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Thread: Is the Penny Fee right for me?

  1. #1
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    Default Is the Penny Fee right for me?

    I am coming to the end of my very first boat build – a 14’ S&G Pygmy kayak for my wife. Now that I have caught the bug, I plan to build a boat of my very own.

    After reading various posts on this forum, John Brooks’ book, and Iain Oughtred’s book, I am heavily leaning towards building the Penny Fee. I think that the Penny Fee is a great fit for me for the following reasons:


    1. The glued lapstrake method is a cost-effective way to build a boat that will last many years w/o a lot of maintenance
    2. The glued lapstrake method provides a satisfying boat building experience.
    3. Iain Oughtred’s designs are beautiful, well tested and proven for several years by many different builders.
    4. I want a boat that can be sailed and rowed. (With more time spent sailing.)
    5. I would spend almost all of my time on Cross Lake in Shreveport, LA.
    6. I want a boat small enough to sail or row solo.
    7. I want a boat big enough to sail with 2 adults, and occasionally 2 children as well.
    8. A 16 footer is probably the longest boat that I can comfortably build in my garage.


    These are a few concerns that I have:
    1. I live in north Louisiana, which isn’t exactly a mecca for wooden boat building supplies.
    2. I have never sailed a boat.
    3. I have never been on a sailboat.
    4. I have never rowed a boat with oars. (I have paddled jon boats and kayaks though.)


    Lastly, should I order a precut plywood kit or should I cut the planks myself? I hate wasting money, but I’m very tentative about accurately measuring and cutting all of the planks.

    Thanks for any and all advice!

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Is the Penny Fee right for me?

    Meet and greet. Before you commit to plans or take it any further, I suggest you find a local sailing club and attend one of their events or take an introductory/orientation course in sailing. The boating community can often be very generous, offering a free little spin or short cruise, and provide helpful advice. When I lived overseas, one gent' and his wife took us out on a day cruise from Simonstown to Macassar Beach and back (about 80 km). We provided a token "thank you" in the form of a nice picnic lunch. These activities will help you discover which sort of boat you will enjoy and what is a fit for your situation.

    Take it for a spin. It will take an amateur about a year or two to build an intermediate design like the Penny Fee. Do you want to wait that long before getting into sailing? You can find a lot of cheap used fiberglass boats in the classifieds. To see if something like the Penny Fee is right for you, buy a 12 to 16 ft daysailer like the Coronado 15 or Lido. Learn to sail and beat it up. Do you really want to learn on a lovely work of art or some tough, well-worn vessel? See if you like it. Sell it when your Penny Fee is complete. Sail in the warmer months, build the boat in colder months with faster epoxy and a warmed workshop.

    Materials. Don't worry, neither was Utah and I ended up getting most materials online.
    Last edited by capefox; 07-09-2013 at 03:07 PM.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Is the Penny Fee right for me?

    Penny Fee looks like an excellent boat. But I would say it is rather big. If you have never sailed a boat or even been on a sailboat, you might think 16' is nothing much. In my opinion, even a 12-footer - with a single sail and mast - can give two people a very satisfying sailing experience. And it will be much easier to row, solo, than a 16-footer. Do consider Oughtred's smaller designs.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Is the Penny Fee right for me?

    I love glued-lap. I'm working on my 5th one right now. A very enjoyable way of planking a boat. As for supplies, do a little research into how much it will cost to ship good marine ply. I've heard there are places that ship and the cost isn't too horrific. For backbone and trim, I use American Black Cherry, which is available at most good lumberyards (at least in the Northeast). Kits save time, but not money. Also depends on how much time you have to devote to the build. I find that lofting and building the entire boat from scratch to very satisfying. I've even bought plans from museums and converted them to glued-lap. Let's face it, learning to row a small boat like that isn't going to take a lot. Learning to sail certainly will, but the beauty of an oar/sail boat is that if the wind pipes up or you're feeling uncomfortable with your sailing ability, simply drop the sail and row back to shore. I'm not familiar with the design, but I assume it has just one sail? An excellent type of boat to learn on. And lastly, Welcome to the Forum!
    I was born on a wooden boat that I built myself.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Is the Penny Fee right for me?

    I would happily recommend that boat. Lug yawl rig, of course.
    If this post did not meet all of your needs, please consult this thread for more options.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Is the Penny Fee right for me?

    @capefox - Thanks for the advice. There is only one sailing club anywhere around here, but they do have a 4-day sailing education class this coming Labor Day weekend. I will look into securing a spot in that class. I wish that I could build during the winter months, but I'm a CPA so I'm busy from January 1 - April 15 every year. I'll look into buying a fibreglass daysailer to cut my teeth on, but there really aren't that many options around here. You mostly see bassboats, jon boats, and party barges in north Louisiana.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Is the Penny Fee right for me?

    @Sakari - Thanks for the advice. I originally thought the Tammie Norrie was my best fit, but 13' 6" doesn't leave a lot of room for 2 adults and 2 nieces and/or nephews. I like the idea of a little more space for everyone, but I do worry that 16' might be too much boat for me...

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Is the Penny Fee right for me?

    @Rich Jones - Thanks for the advice. I will definitely have to have the wood shipped to me. There aren't any stores stocking marine grade plywood within about 300 miles of here.

    I'm still torn on the idea of using a ply kit or cutting the planks myself. It definitely sounds more rewarding to start from scratch.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Is the Penny Fee right for me?

    Quote Originally Posted by James McMullen View Post
    I would happily recommend that boat. Lug yawl rig, of course.
    What is it about the lug yawl rig that is desirous? Increased control?

