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Old 01-25-2013, 01:38 PM   #1
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Trawler or Houseboat?

Our boating evolution has been:
cartop sail
trailer sail
live aboard crew on 38' ketch
live aboard crew on 41' ketch
liveaboard our own 27' sail (3 years)
35' trawler
tiny walkaround cuddy (15'11")
larger walkaround cuddy (18+')
and now a 40 year old, 28' X 8' trailerable houseboat.

From time to time I get inquiries about my houseboat.
You can read about it here:
One More Time Around

I also frequent:
Classictrailerablehouseboats : Classic Trailerable Houseboats
the folks there share house-boating adventures and keep track of what's on the market.

My past trawler - a 35' Senator Sundeck, like most here, was a coastal trawler not meant for Blue Water crossings. Looking back, the houseboat would have served us better than the trawler, being much simpler and every bit as comfortable...not to mention it is trailerable. For those of you dreaming about moving aboard a coastal trawler - a house boat could well get you there sooner and probably cheaper. People ask me, "'Trailerable houseboat? What does it draw?"

I tell them, "Mostly snickers."





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Old 01-25-2013, 03:01 PM   #2
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I have long considered a trailerable house boat as a compromise between an RV trailer camper and a trawler.

As an RV there are some compromises in access and weight that would make it tougher to tow and use on land than a real RV. As a trawler it probably has more room, is lighter but I wouldn't want to cross some of the coastal sounds and bays in one and they are almost always gas powered.

But for the right cruising grounds, I could be happy with one.

David
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Old 01-25-2013, 03:43 PM   #3
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I like Big Duck. It fills its mission admirably! It ain't gonna win best in show for looks ,but it does just what it was designed to do.....What more could you ask for in a boat?
all delusions of grandeur aside, it is probably enough boat for 90% of us.
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Old 01-25-2013, 04:44 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jeffnick View Post
People ask me, "'Trailerable houseboat? What does it draw?"

I tell them, "Mostly snickers."





That is hilarious.

I think you have seen more of the US than 98% of us on here! Your boat gets the job done, for sure!
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Old 01-25-2013, 05:07 PM   #5
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I like Big Duck. It fills its mission admirably! It ain't gonna win best in show for looks ,but it does just what it was designed to do.....What more could you ask for in a boat?
all delusions of grandeur aside, it is probably enough boat for 90% of us.
Agreed! (About the 90%, that is.)
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Old 01-25-2013, 08:30 PM   #6
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If I was cruising only US waters and not heading for the Bahamas, too far Downeast, Cuba or any of the other islands/countries (and I might not include the Bahamas cause they are doable in a houseboat)...I'd definitely go with a modified house boat or Bluewater cruiser.

Much more livable space...etc..etc... can cross open water with common sense and a good weather eye.
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Old 01-26-2013, 01:01 AM   #7
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There is a boat a little like Big Duck in a hire fleet at Brooklyn on the Hawkesbury River. When we were moored there and regularly cruising, it was seen out every time, so they obviously have attractions. And I can tell Merlin likes his.
I`ve also heard of people with trailer sailors using them to camp in on the way to places,but they would not have the Duck`s comfort level.
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Old 01-26-2013, 01:22 PM   #8
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Gas or diesel for your houseboat? They did make some Land N Sea boats with diesels. I've even seen a twin diesel model for sale. I insisted on a diesel for my factory new sailboat...because a diesel is the safe choice. Today, if there were identical boats except one with diesel and one a gasser, it would be the gasser hands down for me. Diesels may run forever but they are stinky, noisy, heavy and they vibrate, but mostly they won't tolerate the abuse and neglect I plan to inflict on my motor.

Safety? Well, besides being billed as having enough foam to be unsinkable, I believe that because of the ugly box design, the more the boat heels, the greater the righting moment. That's not saying anything about the comfort of the contents. But speaking of comfort - the tri-hull has shown a remarkable ability to be stable in the face of chop and wakes...she goes up and down but there's not much roll. We don't even bother to warn the crew of an impending wake anymore.

In the "Why Do You Boat" thread, many of you expressed pleasure in just messing. For me, Big Duck has been the ultimate in messing satisfaction. Her simple systems with relatively good accessibility make the work a pleasure. Here's an example - pulling the motor single handed.

