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Thread: No skills & reaching for the stars

  1. #1
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    Default No skills & reaching for the stars

    Hello, I'm looking for advice on building my first sailboat. I have no experience in boat building, though I do have 2 years of carpentry behind me so I like to think I won't be completely helpless. I've decided over the last few months that I want to become a world traveller and eventually sail everywhere. I'm wanting to build a 50' sailboat capable of traveling from the U.S. east coast to Japan and beyond to Australia. Due to my career path, in 3 years I'll start having October - February as vacation time so I'm confident that once I get going I'll have this built over a max of 5 years. I'm wanting to forgo a diesel engine as my backup and have full electric via solar panels and using batteries as my main ballast. I'm also wanting this to be mostly self sustaining; a greenhouse with retractable cover on top of the cabin to grow mini fruit trees & vegetables, 2 or 3 methods for desalination, 2 or 3 methods for energy production (solar, water via propellers i can drag along behind, & windmills), some sort of system where i could use perhaps inflatable airbags to tilt the entire vessel to perform emergency repairs on the hull if the damage was so great I wouldn't be able to put in to a dock before sinking, & triple redundancy on communications\navigation. I'm sure this is a ludicrous amount of features to want, especially considering that I've never done this, but I'd rather spend some extra time and do this all exactly how I want and only do it once. I've already read some great posts in here, but I was wanting to do this thread so I had easier access to all the suggestions and recommended resources I hope get posted on to this thread. Already super excited from what I've studied so far, and can't wait to get some solid plans going!

  2. #2
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    Default Re: No skills & reaching for the stars

    I wonder if you have read on the Forum of Bob Adams Malabar build in Texas. You might PM him for discussion. Otherwise I think you need to start with a plan to see if you can build to it. That might take talking to designers like Tad Roberts or Michael Mason. All good. For your mentioned voyaging you will want a well found and capable vessel. Good luck.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: No skills & reaching for the stars

    5 yrs to build may be about 10 more years short but I/we don't know your actual situation.

    Good luck!
    Denise, Bristol PA, Oday30, Anchor Yacht Club, On tidal Delaware River. my current project; http://forum.woodenboat.com/showthre...0-Ducker-Resto

  4. #4
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    Default Re: No skills & reaching for the stars

    Once I'm to where I can start building I'll have 5 solid months every year along with an average of 1-2 hours a day the rest of the year I can put into this. I was originally thinking a build of this size would take upwards of ten years, but based on sheer man hours I can put in during my off season I should be able to cut the overall timeline down significantly. I was considering completing a smaller kit based boat initially, but concluded I don't want to waste resources on something I ultimately won't be able to sail where I want to. My solution for learning the basics of ship building is that I'll be moving to Houston within the next 5 years and can use my location to network with boat builders in the gulf that I can assist and learn from until I'm ready to start my own.

  5. #5
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    Default

    Well, ii figure the 25 ft boatbi am building will take around 2500 hours. And I am not a slow worker. A 50 ft boat would be at least 5 times as big. That would be roughly 12500 hours, 6 years of 40 hour weeks. Best case scenario.
    I'll get some popcorn made and watch while others respond to some of your ideas.
    But my arvice: buy a good used boat and spend the time getting it in top shape.

    Sent from my BLN-L24 using Tapatalk

  6. #6
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    Default Re: No skills & reaching for the stars

    A number of remarks in your brief lead me to believe that not only do you know little about boat building, you say that, but you do not appear to have much knowledge of boat design, maintenance, sailing and so on. Counting prenatal experience, I have 70 years sailing under my keel, the last 36 of them living aboard four different sailboats and nearing a leisurly completion of the fifth, perhaps my LastBoat, based on the marvelous LFH "Golden Ball" 47' ketch 11 tons displacement. Even with my extensive experience and very strong self-knowledge of how I like to live on a boat, there are a number of silly errors in the accommodation, which I extensively redesigned from LFH's and for which I am fully the cause. Imagine the room for error if you think you know but have no actual basis in knowledge.

    It's hard to get a basic hull and minimal accommodations built at any less than a hour efficient labor for every ten pounds displacement. If we assume a boat in the 15 to 20 ton range, that's three thousand to four thousand hours hard work before you start worrying about mechanical systems, spars, rigging, and sails. Your time off, depending on how interpreted from your OP, could be as much as 120 days. If you can actually work say 10 solid hours per day without time off or rest or supply delays, then maybe 5 years gets you to a hull ready to receive all the things that make a boat go. Another couple of years and maybe you're ready to sail.

