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Building the next Fishues - a Custom 35 Contender Pilothouse

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Building the next Fishues - a Custom 35 Contender Pilothouse

Old 01-02-2020, 11:43 AM
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Default Building the next Fishues - a Custom 35 Contender Pilothouse

Hi all, figured I'd share our current build. Hope you enjoy it, and I know we will benefit from the valuable input of some extremely knowledgeable members.

It started life as a 1990 35 Contender Express Diesel. The previous owner converted it to outboards at some point, but it is laid out differently than most of the side console models they produced over the years.

The end goal is to build a pilothouse boat primarily for long range scuba spearfishing, but also fishing and weekending with the family. Objectives: 400 gallons fuel, 40 scuba tanks, 80 gallons freshwater, massive in-deck fish boxes, sleeping for 4.

To be clear, I am taking no credit for the design or the actual labor. The design was largely inspired by a friend, a commercial diver who build a similar boat about 10 years ago. And while I am overseeing the project and associated contractors, I lack both the time and talent to undertake a project like this myself.

Treasure Coast Customs will be doing all the fiberglass work and fabrication. Linex of Sarasota will do the deck and metal work. Several other great vendors will play a role along the way.

The boat is currently stripped of the top, decks, floor etc. We even had to cut out the rear livewell and surrounding floor to get the old fuel tank out.

This is how the boat looked when I brought it home:






Last edited by head_hunter; 01-06-2020 at 07:41 AM.
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01-02-2020, 11:48 AM
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This is the boat that inspired it:

Old 01-02-2020, 11:46 AM
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This is how it sits today:



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Old 01-02-2020, 11:48 AM
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This is the boat that inspired it:

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Old 01-02-2020, 11:52 AM
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We will lower the floor in the PH to be flush with the cockpit
It will get 2 benches port and starboard inside the PH that will each lift to house 2 rows of 8 tanks.
2x 140 Gallon main fuel tanks will be under the PH as well.
Aux 120 Gallon fuel tank will go under the centerline cockpit.
We will be adding a traditional centerline bilge at the rear, which it did not previously have.
Outside of the centerline will be the main fish boxes. Massive integral boxes that extend back into the euro transom.
Outside of those will be 40 gallon freshwater tanks on both sides.

Old 01-02-2020, 11:59 AM
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You will be hauling about 7000lb. That's some serious cargo for that boat.
Old 01-02-2020, 12:03 PM
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Power is still very much up in the air

300 Zukes are adequate and the economical choice. Had them on my last boat and was very happy with them.
350 Zukes would be the natural choice for pushing a big heavy boat with twins, I just have some concerns about the reliability.
350/400 Verados may not have the torque I need to push a big heavy boat with twins.
300 V8 Verados are probably the leading choice right now, the mid range numbers are pretty impressive and it seems they will have significant torque advantage over the 6 cylinder 300hp options.
Old 01-02-2020, 12:11 PM
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I would take a pilot house version over a center console any day of the week. That one you posted looks sharp, to my eye.

Really looking forward to watching this come together.
Old 01-02-2020, 12:37 PM
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Are you happy that all the extra weight on the center of the boat length will leave the hull well balanced and not nose heavy compared to the original?
A small amount of extra work to curve/shape the window corners and add a small shaped eyebrow over the front wondows would probably make the cabin design look a slightly better match to the hull.
Cool project.
Old 01-02-2020, 12:41 PM
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Nice project, keep us posted. I like pilot house rigs.
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Old 01-02-2020, 12:49 PM
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Originally Posted by Aliboy View Post
Are you happy that all the extra weight on the center of the boat length will leave the hull well balanced and not nose heavy compared to the original?
A small amount of extra work to curve/shape the window corners and add a small shaped eyebrow over the front wondows would probably make the cabin design look a slightly better match to the hull.
Cool project.
The factory outboard boats were very ass heavy, so we are intentionally shifting as much weight forward as possible. The Aux fuel tank in cockpit and the FW will only be filled when necessary.

The windows can be ordered with a 3" radius corners or mitered (like the pic). I'm leaning toward the mitered look. Regardless I am going to paint the areas in between the window frames black to blend the whole surround. jstbecauz on here did it with his apache build and I think it looks killer:

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Old 01-02-2020, 12:51 PM
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Originally Posted by fireisland1 View Post
You will be hauling about 7000lb. That's some serious cargo for that boat.
Average loads will be about half that, but will be nice to have the capacity when we want to go long.

