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Old 07-14-2016, 10:29 PM   #1
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Terminal Trawler?

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Can't be sure if there's a place for us here but we bought a 16-1/2' modified trihull ('70 Glastron) on a very nice Shoreline trailer for $150. For another $75, the boat is now registered for one year with a five-year tag on the trailer. With our Minnkota 30 clamped on, we're boating . . . kinda'. It's feeling like a shortcut to what is being called a "terminal trawler" = accommodations for older folks who are no longer in any hurry to get anywhere.
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As a retired carpenter, I've built an 8' x 15' deck and grafted it onto the top of this hull after removing the windshield and anything else which might get in the way. At this point we have identical fore/aft decks which measure 4'x8' *and* side decks which are 12" wide. This leaves what I've been calling a cabin "curb" -- an opening which is 6' wide and 7' long. The big plan is to build a cabin which is 2' above the deck with a flying wing to support two older PV panels (96 watt total) we have in storage. The cabin roof will be strong enough to permit lounging on the roof while leaning back against the wing support. (One can also sit on the front deck and lean back against the angled front cabin wall.)
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I built a new floor down inside for our full-size mattress and the open bow will get a porta-potti (strapped down per the arrangement in my prior 19' McGregor power/sailer). So far, reviews from those who have seen it have been quite positive but it's definitely a wee bit outside the dominant paradigm. Any ideas, constructive comments, or things we might should consider are welcome. The whole idea is for our 'overnighter' to remain trailerable -- useable on the trailer OR on the water -- and cheap enough that insurance will be a laughable option. I'm sure there are marinas who won't let us IN but it's a certainty we wouldn't want to be there anyway.
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Old 07-14-2016, 10:34 PM   #2
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Welcome to the forum? We have a simple rule around here: No pictures, it didn't happen, it doesn't exist. Post some pics; this one I got to see.

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Old 07-14-2016, 11:33 PM   #3
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Sounds interesting and it's got you on the water!
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Old 07-14-2016, 11:47 PM   #4
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Welcome to the forum? We have a simple rule around here: No pictures, it didn't happen, it doesn't exist. Post some pics; this one I got to see.

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Old 07-15-2016, 06:19 AM   #5
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Greetings,
Welcome aboard. Good for you. Go for it!
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Old 07-15-2016, 06:25 AM   #6
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Welcome! Better put it in the lake once in a while to check stability as you build onto it it sounds like it might get top heavy. We do see similar around here on the inland waters usually used as duck hunting or fishing camps sometimes pontoons added for stability. Enjoy it.
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Old 07-15-2016, 07:22 AM   #7
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I remember a nice article from a now long gone magazine called The Small Boat Journal back in the 80s.

It was to me the best small vessel (say under 30 feet) magazine ever published...think it morphed into Boating mag.

The article was about an older couple (want to say late 60s or 70s) that transformed an early 21 or 24 Carolina Skiff ( or equivalent) into a fully covered camper at night and open boat with bimini by day. Every nook was dually functioning and looked like a really nice mobile base camp setup.

I believe their goal was the loop...but may have just been extended cruising.

As long as you are comfortable in most ways...the boat doesn't matter all that much. Good luck!
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Old 07-15-2016, 10:49 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by O C Diver View Post
Welcome to the forum? We have a simple rule around here: No pictures, it didn't happen, it doesn't exist. Post some pics; this one I got to see.

