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Floating Dock/Pontoon/Cabin Hybrid. Please Help!? Answered

So i have this idea for a vessel i would like to construct. First, imagine a 10' by 20' floating dock. It floats using steel or plastic drums arranged in a line and possibly attached to make two parallel pontoons. After the "dock" part is constructed, a 10' by 10' cube will be constructed on top, around 3/4 of the way back on the dock. The rest of the space in the front of the cabin will used for a mast and pirate-like (:)) steering assembly managing a rudder or two on the aft. Propulsion can be sorted later and may not even be necessary.

I would also like pointers on how and where to construct this and possible costs parameters. I am on a lake, Lake Cushman if you've heard of it, and have little dock space. The lake level will go down and provide an inclined beach where i can begin construction over the winter. The lake level will rise after winter, but it can be completed by then i believe.

Assume i have the cabin idea figured out, all i need advice on is the above stated. Thanks! Any advice is much appreciated!



Best Answer 8 years ago

Here's something to get you started.  Just think bigger and more barrels.

I it were me, I'd use angle iron for the frame, plastic barrels and fill half of them with packing peanuts or spray in foam.  That way if over time they leaked you would still have quite a bit of bouncy.

Check with the lake authorities, you may need a permit if this is going to be a floating dock.  And probably just a boat permit if it's going to be a raft/pontoon boat.

Great suggestion. But why fill only half the barrels with floaty stuff? Not criticizing, just wondering.

The barrels need to be floated to at least 50% of their diameter (50% buoyancy) for it to be economical to float the boat. Foam flotation is insurance against local "citizens", who may be jealous of your independence , trying to sink your venture into some irretrievable backwash. They usually are not known as frequent voters, so "citizen" is used advisedly. They are more usefully described as "occupants" of your local community. The tag "taxpayer" is probably not a trump-card here. The bottom line from me is "Be Prepared!". BSA was right.

What are you talking about? I'm in Washington, not a Redneck infested wasteland! Thanks for the...tip though. Although the vessel will have "defenses"...

I was thinking of cost. It's just a safety measure in case one or two leaked. There would be nothing wrong with filling them all if you could afford it.

Oh, that makes sense. Especially if you're using expanding foam instead of peanuts or other scrap styro. I was thinking that there was maybe some kind of engineering-related "over-buoyancy" issue that I was missing.

I've been thinking along the same lines for years. I would fill all of the outer barrels with foam because the lunatic fringe loves to poke holes in your dreams. The inner barrels are still functional, but you can always give them a foam-boost. There's a great book called "Handmade Houseboats" that everyone should read. If you think about updating the 12V systems to LED lighting, solar-electric and propane, well then, life on the water could be real good. And cheap. Don't forget small wind and water-power (in tidal areas) for grid-free energy. Driftwood powered wood stoves are nice winter-time treats when it's cold and you want to curl up with a good book (or write one).

Thanks! Yeah i saw the floating dock already, thats where i got the idea for using barrels in the first place. Foam filling would be a worthy investment if i can fit it into my budget. And any craft above 10-15' on my lake requires some kind of license...


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