    There are many many terrific boats out there, and many are suitable for living aboard. Google along something like "Colvin Gazelle schooner for sale" for one excellent and versatile boat, these mostly in steel. Many Colvin's are amateur built. Those built by metal workers, welders and such, are said to have wonderful hulls and indifferent wood work in the accommodation. Those built by carpenters might be a little rough on the outside and lovely inside. Some are all around fantastic. And that's only one line of thought.

    In my experience, it's best to get sailing as best you can in the best boat you can afford, even though it will be a bit of an on-going project. Get to know how to really sail and get to know yourself, how you like to live on a boat. Mostly, get sailing.

    One last thought on the inflatable things. At one time air bags that could be stowed flat under berths were sold on the theory that if you're sinking, you could blow those up (from compressed air tanks, like a very large inflatable PFD) and stay somewhat afloat. Personally, I'm more for some watertight bulkheads. But you are unlikely to have that sort of hull damage in conditions where you could careen the boat on an airbag at sea.

    G'luck

  7. #7
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    Default Re: No skills & reaching for the stars

    Awesome, thanks Ian! This is the real talk I was hoping for, having very experienced builders and sailors guide me to step back and look at every detail I can before I begin. Yes, I'm coming from zero experience on any of this besides that I know one end of a tape measure from the other. I will definitely be having a professional builder draw up the final plans for whatever design I decide on, so hopefully that will minimize the mistakes I would make on the design end. 5 years on only the hull seems reasonable, with I assume another 5-8 to put everything else in it? Again with the assumption of minimal supply delays and so on. The inflatables was a rough idea I had since I plan on sailing around South America instead of going through the canal, strictly as an emergency system. You brought up something I hadn't mentioned yet, was about steel versus wooden hulls. I would like being able to do a completely wooden, "authentic" to me, hull. I've just started all this so I haven't gotten to materials yet, mostly learning what to expect maintenance wise and making a list of everything i would ideally want to include into the design.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: No skills & reaching for the stars

    I know that you are dreaming big! The idea of building a boat and sailing off over the horizon is very romantic but it can also be very frustrating when the enormity of the job finally reveals it self. You would do well to take Ian's advice into consideration because he has been there and done that which you are proposing!
    I'an has given you a hint of some designs you might consider. I know for a fact that he owns or has owned one boat that I personally am very familiar with,
    The "Marco Polo" that was designed by L. Francis Herreshoff. This is a three masted schooner/ketch that is fifty five feet in length. It was designed for world cruising and since Ian has owned one, he would be he person to comment on his experience with that design.

    Again, building a boat of any size or design is and adventure in itself but, you just might be able to pick up a well built "Marco Polo" that is for sale and go off on your odyssey sooner than you expect. I do know of one boat that might be for sale. Contact me privately if you are interested in owning an exitsting Marco Polo.
    Jay

  9. #9
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Jay Greer View Post
    I know that you are dreaming big! The idea of building a boat and sailing off over the horizon is very romantic but it can also be very frustrating when the enormity of the job finally reveals it self. You would do well to take Ian's advice into consideration because he has been there and done that which you are proposing!
    I'an has given you a hint of some designs you might consider. I know for a fact that he owns or has owned one boat that I personally am very familiar with,
    The "Marco Polo" that was designed by L. Francis Herreshoff. This is a three masted schooner/ketch that is fifty five feet in length. It was designed for world cruising and since Ian has owned one, he would be he person to comment on his experience with that design.

    Again, building a boat of any size or design is and adventure in itself but, you just might be able to pick up a well built "Marco Polo" that is for sale and go off on your odyssey sooner than you expect. I do know of one boat that might be for sale. Contact me privately if you are interested in owning an exitsting Marco Polo.
    Jay
    At $215k... Wazdat, about 25% of what it would cost to build one at today's material and labor costs? http://www.yachtworld.com/boats/1956...s#.WdE2mqkpCRM

    Sent from my LG-M430 using Tapatalk
    Denise, Bristol PA, Oday30, Anchor Yacht Club, On tidal Delaware River. my current project; http://forum.woodenboat.com/showthre...0-Ducker-Resto

  10. #10
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    Default Re: No skills & reaching for the stars

    I know Texans are exceptional, capable of shifting not only paradigms but the rotational axis of the planet itself, but greenhouses, battery ballast and sponsons?