Ted
==========
Can anyone walk me through how to post pics again -- afraid I've slipped down the learning curve.
In the meantime, there are several pics of the boat here on our travel blog:
Building Our Dream Boat | Sailing On Dry Land
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Old 07-15-2016, 11:09 AM   #9
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Welcome! Better put it in the lake once in a while to check stability as you build onto it it sounds like it might get top heavy. We do see similar around here on the inland waters usually used as duck hunting or fishing camps sometimes pontoons added for stability. Enjoy it.
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After we got the deck framed up and the two 4'x8' 1/2" BCX plywood decks screwed down, we did a "test float" and she sits fairly level in the water (maybe a little higher in the front) -- measures 20" from the bottom of the deck frame to the water. We got stopped by the water cops for a safety inspection and they never said a word about our "upgrade".
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The stock boat weighs less than 800 pounds but it's rated to hold six adults averaging 150 pounds. Our cabin framing will be 2x2s with 1/4" ply on the walls; 1/2" ply for the roof -- hope we're keeping it all relatively lightweight. It is a 'modified' tri-hull so that keeps it less tippy side to side. We took a bunch of people for a short ride one day after the test float and the boat seemed even more stable on the water with the added weight. And, of course, our speed is *very* limited at this point with 1/3 of one horsepower -- couldn't make a wake if we wanted to. The original hull is 6' wide so we've only added one foot on each side. I *really* need to get a swim ladder -- dove in one day and had a heckuva time getting back on the boat! Some folks slowed down and drove up close. I thought they were checking to see if I needed help but my GLW assures me they were just checking out the boat. The cabin is pretty well centered fore/aft with a slight bit more weight aft but I'm thinking a little high in the front at rest is okay.
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You can see a rough profile drawing of the big plan here:
Building Our Dream Boat | Sailing On Dry Land
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Old 07-15-2016, 11:20 AM   #10
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Old 07-15-2016, 12:08 PM   #11
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Don't mean to be negative, but this project has all the trappings of an unsafe boat. Overloaded with lumber, top heavy, under-powered, unstable and dangerous. Personally, I'd hesitate to float it in a mill pond for fear of sinking. No doubt, trailering it will be an adventure, too. I sure wouldn't want to cruise or sleep on a vessel like this.

Terminal may be an accurate name as it might be the last boat you'll ever own, but I'm not sure where "trawler' fits. I would strongly caution against this.
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Old 07-15-2016, 12:27 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by psneeld View Post
I remember a nice article from a now long gone magazine called The Small Boat Journal back in the 80s.

The article was about an older couple (want to say late 60s or 70s) that transformed an early 21 or 24 Carolina Skiff ( or equivalent) into a fully covered camper at night and open boat with bimini by day. Every nook was dually functioning and looked like a really nice mobile base camp setup.

I believe their goal was the loop...but may have just been extended cruising.

As long as you are comfortable in most ways...the boat doesn't matter all that much. Good luck!
==========
Thanks! I learned about "Terminal Trawlers" from DuckWorks Magazine (online):
Duckworks - Making a Terminal Trawler
Some keep a sail or two for when the sailing is easy -- or to supplement a small outboard to save fuel or go faster -- some remove ALL the sail rigging and rely only on a small outboard -- usually in the 10 to 25 HP range. But without a mast, these de-masted sailboat hulls tend to self-right far too quickly and uncomfortably. Some owners reduce ballast to compensate . . . I thought, "Why not begin with a boat which has no rigging or ballast?" but if we had found a comparable deal on a sailboat, we would have gone that route too.
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It's really quite amazing how many "dead" fiberglass boats there are in marinas these days -- hard to believe that folks are paying hundreds of dollars a month for nothing? When you see 2' of crud hanging down off a hull, you know that boat hasn't been out in a good long while. Many of 'em must feel stuck because they don't have a trailer or maybe they'd drag it home, cut it up with a sawzall and feed a bit of it each week into their trash can. Perhaps they're paying rent on a dream (as I did with a houseboat for many years) that -- most likely -- will never come true (no law against it). Some folks have found old de-masted sailboats in dry dock for FREE -- a great foundation for a Terminal Trawler. One couple I know have a 34' catamaran which they've sailed for years. Now they're older and tend to just put around the harbor with their small outboard, but it keeps 'em on the water and surely at least half the fun is just being out there -- even if your boat is little more than a floating dock.
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Old 07-15-2016, 12:33 PM   #13
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After reading your blog a bit the "terminal trawler" concept is appealing in many ways, especially for inland river and lake boating but your particular project seems a bit overly ambitious. Below are a couple of photos we are drawing inspiration from.

