View Full Version : need help deciding what boat to build
03-13-2004, 05:17 PM
Can you give me some advice on picking which boat to build?
I am looking to build my first boat and have been doing research on different plans for the last few weeks. I have some experience in carpentry, my dad (who will be helping me) brings the real skill. He has experience in cabinetry and has built many pieces of beautiful furniture as well as restored many antique furniture pieces. He wants to build a mahagony runabout and I would like to build a sailboat such as the Haven 12-1/2 (be nice to teach my son to sail in). We decided that we will do both, but we gotta pick one to be first.
I am planning that each will take us about 1000 hours and 3 or so years. I have a 21' x 8' x 8' garage bay to commit to work in (all tools and whatnot are in the other garage bay)
Any advice on what should be my maximum boat size limits with that size garage?
Most of the plans we have interest in are labeled "difficult" or "advanced". What factors determine this? We are both looking for a challenge, but on the same token don't want to get in over our heads.
Thanks for the help.
03-13-2004, 06:08 PM
Not having prior boat experience, I would do the runabout which should have less complicated shapes to work with on your first boat. As for size keep it small emough so you can at least walk all around it, any bigger and it gets real nasty to work around it.
03-13-2004, 09:11 PM
You might want to check out the Haven Builders web site before you make your final decision: www.havenbuilders.com (http://www.havenbuilders.com)
03-13-2004, 09:43 PM
Depending on the layout of your garage, you may have trouble finding space to work around the hull in an 8'x8'x21' space.
2.5' of work space on each side and one end of the hull is reasonable. The second end can be less than a foot from the garage door. This limits the beam of the boat to 3'. I have built boats with as little as 18" workspace alongside the hull though I wouldn't want to do it again. This limits the beam to 5'.
If you can, it is usually better to position the boat diagonally in a 16'x21' shop and position the tools around it. You will have more reasonable work space.
Enjoying recreational boatbuilding for years, I eventually sold all my heavy floor tools, replaced them with quality smaller tools and mounted them on locking castors. This allows me to quickly optimize my small work space to the job at hand. It took me a long time to figure this out. Previously being a Shipwright, my focus was on "the right way to do it", the way I learned the trade. In hindsight, this prejudice probably slowed down the inevitable transition.
03-14-2004, 12:15 AM
If your other garage bay isn't 100% full with "tools and whatnot", then maybe it can (hopefully) contribute to a little extra working space. Or, perhaps some of the whatnot could be be moved to give you a little more room. If you have to work in uncomfortably close conditions for 3 years, you'll probably go crazy and the boat-to-be will also suffer.
As for choosing the boat, I'd just suggest being a little careful. The 12-1/2 is a lovely boat, but nobody has ever called it easy to build. Boatbuilding is a specialized craft, so there is some value in making your learning mistakes on a smaller project before tackling the one you really want. A sailboat adds complications such as centerboard and centerboard case, rudder and tiller, masts and spars, rigging, sails. Larger daysailers involve pouring a lead keel; increased size and weight can complicate matters as you can no longer easily move the boat itself.
I don't know how or where you intend to use these boats, but it could be useful to build a relatively simple open skiff first - it'll get you on the water sooner, and give you experience for tackling the bigger project. Many of the issues you deal with on small boats apply to larger ones. You can always use it as a tender or sell it after you've built its replacement.
It might be useful to list some of your design candidates, besides the 12-1/2, to see what others think of them.
If you insist on jumping in at the deep end, arm yourself with as much information as possible to help get you through the sticky bits. Choosing a popular design helps ensure that others can help with advice when needed. And good luck!
[ 03-14-2004, 12:22 AM: Message edited by: Ken Buck ]
03-14-2004, 09:05 AM
Originally posted by Ken Buck:
I don't know how or where you intend to use these boats, but it could be useful to build a relatively simple open skiff first - I intend to use the boats on both Newark Bay NJ and on New York Harbor. In case your not familiar with these waters, they are a little too dangerous for most of the small "beginner" boats. (This is the Shipping Port of NY/NJ, so the waters are filled with commercial shipping.) However, I sail here regularly in Colgate 26's and J24's (fiberglass boats). I also could not sail on a centerboarder unless its ballasted. ("turning turtle" is risky with all the traffic and currents). From what we've seen, this eliminates most of the "beginner" sail boats.
