How I Built and Tricked-Out My “Minnie Me” Hydroplane Fishing Boat by Capt’n Tom Ruley

 

Introducing… My Brand New Hydroplane Fishing Boat Design… “Minnie Me”

Soon to be available for sale and/or brokerage I hope!
A Great Little Saltwater Flats Fishing Boat, A Great Little Pond Jumper, A Great Little Bassboat… Basically… A Great Little All Around Hydroplane Fishing Boat:

hydroplane fishing boat
– Completed Prototype, (Plug) –
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My boat design/concept is UNIQUE!… A one-of-a-kind design!… Do a Google web or image search for “hydroplane fishing boat” and you will NOT find anything similar!

When is the last time you actually saw a UNIQUE new boat design?

Last year I spent several months building a little 11′ hydroplane fishing boat with 23 rod holders. That’s two rod holders per foot ha ha. It’s great for pond, lake, river or saltwater flats fishing. The wing (Or Spoiler) that you normally see on hydroplane speedboats doubles on my boat design to hold ten rods out of the way. This way you can have various rods all rigged-up with various rigs ready to go without wasting valuable fishing time tying knots ha ha. (Any fisherman should love this) The wing also (optionally) has a poling platform for flats or skinny water fishing. Not shown on this picture are two outriggers for trolling. This hydroplane design while good for speed was conceived of mostly as a stability consideration. I just finished building this boat mid July, 2018. People have been giving me “Thumbs up” while trailering it down the road. While I’m out on the water fishing I’m getting really cool comments and people are wanting to take pictures! This is really a cute little very functional fishing boat. I call my design “Minnie Me”.

I am looking for a company to manufacture this boat in volume as I plan on putting it to market nationally, (Internationally?). The next step is making a fiberglass mold from my prototype and producing ONE fiberglass or plastic, (polyethylene), reproduction. The reproduction will then need to go through rigorous official United States Coast Guard guideline testing to meet certain standards and determine maximum weight capacity, maximum outboard motor size etc.

While I imagine all boat manufacturers are familiar with the USCG new vessel certification process, this is a FIRST TIME for me. Here is what I have been reading lately:

“According to the United States Coast Guard it is illegal for me to advertise and/or put a boat to market without first passing certain USCG requirements and complying with certain regulations.”

Complete information on this I just found here:

BOATBUILDER’S HANDBOOK – Published by The United States Coast Guard, Boating Safety Division, Recreational Boating Product Assurance Division.

After the initial testing and everything else involved is complete and once the USCG approval and “MIC” certification has been granted, “Minnie Me” can then be introduced for sale at wholesale and retail. In addition to online retail sales, I hope, (with or without help), to establish a national network of dealers and brokers.

I think a serious marketing effort could result in a bunch of these being sold and could possibly result in keeping my manufacturer, (When found), very busy!… The flip side is that I could be wrong… sales could be slow… and there is time, (man-hours), and expense involved before going to market. There is some risk.

Obviously the actual production and sale of my boat is commissionable. Details on this could all be worked-out. I am very flexible and could be happy with only a small piece of the action. I could possibly be persuaded to sell my boat design outright. More on this follows at the bottom of this page.

From the “Index of Boat Manufacturers” the USCG makes available online, I have just invited to this webpage by email, approximately 2,500 USCG certified boat manufacturers in the USA and a few other select invites, with the hopes of finding ONE MANUFACTURER… who thinks my boat could be a good-seller… AND who will want to JOINT-VENTURE with me. I currently live in Baltimore, Maryland and I am planning a move to the Florida Keys. Ideally my manufacturer will be on the east coast but this is not a requirement.

I am 67 years old, a heart patient, mostly retired, without deep pockets, or the right experience, or the energy, to go at this alone. If I have invited you to this page… Welcome!… I hope you will continue reading.

Before I start explaining how I built and “TRICKED-OUT” my “MINNIE ME”… let me tell you this interesting little story. I think you’ll get a couple laughs:

Back in March 2018, Springtime here in Baltimore, MD., I had fishing fever pretty bad and decided I would take an old “one-man” “Bantam BassTracker” boat out of my shed that I have had since about 1980, that I hadn’t used for a long time, and get it ready for fishing.

