Bowfishing Boat Project

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Bowfishing Boat Project
Well, the Muck-Boy Crew is at it again. It seems like every few years one of us starts another boat project. This time the Mizzou Crew is working on a Multipurpose Tin Boat. The goal is to set up a fully functional, guide quality, bowfishing boat that can easily be stripped down to accommodate 4 people fishing and then outfitted to take out duck hunting. If you think that this sounds like a lofty goal, then you probably will think we are crazy for trying to have it completely done for under $1500! I will be posting updates as we move forward in this project and posting a video once it is completely done. Hopefully you will enjoy following the transformation and maybe you will pick up a pointer or two along the way.

So here is the back story on how we ended up in the middle of this project.
Trailer, Interior, Paint, Wiring and Lighting, Finished Product, Shakedown Cruise

The Guys from the Mizzou Crew caught the Bowfishing Bug last year. Those of you that have tried this fast paced and challenging sport know just how addicting it can be. We spent most of the spring hunting off of bridges and watching the fish surface just out of our reach. In late July I came across a deal that was just too good to pass up, a 1979 16’ Crestliner Deep-V with a mid-80’s 9.9 Johnson electric start and trailer. This boat was definitely farm fresh and had been tucked away in a barn for nearly 5 years. I brought a set of water muffs with me and to my surprise the 9.9 fired up right way. Then, just a quick negotiation and I was pulling away with a great boat for the bargain price of only $400.


Farm Fresh
We had the opportunity to get it out on the water a couple of times last year, unbelievably there was not a leaky rivet on the boat. We didn’t have much luck bowfishing that late in the season, but we were able to christen the boat with its first few gar. The most important part of those trips was to try to figure out how we needed to set the boat up to be successful and comfortable with 3 guys shooting out of this boat. The plan was to complete the boat over the winter and be ready to hit the water come Mid-April.

Winter 2013:
With as bad as the winter was this year, we completed almost nothing through February. What we had accomplished was to complete the planning and start purchasing all of the materials. The biggest decision that we had to make was the lights. This is biggest argument in the bowfishing community, and we definitely didn’t go with the traditional route! After a ton of research and weighing all factors we decided to go with LED’s. The biggest factor for us was not having to run a generator.
The Lights: We purchased a total of 8 – 50W LED’s. Here are the specs:
• 12/24 Volt
• 4.3 Amp Draw @ 12v, 2.1 Amp Draw @ 24v
• 5000 Lumen
• 2700-3000k Color
The low amp draw, and running 4 lights on each side of the boat should allow us at least 68 hours of bowfishing without having to listen to a generator hum in the background the whole time. We chose the 2700-3000k(Warm White) color due to its similarity to the color of High Pressure Sodium lights. We fish the floodwaters and creeks off of the Mississippi, and we are not going to see fish until they surface no matter what lights we use. Hopefully, we will get great water penetration when we do hit some inland lakes or more clear rivers. We also purchased 2 – 27W Cree LED Lights for use while driving.
We are planning on running 3 12 volt batteries, the first battery will power the Trolling motor, bilge pump and electric start. The other two batteries will be wired together to create a 24v system and will power the lights exclusively.

We also completed some upgrades to the trailer this winter. The original trailer set up was pretty rough, the boat was usually launched in the farmers front yard so he could check his property when the Mississippi flooded. We extended the tongue by just over 2’ and added a new Coupler. We fabricated a new Winch Stand/Bow Stop and an adjustable roller guide. The final step will be painting it and adding new bunk supports.

Spring 2014:
When the weather broke, we really needed to kick it into gear if we are wanting to be on the water by mid-April. The list of things to complete was extremely long and time consuming. Here is a breakdown of what we have completed so far.

The Trailer - Update 4/24/2014
The trailer is painted and will be complete when we put the carpeted pressure treated bunk boards on this weekend. We added the new Custom Winch Block and Keel Roller, a second set of bunks and a wheeled trailer jack. The 3 foot extension with the add-ons and the paint job really made the trailer much more functional and it looks like a completely different trailer. We did run into one small problem that we seen coming, the dry rot on the tires have caught up with them and we will have to replace them soon. Luckily, the local Farm & Home store has them on sale for $52 each, but it is definitely a little bit of a hit to the budget.


