Project: Hand Launch
by: Chad LaChance 3/4/2012
I'm having an anxiety attack. Or perhaps it's withdrawals...or even a re-inflamation of the Shack Nasties that usually show up in late December and go away when the calendar month changes to March, but have clung to me this year. Why? Because I have no boat. Yep, sold the boat last month.
I walked around the house for a day or two right after delivering it to the new owners thinking, "no prob...only a short while until another boat arrives". That worked for a bit. Then, while gazing out at the rapidly thawing Laguna del Fishful (the bay behind my house...), I noticed my Little Green Boat sitting there, buried in snow, looking lifeless and far removed from her original glory as one of my primary fishing vessels. It was a moment of inspiration, and I sprung into action. Those that know me on a personal level know that when I spring into anything, I do it all the way, and in this case my inspiration was a small boat renovation and upgrade project to pass the time while Ranger is building the new "office". And so it began...
The boat started as a 1995 Coleman Crawdad, 11.5 feet long, 42" wide and made of some sort of plastic with aluminum stringers (which were bent by years of snow load on the upside down boat in the yard). Back in 2000, I removed the stock seats and used their support system to install a light deck front and rear. That worked great until the last couple of years when neglect set in. The transom and decks rotted and a couple of holes were worn in the hull strakes, so the boat sat in the yard some more.
Fast-forward to now and the Little Green Boat is basking in the warmth of the Mancave, soaking up all the TLC we’re giving it. When launched next time, she’ll be a fishing machine that belies her innocent looks and plastic construction.
First, Dan Swanson and I gutted her down to the bare hull and gave her a good pressure wash and inspection. Then I patched the holes and reinforced a few worn areas with JB Waterweld. Net I sanded the entire inside hull and sprayed it with six coats of truck bedliner material. This will make the hull much more durable, quieter, and more rigid. We also got a new drain plug assembly (there was no removable plug previously).
The next step is to rebuild the transom with a combination of aluminum and Pultrusion (Ranger’s bombproof transom/stringer material), and the addition of a trolling motor mount on the bow as well. I straightened the bent stringers and will re-install them when the transom work is done and will begin re-assembly the basic bones.
Next is new 7-ply light and thin plywood decks front and rear. They’ll be sealed, padded with marine pad, and then carpeted with rubber-backed, snag-proof carpet. She’ll have 27 square feet of comfy casting decks between both! The deep cycle battery will have a battery box under the back deck, and the space underneath each deck will be for storage. No seats…I can’t stand to sit and fish.
I believe that a boat ought to have as much power as possible so we got a 55# thrust Trolling motor for the stern (gas was out because I will use this boat in many places that don’t allow it). Previously, the boat was powered by a 30# thrust motor, so this will be a huge difference. That 30# motor’s tiller handle was reversed and it will be used on the bow now; it will be the primary motor when actually fishing, allowing steering from the front…critical for proper control.
Then we’ll add a Lowrance Mark 4 sonar/gps combination. It’s a relatively basic but very functional unit just perfect for small boats. It’ll have a base at the bow and stern and a through-hull transducer so we can move it easily to whichever end it’s needed. It’ll also have a tiny little battery dedicated to it to avoid any possible interference from the trolling motors.
That’s about it. We’ll add/detail a few other items, but the goal is to keep the boat simple but supremely functional, cost effective, and most of all, still capable of being loaded into the Tundra by one person…and hand launch-able. We’re about half way done…time will tell how the final results work out. Should be fast for her size and very fishable. It’ll even make an appearance or two on FTTV. So the big question is…what should we name her???
Blog content © Chad LaChance
Sleazy E, CO 3/4/2012 1:01:20 PM
Are you contemplating any form of outriggers? 42" seems to be quite narrow. That is a sweet project.
CBrown, CO 3/4/2012 1:43:18 PM
It looks kinda like a floating ice fishing sled. LOL
On a serious note, it does look like it might be a bit unstable in fowl weather.
