New, 16 foot 2007 Chalet XL1930 purchased February, 2009. Chalet logos removed. This is a hard sided folding trailer, the roof is powered by an electric ram for quick set up - about 30 seconds from folded to latched and secured.
I opted for the toilet and outside shower option. There is a shower stall that pops out from the end of the couch outside near the hitch with a circular curtain and drain frenched into the floor. We use biodegradable soap so grey water like this is allowed to drain freely most places.
The beginning of the build. All of the old toon furniture and rigging was taken off the Party Hut. It was stripped down to the bare frame and a new deck installed. Sandbags approximate the weight of fuel tanks, batteries, passengers, new furniture, etc.
Determing the CG. The yellow straps and steel tracks to locate the wheels were temporary, and allowed me to roll the trailer fore and aft without danger of it rolling off or capsizing.
All of the new furniture that would eventually be mounted.
Not shown is the dining table which mounts in front of the couch.
shower enclosure that pops out from the end of the couch, supported by two gas springs. A hose runs from the outside of the Chalet to a permanently mounted shower head on the roof, you can mix hot and cold water. The hot water heater is 6 gallons. That's a ten minute shower if you're in the mood.
Off to Lake Powell and Dungeon Canyon
Dungeon Canyon, our first anchorage turned out to be exceptional. Beginners luck. This is the first time I ever captained this boat in a large body of water. All of the testing - 6 days and nights over two trips - was done at Lake Patagonia in southern Arizona - a literal bath tub at 250 acres. Lake Powell is 1.25 million acres, 186 miles long and has almost 2,000 miles of shoreline - longer than the entire west coast of the U.S.A.! There are 96 major canyons, some of which are 15 to 20 miles in length.
Dungeon Canyon - we stayed here for several nights. Excellent hiking up and down the canyon here, but watch out for "ankle biters" - small cactus that grow no higher than a few inches. Nailing one can ruin your day since the spikes are as sharp as needles. You need to watch EVERY step and high topped leather hiking boots are about your only defense. I only had hiking sandals but got lucky.
A well equipped first aid kit is an absolute must on a trip like this. We had plenty of bandages - even for large wounds. Sutures and a small surgical kit, an eye wash cup with sterile saline rinse, IV catheters, a large supply of vicodin and 2 epi pens completed the kit along with slings, duct tape, bailing wire, etc. We put together our own instead of relying on a store bought kit which are for the most part worthless until you get into the industrial ones which cost hundreds of dollars. You can't call 911. Marine radios don't work in canyons either.
Dungeon Canyon, 1500 foot tall cliffs.
The inflatable kayak I bought at Harbor Freight for $175.00 on sale was a LOT of fun. It trailed 50 feet behind using floating rope and never was an issue. I installed rear view mirrors on the helm so I could keep an eye on it, but for the most part forgot it was even there.
Can you see the laughing and winking indian woman in the very center of the picture? She has a bandana on her head with hair flowing out both sides, two eyes, a button nose and a big smile. Welcome to Glen Canyon and Lake Powell! (her face is about 100 feet tall) She greeted us on arrival at Dungeon Canyon.
Sunset at Dungeon Canyon
We had what seemed like 3 nights of full moon on arrival, then it slowly waned for a week. Having bright moon light to walk around in at night was a special treat.
Motion activated battery powered LED lights were a big help at night. No flashlight needed for a midnight "anchor check". Here you can see the lightly smoked Sun Tuf corrugated polycarbonate roof - one mounted fore and aft for shade. It transmits 70% light yet block 99% of UV radiation and is incredibly cool underneath since it doesn't transmit any IR. Remarkably strong and dirt cheap. The rafters are seriously stout hollow aluminum 2X4's. This roof can easily withstand large hail - or small rocks - without it even leaving a mark. Lexan is also known as bullet proof glass. Purchased at Home Depot.
Under way to Cathedral Canyon on the main channel of the Colorado
Entering Cathedral Canyon
Northwest of Rainbow Bridge in Utah - unknown anchorage off the Colorado River.
