In late 2012, LandCo decided to ditch our little War Eagle boat and make a custom boat that fit our needs exactly. The War Eagle was a great boat. However, it was super heavy for its size and had a super small fishing deck. So we called Dave Hamm of AAD Welding in Bartonville Illinois. Dave has been making super high quality welded boats for years. We had heard about the quality of his boats from several of our clients and friends. Unfortunately, we werent the only ones that heard about his work…he was booked solid for the next 5 months. In late September of 2012, we got on the books for a full custom boat build for late May of 2013.
Out goals were very simple for our boat. We wanted a fishing machine that put fishability before everything else. Here were our demands…
1) Light – we fish mainly our customers lakes to market the property. Most do not have boat ramps. We needed the boat to be light and maneuverable so we could get it in nearly any lake.
2) Huge Deck – we wanted total fishing comfort. We wanted to be able to fish around the entire boat…not sure why no fresh water boats are like that??? We opted for an 18′ walkaround with an 8 ft top and a 6 foot semi-v bottom.
3) Low Profile – pure fishability means being able to lip most of your fish. Consequently, we wanted the platform to sit no more than a foot off the water. We opted for 20″ sides.
4) Low Maintenance – for those of you that know me, you know that I can be rough on equipment. I am also not one to take the time to wax and shampoo anything. My equipment gets abused…plain and simple. I wanted to be able to drag the thing through a carwash and call it good.
5) No Clutter – I wanted it as simple as possible. No crazy compartments…keep it as simple as possible. For me, storage compartments become junk drawers…catch alls that begin to smell moldy after a year because of the half full Coors Light I left in there from the last year.
So that was it. Away we went..adjusting on the fly.
This first pic is the first day of construction. Essentially, it was getting the frame together. Went with the 6′ semi-v bottom so it would sit low but still ride pretty smooth. 8′ top for a ton of deck space. 18′ in length plus a kickout for the outboard for no lost deck space. 20″ sides were the optimum length so our boat would sit with a low profile on the water.
Here is a pic of the inside frame of the boat with the floatation material.
The next step was building the deck. Again, we wanted as much space as possible so we worked backwards. We asked how small we could make the drivers pit area without loosing comfort. We went with an 18″ console and 18″ walkways on each side. That left us with about 21″ deck walkways on the sides. The pit only needed to be five foot in length so we chase a 7 foot front deck and a 6 foot back deck.
The next step was laying the actual decking and cutting in the needed compartments. Again, we didnt want any unnecessary clutter so we only went with four compartments…Cooler (most important part of the boat 🙂 ), Livewell, Batteries, and Gas Tank.
We then cut in all the needed latches, lights, etc.. We went with flush compartment latches, flush chrome tie downs, and chrome lights. Went with the new side imaging Humminbird sonar. It is a great tool for marketing properties as it gives you a pretty clear picture of the lake floor and structure.
They then built the trailer…which in all honesty is way overbuilt for this boat. It should last forever though.
The next step before it was off the paint shop was to remove all the latches, hinges, etc… However, we took this time to first trace around them. This was done to create the templates for our flooring. Again, I wanted a low maintenance flooring. A good friend of mine, Chris Rush of Rush Charters, (a fishing guide down in the Ft Myers area) suggested SeaDek. It has become extremely popular among salt water fishermen. It is soft, skid resistant, does not get hot, and can be powerwashed. Cant beat that! However, because the company is out of Florida, I had to make templates for them for each and every piece that I needed. To do this, SeaDek sent me some oversized pieces of Mylar (see through paper). It was no more than tracing out each latch and hinge and making the overall outline for each piece that I needed. In all, I needed about 16 pieces to cover my boat. Once those were done, I sent the doctored up mylar back to SeaDek and hauled the boat to Peoria to get it painted.
The boat was then painted. It is quite the process to get paint to stick to aluminum successfully, so I took it to an autobody to get sanded down and painted correctly with auto quality paint. I went with Silver…it is our basic company color and it matches my truck. They also put back on all the hardware as well as some rubber railing to protect the side of the boat.
We couldnt go functionality alone. Had to get some toys to go along with it :). We added a stereo with some marine speakers, aluminum rod holders, and some basic instruments. We only added a fuel gauge and a water depth/temperature gauge. I know the water depth and temp is on the fish finder as well…but it is nice to have it on your console when you are first trying to locate a fishing spot.
The flooring arrived a month or so later. It was delayed a bit because we decided to cut in some logos and a fish ruler. We laid it out to make sure everything fit. Everything seemed to be good so we went ahead with the install. Each piece is essentially a sticker. The back has a peel off adhesive. It was super easy to install. Had it on in less than an hour.
We then took the boat up to our local decal shop and had them throw on some carbon fiber graphics. Went pretty basic with the LandCo logos and the interior website. Also put the 800 number on the trailer.
The last step was adding some seats. I actually went with leaning posts. I had heard good things about them…and they were all true. I have found them to be entirely more comfortable than standard post seats.
Had to post this…my little boy helping me with the seat install. He loves the boat. The depth of the pit was the perfect height for him to stand up with some support (which was pretty new at that point)
Sp there it is guys…finished product. It has fished awesome and we couldnt be happier. Our initial thoughts on the boat are this…
1) The deck is monstrous. Although it is only a 18 foot aluminum boat. It fishes bigger than a 22’Ranger. It feels huge. So awesome.
2) The SeaDeck flooring is one of the best things we have ever bought. Total comfort and easily cleaned.
3) The 40 horse is plenty for this boat. Gets it up on plane very easily. Would have been nice to go bigger but the 40 kept the boat nice and light.
4) The bose marine speakers are the real deal.
5) The standup center console allows for a ton more deck. I was worried about the comfort but it is actually a blast to drive. Im sure if I was going long distances, it would be a pain to stand up, but I never run for more than a few minutes at a time. Truthfully, I only use the outboard about half the time I use the boat.
6) The Side Imaging Sonar is an awesome tool for identifying structure and finding fish.