03-14-2004, 11:06 AM
Several here have set up their building forms on wheels for those times when you need all the space on one end or side. Being able to roll out on the driveway will let you take better pictures. :D
03-14-2004, 11:51 AM
Gaffrig, I would recommend the mahogany runabout Rascal, a 2 seater speedboat that looks similar to a Century Thunderbolt from the 30's. The plans are sold by Wooden Boat Magazine ($120). I chose the boat because it could be built in a garage (my shed is 12'x20'). The boat is 14'10". You can see a picture of the finished product by going to Page 118 in a book called "The Wooden Boat" by J. Gribbins. This book is carried by most large book stores. I also like the design because it takes an outboard (60 hp), so you don't have to get involved in the mechanicals required for an inboard installation. This boat is my first woodworking project (my previous project was a birdhouse!). So I would say that between you and your Dad's skills, you should have no problem building the boat. Search under "Rascal" or "Bassett" (Ken Bassett is the designer, Onion River Boatworks)on this Forum website and you will see several postings showing construction pictures of this boat. The trickiest parts of the construction so far were the ash stem (has a stepped scarf joint and requires some chisel work), and installation of the chines and sheers (I ended up having to steam these pieces to make the bends). Note that the boats final planking is 1/4" mahogany over diagonally laid plywood with cold molded epoxy construction. The materials to complete the boat will cost many thousands of dollars, but the boat is a high performance craft that is a real head turner. Good luck on your selection!
03-14-2004, 01:27 PM
Don't tell the Mrs, and you yourself may not yet recogonize the flaw in your question. You naively ask "...which boat." HA! Make that "...which boats" grasshopper. Boats is like potatoe chips. Once you've built one your can't stop.
03-14-2004, 06:11 PM
Take a look at Eun Mara (http://www.alistego.com/) as a sailboat candidate. She may take you a little over the 1000 hours, but she fits in your work space.
One of these days I'll get back to building mine ... :rolleyes:
03-17-2004, 11:16 PM
Thanks for the helpul advice. I've been doing some thinking(and reading). I've decided that the Haven 12-1/2 is not a good first boat. She is very pretty, though it would be better for me to wait until I have some skills under my belt.
The Mahogany runabout is a very nice, though I think I would be better in building a simple boat first. I am looking at the Arch Davis Penobscot 14 and 17. I know they don't fit much of my criteria, but I can jet around the harbor with the outboard and bring to a lake for sailing.
If I make any big mistakes, it won't hit the wallet as hard.
03-18-2004, 01:09 AM
For what it's worth, this was also a first time boatbuilder's project... And also done in VERY little space.
Boatshop Photo Album (http://www.imagestation.com/album/pictures.html?id=4292219521&show_all=1&start=1)
While the points above are all valid, not knowing what "can't" be done is sometimes a good thing for us rank amateures. You may be surprised to find what a little "innocence" can accomplish! ;)
03-18-2004, 07:58 AM
I am buiding the Handy Billy (21' power launch) and with limited space, made a FLAT building platform and used heavy duty casters; this means the boat can be pushed to one side of the garage or the other, taken outside, etc. Made it from 2x10's bolted together with cross pieces to keep it from racking.
03-18-2004, 04:52 PM
Art, thanks for posting your Imagestation. I am humbled in the face of mastery and could only hope I approach such crafstmanship after my fifth boat. Definitely a web page worth bookmarking!
Art Read is entitled to serious bragging rights, especially for a first time project. Also, I've never heard anyone say the Penobscot boats would be much good at 'jetting' around with an outboard. Wrong boat if that's what you have in mind. If you'd like to build a small, economical runnabout type boat to get started maybe take a look at Glen-L's website or perhaps Ken Hankinson's. Eight feet wide sounds like a miserably narrow space to build anything wider than a kayak.
03-19-2004, 12:49 PM
I've been talking to GaffRig about a design and it occurred to me that maybe he ought to look into a Catboat along the lines of a wittholtz plywood cat. It is solid to build and sail, is relatively inexpensive, and can handle a big crew in a small lenght. Also it is a true gaffer, and would provide excellent building experience before leaping off into a haven or runabout.
What say you?
03-19-2004, 01:14 PM
I'd suggest the Melonseed skiff myself. Sounds perfect for teaching a youngster, yet allowing lots of fun for the experienced sailor. Google it. You'll love it.
03-19-2004, 01:22 PM
I have no experience building something that big, but I would tend to agree. Also, Sam Devlin (http://www.devlinboat.com/dcwompuscat.htm) has plans for a catboat, as well.
Catboat sounds like a great idea. I'm thiking of building one myself :cool:
03-20-2004, 08:30 AM
Catboats are ok if you think fat little boys look cool ;) But if think beautiful girls improve the scenery then take a look at some canoe yawls tongue.gif
Originally posted by Aramas:
Catboats are ok if you think fat little boys look cool ;) But if think beautiful girls improve the scenery then take a look at some canoe yawls tongue.gif :D On the other hand some of those Gil Smith catboats we've been treated to lately are anything but fat little boys :cool:
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