Although I purchased this 14’ "beauty" for $275 during the early summer, now is actually the best time to score a boat for a song. Most recreational boaters and fisherman have called it quits for the year and, quite often, want to get rid of their boat rather than store it. When contemplating a purchase, inquire if it was previously registered and titled. Pre-1972 boats won’t have a hull identification number (HIN). Depending on how it was used (i.e. with or without a motor), it might not be registered, either. Some, and especially those inherited from a deceased family member, etc., might not be registered, either. Not having these items isn’t necessarily a deal breaker, but it certainly adds additional paperwork and hassle; you’ll have the seller complete several documents detailing its use and origins, as well as submit photos of the boat from all sides. Law enforcement can come to confirm what’s showing in the images, as well as contact the seller directly about the transaction. Each state differs, so investigate your state’s requirements before making the purchase, and only purchase from reputable persons.
The size and configuration (flat bottom, semi-V hull, etc.) depends on the water that you’ll be hunting. Err on the side of caution and select a slightly larger boat than you think you’ll need. It’ll save headaches later.
Rivets in a jon boat’s only adds anguish. That’s why welded models are far superior. Quite often, as seen here, the rivets have been hammered back into place, thereby cracking the hull. This, along with loose rivets, can permit water to quickly fill the hull—not what you want on a cold November morn.
To fix the damage from the previous owner, I filled the cracks and around the rivets with quick-drying, waterproof products from PermaTex and JB Weld (QuikWeld), which I then sanded for the next step of the repair process. In hindsight, the marine-specific JB Weld MarineWeld would have been a better choice. Don’t stop at the exterior; be sure to use the aforementioned products on the rivets inside the hull, too.
To further waterproof the cracks and rivets, I sprayed the areas with Rust-oleum LeakSeal, which is a flexible, rubber coating that can be painted. Priced at around $8-$9 per can, this product isn’t cheap; however, keeping the water at bay makes it money well spent.
Here, the bottom of the boat had been repaired, sand, primed, and painted using dull, olive drab spray paint. A word of caution; always wear a protective mask when sanding as you’re unaware of what of hazards could be found in the antiquated paint you’re creating dust with. Better safe than sorry.
Disgusting, isn’t it? First, I removed the weather, splinter-riddled front seat and then sanded the sides and bottom and washed it out. Here you can see where I addressed the internal rivet problems, too.
Rather than just paint the interior, I opted to use a functional finish—Cabela’s Tuff Coat Non-Skid Coating, which must be applied with a specialized roller. Comparing the purpose-specific Cabela’s product to other similar, purchase-enhancing items, I no cheaper alternative. Testimonials also convinced me of the product’s worthiness, and I must admit that they were correct; it’s well worth the price. To enhance adhesion to the aluminum, I applied paint primer.
Using the old plywood as a template, I cut thicker plywood for the flooring and applied the same Cabela’s coating as I did on the interior of the hull. Although the plywood provides a consistent, no-slip surface, adding the plywood flooring increases the overall weight of the vessel and reduces its capacity (i.e weight of gear, people, etc.). The motor’s weight must be accounted for, too.
With the interior completed (and required labeling affixed to the outside of the hull), it was time to paint all exterior surfaces. To protect the interior, as well as the aforementioned identification numbers, from overspray, newspaper was secured by painter’s tape.
My favorite part of the project—painting. Using no-glare, hunting-specific spray paints available at Wal-Mart ($about $4 per can), and flora from around my yard and field, I created a functional camouflage pattern. Doing so requires only holding the plant or leaf tight against the boat’s surface and making a few passes with the spray paint. Try to vary the colors for a more natural look; I like using several hues of green, tan, and brown. Use colors that’ll mimic the vegetation where and when you’ll hunt.
Once completed, the paint scheme can be amazing; note the blending of light and dark colors. Using a different base color and actual stencils can further customize the camouflage, though I think it’s unnecessary. It’s your call, though.
Here are the fruits of my labor. The final additions needed are a floating blind plate (in Va., at least), which I have, navigational lights, an upper blind (of which there are many to choose from) and a motor. The latter are wholly dependent on where you hunt and dispensable income. Concerning money, the entire project was completed for less than $200 (I had the lumber on-hand) and over the course of about a month; however, if you concentrate only on the build and have favorable weather (some of the products are temperature and humidity sensitive), you could easily complete the project in a couple of days. With that in mind, you’d better get to work if you want to be prepared for the onslaught of migrating ducks and geese.
If you’re viewing this waterfowl boat-build photo gallery, then a) you’re contemplating a new craft for next season, or, more likely, b) you’re scrambling to find one for the current season. Fortunately, a functional, floating blind/boat can be created with minimal expense and time. Don’t believe me? See for yourself.