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By John Welsford - Hamilton - New Zealand


Dan's Trover

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A Workhorse for an Outdoor Lifestyle

Southland, at the bottom of New Zealand's South Island is a place of rolling green hills, mountains, forests and incredible glacial lakes. The coastline is wild and sparcely settled and there are many who find the exceptional hunting and fishing there a wonderful bonus to a life amongst some of the worlds best scenery. Dan lives near Riverton, a large shallow estuary system that has a small fishing fleet, a lot of shallow flats where the ducks and geese live and some wonderful coastal fishing along the rocky coast.

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With the frames up the shape of the boat begins to appear, note that its all straight pieces and the structure is simple with constant angles and no complications in the shape.

(click images for larger views)

He wanted a utility boat that would be fast enough to get out to the good fishing spots, big enough to pick up a couple of hunters with a deer carcase or two, carry lobster pots or fishing nets, that could be carried easily on a trailer and launched off an ocean beach and would be robust enough to cope with some very hard use. A difficult brief but I’d been there and done that as a designer.

Here she is ready for the plywood, all the bevels can be cut with a saw and just tidied up later. There are not a lot of hours in Trover for the size of her, and with the extra frame space in the middle this one is bigger than usual.

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Trover, designed for the UN Fisheries and Agriculture Organisations East Timor relief effort was chosen, her simplicity and toughness, seaworthiness and economically driven shape all adding up to the package that Dan needed.

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Dan's put the bottom on before the chine panels, but that’s not an issue. He’s doing a nice job here and she’s both tidy and strong.

I got the email below from him as a posting on my jwbuilders yahoo group. He’s happy; the boat has been extended by adding a frame midships as suggested in the plans for those who want extra capacity and Dan's done a nice job of a boat intended for very utilitarian purposes. Good stuff, well done.

John Welsford,

Here she is, a “Boat” at last. Sanded off and ready for the glass tapes that reinforce the chines. It’s an efficient shape, easily driven and very easily built.

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Dairy Dan's Trover Report

Note: This Trover has been extended in length as suggested in the plans by adding an extra frame midships.

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Heres a good shot of the interior, the solid gunwale and the big cargo space amidships consistent with her role as a working fishing and light cargo vessel. Remember that Trover was designed to be a waterborne pickup truck in a part of the world with few roads so she has to be capable of doing everything that a small village needs.

We took the boat down the Riverton on Saturday for her introduction
to the wet stuff, it about a steady 35 minute drive from home and the closest real water. We couldn't have asked for a better day considering the time of year and Southland weather. We put a few scratches on her and put her through her paces to see what she's made of, not that I didn't already know that, I did glue it together after all.

Wet for the first time, tidy, purposeful and ready to go. Nice job of building Dan.

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We were going to be cruising around on an outgoing tide and anyone that knows Riverton will appreciate that water drains out of that harbor pretty fast. As it turns out we didn't have to worry too much, that 15hp motor made her slide across the water fast enough to scare all the resting ducks at the edge of the estuary back to the hunter's guns.

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How far does this go? Trover is not a wide boat but she is stable enough to move around in without too much risk of going for a swim.

I brought along the GPS and took some readings, I found with four adults in the boat the average speeds with the motor flat out were around 18-22kph, with three that rose to 24-26kph, with two 28-30kph and just myself 30-32kph.

Simple and tidy, the motor is readily accessible and much better protected than it would be hanging off the back, here is the little 15hp short shaft Evinrude in her workplace ready for action.

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I'm no expert on motor boats but to me she feels stable enough, I've thrown her into some tight turns at full throttle and lived to tell the tail. It's hard to say at what speed she starts to plane across the water, at about 10kph she starts to pick up though. If you're standing on the boat to one side she'll lean to about 20 degree then stop, I can't see myself tipping her over even if I try, which I was surprised about for such a narrow boat. As you turn left and right she'll lean into the corners which makes you feel quite safe.

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Moving out for the first time, she does not seem to be sensitive to weight distribution and the wake is quite flat which shows that she should move out well when the throttle is opened up.

It doesn't seem to matter too much where people sit on the boat, it doesn't seem to make much difference to the handling or speed. It's only if someone sits right up front they find they can steer the boat slightly by leaning to one side.

Opening her up and beginning to plane, I love the background scenery.

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I've made a detachable tow hitch for the trailer, I found the weight of the trailer and the boat pulling at a single person as you try and edge down the slippery concrete ramp was risking a sore bum. I might try lowering the motor in the next few days that might give me a bit more speed as well :-) . Next trip I might take the fishing rod and head out of the estuary along the coast in search of some big fish.

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All I can say is I'm glad Riverton estuary doesn't have a speed limit, or else I think we'd have been hunted down by the coast guard, I think I'll have lots of fun on this boat.

Happy with the new boat? You bet!

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Dairy Dan
Southland, New Zealand.

All of the photos come from Dans webpage and I’d like to thank him for permission to publish them. - John Welsford

Click HERE for a list of articles by John Welsford