19' Drift boat to be decked over...

If a sucker is born every minute, I must have been born more than once... 

I picked this boat up over the weekend.  It was rougher in person than I expected (hoped) from the pictures, but I liked the size and its history -- it was built 35 years ago to run the Grand to support a bunch of kayakers.  I can't imagine taking it down there with no compartments and about 10 scuppers (covered now by the small pieces of wood on the gunwales) cut-in at floor level to encourage self bailing.  It swamped a number of times and hit a rock that required tearing up the floor and patching, but it survived.  The guy who has owned it since his friends built it doesn't know the plan it was based on -- it's 19' long and 7' wide at the oarlocks.  I haven't measured the floor width yet.  No ribs.

The seller added framing on the bottom and spray-in foam under the floor panel, which I intend to remove to increase storage space and the ability to identify water leaks and other trouble.  There is also a motor well that I'll remove.   

I decided not to deck over the drift boat (Don Hill 16HS) I previously restored and plan to sell it to some friends who like to fish.  I ultimately decided I wanted a bigger boat for gear and people for the rivers we typically run:  Cat, Main Salmon, and hopefully a Grand trip someday. I plan to also get it out on the Moab Daily, Labyrinth and some fishing trips. 

Feel free to make comments, but telling me the faults of decking it over will fall on deaf ears.  If it doesn't work out to be everything I want, then I'll chalk it up to practice, just like the last boat.

I plan to work on the exterior first.  The sides are 3/8" plywood and are fairly rough.  It's been glassed and epoxied inside and out.  One thought was to skin it with (3mm?) marine plywood -- does anyone have thoughts/advice about doing that?  I figure it will save me from doing as much faring, and I like the idea of being able to do a natural finish.  The pictures make it look like it has a natural finish, but in person it's not very pristine.

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Comment by Jim Schnepel on May 23, 2018 at 9:36pm

We (I somehow roped a friend into helping and into using his garage) started working on this project, finally.  There's a lot more rot in the lower parts of the sides and floor than I had hoped, so the plan is to frame some bulk heads and then tip it upside down so we can cut off the lower 1/3rd of the sides and floor and replace with marine grade plywood.  I have a friend who is building a Briggs-style dory and by measuring his boat we determined that this old beast is too high to be rowed from a seated position -- we figure she was mostly rowed by standing, given the angles -- so we're going to trim her down by about 6".  

The same friend who is helping me joined me on a run of Cataract last weekend in my decked-over Don Hill 16' High Sides.  Cat was running about 17.5k and we had a blast!  I can't begin to express how much more fun it was to row the dory than a raft!

Comment by CWarmouth on February 28, 2017 at 9:19pm

Hey Jim, where are you at with this project. Any updates?

Comment by Jim Schnepel on May 7, 2016 at 5:58pm

If anyone ever tries to convince you that spray-in building foam is a good choice for the space between the bottom and floor, have them call me.  The foam came out more easily than I expected, but I ended up with about 8 large trash bags of foam chunks.  Then, I discover that water had migrated down to the bottom (probably along the wood ribs) where it caused some rot and mold.  I think most of the bottom was saved by the fiberglass and epoxy.

My trailer is too high and unstable for a work platform, so I built a trolley.

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