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Thread: First-time building crisis

  1. #1
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    Default First-time building crisis

    Another one of these threads!?

    So, a few weeks ago the boat-building bug started to nest in my brain. I haven't been sailing since I was about 12 (33 now) and wanted to get back out in the water -- I live in Eastern MA and there are so many great sailing grounds, it seems a shame not to revive sailing for me and introduce my kids to it.

    I generated this plan and ran it past the wife: I would spend a few weeks/weekends working with my two oldest sons (both still young at 6 and 8) and we would build a PD Racer. At their age, they really can't help much, but it would be a good way to introduce them to basic woodworking and tools. If I can keep their attention for 15-20 minutes at one go, I'd be happy and do 99.999% of the work myself.

    It was difficult to get over the shape of the PDR, having admired graceful wooden boats for most of my life. I finally convinced myself the OzRacer was the way to go, and bought the plans. The plans are incredible, and made me feel much more comfortable about my lack of building experience. I went out and bought 3 sheets of 1/4" 'okay' exterior ply and 1 sheet of 1/4" Okoume marine ply (planned for the hull bottom) and started lining off. I made a paper model last night and this is what has brought me to a crisis. I cannot bring myself to build it... the OzRacer is the best looking of the PDR-types, but it's still a funky box and while I know I'd have a blast sailing and playing around in it, I want a boat-looking object. Even a very simple boat-looking object. I hate to be so prejudiced, but it is what it is no matter how well I've heard they perform.

    While pondering the OzRacer over the last few weeks, I have also been spending shameful numbers of hours crawling this forum, looking at available plans, etc... I've already picked out my 2nd and 3rd boats (heh heh), thanks to the wealth of information online. If I can prove to myself that I can build this first simple boat, my wife has given me the OK to move on to a larger project over the winter. I'm aiming for a GIS -- still simple, the plans are even better than the OzRacer ones (yep, bought 'em, great quality) and it looks to perform pretty well. Following that, I want to move into something much nicer and more complex: an Oughtred Tirrik or one of the Terns. I also have the plans for the Sjogin III (who could resist!), and have been pondering that for later... if I don't build it, those plans are getting blown up and printed out to go on my wall.

    Here is my crisis: I now have some sheets of plywood to use, I'm a novice woodworker and I want to build a small sail & oar boat for me and my kids to fool around with. This will be for lake, pond and river boating. We're near the ocean, but I don't think this first boat needs to be seaworthy to that extent -- we have protected ocean waters, and I might be inclined to tread into them if I felt confident enough in my building. Otherwise, we'll sail the little bugger until it falls apart in a lake.

    My criteria:
    - 8-12ft
    - Handle one average-sized adult and 1-2 small children -- eventually (if it lasts) to be used by the kids as they get older
    - Sail and oar, with a lean towards sail
    - Good for protected lakes, ponds, rivers, maybe some protected ocean sailing
    - Does not need to be car-toppable
    - No motor requirement
    - (3) sheets of exterior ply and (1) sheet of marine ply available for use
    - 1.5gal of Aeromarine epoxy available for use
    - Appropriate for a novice woodworker (I've built 20x20' decks, a 12'x8' chicken coop and a few wooden storage units... but nothing really requiring complex cuts)

    I'll obviously snatch up additional plywood and epoxy as necessary, and getting additional lumber for frames and such is not an issue. I don't want to splurge for really high quality materials at this point, but I'm also not trying to be the cheapest person on the planet.

    I've been looking at plans until my eyes crossed, and I drift from wanting dead-simple construction to get onto the water FAST... or something that I could spend a little more time at and get something I'd be more proud of in the long run. Obviously my materials caveats above will control some of that. Here are the designs I'm looking at, ranging from slap-together-for-fun to holy-crap-could-I-actually-do-this:

    - David Beede's Summer Breeze (11' 8")
    - John Bell's Blondie (8' 4")
    - Selway-Fisher Northumbrian Coble (9' 4")
    - Welsford Daniel's Boat (10' 6")- Oughtred Puffin (10' 2")

    I know the Welsford and Oughtred ones would probably be stretching me in a few ways -- number one, the ply I have seems to be a shame to use on such beautiful designs. Can the exterior ply, even good quality, be used on plywood lapstrake? I have Iain's book on it's way to me later this week, but I'd already skimmed through it extensively... I also recognize that the nicer designs are probably going to take me more along the lines of 1-3 years of weekends, rather than getting a boat into the water for sailing this fall. I'd hate to pour 1-3 years into a boat using sub-standard materials, but I'm really not inclined to buy a few more sheets of good marine ply right now -- mostly to appease the wife. I know this is a poor argument for boat-building, but I'm willing to concede that whatever I build this first time, it may not be the bestest quality and could fall apart on sail #1.

