Workboat ideas? Pontoon/skiff

Discussion in 'Boat Design' started by Ramblingmikey, Mar 6, 2012.

  1. Ramblingmikey
    Joined: Mar 2012
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    Location: Chesapeake bay

    Ramblingmikey New Member

    So I am starting an oyster farm and need a boat I can attach a crane to. I have crane that weights about 300 lbs, that will run off of the battery. My first instinct is a Carolina skiff or similar style boat, which everyone uses, but I haven't been able to fine one that is in my price range. I have found some cheap pontoon boats between 20-24 ft. Would it be possible to attach my crane safely to the boat, or possibly build something else to hoist cages? My farming area is very close, but I would need to be able to pull about a 1,000 ibs of loaded cages on it. Any ideas, or other possible boat choices?

    Thank you!
  2. messabout
    Joined: Jan 2006
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    Location: Lakeland Fl USA

    messabout Senior Member

    Mikey; how much space does a thousand pounds of cages need. It seems to me that deck space is a priority. You could use a pontoon boat if you shortened the fore deck is such a way as to have the weight, including the crane, closer to the center of the boat. That might be problematic because you would then be pulling the cages up between the pontoons.

    Without knowing anything about oystering, I would think that a barge like boat wold be the most practical, the least expensive and the most burdensome.

    Tell us more about the details of setting and retrieving cages, about the allowable draft of the boat, the speed you need to make, the power that you intend to use, the sea conditions in which you might be working. You'll get some good council from some of the other forum members.
  3. Stumble
    Joined: Oct 2008
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    Stumble Senior Member


    Knowing nothing about oyster farming, I would think that a pontoon boat won't have the durability you would need in commercial operation. Most pontoon boats are thin walled structures, with little more than minimum structural integrity, and mounting the crane could be a big problem.

    I am also worried about your crane size. Assuming you are talking about hauling 1,000lbs of catch up at a time, the weight as it breaks the surface might be double that until it dewaters. Meaning you really need at least a 2,000lb hoisting crane.
  4. phil brady
    Joined: Mar 2012
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    Location: Louisiana

    phil brady Junior Member

    I am somewhat confused by the question. What sort of cages are you using? I am from SE La., and the majority of oyster fisherman user a lugger style vessel with a "dredge" to harvest oysters. When utilizing smaller vessels like flat boats, they use large tongs made for the purpose, but that is not routinely used in commercial harvesting.
  5. michael pierzga
    Joined: Dec 2008
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    Location: spain

    michael pierzga Senior Member

    Perhaps a catamaran would work. Expensive

    Locally they use 25 to 30 ft barges for oyster farms. The outboard motor powered barge looks like a decked over Boston whaler with a crane . The crane is mounted aft near the helmsman and the work gear is handled amidships The water they work is very protected The Chesapeake is a bit more exposed so seaworthiness, distance to farm and workability is an issue.

    Perhaps do some goggling of oyster farms or tour a few farms and speak with the fisherman to see what works best.

    An old fiberglass houseboat might form a good work platform . I see these boats for sale at 15 thousand. Cheap.

    Attached Files:

  6. waikikin
    Joined: Jan 2006
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    Location: Australia

    waikikin Senior Member On page 27 there is oyster punt profile I don't know if they have these style of boat where your from but they're pretty tough & used for water front construction, rubbish skips etc etc & in the oyster industry, some are great week end boats too. Her oyster punts have been ply & planked too.. Regards from Jeff.
  7. Ramblingmikey
    Joined: Mar 2012
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    Location: Chesapeake bay

    Ramblingmikey New Member

    Thank you for the input, sorry I didn't clarify my methods. In aquaculture based oyster farms in the bay on small scale we use 3x4 ft cages that weigh close to 250lbs when fully loaded. My water leases are only a few hundred yards for my dock and the area is a sub bay fairly protected from bad weather most of the year by a few islands. So I would only need to put maybe a 1,000lbs of cages on the deck drop them off and come back for more.
    My idea is to possible rienforce the deck with another layer of 3/4 plywood, then bolt the crane through the deck with 2x4s as close to the center as possible. The arm of the crane can extend long enough to pull cages over the side I believe. Would this cause a stability issue? I am running out of time as the growing season is closing in. I am trying to keep the budget for the build or boat under $11,000 if possible. Everyone in the area uses 21-27 foot Carolina skiffs with a similar thern/venturo crane for the most part, while a few have custom built barges that cost $10,000 w/o a motor. I have been searching for a similar boat but to no avail.
    If this seems stupid or dangerous, is there any other boat easily available in the mid Atlantic region that might be possible?

  8. Village_Idiot
    Joined: Oct 2007
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    Village_Idiot Senior Member

    Best way would be to reinforce the deck and have an opening through the deck at midships (or slightly aft) to hoist the traps through. But maybe you don't have enough clearance between the pontoons to do so?

    Redneck engineering: Get your 250lb buddy to hang of the side of the boat where you intend to put the crane and see how much the boat lists while you are working around him. Possible fix is to hang 250lbs of weight off the opposite gunwale to counter-balance the weight hoisted on the crane side.
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