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Old 25-06-2019, 22:31   #1
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Off grid houseboat in the Florida keys

Iíve recently purchased a 1980 Steury house boat, and plan on living off the grid with it outside of Key West. Iím about to start converting it over to an outboard, since the inboard has already been removed. Iíve been looking for a good website, where I can ask people for their help. I havenít been able to find much, so I thought Iíd come here. Iím curious as to what the best way to do the steering is, once I have converted to an outboard. Iíd still like to be able to use the helm on the roof and the one inside, just not sure what that entails. Also if there is anyone down here in my area, Iíll be looking for a spot to dock my dinghy and park my car. Iíve been the GM of one of Key West best night clubs for three years, so paying is no problem. I just think itíll be fun to live for free off the grid for a while, really want to anchor out in the Mangrove islands so I can have some privacy. Happy for any help I can get during this adventure. Click image for larger version

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Old 26-06-2019, 04:51   #2
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Re: Off grid houseboat in the Florida keys

Have you looked into saildrive engines/motors?

Like that last pic of you and your new boat!
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Old 26-06-2019, 04:55   #3
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Re: Off grid houseboat in the Florida keys

Of the upper and lower helm stations are hydraulic, all youíll need to do is add some hose and a cylinder to the outboard.

If theyíre cable, youíll need to cobble together some routing blocks to run the cables to the outboard tiller.

Iím not sure what the saildrives have to do with this though?
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Old 26-06-2019, 05:03   #4
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Re: Off grid houseboat in the Florida keys

Whatever moved the rudder should be able to move the outboard, but might need extension, the rudder being a few feet before the new outboard mount. What kind of steering did it have, and was it left in the boat? Then we could talk options.
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Old 26-06-2019, 05:04   #5
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Re: Off grid houseboat in the Florida keys

Sailmonkey,

Thought it might be an alternative type of set-up to an outboard, but possibly not for a houseboat sort of hull...?

With a saildrive, I was thinking then he could just loop it into whatever existing steering system he already has on the boat.

It was just a thought.

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Old 26-06-2019, 05:20   #6
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Re: Off grid houseboat in the Florida keys

Iíd bet this thing was originally set up with an IO stern drive. Therefore no rudder. The outboard/s make sense when converting from IO.
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Old 26-06-2019, 05:27   #7
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Re: Off grid houseboat in the Florida keys

Steury houseboats typically came with a 165hp Inboard/Outboard Mercruiser Stern Drives. Many have been converted to outboards.



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Old 26-06-2019, 05:36   #8
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Re: Off grid houseboat in the Florida keys

You can dock with the City Marina for a monthly fee.



There are places in the mangroves behind Denny's on N Roosevelt that you can beach a dinghy. They're unsecure but I've not had issue leaving it there for a few hours to do grocery shopping.
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Old 26-06-2019, 06:12   #9
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Re: Off grid houseboat in the Florida keys

Great idea w/plenty of space for a huge solar farm.

Did a quick search and did find a few Steury house boats that were converted to OBs, so that should be doable. The OB is essentially a saildrive but easier to remove/work on and you don't ahve to cut a hole in the boat and worry about changing a seal when it starts to leak.

Didn't see that many or good pics of the outside steering station though.

As suggested would be good to know how the steering (hydraulic or cable) was set up, if its still in place. For a dual stations would think the hydraulic would be the best in the long run, but here is a link to a mechanical cable system that could work also. Worked on both and each have merits/draw backs.
I'm betting you have a hydraulic system, which should be somewhat easy to retro for the OB steering.


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Old 26-06-2019, 06:39   #10
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Off grid houseboat in the Florida keys

Hydraulic is so much easier, especially with dual helm stations that Iíd install one if it didnít have one already.
Then something along with Mercuryís Veradoís DTS, which stands for digital throttle and shift, which means itís purely electronic, adding a second or even third helm station is as easy as plugging in the network cable, like adding a mouse to your computer.

Whatever outboard you put on there make it a requirement that it can be tilted completely out of the water, nothing stays wet.

Then as I assume your a local and may have an in with the yards, work up some sort of deal with one so that you have a plan to pull it and chain it down for a hurricane evac plan. That way your boat wonít just be more trash in the mangroves that has to be cleaned out, and youíll still have a boat.

Size of outboard is completely up to you, even a small 9.9 will move you around if you plan on staying local, but to get up and plane and haul butt may cost you upwards of $25,000 or more in motor and rigging / installing.

If you go small, be sure you get a ď High thrustĒ motor, a high thrust 9.9 will push you better and be better on the engine than a regular 20 HP will, the regular motor is made to go fast on a small light weight dinghy etc.. Not push a heavy boat, as such it will often just cavitate etc if you try to push it, and that isnít good for many reasons.

It already has a window unit AC, a good Honda ought to be able to run that, but if you really want to stay out there long term, Solar is tough to beat and you have the room.
I wouldnít consider a watermaker as your going to need or come in and pump out anyway, why not pick up water then.
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Old 26-06-2019, 07:02   #11
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Re: Off grid houseboat in the Florida keys

the dinghy dock in at Key West Bight is around $93 a month
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Old 26-06-2019, 07:34   #12
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Re: Off grid houseboat in the Florida keys

Quote:
Originally Posted by a64pilot View Post
If you go small, be sure you get a ď High thrustĒ motor, a high thrust 9.9 will push you better and be better on the engine than a regular 20 HP will, the regular motor is made to go fast on a small light weight dinghy etc.. Not push a heavy boat, as such it will often just cavitate etc if you try to push it, and that isnít good for many reasons.
True. I bought a 60hp Mercury Bigfoot for my boat because it had a nice big gear ratio and swung a larger prop. My boat may have been a few knots slower, but it had a lot of torque when loaded down with guests and gear.

Same philosophy for this houseboat.
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Old 28-06-2019, 11:46   #13
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Re: Off grid houseboat in the Florida keys

Lots of good info here guys, thank you. The sensible side of me knows I should get some form of a high thrust motor between 60 and 90 hp. Does Suzuki have an equivalent of the Yamaha high thrust? The pirate side of me wants to buy a used 150HP motor and get that thing on a plane. Whatís the highest horsepower I can go up to in the high thrust family about boards?
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