    Does anyone have some other suggestions? From the non-Summer-Breeze plans, you may get a feeling for the kind of lines I dream of... that's not a requirement, and I'd be willing to consider more flat-bottom skiff types (like the Summer Breeze). I have looked at Glen-L and Bateau, but nothing really screamed at me... but I'd be willing to try out something if it meets my requirements, even if it's not bootiful.

    Man, that was a long post. Sorry for being so wordy! Thanks to everyone on this forum for creating a hugely searchable past couple of years with a serious wealth of information.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: First-time building crisis

    I have a 4 1/2 year old in my life.
    I'm introducing him to building small projects in the workshop and getting him out on skiffs and such whenever possible.
    Consider finding a shellback or large pram to introduce water safety skills to your kids while building away on the side, this will get you out on the water and when your boat is ready sell or give your temp boat off to a deserving individual.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: First-time building crisis

    quickest build, fun per dollar, and lasting memeries for the kids would be the floating box. at one time i had both a nice sailboat and a funky dingy rigged for the sail. i ended up useing the dingy a lot more because of the ease of use- you'll be less worried about youre D.B. and the kids will learn what sailing is really about..just my thoughts- others will add to this. beside, would you really be all that fond of a dream boat built with exterior ply??

  4. #4
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    Default Re: First-time building crisis

    If you lived next door, we could build a boat THIS weekend.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: First-time building crisis

    Planthire,
    Go ahead and build the boat you really want, especially if it's the GIS. There is absolutely no need to build a "trainer" boat. Boatbuilding isn't that complicated and when you break down the processes into their constituent steps, nothing is really hard. The trick is to do things in a logical sequence. You sound like an intelligent guy (especially that part about appeasing the wife) so I'm sure you'd be able to think everything through. Many an fledgling boatbulder have started with boats far more complex than the GIS and produced impressive boats. The GIS is designed for builders with your constraints, i.e. a great performing boat that's a quick build from inexpensive materials.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: First-time building crisis

    How about a Nutshell Pram from a kit? You can probably return the plywood you've already bought, perhaps with a small handling fee.

    http://www.google.ca/search?hl=en&cp...w=1024&bih=596

  7. #7
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    Default Re: First-time building crisis

    Almost all of the Bolger/Payson Instant Boats were designed with you (or someone just like you) in mind.
    Almost all of them are more boat shaped than the PDRacer and would serve.
    That's where I would look.
    SHC

  8. #8
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    Default Re: First-time building crisis

    I would suggest to look at the plans by Jim Michalak. http://www.duckworksbbs.com/plans/jim/michalak.htm Intended to be build with cheap materials, they are a great way to get started with boats. His book also provides great information for the beginning boat builder.
    His boats are great to get started with this hobby and to figure out what you really want and need. I had no idea what boats are good for a growing family (we have 9 + 11 year olds) and the needs have been changing every few years, so building a boat that one is willing to recycle after a short (several years) and happy life makes a lot of sense.
    Johannes

  9. #9
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    Default Re: First-time building crisis

    Heh! Jim Ledger is very persuasive, so I've decided to follow his thoughts and take away all of my kid's toys. They are far too privileged. If they want something to play with, they can go outside and get a stick or some rocks. (I also liked Jim's pre-edit last line better!) (ETA: His post disappeared. I thought it was funny. )

    I am pondering just going to the GIS, rather than building a 'starter boat'. I mostly wanted to be able to give myself the opportunity to screw up big-time and not regret it too much. The GIS is a little larger than I'd wanted to go with initially, as well, which was why I was looking in the sub-12' range. I'd probably also go ahead and finish out getting the sheets as marine ply.

