View Full Version : Novice builder question
02-04-2005, 09:51 PM
I was just minding my own business the other day, browsing for some plans to build something for my wife, when I just happened upon some plans for several different boats. I was immediately infected with the desire to build a boat. Either I'm going to have to build one soon or find the antidote.
My woodworking skills are meager, to put it mildly, and I'm not sure I can pull it off. What kind of skills would a guy need to put together a good sailing/rowing boat? I was thinking about one of the Penobscots by Arch Davis, either the 14 or 17. Any advice would be much appreciated.
[ 02-04-2005, 10:52 PM: Message edited by: BDann ]
02-04-2005, 10:10 PM
Take a look at this http://www.boatbuilder.org/mudpeep.htm . It is a detailed "article" on a sail/row skiff I built. I will give you an idea of what goes into the construction of a small boat.
02-04-2005, 11:36 PM
Arch Davis' plans and instructions for the Penobscots are very detailed, and geared for the beginning boatbuilder. I finished a Penobscot 14 last year, here is a link to the construction photos on mine: Penobscot 14 construction (http://www.imagestation.com/album/pictures.html?id=4286827829)
The Penobscot is a fairly serious project, you're not going to build this thing in a couple of weekends. A flat-bottom skiff or a stitch and glue design might be a little quicker to build, simply because you've got fewer planks to hang. However, the construction method for the Penobscot is very straight-forward, you don't need any special skills. If you can use a block plane, an electric saber (jig) saw, and a router, you can build this boat. Just follow the directions, be patient, and enjoy the building process.
I live just down the road from you, contact me off-forum at email@example.com if you like.
02-05-2005, 09:04 AM
You may want to include The CLC Skerry (http://www.clcboats.com/boats/skerry.php/cart_id=4e00641546174989d001baf4f7401dab/) in your survey of row/sail boat designs. It is sold as a kit and relies on a stitch and glue technique that really simplifies the building process. There is an active builder's and owners forum as well as a great online journal of one builder's experience with building the Skerry as his first boat building project.
You can find all that here (http://www.get-outside.com/).
It was my first and only boat building project and I am very satisfied with the results.
[ 02-05-2005, 10:22 AM: Message edited by: David Bixby ]
Stitch and glue might be a good beginner project to gain experience and build confidence.
Here's a tutorial for simpler canoes and kayaks:
02-05-2005, 10:01 PM
Thanks for all the info. fellas. The links were very good. My criteria for the boat is that it must be big enough for my wife and I, plus my three small children. I thought the the Penobscot 17 might do the trick.
Again, thanks a bunch for the advice. I'm sure I will be needing more of it in the near future.
02-06-2005, 03:01 PM
If you're looking for a simple to build, stable boat that you can row or pole, why not consider a punt or scow as they're sometimes called? You can make a very simple, boxy one, or with a little more effort one that has some taper to the ends and a bit of flare. Here's a link via the Dragonfly Canoeworks site to WP Stevens epic tome on canoes and boats. Use the index to go to "flat bottomed boats". I'll bet you could build one of these in a weekend and be out on the water the following weekend.
02-06-2005, 03:43 PM
I built Arch's Sanddollar and it is a two person rowboat or a solo sailer and a small one at that. Took six months but I was in no hurry. Unbelievable construction manual and video and plans to build it by. I also called Arch on the phone many a time. It was my first boat and he is most patient. Forget the "14" - too small for all of you. The "17" perhaps but I have always been surprised at the lack of interior room on that one compared to other seventeen footers. Once you all pile in I'll be the freeboard will disappear too. It is a graceful looking craft though - Arch has the magic.
Check out the King Alfred design. Same length but will hold literally ten - I have seen the pics. It has been used on European raids and sailed extensively on the ocean. Proven design. The fellow in England is just putting together the plans to begin selling them. There have been three constructed to date and they have been profiled at length in the English publication Water Craft. That is a boat for the whole family. It is strip plank construction and all three have been assembled by grade school children aged 9 - 13 years old with adult supervision. It will likely be my next boat. If children can do it then even Pre-Capsize should be able to manage!
He is pretty good at getting back to you. Ask for pics and he will send them. I will likely use a different sail rig than he shows but the hull construction is what I'm after. His email address is: firstname.lastname@example.org
[ 02-06-2005, 04:49 PM: Message edited by: Captain Pre-Capsize ]
Cullen T.M. McGough
02-08-2005, 06:30 PM
To quote Antoine de Saint-Exupery:
"If you want to build a ship, don't drum up people together to collect wood and don't assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea"
The real question is not what your particular skill level might be, but rather,
How far are you will to go to get this boat?
Stand in the heat and cold? Plot, plan and scheme? Drive nails, shape wood, bend canvas? Beg, borrow and steal? Converse with saints and deal with devils?
If you want it enough, than the boat will most certainly be yours.
Cullen T.M. McGough
02-09-2005, 02:58 AM
I have to agree with the Cap'n. The Penobscot 14 will seat the number of people you're talking about when rowing (might be a bit cozy, and you'll want to stay on flat water), but when sailing, it will get crowded with more than two adults. The other thing to remember is that those small children won't be small too much longer. I've got the study plans for a Penobcot 17, it's definately a bigger boat, but I haven't seen one in the flesh. Call Arch Davis, he's very easy to talk to, and he'll give you honest advice.
02-13-2005, 10:38 PM
I have a Penoscot 14 in the works as we speak. Putting the rail caps on now and nearly ready for inside finish.
No particular great wood working skills and it has progessed nicely for me. A few bunny trails for other projects but now I have a launch date set (May 7) so I need to finish.
I would echo the comments about Arch Davis and his support. With as many crew as you are talking about a 17 might be a better choice. I can't see that it would be more difficult, just more of it.
It has been a great experince for me. You should use the search function and look for Penobscot 14 and read the threads.
02-13-2005, 10:57 PM
There's novices and there's novices. It's pretty hard to guage the level of somebody's ability from a BB posting.
When someone says they have meager woodworking skills I read "close to none".
In that vein, try this. Google up the words "cheap canoe". It is a free download of plans for a stitch and glue canoe. It is as simple as it gets. Plywood from some bigbox store, a gallon of epoxy, 50 yards of 4" fibrerglass tape and you're in business.
No, this boat will not hold you, your well fed wife, your 100 LB Labrador and your 150 LB second grader. But it is a well designed boat that will test your skills. And if you screw it up or you find boatbuilding is not to your liking you will not be out a lot of dough.
If you can complete Cheap Canoe you are ready for something more complex.
"Go for broke "
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