The trailer is complete with the addition of the carpeted bunk boards and the new tires. It looks great and functions even better. We can now open the truck tailgate with the boat attached and it tows like a dream. We are thinking about adding guide-ons in the future but that will not be until the off season.
Sticking with the non-traditional bowfishing boat theme, we will not be putting a high raised platform on the front of the boat. We have decided to make two casting platforms and 1 removable casting platform to shoot off of. We decided to do this to accommodate 3 guys shooting off of the same side of the boat. We also went this route because we have a Deep-V and not 72” wide Flat Bottom and this boat will be also used for other purposes.
The frame for each of these platforms was constructed out of 2x3’s. It is then being decked with 5/8” plywood and carpeted with indoor outdoor carpet. The most difficult part of this build was matching the contours of the boat. We tried a couple different things and was most successful using an exacto-knife and a roll of brown paper. This paper folds and cuts easily, to create a template of the boat contours. We also used large pieces of cardboard for a sturdy more precise template. (We were able to get all of the cardboard that we needed at the local elementary school public recycling bin.) The front and back permanent decks will each have access hinged hatches. The one in front will provide storage of the anchor and bow ropes. The two hatches on the back platform will give access to the gas tank, battery and bilge pump as well as access to the two batteries designated for lights and a dry storage compartment.
While we were at it, we replaced the rotten wood on the bench seats. Once everything was cut it was painted with forest green Porch & Deck Sealing Paint to help extend the life of the lumber. We found a gallon of this at Home Depot in the OOPS section of the paint department for $7! With that in mind, I check the Cull lumber each time I am at Home Depot for good deals. We purchased a couple of nearly full sheets of plywood and the treated 2x4 bunk boards out of the cull lumber section at 70% off the original price. Let’s be honest, on a budget based project every dollar counts.

The interior is completely carpeted and disassembled awaiting the return of the boat from paint. This will be installed this weekend. The hinges will be painted to blend in to the carpet. Some small upgrades were made just before we glued the carpet on; that we think will really finish off the boat. We added Cup Holders to each bench; every boat needs plenty of cup holders! We are also going to hard wire in the bow and stern navigation lights, this way we will not have to clamp on the lights and risk damaging the paint job. The final step to finishing the interior will be to install the instrument panel. We will be fabricating this out of a scrap piece of 24 gauge metal and it will hold 6 marine electrical switches and the ignition for the motor. Four of the switches will each have 2 of the 50W LED lights on them, one will control the navigation lights and driving lights and the final will control the automatic bilge pump. These switches will be conveniently located within easy reach of the Captain and allow complete control of the electronics.

Completed Interior: The interior is complete. Everything is reassembled and it looks great. We did hard wire in the navigation lights. We ran the wires along a lip towards the bottom. Once they were enclosed in plastic tubing we used liquid nails to secure it to the boat. This way, even if we have the light rail off of the boat, we still have navigation lights. The instrument panel works great, we are planning on adding a battery meter to it and change the paint to camo.

Paint We will be giving you a step by step of the painting process using this stencil kits.
Updated 5/4/2014 Muck-Boy Crew Member Charlie from Mobile Magic Auto Body laid the base coat of Green Industrial Metal Paint late last week. We ran into a problem as soon as it hit the boat. The paint was mixed incorrectly by the paint company and it was not an Ultra Flat Paint. It was actually more like a High Gloss Paint. This wouldn’t be a big problem, unless you are trying to camo a boat. We scuffed the boat and then were able to dust coat the boat with ultra-flat black paint and remove the shine. While doing this we used the flat black to make random lines to add shadows, and then we started with the Reelfoot Stencils.

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-Reelfoot Grass
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We will also be reassembling and carpeting the platforms. Fabricating a 3/4” rail around the boat, this will be used to mount the lights and will be useful for mounting rod holders and eventually a duck hunting blind. The final step of the process will be wiring the lights and attaching all of the accessories.
The project should be complete by the end of April and we will be posting updates as we hit milestones. We will also be posting a parts list complete with prices to see how we did with our budget! Make sure that you check back often to see how we are doing and to see how everything works when we do get out on the water and the arrows start flying!
Wiring and Lighting: To keep the project cheap, we used ¾” EMT conduit to construct the light rail. This is cheap, easy to bend to shape and will provide a secure place to run the wires. We took a sheet of scrap MDF and traced the contour of the boat rail, cut it and then secured it to a sheet of plywood. We secured the conduit in place with scrap 2x2’s and used the MDF to bend the conduit to match the rail. Once this was complete we cut the tube to size and bent a rear section to mount to the floor. We welded supports and used electrical plate covers to mount the supports to the deck. Prior to painting the rail we drilled the holes to secure the lights and to run the wiring. Once the rail was painted, we ran all of the wires putting 2 lights on each set of wires. We used 12g wire, we were able to get this wire for free from a friend, so we used brown and yellow since it was free. Once we had the rail wired, we drilled holes in the deck and ran the wires through before mounting the railing. Each positive was wired to an in-line fuse before attaching to the switch. We then connected wires from the switch to a post mount, this will allow quick disconnect.
On a side note, if you plan to use EMT Conduit for a light rail, you will probably want to use at least 1”. I wish that it was a little larger and that I had drilled larger holes then 3/8” to run the wires.
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Finished Product - As you can see by this report it took a lot of hard work by the Muck Boy Mizzou Crew but we finally have a good looking and functional BOWFISHING BOAT. We hope the report helps anyone thinking of getting into this sport and mignt not have the extra funds that starting out with a small out lay of cash and a little elbow grease you too can have a very functioal outfit that won't break the budget.
Before and after - What a Difference!
Shake Down Cruise - Other than a few loose rivits the boat worked as expected and everyone had a great time.

Come back soon to follow more up-grades.