I'm working on a project in which we're restoring a classic motor yacht and refitting it with modern technology and outfitting the whole thing for a television production in which we'll do inland and coastal cruising along with some adventure travel in different locations. Imagine Anthony Bourdaine or Andrew Zimmern, but a big part of our focus is on how we get there in the first place.
One topic of discussion that gets brought up on boating and yachting forums and something we have to figure out is how to get a vehicle on the boat. It might sound kind of like a crazy idea, but a lot of the places we'll be going don't exactly have rental car access. Not to mention, Hertz wouldn't appreciate us using their Hyundai or whatever for what we're going to be doing.
As a lifelong Jeep guy, the only acceptable vehicle to put on board is a jeep -- particularly a four-door wrangler. We're looking to either buy a euro-spec diesel or purchase a used one and pop in a new diesel (we want it running the same fuel as the boat).
The biggest hurdle isn't so much stowage of the vehicle on board, it's getting it off the boat and onto shore.
In ideal circumstances, you just pull up to a port and off-load your jeep onto the pavement using davits (an on board crane). The reality is though that the more interesting places to go won't have this option. Especially within the theme of our show which is basically to cruise along and when you see something/some place that looks cool, off load and go! See a Mayan pyramid on a hilltop, go check it out...see a village with fishing boats and huts on the beach, go eat. Yeah, those places generally aren't set up for 125 foot boats with 10 foot draft (depth) to pull up and say hi.
Working within the idea that many times we likely won't be able to get our boat close enough to sit the Jeep directly onto land, we're working on how we can get the jeep off and on the boat yet do so in up to 10 feet of water.
Here are two idea I have:
1. Water-proof the jeep as much as possible to withstand 3-4 feet of water. Big tires and lift plus vertical stacks for the air intake and exhaust as well as perhaps water-proofing the engine compartment if needed.
2. Building a "lift-raft" for the Jeep to ride on. Instead of lifting just the jeep by the davits and off the vessel and onto either land, beach, or shallow water, we'd lift the platform and then drive the jeep off of it (and back onto it when loading). This platform would also have the ability to act as a sort of semi-floatable landing craft.
We are looking at having the jeep stowed in a sealed container anyway so as to protect it from constant salt. What we're thinking is that we can build such a container with a shallow-displacement (barge like) hull and/or attach inflatable pontoons to make it float.
In situations where we need to get the jeep ashore but can't get the main boat close enough, we could lower the entire jeep raft into the water. Someone could then go to shore in a launch with the jeep's winch cable and some sort of stake or anchor or whatever. The launch would tow the jeep raft within range of its max winch length (if needed). With the ceble secured ashore, the jeep would use its own winch to ground the raft and then drive right off the platform, potentially assisted by its winch until securely on solid ground. Loading would be the reverse.
(OK sorry I know -- long post!).
So what do you guys think of this idea?
Does this sound practical and can we do this without causing immediate or regular damage to the jeep? Once loaded on board, we'd have the ability to give it a fresh water wash, so salt wouldn't be left on it long term. But it would inevitably get saltwater on and in it.
Haha yah, they are pretty neat.
The only thing you need to remember is that they are about as hydrodynamic as a Jeep is aerodynamic.
A simpler version of the pontoon idea might be something to look at though. That looks easily workable if the budget is there.
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Once when I was in Honolulu with a boat at the marina, there was a 50-60' sailing vessel with a Fiat 850 on deck. It sat athwartship. I would guess that it weighed no more than half the vehicle that you are talking about.
They used a pair of ramps and a sail-handling winch to load the Fiat.
Having been a skipper on three mainland to Hawaii trips, the last thing that I would want in a weight the size you are talking about at deck level. Bear in mind that a powerboat has inherently much less resistance to roll than a sailboat due to the lack of a keel.
At the very least I would run your numbers by a marine architect. You really don't want to turn turtle from the wake of a passing barge or large vessel.
Don't really see the point in doing that to a Jeep... You really couldn't go anywhere besides the roads and the water with that kind of ground clearance... My moms Highlander has 10" of ground clearance, but I'm not taking that thing offroad anytime soon...