This was an anchorage found late in the day after visiting Rainbow Bridge. It would be difficult for a power boat or large houseboat. This entire area is devoid of beaches or large rocks to tie up to - so you need to get creative. I found a small crack in a rock off to the left of the photo, and drove in a 4 foot long smooth pointed 3/4" steel bar about 2 feet deep. It turned out that bar was used a lot, and I plan to bring another one next trip. It allows you to anchor in what would normally be an impossible place. I used a 5 lb. mallet to drive it home, but a bit heavier mallet would have helped, I think I'll go for a 10 lb. with a longer shaft. Both ropes were tied off to it and it held well with the wind gusting to about 20 knots. We only stayed one night. The best thing about this spot is that we were protected from the swells and wakes from the main channel of the Colorado. If you want to sleep well a calm anchorage is essential. The entry/exit is about 1/4 mile to the far right of the picture. I've been roundly criticized by tree huggers for pounding a steel stake into rock. These are EXISTING cracks that I'm using. I'm not drilling into rock, cracking it or taking a jack hammer to it. About the only damage done is displacing a few grains of sand - which will wear naturally from wind and water erosion in a year or two. PLEASE - get over it. ;-) This is sand stone - not GRANITE. If you're interested in environmental criticism you might want to start with the people that created Lake Powell in the first place. I wasn't one of them. ;-)
A good view of the fore deck accommodations: Helm with captain's chair, another chair (both swivel and can be height adjusted) and a couch. The shower enclosure pops out from the end of the couch on gas springs, the hose for the supply comes off the side of the Chalet. The table can be rotated and removed if wanted. I used a unique vinyl loop carpet as an entrance throw rug to capture sand - it worked exceptionally well to keep the deck clean. The small submerged trees provided enough "friction" to keep us from bouncing on the rocks to the left. A natural "bumper"!
Access along the sides of the trailer. This was originally a fixed railing on the old boat. It now hinges and can be fixed at 90 or 180 degrees. At 90 degrees it is access to the entire boat while under way or docked, at 180 it makes it easy to get under the Chalet to access storage, or when tied up to a dock with bumpers.
My toy poodle loved running flat out on these smooth sandstone rocks. I kept yelling at him thinking he was going to run off a "cliff" - but even if he did he would have tumbled down the slope and landed in the water!
KoKo, my 14 lb. thirteen year old toy poodle that still acts like he's five. Hey, dogs need vacations too!
Master of his domain.
The next trip I'm going to lease a small plane for a day before we set out and scout some canyons in advance. This is one of the few places in the world you can legally fly just barely above the ground without getting in trouble with the FAA. I may even come up a week early and get my seaplane rating.
This hole in the rock is about 100 feet tall, 150 feet wide and 50 feet deep. We could have easily hiked up to it although it was very steep and roping up would have been a good idea in case of a slip. However, with no place to put in protection it didn't seem like a great idea. There's a small hanging garden located inside. The garden is supported by water percolating out from between the rock layers. Some have huge trees in them and many different plant species. I've never researched them but they are an eco system unlike any other in the desert. A haven from the intense sun.
Native wild flower center piece
Entering Rainbow Bridge Canyon
Rainbow Bridge Canyon entry
When II arrived around 10:00 am there was not ONE person at Rainbow Bridge. This is probably one of the most photographed natural features in the western US and it was ours exclusively. ...for about 20 minutes!
About a 1 mile walk to the arch in the background. When I visited in the late 80's you could literally motor all the way up to it within a few hundred feet. The Park Service determined it was causing too much erosion so built this floating dock farther away.
My private tour of Rainbow Canyon is about to end
...with the arrival of about 100 Tourons. A Touron is a cross between a tourist and a moron.
Rainbow Bridge Natural Arch. The height is 245 feet plus or minus 2 feet. The largest natural arch in the world, and only accessible to view by boat. Helicopters are not allowed to land or fly in close proximity in order to preserve the sanctity of the area which is *claimed* to be a sacred sight by a tribe. Even though I'm a commercial pilot I applaud this move to keep aircraft out of this area.