  11. #11
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    Default Re: No skills & reaching for the stars

    So long as you're dreaming, check out http://georgebuehler.com/photothumbs.html. Lots of good support for the backyard builder.

    And get L Francis Herreshoff's "Sensible Cruising Designs".

  12. #12
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    Default Re: No skills & reaching for the stars

    " . . . but greenhouses, battery ballast and sponsons?" [#10]

    Were he not a Texan, I'd say for sure schnager will outgrow it. But he still probably will. One of my best captains was a Texan. Working with a good NA really helps. For all my experience, I remain chock-a-block full of crackpot ideas. Michael Mason was both kindly and professional as he got me aimed more at sanity. But I still think that outside ballast that increased laterally rather than vertically was a good thought . . .

  13. #13
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    Default Re: No skills & reaching for the stars

    I'm thinking of that guy who put some inflatable thing on his trimaran to make it self righting, and set off on a race from England to Australia.

  14. #14
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    Default Re: No skills & reaching for the stars

    With the three years until you have extended free time, follow Ian's advice and get an inexpensive used boat (of whatever kind, perhaps with a partner for mutual encouragement) as soon as you are able, start sailing and see if it suits you enough to build from scratch. You can practice developing skills on your used boat by picking suitable projects, repairs, maintenance or upgrades that are increasingly challenging. Such experience would stand you in good stead when building anew. It could be fun, confidence-building, practical and revealing in ways you can't anticipate now. Not as romantic as announcing to friends, family and the world that you're 'building a boat to sail around the world', but there'll be plenty of time to dream about and contemplate all that. Many of us here do it all the time! We can't help it!
    "When I was a boy with never a crack in my heart."

    -W. B. Yeats

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by rbgarr View Post
    With the three years until you have extended free time, follow Ian's advice and get an inexpensive used boat (of whatever kind, perhaps with a partner for mutual encouragement) as soon as you are able, start sailing and see if it suits you enough to build from scratch. You can practice developing skills on your used boat by picking suitable projects, repairs, maintenance or upgrades that are increasingly challenging. Such experience would stand you in good stead when building anew. It could be fun, confidence-building, practical and revealing in ways you can't anticipate now. Not as romantic as announcing to friends, family and the world that you're 'building a boat to sail around the world', but there'll be plenty of time to dream about and contemplate all that. Many of us here do it all the time! We can't help it!
    Woo "Barbaro"! http://georgebuehler.com/Barbaro.html


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    Denise, Bristol PA, Oday30, Anchor Yacht Club, On tidal Delaware River. my current project; http://forum.woodenboat.com/showthre...0-Ducker-Resto

  16. #16
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    Default Re: No skills & reaching for the stars

    While I've always been a firm believer that anybody can do anything they want if they really put their mind to it, that doesn't mean that they should. Listen to Ian and the others who are giving you advice on how to go about figuring out what you actually need for your stated voyaging objectives. it is very likely not to be what you say you want at this point.

    Also, Ian's estimate of 1 hour for every 10 lbs of displacement might be true for an experienced boatbuilder who really knows what they are doing, but for the rest of us enthusiastic amateurs who maybe considered ourselves handy at the start of our boatbuilding adventures, but didn't have any experience, it likely takes us twice or 3 times that. AT the small boat end of the scale, from my own experience it is more like 1 hour per lb, and that's after building several boats.

    I'm reminded of this Grook by Piet Hein:

    T. T. T.

    Put up in a place
    where it's easy to see
    the cryptic admonishment
    T. T. T.

    When you feel how depressingly
    slowly you climb,
    it's well to remember that
    Things Take Time!
    Alex

    "A man who is not afraid of the sea will soon be drowned, for he will be going out on a day he shouldn't. We do be afraid of the sea, and we only be drowned now and again" Aran Islands Fisherman

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    Default Re: No skills & reaching for the stars

    My investigations have suggested about 2 pound per hour for a competent builder so a 50 footer would be a minimum of 15 tons. That adds up to 17000 hours for our competent builder.