A Bantum Basstracker
I mounted a nice (heavy) captain’s chair on a swivel base and a electric trolling motor on the bow. A 12 volt battery and permanent battery charger under the seat. A 6hp Johnson outboard, A full 3 gallon fuel tank, A custom rod rack on the transom made out of (heavy) pressure treated 2 x 6, with eight (heavy stainless steel) rodholders, about 6 more (heavy stainless steel) rod holders, outriggers, am/fm radio cd player, marine radio with antenna, a kayak paddle for backup and launched my little boat. I only weigh 130 pounds. Apparently though, I had exceeded the weight capacity of this little plastic boat ha ha. I knew before launching this could be a problem. I only had about 3 or 4 inches above waterline and when I leaned back to start my outboard motor, water rushed in over the gunnel, (gunwale), and my little boat sunk immediately and quickly. Luckily I was only mid-chest deep in cold March Baltimore water just after ice and still in the boat ramp. I was able to wade ashore, wade back to my boat with winch cable in-hand and with considerable effort while soaking wet in 40 degree weather I was able to crank my little boat off the bottom and back onto the trailer before heading back home. It could have been much worse if I was in deeper water and out of winch cable range. I suppose I should have known better ha ha. Luckily I had the good sense to stay close to the shoreline!

Here is the only picture I have of my little Bantam Basstracker Boat fully loaded before sinking her ha ha:

I should have known better ha ha:
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Above: Notice the 2 x 6 rod rack on the transom. Below: Here was my inspiration for the rod rack:


God’s hand working and Good Karma I think… duh?
The next day (After drying-off and warming-up ha ha) I was outside looking at my failed attempt at going fishing and the overloading of this poor little boat, scratching my head and thinking to myself, I will need something maybe a little bit wider and a little bit longer.

Just then… (No Kidding… You can’t make this stuff up!)… Within the very same minute!… A guy pulls up in his pickup truck, gets out and starts taking pictures of my little boat. He explains that he is a friend of a fishing buddy and neighbor of mine who lives up the street. My neighbor had told him about my little boat and instructed him to come by to check it out. I said to the guy… “I just sunk it yesterday ha ha”. I went on to say with a laugh… “I think I need something a little bit wider and a little bit longer”.

He then says… (Seriously… No Kidding!) “I have a paddle boat sitting in my yard that I want to get rid of. You can have it. I will drop it off here tomorrow”. I reply… “Okay cool man… Yes drop it off here tomorrow… Thanks much dude!”

Sure enough he was a man of his word and the next day he dropped-off a “Pelican” paddle boat. I did not take any pictures of it because I had my cell phone on my hip when I sank my boat two days before. Cell phones do not like water you know… ha ha. And oh yes, It was a little bit wider and a little bit longer.

While watching a few videos of these paddle boats on the net I noticed that even though they are a little wider and longer, they are still prone to capsizing and swamping. The open space pedal area on both sides forward is especially vulnerable to filling with water causing it to go down by the bow.

A Paddleboat Capsizing Video

Another Paddleboat Capsizing Video

Another Paddleboat Fail Video

In Photoshop I then create my first boat plan:

I decided to add hydroplane sponsons mainly for stability, flotation and safety, not speed.

My inspiration… Miss Budweiser – A well-known standard in hydroplane designs

I developed and implemented other plans as construction went along. Helpful boat plans were available to me on the internet. Unfortunately I did not take pictures of early production stages as I had not replaced my cell phone yet.

THE WING: On my first little boat above, I had constructed a rod rack out of 2 x 6 on the transom to hold eight rods out of the way. Coincidentally, a hydroplane wing, (spoiler), works perfect for this. Then the idea of a poling platform on the wing for a flats fishing boat hit me!… Perfect!

While constructing I also decided to eliminate the centerline tunnel hull where the actual paddle mechanism is on paddle boats. My design is a flat bottomed boat, not a catamaran, (two hulls with center tunnel), like on most paddleboats and also hydroplanes. Every cubic foot on a boat design at or near waterline adds 45 pounds of additional flotation. Doing this created a more shallow draft and gave me more space inside the boat along the centerline for stowage of battery or batteries, anchor, lines and such. So actually by definition she is NOT a true hydroplane. She is a hybrid.