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Is the Penny Fee right for me?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dobber View Post
    @Rich Jones - Thanks for the advice. I will definitely have to have the wood shipped to me. There aren't any stores stocking marine grade plywood within about 300 miles of here.

    I'm still torn on the idea of using a ply kit or cutting the planks myself. It definitely sounds more rewarding to start from scratch.
    I've chatted with these guys about kits at last year's show in Mystic. They seem solid. It'll help solve some of your sourcing issues.
    Quote Originally Posted by James McMullen View Post
    Yeadon is right, of course.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Is the Penny Fee right for me?

    Yeadon, thanks for the tip... and the link.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Is the Penny Fee right for me?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dobber View Post
    @capefox - Thanks for the advice. There is only one sailing club anywhere around here, but they do have a 4-day sailing education class this coming Labor Day weekend. I will look into securing a spot in that class. I wish that I could build during the winter months, but I'm a CPA so I'm busy from January 1 - April 15 every year. I'll look into buying a fibreglass daysailer to cut my teeth on, but there really aren't that many options around here. You mostly see bassboats, jon boats, and party barges in north Louisiana.
    YOu may have to go farther afield but you are, nonetheless, well positioned because you are close to Texas where sailing has a good following. There is even a web site where sellers from around the country offer their unwanted sailboats. Give it a look.

    http://www.sailingtexas.com/cboats99.html

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Is the Penny Fee right for me?

    Thanks for the link Cuyahoga Chuck.

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Is the Penny Fee right for me?

    If you have never even been on a sailboat you might consider building-in some extra bouyancy - eg. in the stem and under a seat. Meets your spec it would seem. Certainly a beautiful boat.
    2nd for the lug yawl - handsome, clearer cockpit and the control that can be gained via the mizzen. For less immediate function of movement, but perhaps more of a base might be a Navigator, but for that exact style it looks hard to beat.
    Last edited by Sayla; 07-10-2013 at 01:08 AM.

  15. #15

    Default Re: Is the Penny Fee right for me?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dobber View Post
    @Sakari - Thanks for the advice. I originally thought the Tammie Norrie was my best fit, but 13' 6" doesn't leave a lot of room for 2 adults and 2 nieces and/or nephews. I like the idea of a little more space for everyone, but I do worry that 16' might be too much boat for me...
    Nieces and nephews? And you have never sailed a boat, or even been on a sailboat? Do note that sailboats need wind to move. Wind means waves. Wind and waves together means...

    I strongly suggest getting some experience with a smaller boat before taking children out. Even before thinking of taking children out.

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Is the Penny Fee right for me?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dobber View Post
    I am coming to the end of my very first boat build – a 14’ S&G Pygmy kayak for my wife. Now that I have caught the bug, I plan to build a boat of my very own.
    I think your first two sentences said it all. Yes, you are ready to build a Penny Fee, and, I think you made an excellent choice! Just dive in and start building. I'll be right behind you with a Navigator build starting very soon. Learning to sail a small boat takes a week. Building a Penny Fee will take months or years...it all depends on your own life, work, priorities etc. etc. Go for it. Great choice, you've obviously done your homework.


  17. #17
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    Default Re: Is the Penny Fee right for me?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sayla View Post
    If you have never even been on a sailboat you might consider building-in some extra bouyancy - eg. in the stem and under a seat. Meets your spec it would seem. Certainly a beautiful boat.
    2nd for the lug yawl - handsome, clearer cockpit and the control that can be gained via the mizzen. For less immediate function of movement, but perhaps more of a base might be a Navigator, but for that exact style it looks hard to beat.
    Thanks for the advice. I have thought about possibly building in some buoyancy or strapping in some airbags. Lug yawl is sounding better and better. I'll check out the Navigator, too.

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Is the Penny Fee right for me?

    Sakari, I will of course wait until I am competent, confident, and experienced at sailing before putting anyone at risk, especially my nieces and nephews whom I love dearly.

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Is the Penny Fee right for me?

    Gopez, thanks for the vote of confidence.

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Is the Penny Fee right for me?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dobber View Post
    What is it about the lug yawl rig that is desirous? Increased control?
    The lug yawl has many advantages for a small, trailerable sailboat. Here are a few:

    •Very much quicker and easier to set up and take down than a rig with stays. In fact, if you have it set up right, it is as easy to rig up on the water as it is in the parking lot. You will save 15 minutes to half an hour minimum every time you put her in or out compared to a sloop with jib sheets and a luff track and shrouds and such to untangle and set up.
    •The mizzen allows her to "park", head to wind, in an instant. This is very convenient indeed, whether you're fishing, needing to rummage around in your bag for a sandwich, or want to ride out a sudden gust or squall comfortably while you figure it out.
    •The spread-out rig means that the helmsman wont have to duck under or dodge the boom every time you tack to avoid getting clonked on the head. Safer, and your visibility and sight-lines from the helm are also much improved.
    •The rig can be struck in jiffy to clear for rowing.
    •Self-tacking. Wonderfully convenient when working upwind in tight, obstructed channels. Also makes single-handing a snap.
    If this post did not meet all of your needs, please consult this thread for more options.

  21. #21
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    Default Re: Is the Penny Fee right for me?

    James, I'd add: a lug yawl configuration is beautiful. There are a ton of fiberglass cat-rigged and sloop-rigged boats out there, but the Penny Fee with a lug yawl rig is nautical eye-candy.

  22. #22
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    Default Re: Is the Penny Fee right for me?

    Thanks for the explanation, James.

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