    The question immediately becomes,
    Do you want to build or do you want to sail ? The US wooden boat market seems depressed at the moment so if you would prefer 10 years of extra sailing ..... instead of building, buy a boat.
    '' You ain't gonna learn what you don't want to know. ''
    Grateful Dead

  18. #18
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    Default Re: No skills & reaching for the stars

    Wow Peter, that is definitely being succinct. And everybody else who chipped in today. I might rethink maybe starting out on a smaller craft and enjoying being on the water while I work on this masterpiece I have knocking around in my head.

  19. #19
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    Default Re: No skills & reaching for the stars

    It's well to broaden experience with anyone and everyone you can find who will let you crew. I got my first distance sailing as a kid because I took direction even when the owner was wrong, at least by my lights as drilled into me by my hard sailing mother. But the main thing was that I cleaned up all dishes from all meals. Word spread and I was in demand.

    Many yacht clubs have Wednesday beer races after work. A quick informal around the buoys for those who take racing as fun rather than mania. Crewing here is a great way to get diverse experience.

    Always remembering that there are many ways to do things. Nothing works all the time and almost any dumb thing will work at least once. Put diversity in your sea bag.

    G'luck

  20. #20
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    Default Re: No skills & reaching for the stars

    First build a rowboat, then learn to row.

  21. #21
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    Default Re: No skills & reaching for the stars

    And buying an existing boat will get you sailing sooner still.
    Used boats are such a bargain that you need to have a really good reason to build anew.

  22. #22
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    Default Re: No skills & reaching for the stars

    50ft schooner would be a bit beyond my single handing skill set ....
    Denise, Bristol PA, Oday30, Anchor Yacht Club, On tidal Delaware River. my current project; http://forum.woodenboat.com/showthre...0-Ducker-Resto

  23. #23
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    Default Re: No skills & reaching for the stars

    I was going to make a flippant comment about Waterworld....then I realized from the list of things the OP is after a big tri might be a better platform than a monohulled boat.
    Steve

    Boats, like whiskey, are all good.
    R.D Culler

  24. #24
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    Default Re: No skills & reaching for the stars

    If you don't already sail, try to get some in before you buy a boat. And if you get a boat before you are experienced, get a guru or two.

    It's actually hard to learn on a boat of more than a couple tons and a five ton or so boat is about the minimum that most people can live on . . . solo. There are exceptions but we are not all John Guzzwell and he sailed Trekka around the world, not lived on her at leisure.

    Sailing is like any athletic discipline - you want to learn the correct ways of movement and force. Little things like always tying your knots the same (correct) way, keeping your leads fair and your lines clear matter a great deal. It just takes time. You will get more time if you start in the smallest older boat you can spend your three or four free months on. Something maybe in the 30 range. Like if you like a traditional seakindly hull that can be made to look and feel like wood inside, check out an aging Triton, Alberg 30, or even Alberg 35. These are all well behaved sloops that will treat you right. Many of this line have made utterly unremarkable circumnavigations because they are so able and most people who sail them get that way too. Good habits reduce the white knuckle stories.

    Glass boats in this general rage over-populate the world so they can be had pretty cheap. If you're at all conservative, stick to full keel gentle wine glass sections. Boats from the '60s - before the oil crisis of '74 or whenever - are considerably better than the osmosis blister prone boats of the next decade or so. With older glass, you need to read the specs with care and watch out for water intrusion if the deck or hull are core built. But knowing how to look at a boat, and investing a grand or so in a proper survey if you're getting serious, will more than repay you.

    The Alberg 35, at a bit over 6 tons, is probably as big as you should start with but the 28' Triton (the 35's older but smaller sister) is probably more suitable.



    G'luck

  25. #25
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    Default Re: No skills & reaching for the stars

    EXCELLENT advice.

  26. #26
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    Default Re: No skills & reaching for the stars

    Boats that have a spade keel and a detached rudder are not as kindly to choose as a cruiser such as Ian has described above. The main reason that the full keel and attached rudder are better is that detached rudder boats are prone to rudder damage which can result from grounding or snagging a long line in mid ocean. Hanging up on a long line with all of its buoyed floats at night can ruin a good night's off watch sleep and possibly do damage to your ability to steer! An attached rudder avoids having an arresting hook attached to your steering system. The same holds true of a spade keel! Grounding or snagging a long line with a spade keel can, actually, result in loss of the keel if the grounding or hang up is extreme!
    Jay

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    Default Re: No skills & reaching for the stars

    I totally agree with everyone here: get on the water first, see how you like it, keep your eyes open and learn learn learn so you can draw your own conclusions.