The next pictures I have were taken after I had already added the sponsons and was working on additional add-on flotation capacity by adding boxes behind the transom. These transom boxes help to support the weight of a person in the aft seat or up on the poling platform… and the weight of a larger outboard motor. The transom boxes, sponsons and other dead areas are filled with a combination of closed-cell rigid Styrofoam and 2-part A-B foam. She should be unsinkable and easily meet or exceed USCG positive flotation standards. See picture to the right below.

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On the picture to the left above, the blue topsides is actually from a fiberglass pickup truck bed cap that I used to give me the curved contour that you see. As you can also see, the construction material is mostly plywood, covered with polyester resin, fiberglass cloth, mat, woven roving, much fairing compound and gelcoat later.

Below is another picture later in construction after gelcoat base. A 12 volt bow mounted electric motor with foot pedal control mounts perfectly on the bow between the sponsons. I purposely left a flat space center/forward to mount a bow-mount electric trolling motor. Also shown here is my Garmin GPS Chartplotter with plenty of room for my depth/fishfinder and another accessory, (Maybe a spotlight) starboard. I am thinking about getting a underwater video camera with an adjustable forward/down looking bow bracket here:

A note for my neighbors:

During construction I had made a terrible mess along the street and in my yard. I do apologize for this and I am very sorry. It couldn’t be helped. I did the best I could. My project is complete now and my mess is all cleaned-up. Thank you for your patience.

First Launch and Sea Trails:

She Floated!… I Knew She Would!… My good buddy Mike tending to my boat just after launching and before taking her out for her maiden cruise while I am taking the pictures. Note my PFD on the captain’s chair just in case ha ha:

hydroplane fishing boat

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A very cute little fishing boat eh?… And very functional too!

As I hope you may notice by this picture, I’m glad I added the extra flotation boxes to the transom. Look closely and you will notice her stern is riding a little high. I wanted this. This way a second person in the aft seat, a person up on the poling platform and/or a larger outboard motor should all be okay. On this picture there is only a 6hp kicker on the transom. Note the poling platform. On this picture it is brown and was not fiberglassed and painted yet. I have stood on the poling platform and all is good. Small Boat = Easy Poling!

A bow shot:

hydroplane fishing boat

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Nice looking from the bow too eh?

Another view:
hydroplane fishing boat

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Sea Trial/Test Drive Results:

Everything went perfect exactly as planned. With the 12 volt 65lb thrust electric motor she spins on a dime and moves along reasonably fast. I did not test the 6hp Johnson outboard. I still need to get a carburetor rebuild kit. My outboard sunk with the other little boat you know ha ha. I have tested it and it runs as long as I am squirting gas into the carburetor. I imagine she will get up on plane with a 6hp but this is untested. As mentioned further above, I think she will support more outboard horsepower… 20hp?… More?… You will notice on some of my pictures that I have already installed stabilizers, (Trim Tabs) on the transom in anticipation of adding a larger outboard. Also please note that my outboard is controlled at the helm and not the aft seat although it can be run from the aft seat if needed. There is extra room port-aft, for a starter battery for a larger outboard. If weight distribution is a problem a starter battery could go center or center forward.

In addition to being a great little saltwater flats fishing boat… she makes a great little Bassboat! The color scheme can be changed for the Bassboat version. I have created a 11 foot Bass Skin graphic that can be applied to the hull just like those “WRAPS” you have been seeing mostly on trucks these days. These wraps are computer generated and easy enough to apply. Here my Bass Skin graphic:

11′ Bass Skin Graphic
A nice truck wrap that I found on the net.
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The image above is not real. It is a quick Photoshop creation using the “Replace color” command. This is reasonably close to what a bass green all over color scheme could look like.

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Above, here I am playing with Photoshop again. This image is not real either but it does come reasonably close to giving you an idea how a bass skin wrap could look.

I know how bass fisherman think and something similar to the two images above just could be a hot seller. Who knows?… If I were an actual boat manufacturer… I would roll the dice with this.

Oh, with a different “camo” color scheme, Minnie Me could make a nice duckboat for the duck hunters out there.

Many fish, even saltwater fish… like to hang-out around pilings, under piers and boats that are tied-up at marinas. “Minnie Me” is small enough to maneuver around these tight fishing spots where other boats are too big.

