How to Create an Aluminum Canoe Trimaran
Can anyone possibly convert a commercial aluminum canoe into a fast, well-performing small trimaran? No! Really? Are you sure? Well, check out this homebuilt aluminum canoe trimaran conversion for yourself.
I was surfing the Internet a couple of nights ago and stumbled upon a personal website built by Jim Gallant. It seems Jim is one of those guys who is blessed with that unique blend of “do-it-yourself” & “fun imagination.”
So what did I HAVE to do? Email Jim, of course, and ask him to share a little about his unique canoe tri.
He was kind enough to respond right away. He not only answered my questions but gave me permission to post a few of the pictures from his website too (there is a link to Jim’s site at the end of this post).
Whatever you do, if this sort of little tri interests you, then you’ll want to check out all of the pictures and full canoe-to-trimaran conversion story at Jim’s site. Oh, by the way … if you’re not into “camping” then you may decide to try it out after seeing how Jim’s family use their trimaran canoe on camping trips.
– Many thanks for sharing this project with us Jim!
Trimaran Canoe Conversion
by Jim Gallant
I’ve been a high-wind windsurfer for decades, and wanted to sail in light winds too while still having fun. I wanted a boat that was car-toppable, and already had the canoe, so it made sense to use that. The canoe is lake boat, with a flat bottom. It planes well in good winds because of that shape.
The crossbeam is an aluminum extension ladder I bought for a few bucks at a yard sale. I made brackets that allow it to clamp and pin onto the gunwhales of the canoe. Thin pieces of plywood on the ladder rungs allow you to walk out to the lawn chairs mounted at the end, over the amas. The ladder twists as the boat handles swells, allowing the amas to rock, but that’s not a bad thing.
The amas are just stitch and glue construction using door skins I got from my local big box builder supply store. I just cut the 4×8′ sheets into 16″ strips, eyeballed the bow shape of the canoe, and drew the profile on the plywood with a Sharpie pen. There are a couple of bulkheads made from marine plywood inside each ama, with short pieces of ladder rails that protrude out the top. They connect the amas to the crossbeam with three clevis pins each. It all pins and clips together in just a few minutes. No tools needed.
The main and jib sails are from a Hobie 16. The mast is the unusual part. It’s made from two windsurf masts (27 feet). I made a slot on the mast to uphaul the sail with by bonding plastic conduit to the mast with fiberglass and epoxy. I then cut a slot in the conduit. It works well. The mast flexes more than an aluminum would, but it’s much lighter.
Overall it’s a great boat. It’s very fast and will plane in winds of just 15 knots with one person. The two leeboards have three positions (vertical, 45 degrees, fully retracted) that allow it to point well. It comes right around when tacking. I routinely sail up into marina alleys and virtually tack in place to come back out. It also has a huge carrying capacity, both in number of people, and weight (about 1,000 pounds, 800 from the canoe and more from the amas). Great to camp in with the whole family or friends.