Hiking in would require several days and special permission to cross native lands - which you won't get, period.
Leaving Rainbow Canyon, it's very easy to get turned around in here since all the rocks are very homogenous looking and exits aren't always obvious. I did get "temporarily misplaced" for a minute....
Hanging out in a side canyon far up Reflection Canyon for a few days. The sand here was like powdered sugar and you could walk barefoot since all the rocks were smooth from erosion. This was very remote, I only had a few fishermen visit the entire time. Regular size houseboats would have a difficult time navigating to get here. The length of the beach is what you see. It is solid rock on either side.
Those eight hawsers were desperately needed - we had wind gusts that night up to 50mph. The boat was literally bouncing up and down on the sand. I got zero sleep since I was constantly thinking I was going to break free. Luckily each one was tied off to a HUGE bolder. This was the only weather "event" during my trip.
he day after 50mph wind gusts overnight. 8 anchor lines! Footprints on the beach were gone, and there was powdery sand inside everything on shore. I'm really glad I wasn't tent camping. You really need an expedition quality tent to camp here successfully. The $50.00 Kelty's at Costco won't cut it. Oddly enough there was no sand on the boat!
Got carp?? Some of these are 3 feet long. I was after bass, crappie and blue gill. I spent $400.00 on new fishing tackle and bait, etc. but didn't get even a bite. I had heard that in the fall the fish just weren't that interested in eating. Apparently Powell is going to be the BEST bass fishing lake in the world in a few years since the water level is so high. By drowning out a lot of the shore vegetation the little guys will have plenty of cover and lots to eat. I saw hatches of tiny bass numbering in the thousands. All they need is some time to grow up. Like the Terminator said: "I'll be BACK!"
Ahh, shade. Something you can't have too much of on Powell. You need to bring your own or hang out next to a canyon wall. I also had a large 12 X 12 free standing shade structure but never got around to putting it up since the umbrella was so easy. I spent a lot of time with my new Kindle and polished off several books during the trip.
This shot gives you an idea of how crystal clear the water is. It's potable, but I would certainly boil it for a couple of minutes first. Nothing worse than Montezuma's Revenge in the middle of nowhere.
Breakfast on the good ship Y-Knot: Scrambled egg whites (with a little yolk thrown in for color) with red peppers, onion, cheese. Chicken asiago sausage. Hash browns. Bloodies. Organic chicken, buffalo, fresh veggies and a variety of other dishes were served up each night. I had a freezer on board which I wanted to stock with Haagen Dazs dark chocolate ice cream bars and fruit sorbet but forgot. I had to settle for yogurt and chocolate chip cookies for desert.
Just like on the Food Network, this picture was posed and the labels on the bottles rotated so they didn't get any free publicity. ;-)
The flush toilet is in the cabinet to the right. It works exceptionally well. Waste goes into a 4 gallon cassette container that is easily removed from the outside and dumped. There is no smell at all.
double basin stainless steel sink, 2 burner propane stove, 3 cu. ft. fridge and freezer. Yep, I can make ice cubes and store pop sickles for 2 weeks at a stretch using propane power.
The windows are all tempered glass, some slide and have screens.
The permanently mounted queen bed has 4" of firm polyurethane foam for a base with 3" of soft visco elastic foam on top. Uses regular sheets. A light weight down comforter makes it very snug. There is also residential style heating on board with a thermostat.
Lots of storage under the bed AND covered storage outside under the Chalet. There's also 17 gallons of potable water here in the tank and the 6 gallon hot water heater.
rope lights for soft indoor lighting
rope lights over the dining area
I cut a Lexan “window” to fill in the space around the AC. Lexan is the commonly known as bullet proof glass, but in thin sheets it can be cut with a jigsaw. It is unbreakable and very clear. If you use acrylic instead it will yellow and break over time. The “window” fits in the tracks for the OEM sliding window when fully opened.
