Flat bottom boats, which are also referred to as Jon Boats, are among the easiest to construct. While they are generally small, their rectangular-like shape provides much more room than traditional boats. This is why flat bottom boats are perfect for shallow, marshy areas. The draft, which is the amount of boat that actually sits under the water is usually only inches, not feet. Because of this, flat bottom boats can generate a great deal of speed as they will "plane" over the top of the water.
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Balance the desire for speed with safety and stability. As mentioned, flat bottom boats plane and therefore can reach very high speeds. However, they are also relatively unstable at higher speeds, particularly in choppy water. Building a larger flat bottom boat will offset some of the safety concerns relating to speed.
Ensure the flat bottom boat plans allow for the correct size of outboard motor necessary to achieve desired speeds. Many 15ft. to 17ft. flat bottom boats can successfully manage an outboard motor with as much as 80 horsepower. As you can imagine, this will move a flat bottom boat across any calm waters with speed to spare.
Factor in building material and weight when selecting plans to build a fast flat bottom boat. While aluminium and fibreglass are the lightest materials, equating to greater speed potential, they are also the most expensive, and potentially more difficult to work with because it requires welding, moulding and shaping skills. Wood and steel are also options. Steel is the least attractive for speed, because of the weight issues. Wood, however, will retain the capability of speed and make for easier, less expensive construction.
Look for flat bottom boat plans that allow for contact with the designer, or other resource. While flat bottom boats are easier to build relative to other boat building because there is an emphasis on speed, it will be valuable to have an industry professional available to confirm engine size and specs relative to the chosen building plan.
Budgeting the building of any boat is important, however home made flat bottom boats tend to be extremely affordable. Plans will range from £29 to £48, and with wood (many flat bottom boat builders use laminated plywood) costs factored in, a 15ft. to 17ft. boat may only cost £162 to £195. Of course, that does not include the time spent building. But for many, this is time well spent.
Tips and warnings
- Because of the flat bottom, and the desire for speed, boat stability becomes paramount as it relates to safety. Flat bottom boats in general, particularly as they reach higher speeds, can be very unstable even in calm waters if there is not an equal distribution of weight. Make certain guests, or supplies if boating alone, are positioned to achieve maximum stability at high speeds.
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