Convert a sailboat into a stealth boat for waterfowl hunting


It was a bluebird day, but Marco Costiglio was determined to hunt ducks. A friend invited him to hunt in an area where he had seen a few teals. It was November 28, 2019 and he couldn’t wait to test his stealth boat. While launching a converted sailboat straight into the Atlantic would seem like a crazy mission, accompanied by his buddy in a kayak, he safely cut along the shore and ducked into a cove. The cove gave way to a small stream with trees so tightly packed he saw a deer.

“We put in some decoys and the teal started to tear,” Costiglio said. “The water was only 18 inches deep so no one else was there.”

By the time the shooting was over, they had bagged three teals. It was a great maiden voyage of the “Water Sword”.

Costiglio lives in Freeport, New York, on Long Island. It hunts Merrick Bay, the Hudson Canal, and other nearby hot spots. A steam fitter, he is 42 years old and started hunting with a friend whose father is a guide.

“When I was young, I never had to do anything related to a duck hunt myself, but I finally started to learn to hunt ducks on my own”, a- he declared. “I really started to take it seriously when I started hunting three or four times a week rather than three or four times a year. I immersed myself in the tradition of hunting from stealth boats like the ones from Great South Bay.

His main target is sea ducks, which he hunts in bays from a 17ft Boston Whaler and in the Atlantic from a 31ft BHM tuna boat. He wanted a stealth boat for small waters, but it turned out to work great for all types of hunting. Trying it out for sea ducks, he caught two long-tailed drakes on one of his first hunts. He sets up Tanglefree and Hardcore duck lures and makes his own diving duck and sea duck lures from wood and corrugated plastic.

“I found a Mossberg mallard, made by the Mossberg gun company in the 1960s, for sale,” he said. “I paid $ 300 for the boat, two 5 horsepower Evinrude outboards and a few decoys. The guy was going to turn him into a boat duck, but he lost interest.

The Mossberg is 13 feet long and 42 inches wide. Using an oscillating saw, he enlarged the cockpit, reshaping the opening roughly parallel to the gunwales and 30 inches wide by 72 inches long. He also cut out the fin.

The voids were filled with expandable two-part foam. A 1-inch PVC conduit laid along the center line allowed for the installation of wiring for the navigation lights, bow-mounted searchlights and a phone charger. The switch panel is located on the starboard front wall of the cockpit and the power supply is provided by a rechargeable lithium-ion battery.

A foam board was used as a support for the cockpit walls, with aluminum foil glued to the foam board to protect it from deterioration by the resin. On the aluminum, he laid three layers of fiberglass mat. Fiberglass and resin are approximately ¼ inch thick, with a coarse texture.

Two round inspection windows with watertight covers were installed in the fore and aft decks. He installed a 1/8 ”x4” x6 ”aluminum plate to reinforce the transom. Another one inch aluminum plate on the outside of the stern extends 5 inches above the transom. To this is bolted a piece of 2 inch treated lumber which provides a 9 inch high engine mount. The aluminum plates are bolted together through the transom.

The next step was to attach two teak grab bars purchased at a garage sale. Then he painted the boat with Parker Duck Boat paint. Camouflage patterns have been added with spray paints.

The Dodger Spray consists of a fabric from an old boat cover with a hoop of PEX plumbing pipe sewn into a hem. The hem has holes that correspond to hooks in the front deck. An elastic drawstring in the hem attaches to the eye bolts, making the dodger easy to attach or detach. Two elastic cords attached to the grab bars and to the top of the dodger keep it straight and it is articulated on two Bimini swivels.

Most of the camouflage grass is held in place with a truck load net. He tied the net to the boat with the hooks provided, cut out the cockpit opening, and woven grass into the net. The grass bundles are also secured along the edge of the dodger with spring clips.

During a hunt, he sits on a small plastic cooler with a cushion. Seashells and other equipment are kept dry indoors.

While the boat was initially powered by a 55 pound thrust Minnkota trolling motor, it now makes way at 10 knots with an Evinrude with a camouflaged cowl. Fuel supply is a 3 gallon distant tank and it takes less than a gallon to drive four miles to a favorite hunting location and back.

The entire boat without the engine weighs about 100 pounds. For transport, it simply slides the platform into the bed of a pickup. Most of the time, however, he uses a winch to pull the boat out of the water and onto a floating dock.

“Hunting so close to the water makes it a lot more intimate,” he said. “Once, I accidentally knocked over a lure with a tourniquet head under the dodger without seeing it. Next thing I knew, three little buffalos were sitting right next to the boat next to the decoy. The whole time that I was building the snack boat, the rap song, “Liquid Swords” kept going through my head. It seemed like the appropriate name for such a sharp little stealth boat.

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