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Old 05-11-2012, 01:00 PM   #1
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Sorry to bother, but I need help with IDing this boat

I was recently offered a 1978 Gibson Fiberglass Houseboat, free of charge with the only stipulation being that I must haul it away and it needs to be restored a bit. I know almost nothing about boats, aside from kayaking and canoeing and so I tried to do a little research online about this boat. Well, it doesn't seem to follow most typical house boat standards and I was wondering if anyone on this forum could tell from a few photos whether or not it would be capable of performing as a trawler does.

In short, do you think the boat in these pictures is comparable to a trawler? I always vaguely wanted something like a trawler but this restoration would take quite a lot of time and effort (which I'm willing to put in if I could use this boat in coastal areas as well as large rivers).

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Old 05-11-2012, 01:54 PM   #2
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No this boat was not designed for coastal use, but would be OK for rivers and much of the Intracoastal Waterway.
However the cost to restore it may not be worth spending the money on it, and it may not be in good enough condition to try to restore. You might consider hiring a boat yard manager or service manager or marine surveyor to look at the boat before you go further.
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Old 05-11-2012, 05:49 PM   #3
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Like Yachbrokerguy said, sheltered water only. From the looks of it that would be a very expensive free boat.
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Old 05-11-2012, 07:41 PM   #4
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Completely agree with the above advice. The most expensive boats are free boats.

If it checks out well and the numbers add up it could make a good inland boat.

Gibson Gibson (Power) House Boat Boats For Sale
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Old 05-11-2012, 08:09 PM   #5
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Rivers and lakes only. And I concur, that the cost might likely be prohibitive.
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Old 05-11-2012, 09:30 PM   #6
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I'm not sure I'd even want to take that thing on a river. At least not a big river like the Mississippi or others where there are towboats throwing out big wakes and stuff. I would regard that houseboat as a reservoir boat only. The fact that it lives in a tree is not very encouraging. It's probably filthy with gunk washed down inside window tracks and vents with God knows what growing in the bilge and other closed spaces.

There's a reason it's free. If you were looking for a ready-made chicken coop I'd say you might have a real good deal there. If you want a boat, I'd say keep looking.
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Old 05-12-2012, 12:05 AM   #7
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It would cost you more to dispose of her than she is worth. The problem with this boat is that by the time you completed any work you would still have nothing and you could have taken that money and just purchased a nice trawler to do what you want.
Even if the boat was of the design to do what you wanted and could be repaired. Are you interested in boating enough to take on the monthly expense of owning a boat. The purchase price is only the start. I make this comment based on what I believe I read between the lines of your post. If I miss read this, then sorry.
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Old 05-12-2012, 12:30 AM   #8
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I know a few fellows that have lots of time on their hands would love a project like this, but these guys would do it for the challenge not so much for the use afterwards. Personally I would be nervous ( nope not nervous - just wouldn't ) placing it in the ocean and like the rest here said, would think it to be more bother than it's worth. I know it sounds like a good deal but unless you are willing to place the same amount in this as a good trawler you would be better off going the latter. At least you would get the use out of the purchase of the trawler more than this craft.

Good luck with your decision!

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Old 05-12-2012, 12:45 AM   #9
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Years ago when I boated on the Mississippi I had many friends with Gibsons. Gibson owned the Marina where we kept out boat. There are many well cared for Gibsons still moving on the rivers, many for sale too that would in the long run be a lot less money than trying to redo the vessel you pictured. You are in prime country to look for a great buy in good shape, Kentucky Lakes and the Ohio River. Just above St Louis there are many still floating around and many more parked in the trees waiting for the next flood to take them away.
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Old 05-12-2012, 01:59 AM   #10
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Thanks so much for all the replies, they have been immensely helpful. I made add however, that all my life I have been very against borrowing money and taking out loans, so without a "project boat" I may never end up owning one. I am completely fine spending the amount money on this boat that I may spend to buy a new one just to never have payments hanging over my head and to work at my own pace. I also have a lot of free time from my job so time isn't too much of a problem either. Is this still a bad idea?

Again, thanks for all the advice and opinions. They have been received and will all be pondered thoroughly.

Edit: As a side note, I live a stone's throw from the Ohio River so that's where I would mainly stay.
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Old 05-12-2012, 03:15 AM   #11
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Is this still a bad idea?
It all depends on what you want to do with the boat. I believe you said in your original post you were wanting a boat to do what a "trawler" does. Well, a houseboat isn't a cruiser and never will be. So you really have to decide and define what you want your boat to be. If you want a houseboat then this is one, albeit what appears to be a junker.