    Regarding materials, I'm not tied to using up what I've got, I was just hoping that tossing that info in would result in responses like "OH BUILD THE HUMBOLDT BUMBLEBEE PRAM SKIFF DINGHY SLOOP CRUISER YACHT, IT IS MADE OF NON-MARINE PLYWOOD AND TOOTH PICKS AND LOOKS LIKE A SCALED DOWN CUTTY SARK." (it would be hard to sit on those masts)

    I think for the moment, I'm going to drop the Welsford and Oughtred ideas as simply taking too long and I wouldn't be pleased with using the materials I'm hoping to use this build. I'll either go with the GIS and 'upgrade' my ply and do it right... or go for something simpler.

    Regarding Bolger plans, the Teal has definitely flitted past my eyes a few times as being easy and not horrible looking... I've followed some building threads and photo albums and it actually looks like it might be possible to make it look quite nice if some care is taken on the interior after-the-fact.

    I'll look at Michalak's plans again. I recall liking his designs at first, but the boxiness and leeboards bothered me a bit. I'm clearly too aesthetically driven, since I know they're great boats.


    So, Summer Breeze, Blondie, Teal, maybe a Michalak design, or a wizbang special made from plywood leftover from demolishing my chicken coop.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: First-time building crisis


  11. #11
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    Default Re: First-time building crisis

    Hello Planthire, and welcome!

    Here's a Bolger design I bought from her home-builder in Calgary in 1998. She's sailed on many of the of the big lakes in Alberta for seven years until I was finally able to get back to the ocean. I beefed her up a bit with heavier laminated gunwales, stronger keel and oarlock pads and she has served me very well since then. Confess to having just identified her origin recently while rereading back issues of WB, where there is a very good 3-part series on how to build the Cartopper.



    She lived on this tidal mooring in the Campbell River estuary for almost five years, where I used her an average of 7-8 hours a week, in all weather; can be rowed in wind and waves to 2'. She is stitch and glue 1/4 ply and was very light for her capacity when I bought her. She weighs more now perhaps, but I am getting older so there's that also, LOL. She will teach your kids about balance and stability, good lessons to learn at a young age. A lighter wind sailboat for sure, but she ghosts along like a dream and tacks in a feather breeze.



    Hope this helps. / Jim

  12. #12
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    Default Re: First-time building crisis

    Quote Originally Posted by planthire View Post
    Heh! Jim Ledger is very persuasive, so I've decided to follow his thoughts and take away all of my kid's toys. They are far too privileged. If they want something to play with, they can go outside and get a stick or some rocks. (I also liked Jim's pre-edit last line better!) (ETA: His post disappeared. I thought it was funny. )


    As kids we loved throwing rocks above all else. When I was seven we lived next to a lace mill in Rhode Island. Out back were the dye ponds, bulldozed holes in the ground where even the weeds died. We used to get the old flourescent tubes and sail them out on the blue murk and bomb them with rocks until we got bored and threw them at each other. Then we might climb the water tower.

    Sticks were fun, too.

  13. #13
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    Default Re: First-time building crisis

    I would enthusiastically second suggestions above for the Cartopper by Bolger/Payson. It's a good-looking boat, and can be built by a "first-timer" using the materials you have at hand.

    Nothing at all wrong with the Shellback, but I'm sure Bolger intended (and succeedid) in making his Cartopper easier to build.

  14. #14
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    Default Re: First-time building crisis

    If you are looking for the fast build with decent good looks and the capacity to use with your kids for the next 2-3 years... go with the Summer Breeze. Ive- oops gotta go!

    Sorry...had to rush to work...I was on stand-by. Like I was saying...I've seen them sail and row and they do quite well and they can hold a good load. I am not really fond of the way the rocker is in back but that could be tweaked a bit. To me it makes too much of an abrupt transition from near level at midship to an almost straight run to the transom. Like I say though, they do work quite well and you wouldn't even have to use your Marine grade PW.
    Last edited by Lewisboater; 05-02-2012 at 08:59 PM.
    Steve Lewis
    Formerly Lewisboats (don't try to change your email address!)

    http://angelfire.com/ego/lewisboatworks

  15. #15
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    Default Re: First-time building crisis

    Then we might climb the water tower.
    Ha! In my mom's attic resides the red lenses of the aircraft warning lights from two water towers, circa 1975.