    What I would like to add: there are plenty of abandoned projects out there. People with high expectations found out after a while of building their dream that it is just too much. You might find a nearly finished hull somewhere which comes as close to your dream as possible, with maybe the deck and all the interior to make and finish. It would save you a lot of time, you could make it your personal boat, you would have the fun of building something for yourself with your own hands and save yourself the trouble of going through the whole process needed.

    And yes Denise, this is my favourite of George's selection too !!!


    Quote Originally Posted by DeniseO30 View Post
    Woo "Barbaro"! http://georgebuehler.com/Barbaro.html


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    fair winds, Dody

    "They did not know it was impossible so they did it" - Mark Twain

  28. #28
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    Default Re: No skills & reaching for the stars

    Most successful world cruisers sail in boats in the 30'-35' range. 50' is a really big boat.

  29. #29
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    Default Re: No skills & reaching for the stars

    A good many project abandonments happen before the expenditure for engine, sails, rigging, canvas and electronics.
    For a boat like a Pearson Triton, these alone can cost as much as a sound used boat.

  30. #30
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    Default Re: No skills & reaching for the stars

    Quote Originally Posted by StevenBauer View Post
    Most successful world cruisers sail in boats in the 30'-35' range. 50' is a really big boat.
    It was like this many years ago. Today the 30'-35' range is only found in rare occasions. Not that they don't sail around the world any more, but you see them less and less. I don't know if this is true, but I heard a few days ago that nowadays, to take part in the ARC (Atlantic Ralley for Cruisers) your boat needs to be over 35 feet. Can't find anything on their website, but met someone who got rejected because he wanted to participate in a 31 footer.

    Quote Originally Posted by JimConlin View Post
    A good many project abandonments happen before the expenditure for engine, sails, rigging, canvas and electronics.
    For a boat like a Pearson Triton, these alone can cost as much as a sound used boat.
    For a well-built boat this is still usually a win-win situation as the majority of these boats sell for prices far less than the cost of the materials alone add up to. And building a boat any builder has to bite the bullet and buy the hardware at one point anyway.
    A feasible option could be to buy a cheap boat the same size one wants to build, use it during the build, and then swap the hardware and scrap the cheap one. Just a suggestion, and it has been done this way.

    Edit: don't believe everything they tell you ... I've just checked the entry-list for this year and found a 30 footer taking part. See here: https://www.worldcruising.com/arc/ar...ntentries.aspx
    Last edited by Dody; 10-02-2017 at 02:48 PM.
    fair winds, Dody

    "They did not know it was impossible so they did it" - Mark Twain

  31. #31
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    Default Re: No skills & reaching for the stars

    Quote Originally Posted by Ian McColgin View Post
    For all my experience, I remain chock-a-block full of crackpot ideas.
    I would respectfully submit we must guard against drawing moral equivalence between the ideas of a mature nautical mind whose inspirational vapours emanate from the fermenting brine of experience, to those of the landsman, the seeds of whose eructations, though energetic and voluminous, are often needlessly cast upon the dusty ground, there to wither and desiccate under the hot sun of practicality.

  32. #32
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    Default Re: No skills & reaching for the stars

    It's a troll.

  33. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Hadfield View Post
    It's a troll.
    Glad somebody else said it last time I said something that was not syrupy sweet and squeaky clean I got jumped LOL

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    Denise, Bristol PA, Oday30, Anchor Yacht Club, On tidal Delaware River. my current project; http://forum.woodenboat.com/showthre...0-Ducker-Resto

  34. #34
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    Default Re: No skills & reaching for the stars

    The fruit trees were a tipoff.

  35. #35
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    Default Re: No skills & reaching for the stars

    I find it takes far less energy to respond as a person presents than to speculate as to motives. If the person is a troll, he or she will show that soon enough and even if the person is a troll, that does not diminish the value of my remarks. In short, who cares. It's just the internet, not a bar where a drink could be on the line.

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