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There's a few photos in the interesting boat thread of a jon boat converted with a lowish profile cabin that demonstrate the concept well. Cannot find it now but another member has started a thread for converting an 18ish foot sailboat too. Good luck with your project.
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Old 07-15-2016, 12:44 PM   #14
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An old pontoon frame seems a much better option to build upon. I see where you're going, but I would be very concerned about stability. Even in a calm lake, a large wake could cause you to capsize.
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Old 07-15-2016, 01:10 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FlyWright View Post


Don't mean to be negative, but this project has all the trappings of an unsafe boat. Overloaded with lumber, top heavy, under-powered, unstable and dangerous. Personally, I'd hesitate to float it in a mill pond for fear of sinking. No doubt, trailering it will be an adventure, too. I sure wouldn't want to cruise or sleep on a vessel like this.

Terminal may be an accurate name as it might be the last boat you'll ever own, but I'm not sure where "trawler' fits. I would strongly caution against this.
==========
We have considered that *IF* it proves to be "top heavy" we have the ability to flood the foam under the original flat floor. Before we plugged the lower two outboard mounting holes, we were amazed to see how much water we could take on -- water which disappeared into the foam under the floor only to be seen again when we pulled the plug with her on the trailer. One day a big boat idling nearby made a monster wake and I nosed our girl into it. I thought the front deck would take some water but she popped up just in time and the front deck stayed dry. Yet, clearly, a project like this is only intended for protected water though we do plan to float her down the Colorado river north of Lake Havasu City, AZ (a 60 mile run) where we camped many nights along the river last winter.
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We take your comments seriously though and will keep our life vests handy. IIRC, the hull is rated to haul 1,200 pounds -- all in = outboard motor, occupants, gear, batteries, fuel, etc. I'm quite sure we'll be well under that limit. The original hull weighs less than 800 pounds and the trailer is rated to haul 2,000 pounds. I think we're gonna' be okay but I guess time will tell? We have trailered it quite a bit already -- no issues so far -- easy breezy compared to towing the 33' fifth wheel which is our fulltime residence with our 2000 F350 and its mighty 7.3 diesel engine. When I consider "top heavy" I think about those massive cruise ships -- all those floors above the drink and relatively little below the water line . . . how do they get away with that? When they're not "showboating" too close to the shore that is. We do hope to upgrade the power -- something small we can use the existing (?rack and pinion?) single steering cable on -- maybe 25 HP? (And we've kept the built-in fuel tank.) That way, if it's rough, at least we -- and our weight -- can be low and below the deck.
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Old 07-15-2016, 01:18 PM   #16
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Cruise ships "get away with it" because they're typically designed by an experienced team of naval architects and engineers. As well as inspected by a class society of some sort.

Lacking that a willingness to change course in the process of the build is a good thing. My wife found this picture on Pinterest that I believe to be a Glasspar or Glastron.

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Old 07-15-2016, 01:36 PM   #17
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Cruise ships "get away with it" because they're typically designed by an experienced team of naval architects and engineers. As well as inspected by a class society of some sort.

Lacking that a willingness to change course in the process of the build is a good thing. My wife found this picture on Pinterest that I believe to be a Glasspar or Glastron.

Attachment 54234
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That's interesting -- I found that image too and it's the *only* one I've ever found online that is anything close to what we're doing. As it turns out, it looks like they're using the same '70 vintage Glastron tri-hull that we are . . . same paint scheme . . . same color! But our cabin will only stick up above the hull about half of the one pictured -- less exposure to side wind. I also think the weight of our cabin is more centered fore/aft than the one in the picture. The hull is about 2' deep so we'll only have 4' of headroom inside -- minus the thickness of the full-size mattress on the floor -- plenty of room for sleeping and crawling around.
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Old 07-15-2016, 03:53 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CPseudonym View Post
After reading your blog a bit the "terminal trawler" concept is appealing in many ways, especially for inland river and lake boating but your particular project seems a bit overly ambitious. Below are a couple of photos we are drawing inspiration from.