    Planthire-- I built a Summerbreeze. It fits me and two kids--age 4 and 7-fine for local creeks, back bays etc. Last week I threw it in the back of a truck, launched off a dead-end road and caught some weakfish out of it. Took me two years of intermittent part time work---90 hours, I kept track. Here is the thread of my build if you are interested.


    http://forum.woodenboat.com/showthre...ild&highlight=

    I will say this: It was my first boat and about half way through I realized I could have built a 14 foot boat or a16 foot boat in about the same time, though costing more in material. I didn't need a bigger boat. I use this one an hour at a time. But were I to want to spend an afternoon aboard a small boat with both my growing kids, I would want something with a little more capacity and the ability to range a little further. Just a thought.

    Kevin

    Kevin
    There are two kinds of boaters: those who have run aground, and those who lie about it.

  16. #16
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    Default Re: First-time building crisis

    Quote Originally Posted by planthire View Post
    I am pondering just going to the GIS, rather than building a 'starter boat'. I mostly wanted to be able to give myself the opportunity to screw up big-time and not regret it too much. The GIS is a little larger than I'd wanted to go with initially, as well, which was why I was looking in the sub-12' range. I'd probably also go ahead and finish out getting the sheets as marine ply.
    If your real dream is to build a slightly bigger 'real' boat such as the GIS, you should get on to it as soon as possible. How about ordering the extra marine ply you need for the GIS and enough timber to get started. While you're waiting for materials to arrive, those three sheets of cheaper 1/4 in exterior ply are exactly what you need for a quick build of Michael Storer's Quick Canoe. Maybe hull completed in a weekend, then paint on during the week and launch the next weekend.

    One big plus is less in the way of storage issues - even a 12 ft sail boat takes up a lot of space, perhaps you'd have to get rid of it before you could build a bigger boat, so you end up put off building what you really want for a year or two. Maybe it's not an issue, but it would be for me.

    Also much cheaper and quicker. However you do it, the bits to make a boat move with the wind pretty much double the time and cost to build compared to something that just paddles.

    Ian
    Last edited by IanHowick; 05-03-2012 at 02:56 AM.

  17. #17
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    Default Re: First-time building crisis

    I'd recommend building a John Welsford/ SCA Scamp from a kit SCA supply. It will go together really quick and be a really good boat, both safe and capable and able to accomodate growing children. That or buy some more ply, and cut it out yourself.







    http://smallcraftadvisor.com/compone...nt/article/361

    Its very popular with ladies and children, so they'l want to go out, and the cuddy offers excellent protection for young children. Lots of sealed lockers to keep all the stuff dry and picnics etc.


    Its also been properly buoyancy tested and comes back up really easily with little water in it that then drains out. A very safe boat, capable of crusing and sleeping aboard too (has water ballast tank for when it gets really windy).



    Nothing else comes close, in this size. Its computer lofted and CNC cut, the boat and building jig. Even the strakes and pre beveled. It would be easily built in a season (summer or winter) rather than several years as most boats are. Defo buy a kit $2300 is a steal, there's alot of material building in the lockers and cuddy. They do preshaped rudder and centreboards too which saves alot of works and you can use an aluminium mast, which are very light and inexpensive, so no spar making needed either. I've been building an Oughtred boat over the past few years in my spare time, and frankly its dragged on...I wish I'd built one of these now (but weren't available then). Prob will do next for my brother and his growing family.

    You can plank up a 12ft open Oughtred boat from 4 sheets, but there's a fair bit of work to do, and it won't have the family value of lockers, buoyancy tanks and cuddies etc, unfortunately things like that will cost some more material. His small prams will be buildable with your materials though, but they won't be able to accomodate a growing family.

    Ed
    Last edited by keyhavenpotterer; 05-03-2012 at 04:49 AM.

