The Original Concept

This blog owes a lot to Dave Zeiger whose Triloboat design is the inspiration for this one.  In fact, this IS a Triloboat, albeit with some changes and modifications of my own.  And a doff of the hat to Dmitry Orlov who is designing his own sailing houseboat Quidnon.

Our boat, not yet named, is intended to ply the protected waters of the Georgia Straight, Fraser and Harrison Rivers, and Harrison Lake.  She would never see open ocean, but would be seaworthy enough to handle the nasty stuff we can get in this area.  She is also being designed to be comfortably  handled and lived in by my wife and I as we progress beyond our present age early in our sixth decade.

Our sailing houseboat will be 36 ft. on deck, 12 ft beam, and will draw 20 inches at designed displacement.
She will be rigged with a single mast Chinese Rig and be powered with a high thrust outboard motor in the 50 hp range in order to handle the current in the Fraser and Harrison Rivers outside of freshette.  The mast can be lowered to get under the bridges in our area with having to wait for a swing.

She will be constructed of a lamination of fir plywood stuck together with roofing tar, stapled with galvanized staples, and finally through bolted with galvanized carriage bolts to steel framing up to the gunwalls.  Ballast will be provided by a six inch highly reinforced concrete slab poured in place and encasing the steel framework,  that will provide in addition to the ballast, torsional rigidity allowing an interior with a minimum of bulkheads so that an open concept interior can be achieved.

She will be copper plated below the water line so that we may never need to haul her, and epoxy glassed over the plywood above the water line.

In addition to propane cooking and heating and on demand hot water, a wood stove will also be installed.  Led lighting and a minimum of electronics will keep electrical requirements low.  As for electronics, a music system, VHF and simple GPS/ depthsounder will be enough since we will always be close to land.  30 amp shore power will be plenty for us.

We will not need to carry much water since very clean water can be pumped directly from Harrison Lake and River with simple filtering for drinking directly, but we will have 100 gallons capacity anyway for when we are in the muddy Fraser or out in the chuck.

For Lorri's comfort a small bathtub will be built in allowing baths, sit down showers and laundry to be done.  I may make use of it myself on rare occasions.


  1. This would be cool to see built. I've considered adding a kite sail to our DIANNE'S ROSE for a free ride once in awhile but have yet to do so. I know a barge sailboat would sail fairly well. Good Luck. Best/Roy

  2. Thanks Roy.

    I'm still kicking things around and evaluating them. When I look at all the completely untried things (at least untried all in one boat!) I get pretty nervous. My default position is to build a Triloboat using Dave Zeiger's guidelines and go unballasted. While the reinforced concrete ballast providing structural rigidity is something I would like to try it would be prudent to have an engineer design it or at least do an analysis on my design. My whole reasoning was to eliminate most of the bulkheads and internal stiffening so that the boat would be open concept. That one is the biggy!

  3. sounds like a "potential" recipe for disaster actually. You plan to fasten wood to a steel frame with zinc covered steel bolts and a copper coating. What you have designed could make a hell of a battery. I don't know how well the roofing tar wood work as an adhesive/sealant. and if you were going to epoxy the sides? Why not do the bottom as well? Copper is not cheap. the cheapest way I can think of to reduce framing and achieve rigidity with plywood is to build a layered hull with "slight" curvature since the ply will take a single curve well but really resists taking a compound curve.

  4. Get a swing keel sailboat in the 30 ft range and make a shanty trawler out of it... better construction, safer, roomy, displacement hull requires less power and you can put a hobie cat mast and sail if you still want to use the wind... much cheaper and better live aboard