Mount for AC which can only be used with shore power. I also have a swamp cooler for running off batteries (2 deep cycle) This is a J bolt coupled to a piece of threaded rod with a stop nut and locking wing nut. The mount on the bottom of the AC is a hinge with a hole drilled through it to accept the threaded rod. The j bolt goes through the existing hole in the latch. Once this is snugged down it becomes a VERY secure mount with no play at all.
Looking south toward Reflection Canyon. It's hard to describe how quiet it is here. You can hear the wind rushing through a crow's wings as he cruises overhead. Thousands of miniscule white flies would gather at dusk and make a combined high pitched sound like a soft, barely audible violin playing in stereo in the background. I thought I was hearing things until I figured out what it was! (not ONE insect bite the entire trip) A rock falling off a cliff half a mile away sounded like it was right next to you. The absence of ANY ambient noise was an amazing experience. I enjoyed it so much I rarely played any jazz on the outdoor stereo - which I listen to all the time at home.
Departing Reflection Canyon
Here you can see the top of the white "bath tub ring" when Powell is completely full. There is enough water to keep it close to full for the next couple of years - which it was during our visit. They are currently letting water out as fast as they can every day. This is good news for my home town of Tucson since we are in a major drought - and a large percentage of our water comes from the Colorado.
Say, what's a 16 foot Chalet XL hard sided folding travel trailer doing parked at a slip in a marina? I took this picture specifically to make it look like it was sitting on the dock on the wheels. It is, of course, still mounted on the Y-Knot.
This is Dangling Rope marina, and during the summer this place is SLAMMED with boats and houseboats, often waiting in line for hours to get fuel, etc. The other two marinas are each about 50 miles away, so you have no choice. There was only a boat or two that visited during the three hours we were there goofing off. During this time I replenished our block ice ($5), dumped the cassette to our Thetford electric flush toilet, and tossed the trash. I'm surprised they didn't charge for it.
I did a little paving at the end of the ramp so we didn't have to walk in the mud. Most beaches are sand. The aluminum motorcycle loading ramp folds in half and works great since it cleans off your shoes getting on the boat and is very grippy. The only problem with this is KoKo our poodle could not walk on it since his feet would slip through.
I took our inflatable kayak to the very end of Labyrinth Canyon.
During our entire 10 days on the water we only had one neighbor within 1/2 mile of us. Everyone is looking for the same thing: seclusion. Having a small houseboat is a HUGE advantage since I could stash it places the big ones would never dare attempt due to fear of grounding. They all tend to hang out like white on rice in easy to anchor areas .
We coasted in here on momentum with the motor off and prop pulled out of the water until we gently grounded on the sand. The water in this anchorage was 2 feet deep, but I only pull about 12 inches of draft so was still floating on all three "logs" (pontoons). In order to get out I had to physically push the boat 90 degrees in order to get it oriented in the "channel" enough to put the motor part way down. Backing up very slowly allowed me to get into deeper water and put the motor all the way down. I backed up for several hundred yards until I was sure I was in deep enough water. Kind of a strange way to navigate but hey, it works for me!
Our last night out, the next day we would head back to the marina. We covered 25 miles this day in exactly 1.5 hours including a self enforced no wake zone in this canyon and about a 1/2 mile stretch nearing the marina. We encountered a huge wake from a tour boat that was 3 feet tall and swamped the bow. I thought we were going to sink. It popped back up. That would have been a really bad way to end the trip. WHEW!
On the way back home during a rest stop - along side the highway - I found a candidate for my next boat. With a little paint and landscaping....
Yours for the taking ;-)
This was the donor boat - a 1988 ONE OWNER Party Hut 28' tritoon that was just sitting. Everything that was not metal was trashed from sun and weather exposure. This was just perfect for my project since I was after the frame, pontoons and most importantly an expensive engine.
toon donor 2
Ready to tear (literally) into it! you can see the top of the roof has peeled away just from towing it. I was surprised the entire deck didn't blow off and land in the highway - it was that rickety from sitting in the sun and weather for 23 years.
