Small boats - single vs twin hull

Say I had a couple kids approaching fishing age and I was going to buy a car topper to toss the kids in and fish some local stocker lakes.

For this application what would you rather have, a standard single hull aluminum row boat or a twin hull boat like a livingston. It would also be nice if the boat were useful when dad takes the fly rod on a solo mission.

Any insight/advice on safety, comfort, ease of use, hauling, storing, functionality, etc would be appreciated.
OK. I'm showing my age here.........

I'd choose single hull, as in something similar to the old Tollycraft 17' runabout. Rivers, lakes, ocean, it did it all........

The story behind this is as follows. Tolly originally built the boat @ 16', and it was OK. He also had an employee program where you could buy the boat in pieces and build it yourself. So one of the workers bought a kit and stretched it to 17' - and hit the sweet spot. Next thing you know, it went into production. Now, Tolly 17's, in certain circles, are just about like mint '57 Chevy's. Heavy money. But look at the length and the hullform, and see what's out there that is similar.



Idiot Savant
If you can, go to a boat yard and take the kids too. Hop in one and see how the floor or lack of one works. Most vee hulls (aluminum) don't have floors (flat). Twin hulls like Livingstons are flatter, more stable, but the center beam gets in your way. Think about how you're gonna move this thing, oars, electric motor, gas motor. Outboards will cost more than your boat sometimes.

Better that this see if any friends will take you and the kids for a shot spin...

You'll quickly see what works for you.


FFing and VWs...Bugs & Bugs
I think we had a discussion of a similar type last year. Since kids are involved, stability would be the main concern for a cartopper, then the weight, (like, who is going to be tossing this thing up on the family chariot). For the sake of keeping things simple in this discussion, I'mgoing to disregard the interior layout of the boat. Let's consider what affects stability. Length vs beam (width) and the boat "footprint in the water". In my limited experience, I have found the multihull designs like a Livingston, Whaler, etc., a bit more "stable" (side to side/fore and aft) than the same length aluminum v-bottom monohull at rest. This being due to their having somewhat more beam to length ratio on the average as well effectively having an effectively flatter bottom. i.e., picture a one foot piece of 2x4 and a one foot piece of 4 inch round post stock. Float them, now push down on the side of the round stock, rolls right over. Push on the side of the 2x4, more resistant to the roll. You get the idea. Now about moving this critter around once you get out on your favorite bit of flat water. Drag is the killer here, especially if you are using oars to get around (always good to have along in case your motor conks out. been there). Wider, deeper in the water equals drag. Take our floating 2x4 again; push it by the end, not so fast in the water, right? Cut it in half lengthwise, fasten the pieces end to end. Twice as long, same floatation. Now push it. Faster than the uncut piece? Rowing shell vs barge. Generally, wide multihulls do not row as well as narrow monohulls so it's a tradeoff. Hope I haven't sounded too professorial here and offended anyone.
You might want to also look into an inflatable. Winter is coming and the "yachties" will be selling that old tender for the new model. I'm not talking about a rubber duckie boat. I'm talking an inflatable with a floor and transom for a little outboard or an electric motor. I would not put a motor on for my brats, they got oars (you have to learn to walk before you run). Inflatables are arguably more stable for thier "displacement" or "footprint" than any hard hulled boat, and they are more portable. This by the way does not come from the cheap seats, I have raised both my brats with Avon inflatables with oars on the Sound.
Tom C.
I have a tri hull boat 10ft for sale is you are interested. The tri hull as the benefits of a double hull but much more confortable with the floor being flat. The livingstons are very uncomfortable.

Jeff Dodd

Active Member
I put a 9' livingston on a truck last weekend and it's wasn't too heavy and slid easily inside the ladder rack. Livingston's are very stable, but don't have much freeboard in the size you're considering. They are seaworthy however and stable side to side for crabbing, etc.

I'd just go with the best deal you find at the time, then get rid of it if a better deal comes along. Craigslist is the ticket !

I am picking up a 14' Smoker Craft and galv. Caulkins trailer Friday that I found for $400. If you're patient, the right deal will come along. Just annoy the folks in the office and someone will remember they have a boat laying around that has not been used for years.

If you're looking for a 9' Livingston, let me know, as I know someone who might be selling one pretty cheap. (Dad)

Good luck and enjoy the hunt!


fish'n glass
i was in the same boat last year as LINTD and was looking for a 10' livingston-type boat. a buddy of mine let us borrow his for a while and so i knew it would be perfect for us. my 3 young sons couldn't tip it even when they tried. plenty of freeboard, very stable, doesn't need a trailer, warmer than aluminum, easy to carry/drag, great for trolling, nice stable platform, lots of seating options, etc., etc..

as i was deciding between a few defferent livingstons, i found a screaming deal on a 12' aluminum Klamath with a newish trailer. i couldn't resist and haven't regretted buying it. the main down-side i see to many small aluminim boats is that they're usually narrow/less stable and they don't have enough freeboard for my liking. find a nice wider aluminum boat and you won't be disappionted.

let us know what you end up getting.


For what you're looking to do I'd consider the Livingston first. Livingston boats are very stable and with two young kids that would be my main concern.
I Have A 12' Aluminum V Hull. With Me My Dad And His Friend The Footprint Is Pretty Good Size. Maybe Four Inches Of Freeboard On Either Side Is The Only Problem. She Is As Sturdy As A Rock, But All It Takes Is All Of Us Leaning To One Side To Make Her Tilt To One Side Or The Other.
Point Being, If You Got Friends That Pack Alot Weight (and I Dont Mean In Beer Or Gear) With You, I Wouldnt Recomend Somthing Like This. But If You Are The Quiet Type, With Just You And The Kids, This Sort Of Thing Might Work Great For You.
I Am Sailing A 12' Montgomery Wards Aluminum Special. I Got The Matching 9 Horse Motor But It Dosnt Run. Does Any One Know A Good Outboard Specialist In The 'couve? When We Go Out, We Run A Good Sized Trolling Motor On The Back. With The Right Battery, It Will Run You Around On A Lake All Day.

Cheers! May All Your Marine Adventures Be Dry Ones,