But if you want a true cruiser that will do what the boats most of us on this forum have, the Gibson won't be what you want.

If you definitely want a houseboat, whether or not this one is a bad idea is pretty much up to you. If you have the skills or are willing and able to learn them to bring that tree-dweller up to snuff, then it could be a fun albeit sometimes frustrating project. I have no idea what you'd be looking at in terms of cost-- it depends on how messed up the boat is and just how much restoration you want to do.

So lots of variables but they're all in your court.
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Old 05-12-2012, 06:15 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by snaresamn View Post
I was recently offered a 1978 Gibson Fiberglass Houseboat, free of charge with the only stipulation being that I must haul it away and it needs to be restored a bit. I know almost nothing about boats, aside from kayaking and canoeing and so I tried to do a little research online about this boat. Well, it doesn't seem to follow most typical house boat standards and I was wondering if anyone on this forum could tell from a few photos whether or not it would be capable of performing as a trawler does.

In short, do you think the boat in these pictures is comparable to a trawler? I always vaguely wanted something like a trawler but this restoration would take quite a lot of time and effort (which I'm willing to put in if I could use this boat in coastal areas as well as large rivers).

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2 answers..

1. House boats are for protected waters, but when open waters are flat...what's the difference? So the answer to coastal and river cruising is ...yes...the boat can handle rivers and coastal cruising on the East coast where you have the intracoastal waterway. Two issues for you though...because of their low freeboard forward...you have to make darn sure your hull/deck ate watertight if you do encounter some big wakes/rough waters and to avoid lots of bad weather...you need to be very mindful of forecasting ahead. (which is where houseboaters do get into trouble on open waters).

2. Houseboats are often constucted more like huses on a hull than true boats...including materials. That makes them a bit more flimsy and they suffer from neglect terribly. There's often a lot of exposed wood in their construction and the slightest amount of openings to the weather invite rot... The boat in the picture could be fine...or have lot's of rot...you need to look and look hard.

I understand the project boat mentality. I'm doing one myself too because of my financial situation....so I understand the "get in" and get going mentality than waiting till I could afford something "off the shelf"... the difference is that I have LOTs of boating/repair experience and knew what I was getting into and how to fix every problem that could bite me later.

So good luck...just don't jump on something because it's free or the first "good deal" that came along...in the boating world...there's plenty of those.
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Old 05-12-2012, 07:53 AM   #13
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We had to put our old farm cat down last year after many years of excellent demousing service. Not wanting to be without a good farm cat I looked around for a free one.
I found one that was about 9 months old and bit feral. To get him adjusted to his new home, the plan was to lock him in the garage with food and water for a few days. His plan was to crawl up under my truck and hide on the spare tire. Wanting to leave in the truck the first morning, I reached up inside to 'drag' him out. He bit me....I mean really bit me and the infection set in immediately. The doctor and meds cost me about $600.
I now have a $600 free cat.
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Old 05-12-2012, 08:35 AM   #14
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We had to put our old farm cat down last year after many years of excellent demousing service. Not wanting to be without a good farm cat I looked around for a free one.
I found one that was about 9 months old and bit feral. To get him adjusted to his new home, the plan was to lock him in the garage with food and water for a few days. His plan was to crawl up under my truck and hide on the spare tire. Wanting to leave in the truck the first morning, I reached up inside to 'drag' him out. He bit me....I mean really bit me and the infection set in immediately. The doctor and meds cost me about $600.
I now have a $600 free cat.
Exactly!

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Old 05-12-2012, 09:39 AM   #15
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I read many but not all posts on this thread... so... what I say may have already been stated.

THIS JUNK BOAT WILL COST YOU $$$$$$$ AND TIME AND HEADACHES AND POSSIBLY YOUR LIFE!

For yours and others safety find a craft in at least reasonable condition to begin with. Besides NOT being seaworthy at all for any kind of sea conditions and NOT BEING the seafaring design quality of a trawler type boat... this wasted tub clearly looks as though it is only worth cutting up and discarding. Thus the "FREE" tag current owner places upon it - so that someone else spends the time and $$$$ to junk that eye sore, not him!

Ask him if he will pay you $5K to take it off his hands... you might be surprised... naw, don't even do that... it would still be just a huge headache in the making for you!

