsulating the entire structure in epoxy. In building a plywood epoxy widebeam of 45 feet in length and 12 foot width, the first step would be to building approximately 43 wooden ribs and then assembling the necessary material for the bottom of the hull. Scarfing plywood panels together with epoxy provides a stronger joint and essentially results in being a single long sheet of plywood in the end. Also, scarf joined panels are easier to work with than butt joined when it comes to adding additional layers of ply to get the desired over all hull thickness. Even the tails of laminated round corners can be easily scarfed to straight sections. Currently in Wooden Boat magazine there is a company that sells the scarfing tool that makes the job easier and results in a professionally smooth and strong joint.

    I don't foresee the cost of a 45 foot x 12 widebeam being anywhere near $125,000 even with engine cost. Where DYI boat builder add considerable cost to a project is in buying top-of-the-line marine plywood. Basically, coating all sides and ends of a piece of plywood serves the same purpose as buying marine ply and is a heck of a lot less costly. Being a vessel without compound curves is significantly time saving, stronger and permits a vessel to be put together quickly and strongly. Even the flat bottom steel professionally built widebeam hulls in Europe go together quickly. Take a look at some of the photos offerred in ads by UK buildrs and the simplicity of design becomes readily apparent. Fitting out can cost significant bucks depending on how elegant you want the finished product to be. Building a widebeam might even benefit from the "stitch and glue" method of construction. We can try a model and find out easily enough.
     
  5. Pierre R
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    Pierre R Senior Member

    Greenseas2 would you care to show a breakdown of what you envison the costs to be given you think the figure of $125k to be excessive.
     
  6. Greenseas2
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    Greenseas2 Senior Member

    Building cost

    First it is necessary to define what materials are planned for construction. For steel, I would recommend 1/2 inch bottom with 1/4 sides and 3" x 4" angle for frames. (hull only) For ply, recommended would be 1" bottom and 1/2 inch sides with 2 x4" frames plus 1 layer of fiberglass mat and 2 layers of fiberglas cloth on the exterior with interior coating of epoxy. For strip plank, 2 layers of 1 inch epoxy saturated strip all around. The price of the building medium would have to shopped for price and Alro, the supplier of steel, adjusts their prices almost daily for cold rolled steel used in commercial barge building. In working on the design for relatively unprofessional contruction, a recommended materials list would be included. As far as engines would go, I would recommend Vetus as being probably the lowest cost engine available, but would personally go with a Yanmar. As was previously mentioned, builders are going to do their own thing regardless of what might be professionally recommended and that impacts on the cost of their finished boat. The primary design that is currently being worked on part time is for sheet plywood/epoxy or steel.
     
  7. Pierre R
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    Pierre R Senior Member

    My rough estimate was
    $40k for hull and temp building
    15k for 80hp Luger with Hundstad controllable pitch propeller
    15k for DC/AC electrical system (does not include generator)
    10k for interior building materials
    8k for electronics
    5k for tankage and related systems
    5k for hardware
    5k for paint and prep work
    5k for windows
    6k for plumbing and related systems
    2k for canvas work
    9k shopping expenses

    Total $125k
     
  8. Mark Van
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    Mark Van Junior Member

    So that's $125k plus labor, which will be at least 4,000 hours. Someone who bought a set of plans for my Mark V 39 sent the plans to a custom builder who quoted $125k to build the boat. That sounded reasonable, since I spent just over $20,000 on materials and gear, and about 2,500 hours labor. I built mine 6 years ago, and now I am paying the price for going a bit too cheaply, so I would guess that you would spend at least $30,000 on materials.
     
  9. Greenseas2
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    Greenseas2 Senior Member

    Widebeam cost

    I've seen Mark's 39 in the Gulf Panhandle and it's a great boat. I'll go with the $30K estimated cost of materials and somewhat with the hours to build, but can't see the shopping expenses, canvas costs and other listed expenses as high as they are. I have an integrated nav system on my boat and bought GPS chart plotter, radar and other stuff online at way below retail. Going with a Lugger engine is also expensive as compared to other engines available. As was previously said, each builder will have their own wants and wishes that come with either a modest, or a high price tag. The goal is to design a 45 to 48 foot by 12 foot widebeam to simplicity and somewhat low cost.
     
  10. Greenseas2
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    Greenseas2 Senior Member

    Economy note

    With the shallow draft of the widebeam, it might be just as easy to power it with a 4 cycle outboard, even two outboards if someone wants twin engine liability. Diesel with nav and flanking rudders is still the prefered choice for long distance cruising.
     
  11. kengrome
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    kengrome Senior Member

    Hi Mark,

    Can you tell us a little more about how you went a "bit too cheaply" and how you would have done it differently?
     
  12. colinstone
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    colinstone Junior Member

    I would not go anywhere near a widebeam narrow boat built of plywood. I might use a barge pole to push it away from me. Some UK narrow boats had plywood tops on steel hulls and whilst the hulls are still reasonable, the tops are totally appalling and are being replaced. UK NBs/WBs are fine on flat calm water as found in UK canals - they cannot generate very big waves on such small water areas.
    And a wide beam narrow boat looks horrible and looses all the charm and aesthetics of the original narrowboats. I've yet to see one that makes me think - that is a pretty boat.
     
  13. Pierre R
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    Pierre R Senior Member

    I consider $125k to be a very low cost for a 48' cruising boat.

    4000 man hours seems like a reasonable time if you don't cheap out. My quotes are for aluminum hull and superstructure. I always have an eye on resale, maintenance and economy. If I spend $125k I am more likely to achieve these goals and have far fewer man hours involved.

    I would never dream of trying to build a 48' boat for $30k. I think you would be into maybe 7000 man hours and a boat worth $50k that has odd things due to costs and has higher than normal maintenance.

    This is just my opinion of course. I have built several boats and will likely build another.
     
  14. Pierre R
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    Pierre R Senior Member

    This is way way overkill. The hull alone would weight over 20,000 lbs.

    For any given structure, built of aluminum or steel, the stiffness goes up with the cube of the increase in thickness. What this means is that small amounts of plating thickness increase can generate huge returns in stiffness (and factors of safety). With 1/2" bottom you would not need ribs at all.

    Steel is stronger than Aluminum and I think 1/4" topsides and 3/8" bottom is plenty for any grounding.
     

  15. Pericles
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    Pericles Senior Member

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