It's a 350 Chevy available at any bone yard, or rebuilt with all new moving parts for about $2,500. It was not so accurate info from a forum that had me pull the motor to get to the leaking gas tanks. Turns out the gas tanks come out through the cabin sole.
One More Time Around: Empty Bilge

My biggest fear was the 40 year old Volvo Penta outdrive, a hodgepodge of parts from different models.

I don't have the expertise/desire to tear into one, so I sent it out for a look-see and new seals. Back then it was tough to find a shop that was willing to do the work. Now I know where to go...there's many shops out there. New/reconditioned drives are twice the price of a new motor and still not being totally comfortable about the reliability I kept an eye on eBay for a used one as a spare. I found a complete running drive for $80, and another $80 to have it shipped to my house.

Unlike many of you, my messing does not include cosmetics so it's nice that there's no external wood. The only structural wood that I can tell is stringers and transom. And unlike most transoms with wood, mine is not a sandwich - 3/4" glass outside, and 3" of plywood inside - if it gets wet, it dries out on it's own.

Now, the manufacturing techniques of this old boat are questionable. Can you imagine using zamak and pop rivets for ladders/railings? You can bet this cheap stuff won't last another 40 years.


I will admit to replacing some of the shabbier ones, and I still have a few to go...


Replacements aren't all that expensive if you get them here:
Marine Part Depot

There is a smaller brother to the Land N Sea. It's called Seacamper @ 24' instead of 28' for LNS.


but the Seacamper only sleeps 4 while Big Duck can swallow seven.

Questions?
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Old 01-27-2013, 09:02 PM   #9
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No questions? Well I guess I covered the topic well.

Next lesson – Getting near the beach.

My houseboat is on a trailer. My wife is handicapped, so I need to be able to do the launch/retrieve myself. For launching, this requires a floating dock at the ramp…back the trailer down – tie the boat to the dock, back down farther and float it off, then we all get aboard.


The nice thing about this boat is that I can ‘drive’ the boat with the front hatch/window/door open. Getting her back on the trailer is a snap. I slowly approach the guide poles on the trailer – from any direction – grab one and using the shifter and steering with the other hand while hanging on to the pole, bring the stern around to line it up with the trailer. Up we go.


We’ve already defined the fact that the houseboat is at best a fair weather coastal cruiser, and here’s where I get a little giddy.

There’s a thread here that describes Seamanship.
Cruising Skills

It describes how our seamanship skills could be determined by our ability to be able to dock – in a slip determined by the Dock Master..

Well, hey – I never do that. My fair-weather Coastal Cruiser houseboat can store 3 to 4 weeks of food or more. The only thing we go to the face dock for is fuel/water/pumpout. We ANCHOR the rest of the time. If I can’t bring her boroadside and let the wind blow me into the fuel dock, I can approach bow to – and HAND the dockline to the dockmaster, or jump off with it and tie her off myself. How is seamanship equated to maneuvering into a slip when a transient slip is never in the picture? I’m messing with you here, but you get my point...maybe we need to have a thread about how to get your dinghy tied up when you’re going ashore for supplies?

Questions?
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Old 01-27-2013, 10:50 PM   #10
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Neat boat, and obviously perfect for the way you use your vessel. I know several other country-crossing folks who love their trailer-able campers on water. One has a Motorcat MC30, another has a C-Dory, and the last guy has a Tom-Cat. They all love the kind of activities that involve the exploration of water in different areas of the country. You'll never run out of lakes, rivers and canals in this country.
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Old 04-21-2014, 10:31 AM   #11
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why did he say he would not want to cross any coastal sounds or bays in one? I have seen them in the water on their side and even sunk ..how would that happen. I liked what you said about stability but where does that end?
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Old 04-21-2014, 10:55 AM   #12
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That "Big Duck" is more capable in rough water than most houseboats. The bow is higher and the front appears fairly sturdy should a wave come over. Some houseboats have a household sliding glass door on the front of the house about 2 feet above the water. A big wave hits that and there will be trouble!!

