View Full Version : wooden pantoons.......

09-06-2000, 03:31 PM
yes thats right, I know someone has thought of it already. and I need help to find out how to build some and get them to turn out right.what I want to try and build is a 50'x20', 3 pantoon house boat. I would like to have a center larg pantoon, 2 smaller out side pantoons, with a deck, and an inboard eng.
please send some ideas my way....no matter if they are good or bad ideas, just toss'em my way.

Jamie Hascall
09-06-2000, 03:42 PM
I guess I'd start by looking at catamaran designs for basic construction styles. Then modify them to your load capacity and mobility needs.

Good Luck,


Ian McColgin
09-06-2000, 03:57 PM
You're making a trimaram with a house on it. Easier to work if the house is a bit narrower than the distance between the amas. If the edges of the house go out to the amas, then it could rock annoyingly since the ama's bouyance is less. You'll want to do a stability study to see how far a few people stepping aboard on one side deflect the boat. Clearly this is one where you make it up yourself.


09-06-2000, 04:53 PM
Try and find a copy of "Handmade Houseboats"
By Russell Conder. No 'trimarian' houseboats , but lots of do's and don'ts and good examples of how to build other styles with small amounts of cash.

When you're done let us know so we can all come over for a cold one!


09-06-2000, 06:41 PM
thanks I am thinking that I get 3mo. off a year, all in winter, so a house boat would give me a place to crash when I visit the FLA. keys. everyone on the w.b. forum will be welcome, though I will collect all the fire starting devices at the dock.
hay Eb, where is the best place to find this book? is it a construction (how to) book or a general talk about type of book?
I'll have the folks at the book store look it up and see if thay can get it. thanks

09-06-2000, 06:46 PM
ooopps I forgot to say that it's going to have a fair amount of walk way on the sides and front thinking of making 40' loa x 20' beam. this will be a little closer to the real size I am thinking of.
thanks for everyones in put.

09-07-2000, 11:36 AM
Why three? Two big ones, or even one big barge hull will be more stable. Stable is usually thought of as desirable in a house. Houses collect weight even faster than boats and lots of displacement will be a Good Thing. If you intend to build them somewhere else and truck them to the Keys, perhaps make three equal sized ones that completely fill the space alloted. They could be stacked atop each other for transport. Better yet buy a small barge in Fla. and build the house on it.
Sounds like a fun project.

09-07-2000, 12:04 PM
Well I can get three small hulls moved easier then one huge one, and the larg hull will suport the house part, the small ones will be where the walk way will be. also the smaller ones will hold spare parts and stuff. I have thought about three hulls the same size, but that might be bigger then I have had in mind, and might need more funds then I have at this time.I still have it in mind though.
I cann't find a barge, but you can bet I would love to have one to build on.
thanks for the the ideas.

09-07-2000, 01:16 PM
Several years ago I thought of an idea where the center pontoon would be 4 feet wide (Based on the size of plywood) and intergal with the house then on each side a 2 foot wide pontoon on articulating arms so that on the water they can swing wide- decks could fold out on them and latch them into position ( the deck acting as a shear pannel) the result could be a craft 24 foot long by 24 foot wide. I looked at several folding alma designs and guess they are all pattented and then a fellow also had the idea built it and showed off his house boat in the idaho falls idaho published magizine" houseboat" I don't know if he patanted the idea of three hulls on a house boat or what but he was advertising for intrested companys to contact him about putting his design into production. double planking with plywood would make the hulls extreamly strong and cros bulkheads every 8 feet or so would do so even more and provide safty aginst sinking.
Good luck Mr Leggett

[This message has been edited by jeffery (edited 09-07-2000).]

09-07-2000, 03:23 PM
I don't remember where I saw it but Jeffery's houseboat is in production, the pontoons are made to swing up into the boat so that it's legally trailerable.

I think living on the water like that would be a great idea, but I think I would pursue the barge hull versus a tri-hull. There has to be barges currently available on which you could build. Short of buying a barge, there are plans out there for building houseboats of about the size you are looking for now. IMHO I think adding a house to a tri-hull would be an unnecessary complication.

Try http://www.glen-l.com

They have two versions:
Mark Twain a pontoon Houseboat to 40' and Bon Voyage a houseboat to 45'.


[This message has been edited by redjim777 (edited 09-07-2000).]

Alan D. Hyde
09-07-2000, 03:31 PM
There is a publication called "Boats and Harbors" in which all manner of bargains could once be found.

Haven't seen it for a while, but there may well be some barges in there at reasonable prices.