There's a few photos in the interesting boat thread of a jon boat converted with a lowish profile cabin that demonstrate the concept well. Cannot find it now but another member has started a thread for converting an 18ish foot sailboat too. Good luck with your project.
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I'm familiar with that top image -- think I own all of Lloyd Kahn's books.
That last image has full-height sidewalls -- seems like that would present a lot of "sail" for side wind. I do like the flat bottom boats = able to get up in those great places were most boats fear to tread. Over at 'Shanty Boats and Living Lazy on the Water' (a facebook group), there is an 18' (guessing) ski boat that a couple from NZ converted to an enclosed mini-houseboat . . . in their words, "it used to be a ski boat called 'moovit' with 140hp. we rescued it after it sank, added the back off a ute, & fitted full headroom shower/toilet, double bed, double sink, replaced the 140 with a 15, & scrubbed the 'vit' off the name..... now we use it as a mini houseboat in our local national park, here in NZ."
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Their cabin is MUCH larger than ours -- leaving only a small foredeck and no aft deck at all. Surely they get wind and foul weather in NZ too, eh? They only have 15 HP and they steer it with a stick!
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Old 07-15-2016, 04:15 PM   #19
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An old pontoon frame seems a much better option to build upon. I see where you're going, but I would be very concerned about stability. Even in a calm lake, a large wake could cause you to capsize.
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In many ways it would be easier to build on an old pontoon frame. Not long ago, one could buy them (even on a trailer) in the $1,500 to $2,000 range but with the price increases for steel and aluminum, a used trailer alone goes for that much! And the salvage value of the aluminum itself keeps the old pontoon frames more valuable than most poor white boys like me wanna' pay.
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But even pontoon boats aren't as 'stable' as many people think. If you get hit from the side with rollers that are spaced just right, one pontoon can be on a high spot and the other pontoon will be in the valley (called "the pontoon effect") causing the craft to list twice as bad as one would expect. This is one reason why faster (and more expensive) pontoon boats have a third hull in the middle. A tri-hull really is more stable and less tippy side-to-side than a V hull . . . the difference is readily apparent in a smaller boat.
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Old 07-15-2016, 04:53 PM   #20
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An old pontoon frame seems a much better option to build upon. I see where you're going, but I would be very concerned about stability. Even in a calm lake, a large wake could cause you to capsize.
==========
Part of this approach is that if it doesn't work -- or even if it does -- I can pull eight carriage bolts and lift the whole construct (deck *and* cabin) up off the Glastron hull (easily sell that hull and trailer for more than the $150 we paid) and do something else with what I've built. I could put walls under it to morph into a small houseboat with a ladder up to the deck cum roof -- using pontoons (used or homebuilt) for flotation -- or build a 4' deep flat-bottom plywood hull and cover it with fiberglass. But these options cost quite a bit of money that I don't have to play with. Doing it the way we're doing it gets us ON the water at very low cost and purely 'pay as we go' -- no charges for interest, insurance, marina fees or storage, etc.
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I've also considered adding outriggers if they prove to be needed but I doubt they will. The cabin is no wider than the original hull and the weight of the empty side decks themselves is negligible. Using the boat thus far, it seems very stable side to side. If I sit on a side deck, my 200 pounds causes the boat to list a bit but not as much as you might think -- and I doubt that extra 12" provides much leverage. We have leisurely crossed our lake (Lucky Peak -- near Boise, ID) several times -- just letting the wind blow us along while sitting in our comfy lawn chairs (down inside the hull) and she's steady as can be. Sometimes I'll motor into the wind and let the wind blow us back to the dock -- great fun and less likely we'll get in trouble if the battery for the trolling motor gets weak.
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