I like the "Big Duck"!! Neat rig, very functional.
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Old 04-21-2014, 10:57 AM   #13
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why did he say he would not want to cross any coastal sounds or bays in one? I have seen them in the water on their side and even sunk ..how would that happen. I liked what you said about stability but where does that end?
I saw one of these in Bimini for decades running between north and south islands, and have seen many big yachts there on their sides and sunk, so how did that end? I'll take the shallow draft option every time.
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Old 04-21-2014, 11:07 AM   #14
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Wonder if you could make a trailerable version of this Thai style vessel

Trawler Forum - View Single Post - Redesigning the Pilgrim 40 Trawler / Canal Boat
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Old 04-21-2014, 11:16 AM   #15
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Big Duck has several things going for it over standard houseboat configuration. The door at front is small, and the window is small. The door has rubber gasket to seal it. It has to be water proof from wind driven rain at 60 mph. The side windscreen windows are curved giving incredible strength. The hull is a trihull configuration that gives the bouyancy to keep the bow high without plowing. Then it has the power available as needed. It is a well thought out design.
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Old 04-21-2014, 11:41 AM   #16
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This all boils down to where you are in life

If your working 40 hours a week and your cruising consists of week end or two week vacations a towable cruiser is a great choice. I towed a 28' Bayliner all over the western US and cruised to Glacier Bay and back from Everett Washington. It allowed me to have wonderful experiences expose my daughters to places not many get to see. That boat saw a lot of coastal cruising on the west coast of Northern California and a lot of kicking back on western lakes including several trips to lake Powell and Desolation sound. I used to say most of my cruising was at 55 on highway 5. That boat was a boat that ran hard all day and moved on the next. We covered a lot of water often several hundred miles a day. Range was it's its limiting factor. Comfort well that was limited, just kicking back and hanging out, not so great. I even towed my 21' ski boat behind it on the larger lakes and used it as a base camp for the weekend. It was great for a young family with limited time. That was then, now as a semi retired senior getting ready for the big trip, 48' and 66,000lb of luxury is pretty nice. Real hot showers with plenty of water, queen sized bed a with real mattresses, house hold appliances, real furniture, space to entertain, real working air-conditioning and heat, plenty of water and holding capacity, range real range, and did I mention privacy. It all depends on where you are in life and how much time you have to spend getting there.
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Old 04-21-2014, 02:29 PM   #17
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The Land N Sea boats used a unique construction method. They were built in two halves - port and starboard...then glassed together. They used to take only the starboard half to boat shows to show how the boat was constructed. That 'showboat half' is still in a yard in CA, along with the molds.


Another thing about these boats is that they used no wood inside (or outside) except for the stringers and transom, so unlike other vintage houseboats the interiors didn't decay over the years.

If any of you are ever in the Spartanburg area and would like to stop by for a tour of Big Duck, just let me know.
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Old 04-21-2014, 03:08 PM   #18
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The Land N Sea boats used a unique construction method. They were built in two halves - port and starboard...then glassed together. They used to take only the starboard half to boat shows to show how the boat was constructed. That 'showboat half' is still in a yard in CA, along with the molds.


Another thing about these boats is that they used no wood inside (or outside) except for the stringers and transom, so unlike other vintage houseboats the interiors didn't decay over the years.

If any of you are ever in the Spartanburg area and would like to stop by for a tour of Big Duck, just let me know.
Thanks...hope you would chime in as I didn't search for you...
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Old 04-23-2014, 09:28 AM   #19
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running Twin Volvo B 30 engines

O.K. my Big Duck wanna be is running twin volvo B30 in line 6 engines out of the 60's 3 carbs each. Why would you have two ..it seems way overpowered to me . I am not just thinking of the expected fuel burn but what kind of range can i expect.

MY BIG QUESTION IS WITH TWO ENGINES CAN I HAVE JUST ONE OF THEM RUNNING AT A TIME? AND THEN JUST HAVE ONE FOR BACK UP..THAT KIND OF SERENITY WOULD HELP WITH MY GPH PANIC ATTACKS I AM HAVING.
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Old 04-23-2014, 09:53 AM   #20
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O.K. my Big Duck wanna be is running twin volvo B30 in line 6 engines out of the 60's 3 carbs each. Why would you have two ..it seems way overpowered to me . I am not just thinking of the expected fuel burn but what kind of range can i expect.

MY BIG QUESTION IS WITH TWO ENGINES CAN I HAVE JUST ONE OF THEM RUNNING AT A TIME? AND THEN JUST HAVE ONE FOR BACK UP..THAT KIND OF SERENITY WOULD HELP WITH MY GPH PANIC ATTACKS I AM HAVING.
yes....one engine would be fine..and a good gasser mechanic could help you with carbing them for slower speeds
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