09-07-2000, 04:06 PM
Yes I was looking for that boats and habors but I couldn't get a copy or an address.
I looked at the Mark Twain, but it wasn't what I was looking for. as for the tri hull the reason for the center hull is that I only have 1 four cyl. detroit desl. and I have 1 Borge & Warner gear, so I was thinking that I could put the eng., the fuel tank, and generator in the center hull. I would like to build the hulls in my yard and carry them to the final constuction site after I get them finished. and I would like it a little wider then the plans I have found on the web. the reason I want to use wood is mainly because I like wood a little better then steel, and the barges I found were way to large and thay were very rusty ( flakes as big as my hand was coming off two that I went to see) and I didn't have enough $$$$ to pay $25,000(yep thats what he said thay sold for!!)
I starting thinking a little more about 2 larger hulls with a smaller hull in the middle just wide enough for the eng.. any ideas?
I got my temperary shelter built so now I need to know what I would be the best way to go about find out what I want.
THANKS TO EVERYONE FOR ALL OF THE HELP, I now know alot more then I did 2 weeks ago, you have all been of great help. thanks

09-07-2000, 04:17 PM
I'll keep my eyes open...


09-07-2000, 06:15 PM

Dale Harvey
09-08-2000, 09:34 AM
The houseboat idea may sound neat, but you'd better take a hard look at toteing it down here to Florida. The "Powers that be" (realestate intrests) have made it very difficult on houseboaters in our state, most particularly in the Keys. It is even getting difficult for regular cruisers. Don't try to bring anything in that you can't haul right back out. The storage costs and or fines will sink you quick. Owning a lage houseboat here can be directly related to the proverbial large white elephant. You must be fully self contained (Holding tanks). You must move every two weeks. You may be restricted to designated anchorages. You can't anchor over seagrass beds. If you run aground in 99% of the Keys area, you will be severely fined by the Federal Government. Basicly, it ain't free there anymore. Big bucks and the idiots that hoard them have ruined just about everything. The only way around them is to be very small and wear camoflage.

09-08-2000, 10:49 AM
Boy, nuthin' like a dose of reality from Dale to put a pin to the balloon. I've often thought a floating cottage would be a wonderful way to get there cheap, but I suspect it's getting more difficult to do most everywhere, especially in that size range. Funny how the powers that be encourage all manner of eyesore developement that sucks up resources like a Hoover, but the little guy who desires a simple, low impact, shanty-boat, gets stompted. No money in it eh? Ishmael

P.S. Hey Redjim. How would such an idea be received down Corpus Christi or Galveston way. What are things like in your neck of the woods? And, I've heard the best sailing down that way is in the winter. What's it like?

[This message has been edited by ishmael (edited 09-08-2000).]

09-08-2000, 12:07 PM
It's getting worse, as I've just moved from Marco Island (just north of the ten thousand island chain in s.w. Florida) and you can't park anywhere for more then 48 hours before the harbor patrol knocks on your hull and tells you to move. Only sites with the "live a board" exemption are allowed, and there are rather few. In the Marco area only two in a 40 mile radius.

I'd think the same law making types are running amuck in the keys as well.

[This message has been edited by SailBoatDude (edited 09-08-2000).]

09-08-2000, 01:37 PM
Well I guess I could just keep going till I get to a safe and freindly anchorage. heck hows the Bahama's this time of the year? the best set of plans I've seen so far is a mono hull, desighn by Glen L ( I think thats the name of the site), it uses out drives but thay are like gold here. I sold a whole boat for three times it's worth that had been under water for 2 weeks, and the guy didn't even haggle....it's hard to haggle with youer self but I managed to talk my self down alittle (after all I'm not a crook) so I'm $600 happier now any way.
hay I could go to G.A...I was raised there on Blyth isl., near Brunswick.

09-08-2000, 02:02 PM
Hey! Come on down the waters fine! I am not aware of any restrictions around here and you might even find a little piece of land, on the cheap, to have a dock. As far as the sailing weather, I'm the wrong person to ask. Look for a post by "ce jones", Charlie sails around Corpus & Port O'Conner.

One thing I can say is, we don't shovel any snow in the winters! And if by some great happanstance it does fall, we take pictures.


Charlie J
09-08-2000, 10:19 PM
Port Lavaca City marina has several liveaboards - not a problem at all - dock fees are 2.00 ft /month, 25 foot minimum. Very best sailing times are from now (since the highs have cooled 18 degrees since Weds) through mid to late december. Usually you can get at least one weekend a month from then until early March. After that the spring winds start and sometimes can be fierce - If you like sailing in 30 kts, that's the time to be here.They normally go away around mid May, then the heat starts to build. By June, we can have 100 degree days, but we also normally have SE winds at 12 - 15 every day during the summer months. I sail Matagorda bay, which is fairly shallow, so can get fairly rough in stronger winds.

As a matter of fact, the boat is loaded and hooked to the truck - we intend to pull out at around 0600 in the morning and be gone til Monday evening. See Ya!!

09-09-2000, 05:55 PM
hay I just read up on Port Lavaca city. thay said that the rates are $3./ a foot, that includes electric and water. thay have a secured dock so I geuss strangers cann't go through you belongings while you are gone to get dinner. now would that be a $150 a day or month? if it's a month man that it the best deal you can get, for a fall vacation. spend 6-8 weeks in worm clear blue waters...makes you forget all those wood vs fiberglass vs steel vs aluminum arguements and weather the pwc you just ran over was a 90 mph stealth or not. so which is $3.00/foot a day or a month, or a week? please let it be amonth...