My prior boat was a 31 Contender that we customized for diving. Held 280 gallons and 22 tanks (we packed it with 30 once for an overnight), and we started to really hit the limits of its abilities this year.
Old 01-02-2020, 01:19 PM
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first let me say , I think it's a great project and will watch as you come along. My question is why that route. I'm sure you have particular reasons for this build. An off the shelf diesel SF would probably do the job without much fuss. No doubt you thought this out , I'm just curious
Old 01-02-2020, 01:29 PM
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Had a 35 sc for many years. Fond of that hull. Beastly for sure. Going to be tender on the anchor while diving They will go through anything but like to rock and roll

Good luck!!
Old 01-02-2020, 01:40 PM
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Originally Posted by fireisland1 View Post
first let me say , I think it's a great project and will watch as you come along. My question is why that route. I'm sure you have particular reasons for this build. An off the shelf diesel SF would probably do the job without much fuss. No doubt you thought this out , I'm just curious
Like many on here, I obsess about the perfect boat day and night. And while there is no truly perfect boat, this one will check the most boxes for me. From our base in Jupiter, FL, we do thousands of miles a year via trailer, and dive out of ports up and down the Atlantic and Gulf coasts. So keeping it trailerable was a must. This hull is 10' beam, so only needs a simple annual overwide permit. I've also just always been an outboard guy. For ease of maintenance, reliability, quietness, increased interior space, draft.

And I don't want to buy or maintain more than 2 motors, so I needed something that could perform well with twins. And since we all have families and day jobs, lots of our trips are quick turn and burns, so 35mph min cruise is a must. There was simply nothing from a factory production standpoint that meet these goals, plus the tank/gear carrying objectives. We are also keeping this one more of a rugged, no frills, working boat finish which will keep costs down and I won't have to worry about trashing a nice sporty.
Old 01-02-2020, 01:42 PM
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Originally Posted by rocksandblues View Post
Had a 35 sc for many years. Fond of that hull. Beastly for sure. Going to be tender on the anchor while diving They will go through anything but like to rock and roll

Good luck!!
I spent a lot of time on one growing up that my uncle captained with a full tower. It would definitely rock and roll. Lowering the floor and bringing the overall COG down should help somewhat, but its still a relatively narrow, deep V. But I'd rather deal with the rocking and have a better ride for the long runs we often do.
Old 01-02-2020, 01:49 PM
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If you can’t find it build it. Like your style
Old 01-02-2020, 02:22 PM
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Is the back of the pilot house going to have some kind of enclosure that will allow you to enjoy AC? You can throw a roof top AC on it for less than $2k that will freeze you out and twin 300's will provide more than enough juice to run it, so no need for a generator....nice to have for 2 + hour trips in the FL heat, makes a 12 hour day feel more like an 6-8 hour day.
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Old 01-02-2020, 02:38 PM
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As reported to CARB:
Merc 300 V8 = 313 lb-ft @4500rpm
Yamaha F350 = 334 lb-ft @4200rpm
Suzuki 350 = 319 lb-ft @4500
Evinrude G2 300 = 333 lb-ft @4250
Merc 350 I6 Verado = 320 lb-ft @4200
Suzuki 300 = 252 lb/ft @ 4500 rpm
Yam 300 = 295 @ 5000 rpm
Merc 450 R = 425 lb/ft
Old 01-02-2020, 02:41 PM
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Originally Posted by Diverboy View Post
Is the back of the pilot house going to have some kind of enclosure that will allow you to enjoy AC? You can throw a roof top AC on it for less than $2k that will freeze you out and twin 300's will provide more than enough juice to run it, so no need for a generator....nice to have for 2 + hour trips in the FL heat, makes a 12 hour day feel more like an 6-8 hour day.
Still working on finalizing the design for the rear, but thinking a pair of 2' pocket doors that meet in the middle, leaving a 4' opening when stowed.

AC is a must for sure! That will be my one boojee indulgence and exception to the no-frills theme.

I ditched the generator and the old 110V AC that was in there. Looking at doing a 12V 7500BTU AC from Mabru power systems. They are getting 12 hours run time off a 60# Lithium battery. I hadn't considered a roof mounted unit. Like on a RV? That may be a more economical solution.

Old 01-02-2020, 02:47 PM
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Originally Posted by head_hunter View Post
The factory outboard boats were very ass heavy, so we are intentionally shifting as much weight forward as possible. The Aux fuel tank in cockpit and the FW will only be filled when necessary.

The windows can be ordered with a 3" radius corners or mitered (like the pic). I'm leaning toward the mitered look. Regardless I am going to paint the areas in between the window frames black to blend the whole surround. jstbecauz on here did it with his apache build and I think it looks killer:
What was the final #'s on this green boat . I followed the thread but missed that .

I fished a 35 Contender ( same model ) with 250 Salt 2 Yams and it seemed to push it fine . We didn't travel far to fish or load it up heavy - so we didn't do a lot of running but when it kicked up it was a pretty good ride .

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