In addition to selling my boat to boat dealers and arranging broker deals, I am also giving thought to selling my boat to resorts, municipalities and other businesses who operate boat/paddleboat and/or jetski rental facilities and who offer general recreational cruising, eco touring etc. Marinas may want to purchase one or a couple to use as rental boats to allow people to fish, cruise or for sightseeing the local waters around their marina. These places could use their “Rental Boat” as a “Floating Showroom “Demo” and offer Minnie Me for sale also. This could be a good little niche.

More pictures and details: (Click Image To Enlarge any of these)

hydroplane fishing boat

For a small 11′ boat there is plenty of storage/stowage beneath the deck via various hatches. There are actually nine stowage boxes. Practically all space below deck is used for stowage. All remaining dead space is filled with A-B foam for positive flotation.

hydroplane fishing boat

Beneath the forward two hatches both port and starboard are two big fish or stowage boxes that used to be the paddling areas. These are big boxes! Ice can be poured before fishing to and still have plenty of room to keep a catch fresh. Aerators can be added for bait or catch live boxes. On my boat I have cut a hole in the most forward port hatch for a 5 gallon aerated bait bucket. I can still drop smaller fish into the box through the deck plate on the other hatch or open it to drop in larger fish.

hydroplane fishing boat

Here on the starboard side the big box is underneath the electric motor foot pedal control on the forward hatch. The other (rear) hatch also has a deck plate and works the same as on the port side.

Another interesting feature of these two large boxes is that I’ve designed the hatches so that the rear hatch of each box flips backwards flat to the deck. When in this position a person can actually sit on the deck on either side of the captain’s chair with their feet in the box similar to where people would sit when this was in a paddleboat configuration. For me this is great because you can still control the helm sitting here and it makes it great for one-man crabbing. When crabbing, being close to the water helps when working a troutline or snagging-up crab trap floats. There is actually room for four people to ride in this little boat as long as they are not size XXL ha ha but I would not recommend it. Maybe two kids in the side boxes with PFD’s would be okay.

hydroplane fishing boat

There are also two middle hatches and stowage areas port and starboard of the front seat. On my boat I use one for stowing docking lines and the other, a small mushroom drop anchor for holding over tight fishing spots. In the photo above you can see my mushroom anchor. It’s upside-down on the hatch to the right of the rod holders. The anchor line is in the stowage area below for easy out-of-the-way dropping and retrieving with a cleat for tying-off and not having anchor line cluttering the deck.

Speaking of upside-down, you may have noticed I’ve installed many of my rod holders upside-down. This works for me and saves a little leaning over or reaching-out to grab a rod.

hydroplane fishing boat

Nice steering wheel eh? The production model has a chrome wheel.

hydroplane fishing boat

Atop the helm sits a compass and outboard motor shifter and speed controls. The entire helm sits on top of a hatch and tilts forward to reveal a large center stowage area where I store my electric trolling motor battery, a permanent battery charger for simple plug-in charging, a danforth anchor and line for anchoring off the bow in rougher seas where the mushroom anchor is not enough. My anchor line also doubles as a tow line in case of emergency towing needs. Teleflex steering and outboard motor control cables run underneath the deck.

My electronics were not mounted when I took these pictures. If you look closely here you will see brackets for my Garmin Chartplotter, GPS receiver and depth/fish finder. My marine radio is mounted under the Captain’s seat.

There are 5 rod holders on the helm itself plus one at my feet both port and starboard. From the captain’s seat all are within grabbing range and pointing everywhere ha ha. There are two more rod holders on each side further aft and (not pictured) are two outrigger bases both port and starboard. Trolling four lines (Or more) is easily accomplished especially when using the outriggers. Counting the 10 rod holders on the wing/spoiler, there are 23 rod holders on this 11 foot boat. That should be enough to make any fisherman happy ha ha.

hydroplane fishing boat

On the photo above, you will see there is also stowage under the front seat. On my boat I have a am/fm radio/cd player here, (not mounted yet in this photo), and room for my tackle bag and various onboard tools. On the photo above also please note also that behind the front seat I have a 5′ stowage area that runs the entire width of my boat. I use it to store a collapsible kayak paddle, a boat rod, a manual water pump, (I haven’t installed a bilge pump with float switch yet), and two extended rod holders. This 5′ box can also double as a catch box for longer fish like barracuda, kingfish, dolphin, northern pike and muskies for the freshwater fishermen, etc. Note on this photo and others that I have my poling pole mounted on the port side.

