by Ron Miller
My “trailer on a toon” project came to fruition one evening while sitting in my backyard with my wife discussing some of the more memorable vacations we had. We both agreed that our recently purchased Chalet hard sided folding trailer was a great deal of fun, but that the lack of privacy at camp grounds was always an issue with us. We also agreed that time spent on or near the water was a high priority, and that Lake Powell was one of our favorite spots. We considered a speed boat purchase, but we both felt it would probably only see the water a few days a year. Quite simply, I blurted out, “Why not put the Chalet on top of a pontoon boat?”
The response from her was that I probably had one too many adult beverages and that it was time for bed. The idea lingered in the back of my head for a couple of months until I got the tape measure out, measured the Chalet and started making chalk marks on the driveway. Then it was serious.
Doing a few quick calculations yielded the amount of flotation needed to support the 2,000 lb. trailer. A 28 foot tritoon would easily fit the bill. Purchasing a new one was out of the question, so I started searching Craig’s list. It wasn’t long until I found a likely candidate, a very neglected 1988 Party Hut tritoon. It was a mess. Completely rotted out and literally crumbling, the trailer had 4 rotted tires and the engine was dead. Supposedly, the engine had a ruined transmission that would cost $2500.00 alone to replace. A new motor? Close to $8,000.00.
The PERFECT donor was soon in tow behind me (after fitting 4 new tires) for a bargain price. The new resting place was in a pole barn owned by a friend, perfect to begin construction out of the hot Tucson sun. Luckily, the 90 hp Yamaha motor just needed some minor work and the tranny a simple adjustment. It ran great and had excellent compression. It took a year and a lot of “ghetto rigging,” but the Y-Knot was finally done and ready for trials.
Re-registering the boat was a simple affair, but I knew it needed an “official” seal of approval to keep the local water cops at bay. Certainly, they would find some way to keep me off the water. The stamp of approval came via a Coast Guard inspector, who spent a couple of hours studying all the changes and modifications (several hundred in total) that I had done. He declared it safe and seaworthy. My new inspection sticker mounted on the port side bow was now my “get out of jail free card.” My reasoning was simple: if the water cops had a problem with my creation they could take it up with the Coast Guard!
The Y-Knot has now spent over 40 days and nights on the water, and Lake Powell is the favored destination. With thousands of miles of shore line and hundreds of canyons to explore (and excellent fishing) I anticipate spending many hours there in the coming years. I especially enjoy fetching popsicles from the freezer to give to kids, big and little, who just have to come aboard and take a quick tour of the “trailer on a toon”.
See more photos of the Y-knot by clicking on this link.