Water Bug - an SUV catamaran powerboat

11 December 2014     Editor    4 Comments.

The Water Bug is an experimental catamaran motorboat designed and built by Russell Brown of Port Townsend Watercraft. It uses a pair of Tornado catamaran hulls as the base, and is extremely efficient, getting 20mpg at 11 knots, while loaded AND pulling a dinghy. Russell uses it like a water-born SUV - hauling stuff and going camping. The “car” is plywood/epoxy construction, it was drawn on the back of an envelope so there are no plans.

Proa File has a personal interest in fuel efficient multihull motorboats and like Russell, we hope to see more of them on the water to replace gas guzzling, inefficient powerboats.


 smallcraft / power / catamarans 


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13 Dec - 13:56


What I've been doing lately What do you do with a bargain basement priced 35 year old Tornado sailing catamaran when its sailing days are past? I had a couple of choices. I could restore and reinforce the hulls, buy new sails and rigging, and sail it like the designer intended, but somehow I could not see myself righting that 27' rig after a capsize. I could have used the two hulls as amas and built a longer center hull to make a small cruising trimaran. This has been successfully done by others. Or I could make it into an outboard powered fishing and day cruising boat. The last choice seemed the easiest because not only do I already have a yard full of sailing canoes but I had a 9.9 hp Honda outboard and was interested to see how fast I could drive these hulls. I tried to keep everything as light as possible while still spending the minimum amount of money. There are four hollow plywood girders bridging between the two original aluminum crossbeams. The deck is 9mm (3/8") Meranti ply. The sides and seats are all 6mm (1/4") ply. I had to do some test runs to get the motor height just right. You can lose a lot of speed if the prop is too deep and it will ventilate if it is too shallow. My GPS read a maximum speed of 13.8 knots (25.5 km/h). Future work will involve reducing the spray from the engine that hits the aft crossbeam and possibly fitting a dodger/awning for sun and wind protection. And in true outrigger style, the entire platform is lashed to the crossbeams with polyester line. I have to admit that I was partially inspired to do this by Russell Brown's "Skeeter", although his is designed for rougher conditions than mine.

13 Dec - 22:39


Thanks for the update, Sooth. The super-efficient power multihull seems to be a growing wave in small boat design. The repurposing of old sailboat hulls is is recycling at it's finest. If only someone would figure out how to make a decent power boat from a Hobie 16...

20 Dec - 14:25


Was a cut and paste of a gary dierking boat that was similar, photos didnt come out so was not obvious. Can be found on his blog archives.

14 Feb - 05:56

Kristine B.

I have seen photos of this craft a couple of times but never knew who built it much less owned it. I wouldn't mind building one like it to play around the San Juan's where I live.