March 06, 2005
Wilson and I had an opportunity to speak with Ben Sheaffer, President of Sheaffer Boats, while attending the Tampa Tribune Outdoors Expo & Boat Show on Friday. I've posted some pictures in the photo gallery. Ben is one of the most knowledgeable custom boat builders in Florida. He is also a pioneer who helped to resurrect the fishing friendly design of boats like the original Aquasports.
Those of you in the Tampa Bay area are likely familiar with The Boat Doctor, a boat repair and refurbishing facility owned and operated by Ben. After spending many years running The Boat Doctor, repairing and refurbishing old boats (and many Aquasports), Ben realized he had gained the knowledge and expertise to build the ultimate fishing platform, the Sheaffer 239 - V. These boats are impeccably built and Ben spares no expense. They are not for those light in the wallet! However, if you want classic lines in a new boat, the Sheaffer is the way to go. Ben uses only the highest quality materials and he has literally thought out every square inch of this boat.
Ben brought up an interesting point about adding towers to older boats like the Aquasport, as well as closing in the transom. He noted that these boats, while similar in length to the boats of today, were nevertheless not built with towers in mind, nor massive 4-strokes hanging a foot or two off the transom on a bracket. When making such changes to an older boat, Ben emphasized the importance of taking into consideration the weight issues and distribution of that weight. He says he has seen or heard of several rebuilds that have gone to the bottom or overturned because of such issues. It is something to consider as Wilson and I contemplate what type of tower we want to install on our 1975 23' Mako.
Ben brought up another interesting issue regarding the flat back design. While most people (me included) believed Aquasport flattened the stern in order to reduce the draft, Ben tells us that the smaller outboards of the day simply could not get a boat with any substantial dead rise aft up onto a plane. The flattened back added much needed lift. It wasn't until the larger engines where manufactured that could produce enough horsepower to get a V-hulled boat sufficiently on plane that the flat back design was scraped.
Posted by captain at March 6, 2005 01:32 PM
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Gradual, seemingly innocuous "improvements" were made to Andrea Gail of Perfect Storm fame. These more than likely contributed to her loss. Ben is right on the mark concerning hull modifications made without crunching the numbers. A bad mod. can kill.
I equate boats & airplanes concerning safety. Before Ben's georgeous Schaeffer 239-V was put on the market it had to earn CG approval. It is placarded for max. number of souls aboard and max. HP; similar to a plane. Overload or overpower it (above a certain built-in safety margin) and all bets are off. Hang two 150's off the back of a 30 year old 222AS with a new big tower and cross your fingers. I damn near lost my niece in Long Island Sound on an old Mako with two 70's on the back. Following sea, I mean real green water, came over the stern. Motors were essentially underwater but had just enough kick left to jump out of the hole. With those motors, the mako had practically no freeboard at the transom.
I guess all this begs the question: What mods. are safe to do as we bring these old girls back into commission?
Posted by: JimCT at March 6, 2005 07:59 PM
I've also wondered about pushing the envelope in transom weight. I think the 4 strokes are too heavy for these hulls, without doing something to add floatation. I think the solution is to go with a floatation type bracket. Perhaps something that extends the bottom. Keeping the water logged foam isn't safe.
Posted by: Radioshop at March 6, 2005 09:48 PM
Tom brings up some interesting points. How do we know what is the optimum weight distribution for a 222 rebuild with a 150 - 200 hp 4S on a bracket and a tower. How far forward should a 50 - 75 gallon fuel tank be shifted to off-set the weight of the engine, for optimum performance? Should the console be shifted forward too? How far? It would be nice to get in touch with those guys who's boats turned over or sank to find out how NOT to do a rebuild.
Posted by: Seadog at March 7, 2005 07:16 AM
The feedback I got on FSportsman, esp. from some old timers, that said that in the early 70s the biggest engines were v4s, caused me to tread carefully. Also, advised caution on adding brackets to smaller boat not designed for them. Ben made reference to some problems on recent mods. I would really like to hear more about those boats - real details. I think talking to a naval architect to run some numbers might be a good idea. Establish a fund to pay the guy ( or gal ) to run some computations? Otherwise see what happens when the completed projects and those in progress hit the water..
Posted by: rayos at March 7, 2005 09:08 AM
A lot of grief can be avoided by using basic common sense. Floating (no pun intended) project/mod. ideas on this site is a good start.
Posted by: JimCT at March 7, 2005 11:26 AM