  18. #18
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    Default Re: First-time building crisis

    Crab Skiffs can be a very fast build. Here's one that is at the pinnacle of beauty, given its size:


    Here is a smaller one from Doug Hylan. The plans would be quite thorough and simple:


    IIRC, the above was a first build here on the forum. A skiff can be as simple as three planks: two sides and a flat bottom. With two boys in that age I would use 1/2" ACX with a doug fir sole on the outside, sacrificial, and not worry about what they do to it. I don't have a photo but a third build, the easiest of all but with a little funky upturn at the forefoot, is The Weekend SKiff. Richard Butz has a step-by-step manual for about $20 so you do not need plans, and it is dead simple. It can be set up sail or row, and the pictures and illustrations allow for that.
    Last edited by davebrown; 05-03-2012 at 08:41 AM.

  19. #19
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    Default Re: First-time building crisis

    http://www.bandbyachtdesigns.com/brs.htm
    I like the simple plywood build and the good reputation for sailing.

  20. #20
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    Default Re: First-time building crisis

    I was in a similar position to you a few years ago. I really wanted a Caledonia Yawlor a Welsford Pathfinder but hadnt built a boat before and to be honest didnt know much about boats.

    I built a Selway Fisher Highlander 11 (photos of it are on his website) from fairly basic materials. Didnt take long to do, no fancy woodwork needed and I had a great time in this boat. The sailing rig from a Mirror was fitted.

    I sold this boat and my CY is nearly ready for the water. It was a much bigger job but has been fun. I learnt loads doing the first boat and the experience was invaluable for the CY. I have used fairly good quality materials which added considerably to the cost.

    I'm glad I did it this way round but a GIS or something like that is perfectly achievable as a first time build. Time is a big factor. My 11 footer took about 6months gentle paced work- about 3 evenings a week and the odd bit at a weekend. My CY has taken 13 months of 4 long evenings and some weekends. Mine is no beauty tho- its workboat finish but I made the decision at the start not to sweat over every detail. I wanted to be out on the water with my kids in a sensible time.

    Thats my thoughts for what they are worth.

  21. #21
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    Default Re: First-time building crisis

    Someone mentioned a B&B Bay River skiff above... at 15' it may be bigger than what you were looking to get into, but they also have a bunch of sailing dinghys in the 7-12' range,
    http://www.bandbyachtdesigns.com/spin.htm
    http://www.bandbyachtdesigns.com/cpaw.htm

    plus this recent one at 12' http://www.bandbyachtdesigns.com/mandy.htm



    I haven't seen the plans for these, but am building one of their Core Sound 17's and the plans/building instructions are good + there's a very helpful builders forum if you get stuck.

    Chris


    __________________________________________________ _________________________
    My Core Sound 17 build thread: http://messing-about.com/forums/topic/7392-cs17-315/

  22. #22
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    Default Re: First-time building crisis

    Pick a nice 8 foot pram. easy build, kids can help, well worked out designs, sails pretty well, and you dont need to make it from some unobtainium. this is a first boat for the kids make it durable but fixable and let them tear it up. have them help fix the boat an over time you will have kids that can build there own. it dont take much for a kid to sail just the opportunity and a platform that lets them do it.

    A little sailboard rig and a pram is great fun. if you want something a bit more complex a little beach cat is also an easy build.

  23. #23
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    Default Re: First-time building crisis

    Wow, there have been a lot of great responses here. Thank you everyone. I know I'm overthinking this, but I can see other people have struggled with the same issues. The goal is to not stay in this phase any longer than I need to. I have a birthday party for my youngest to take care of this weekend, so I'm going to spend another week thinking... then next weekend, I'm going to be cutting and shaping some wood no matter what.

    Right now, I'm leaning towards just moving forward with the GIS.

    That said... I really like that Amanda design, and I got the materials list from them. It's tempting... but if I'm going to go with a 12' boat, I go back to thinking I should just build The Goat, which will probably take about the same amount of time. I've also considered pretty much everything here at some point or another: SCAMP, Highlander and Skylark, crab skiffs (especially Hylan's smaller design), Cartopper (which I don't think I really appreciated the looks of until you posted those pictures). It's nice there's so much variety for us, but holy hell it makes deciding hard for those of us who have trouble making up our minds.

    ...I do really like the lines on Blondie, though, for such a simple boat. I'm surprised more people haven't built her...

    Waffle!
    Last edited by planthire; 05-04-2012 at 04:03 PM.

  24. #24
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    Default Re: First-time building crisis

    Here's a couple of pictures from her bad side, then...





    Should make it easier to cross her off your list, LOL. / Jim

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