hydroplane fishing boat

For a little boat there is a second aft seat. It is on a pedestal and not a box. Speaking of seats, under each seat on my boat I have a slider rack so each seat can slide forward or aft and each also has a swivel base. While I haven’t had a second person on the boat yet, I do not expect a problem. Note also that there are three stowage areas aft. One under the aft seat, one port and one starboard. I have a 3 gallon fuel tank starboard. Note the fuel pump bulb above the hatch cover. The fuel line runs through the hatch. As mentioned earlier, an outboard motor starter battery could go back here along with anything else. I intend to install a blower back here with a couple vents on the rear hatches. The photo above also shows my 10 rod holder rack, a ladder and grab-bar starboard for getting up and down from the poling platform. The deck is a little dirty. Sorry about that. Oh by the way. The deck is designed for water to drain quickly off the transom. I expect that water may be coming over the bow from rough seas or boat wake but most water should drain aft without filling the stowage boxes and bilge. I have given thought to installing custom plexiglass windshields/watershields directly on the bow to deflect any water coming over the bow but I have cleats, electronics and rod holders mounted here.

hydroplane fishing boat

Another aft shot. Here you can see my rod holder rack, (rod holders not screwed-in yet) and unpainted poling platform. Notice how easily water should drain off the deck at the transom.

hydroplane fishing boat

Another aft shot showing my stabilizers, (trim tabs) to compensate for a larger outboard motor when underway.

hydroplane fishing boat

Another view.

hydroplane fishing boat

Another view.

hydroplane fishing boat

Another view.

hydroplane fishing boat

Another view.

My boat design is UNIQUE!… A one-of-a-kind design!… Do a Google web or image search for “hydroplane fishing boat” and you will NOT find anything similar!

I hope you like my little “Minnie Me” Hydroplane Fishing Boat. It’s been a fun project. I do have a good understanding of fiberglass mold making. I’ve done this before. I’ve designed “Minnie Me” to pop out of a mold easily without mold lock. Her hull above the rub rail is very close to factory fair but a little more fairing compound and grinding/sanding will be required. Below the rub rail are three coats of roll-and-tip gelcoat that will need grinding/sanding. I was in a hurry to finish her up and go fishing.

She is small enough that manufacturing should be relatively easy and not much space will be required. When sold, she can shipped via over-the-road carrier, anywhere in the USA, Canada, Mexico and south, in a shipping crate without a trailer. I imagine there is an over-seas international market also. Being that she is wide at the bow due to the sponsons, a custom-made trailer could also be fabricated and made available for sale. There is a possible opportunity for a boat trailer manufacturer here also.

I have an idea in my head about how inside the shipping crate, my boat will be mounted on a stand with 4 – 4″ caster wheels that could easily make my boat work as a movable showroom floor display model when delivered to a dealer, by simply removing a few screws from the crate.

If you are in the marine trades business and may be interested in manufacturing this boat for me at your location… OR… If you are an experienced fiberglass man, maybe we could talk about renting a garage and going into production… OR… If you would like to get on my waiting list to get one… Please let me know. My email address and phone number are below.

*Also please let me know if you know of anyone in the marine trades business who might like to joint-venture with me in the manufacturing and/or sales of my boat. Feel free to share this page with anyone you know.

Special Note to existing boat manufacturers who may be reading: *I have saved all of my original boat design drawings and plans. These plans along with other dated photos does support the fact that my “Minnie Me” boat design may be considered as “Intellectual Property” and as such, I have certain legal ownership rights to this design. I am flexible however and we could talk about putting this boat to market as an additional boat design to YOUR line, (if you have one), and branding it with YOUR company name.

Here are some of my other boat plans and drawings

With some serious marketing efforts I’d be willing to bet that a whole bunch of these could be sold!… First company to close a good deal with me gets the manufacturing, (ownership?), and possible distribution rights to this boat design!

This should go without saying but your company will be in a position to retain most of any profits when produced. I could be happy with a little piece of the action. I could also be persuaded to sell my boat/boat design outright.

Let’s do a deal. She’s on a trailer ready to deliver or I’ll put her in a crate and ship her to you.

O-FISH-ially,

Capt’n Tom Ruley

(Too soon old. Too late smart ha ha!)

Capt'n Tom Ruley

Capt'n Tom's Artworks

Baltimore, Maryland, USA
(I wish I was back in the Keys)

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