This was the pile of stuff I took off the Party Hut in preperation for the rebuild. Couches, chairs, beds, walls, fixtures, even a roof that you could climb on with a ladder. It was stripped down to the bare deck which ALSO came off. There was 2,000 lbs. of debris which was weighed on a certified truck scale at the dump before unloading - almost exactly the same weight as the Chalet trailer that was about to take it's place
getting there - you can see where the helm was originally positioned - it is now 9 feet farther forward.
Notice the completely rotted decking back here - what a mess!
The old galley - a cold water "pump" spigot, icebox and alcohol stove. Doesn't quite compare to the new one with hot and cold running water, double basin stainless sink, cutting board, double burner propane stove, overhead exhaust fan, ac electrical outlets and 3 cubic ft. refrigerator and freezer!
Stripping it down to the frame. You can see blue tape I used to get an idea of where the Chalet might eventually wind up. Turns out I was only a few inches off my initial "guestimate".
This is what I was after: An aluminum frame, three logs (pontoons) and a 90 hp motor.
The old helm was rotted and falling apart so I built a new, smaller one with the same marine plywood the new deck was built with. Heavily reinforced on the inside since it pivots from the lower left side in this picture.
The helm fully rebuilt and waiting for cosmetic touches.
The helm pivots off the side to allow room for the trailer to pass by while loading/unloading.
Preliminary positioning of the pivoting helm. Inside are all the electronics and steering gear, throttle, etc.
"Hey, I didn't know BMW made boats??!"
"Yup, they sure do, and fine one's at that."
This is the new furniture on the back of the boat behind the Chalet
Building new fuel and battery access doors. I used a rubber membrane for the floor (left) to increase resistance to any spilled gas or battery acid in the future.
New plywood marine deck. A clean slate from which to start the build.
Temporarily positioning new furniture on the bow. A shower enclosure pops out from the end of the couch. It's supported with gas springs.
planning the final layout for the "living room"
Here you can see the new fuel tanks, chairs and battery compartment. There is an 8' long sun bed that spans the tanks/motor area all the way aft. A great spot to take a nap.
Reserve fuel tank and unusual rectangular agricultrual combine battery. Very heavy industrial casing and able to sit for long periods uncharged without damage. This battery powers all the boat's electrical needs including helm instruments, starting, running lights, headlights, etc. It is typically used to start a large diesel motor. I like overkill.
A new roof for the living room - transplanted from the rear. Made from Sun Tuf Polycarbonate. Rejects 99% of UV rays yet allows 70% light transmission. The old roof was a heavy plywood sun deck that you could walk on and had an attached ladder - which is now the swim ladder and hooks on to the deck just outside the front gate.
Once mounted temporarily, it sat here for 30 days to check the three logs (flotation tubes) to make sure they didn't have any leaks.
mounting the Chalet to the deck
12,000 lb. test straps on each wheel (break at 24,000 lbs.) and Grade 8 locking ratcheting hardware clamps, used to secure cargo on airliners.
12,000 lb. test strap under tension, this wheel isn't going ANYWHERE. My estimate is there is 6,000 lbs. of down force on each wheel securing it to the deck.
These wheel guides are temporarily installed when you want to unload the Chalet from the boat. There are 16 foot aluminum ramps that clip on to the front of the deck along with a 12 volt winch to power it off. Unloading takes about an hour and involves removing some furniture. The Chalet fits under the front roof when folded. With the Chalet off the boat it is 5 mph faster at full throttle.
The business end, a 90 hp Yamaha triple. Two fuel tanks were mounted on each side along with the battery compartment. Capacity was increased from 19 gallons to 39, and a heavy duty combine battery was chosen ($160.00!) as a replacement for a standard battery.
A trailer on top of a toon on top of a trailer!
Completed project except for painting and detailing - which took another 2 months.
32" LED HDTV mounts at the bottom of the bed, or can be swiveled to face the living area, dining table, etc. We like to bring along OLD movies to watch on the DVD player when it's windy, cold or raining outside.
High quality 1000 watt inverter added, I did all my own wiring.
battery switch controls shore power, inverter (AC power) or 12 volt power
stereo mounts inside or outside
90 watts of solar power.