Call all the boat yards in your area and ask for abandoned boats they may have. Let them know you may be able to take one off their hands. You might get lucky with a free or near free viable/seaworthy craft that is actually worth something. Too many boatyards now own legal rights to abandoned boats in this economy and some yards will be real accommodating to a person who wants to take one over, pay slip fees, and do refurbishment for their own boating pleasure/use...

BTW - If you find a viable boat - post picts here and ask opinions. I'm sure you will get plenty of independent, valuable answers! Cause, boating is a fun and pretty serious community where we all try to put our best foot forward for assistance to answer other boaters' needs. We each require some sort of help, one way or the other!
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Old 05-12-2012, 05:54 PM   #16
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Must be nice to be so sure of yourself that over a computer you know whether a boat is worth being fixed up......

He doesn't want SEAWORTHY...he just wants a coastal cruiser...

If guys can do the great circle in a kayak, jet ski, pontoon boat...who the HECK are any of you to say what is seaworthy or not??????
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Old 05-12-2012, 06:25 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by snaresamn View Post
Thanks so much for all the replies, they have been immensely helpful. I made add however, that all my life I have been very against borrowing money and taking out loans, so without a "project boat" I may never end up owning one. I am completely fine spending the amount money on this boat that I may spend to buy a new one just to never have payments hanging over my head and to work at my own pace. I also have a lot of free time from my job so time isn't too much of a problem either. Is this still a bad idea?

Again, thanks for all the advice and opinions. They have been received and will all be pondered thoroughly.

Edit: As a side note, I live a stone's throw from the Ohio River so that's where I would mainly stay.
I share the aversion to debt. Financing depreciating assets may not be the worst idea in the world, but it is definitely among the top ten.

Find the cost for replacing the engine and stern drive with new. Add the cost of new stove, fridge, and head. If those numbers are attainable and acceptable double them for a oops factor. If you haven't ran away and you still find it worthwhile maybe it would work out?

I like to plan worst case scenarios. I like to be pleasantly surprised when it comes to spending money.
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Old 05-12-2012, 10:34 PM   #18
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I too understand your commitment to be debt free. Have many friends that refuse to get into debt with the exception of their homes and even then have planned for an early retirement of that debt. A decision in life that is very difficult to stick to but has its own rewards.

Based on the short comments that you have made about the intended use of a boat, I would venture a guess that this boat will not meet your needs. These boats as has been stated many times are designed for protected waters. Some house boats allow limited coastal passage but this is not one of them.

I would recommend that you decide how you wish to use a boat. As you have decided on a more difficult way to acquire one, sweat labor, then you must choose your first boat wisely. If I may suggest, think carefully on how you would like or envision yourself using the boat. Then pick a style of boat that fits it. Based on your writings, a trawler is a contender for your future. There are many available that would enable you to pick them up and work towards a fine boat. However, don't be so quick to take a price. You need good bones to work with. You will have plenty to spend your labor and money on. Structural or hull work can get expensive and difficult very quickly. Just life building a house, you need a good foundation on which to build your dream boat.

Good luck and keep looking, we have several people on our dock that have found such a boat at the right price and are enjoying the task of bringing them back to reliable status. You will too.
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Old 05-13-2012, 06:05 AM   #19
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For those of you that keep hammering about "not suitable for coastal cruising"...

I found this on another site ....

I cruised the inland waters for 23 years in my Gibson 50' houseboat. It had
a 7.5 KWH Kohler generator that used one gallon per hour.


So there's at least another person out there that thinks it can be done...
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Old 05-13-2012, 10:53 AM   #20
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For those of you that keep hammering about "not suitable for coastal cruising"...

I found this on another site ....

I cruised the inland waters for 23 years in my Gibson 50' houseboat. It had
a 7.5 KWH Kohler generator that used one gallon per hour.

So there's at least another person out there that thinks it can be done...
With all due respect to your past and current marine know-how:

Of course it CAN be done... Similar to; unicycle can be ridden on the Freeways across America, and row boat can be rowed across the ocean with enough planning. That said... for this guy who knows NOTHING about boats or marine conditions to get that clunker "houseboat" and try coastal cruising could well be his and others death sentence. Not to mention is loss of $$$$ and time invested when he finds it will probably be a big loss compared to any chance of a future sale price.

See #15 posted on this thread... I tried to give this fellow what I feel is a better way for him to go for locating a boat to suite his needs. Will admit I was a bit harsh re the houseboat... but straight on truthful in my opinion! Cheers!! - Art
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