FreshWater, CO 3/4/2012 3:05:23 PM
one question... why sell the big boat? Economy or people is not watching your shows? Not wise move thinker. should keep the big boat for big lakes. That little green boat won't handle big waves.
Name the boat after you sell your big boat? "baby ranger"
cookster, CO 3/4/2012 3:19:53 PM
Your a brave man.
Chad LaChance (Fishful Thinker), CO 3/4/2012 5:15:03 PM
Little? Yes...but it's actually very stable due to the flat bottom. I've got about a gillion hours fishing standing up on decks in this boat without incident. It is not a big water boat for sure, but that's not what I'm building it for. It'll spend lots of time on ponds, in bays, and the like. I sold the Ranger because I've got a new one being built!
BigAir, CO 3/4/2012 7:48:04 PM
I like "Green Giant" In hopes of whats to come!
KAK, CO 3/4/2012 8:44:58 PM
Have you considered adding detachable or fold up wheels to avoid having to carry to the water?
I'd consider ChadDad (rather than CrawDad) or
COJarhead, CO 3/4/2012 10:48:33 PM
Why not paint it the same color scheme as the big boat and call it the mini me?
Chad LaChance (Fishful Thinker), CO 3/5/2012 8:23:47 AM
We are trying to figure out a good removable wheel/ cart solution, but haven't yet come up with a good plan for it....any ideas? Also, we considered wrapping it to match the new Ranger but good sense and the budget won out against that.
FishDr, CO 3/5/2012 10:22:35 AM
Sounds like a neat project! I'm thinking of upgrading the sonar on the Fish Cat 8 to the Lowrance Elite 4 DSI/chartplotter as well, but we'll have to see how the CFO feels about it.
What to do with wheels? Take a look at the Davis Instrument wheel-a-weigh launching wheels from West Marine they are large enough to keep the boat rolling over rougher ground, but they are also removable, so once you're launched (or Tundra'd), you can take them off.
I have a similar-sized set of wheels I use to make the Fish Cat 8 more mobile, and the larger wheels definitely help when you need to negotiate bumpy ground.
KAK, CO 3/5/2012 8:30:57 PM
For some ideas for wheels or carts, see the Hobie carts at:
In northern Minnesota, we used to portage boats such as 14 footers with 18 hp outboards with wheels. Some would bolt into the oarlocks and be attached close to shore.
Hope you are having fun with this project!
elkinthebag, CO 3/5/2012 11:13:31 PM
Got the exact same boat use it more then the big boat. The 55 lbs thrust trolling motor kicks it along fast enough to create a little white water. I took the handle and sides off a radio flyer wagon welded the front axle so it wouldn't turn. It sits perfectly underneath and when you need to turn you just push down on the bottom of the wagon and walk. Remember a bike lock though some reason wagons like to run off who knows why.
FISHRANGLER, CO 3/6/2012 7:33:08 AM
Green with Envy- Lime Light (but Lime Life is better)
-First in Lime-Lime Time
-"Just Add Salt"
-Sea Me Now
-You've crossed the Lime
- "?" (just a big question mark)
-Limen it Up
The RED GREEN SHOW -Green Hornet- Green Eggs & Ham-
Chitty Chitty Chad Chad
FISHRANGLER, CO 3/6/2012 7:40:29 AM
I seem to remember you either doing a show from this boat or some picture of it from Bonney is it the same boat? MAn have you ever upgraded witht he Ranger suport This boat is perfect for what you are going to do with it. Have fun watch the weather reports.
BITE ME, CO 3/6/2012 7:42:09 AM
Name her the ss Resurrection
bluecollarguy, CO 3/6/2012 7:54:59 AM
I was going to mention looking at the Hobie kayak removable wheels as well, pretty simple and clean - all you would need is some vertical PVC to hold them. Pretty neat little setup you have going there Chad.