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Thread: The work-to-reward ratio

  1. #1
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    Default The work-to-reward ratio

    Doing this rudder project has gotten me to thinking... what's my acceptable level of "work to reward"?

    So, the rudder..... I made the decision to make my own rudder for my S2 7.9 in the first week of October 2017. For those who aren't following my thread where I document every single layer of fiberglass, the rudder goes on a 26 foot 1980's vintage racer-cruiser. It's about 7' 8" tall, has a chord of 15.75 inches and when done will weigh about 60 pounds. I've made progress on many weekends and the occasional weeknight. It's now February 13th, and if I'm lucky, the rudder will be ready to hang off the transom in about two weeks. I'm sure that "two" will probably turn into "three" but whatever the case, I'm getting close, and that makes the finishing point in the last week of February +/-. Total time is four and a half months. It's been a rewarding project, as I've learned a lot and done some things I'd never done before and besides, I'll get my required emergency rudder out of the project as well. It's been a "Win" all 'round.

    So, was four and a half months worth it? Yes.

    If it took me four and a half months to build a small 15-16 foot sailboat, would that be worth it? Yes. If it took me three years to make that same boat, would it be worth it to me? Probably not. Now, "Time" is not the only measure of investment, here. Obviously there's the cost of materials, but I guess the best way to put it is that I think there's an investment of mental and spiritual energy that goes into building something. There is, of course, also pleasure and satisfaction in the process of building, itself. Yet for me, I could not just "build" indefinitely and be happy. There needs to be a day when the boat goes splash, I put away the saws, router and sewing machine, and go sailing. I need to see success and completion within a certain amount of time, for the process to be satisfying and not unduly frustrating.

    Once settled on a design for a 15- 16 footer to sail and sometimes row, what is my best guess on how long I should take to build it, or COULD take to build it before the hope, energy and so on run out? My best guess is probably something like 6-8 months.

    There's also Mrs. Alan H's patience level to factor in!! I'm testing her sorely with this rudder!

    I'm curious what all your thoughts are in terms of the patience/effort/time/reward equation.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: The work-to-reward ratio

    I am sure it varies from individual to individual. If you enjoy the process other factors tend to fall away.

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    Default Re: The work-to-reward ratio

    I never thought of "boatbuilding" as work until I started building boats for other people...

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    Default Re: The work-to-reward ratio

    When I was a sailing journo I once interviewed a guy who had spent about 17 years building an enormous steel cruising cat for his family. When I asked him how he could dedicate so much of his life, he said that he looked at each individual part of the boat as a job in itself. He therefore got the reward of completion every time he built a door or ran a wire. He had many rewards, rather than just the big one of launch day. It sounded like a good approach.

    I'm going to start a multi-year rebuild soon, as soon as I can find a spot for my 50 year old 28'er. I plan to see each little part of the project as a piece of work in itself so that I can get the payoff; to enjoy the process rather than the final outcome. Of course, I'm lucky since she's on a trailer so at many stages I'll be able to say "sod it, she'll hit the water in a fortnight if I want her to and then I can haul her out and finish it later". Personally I could still never go without sailing for that period, but that's why we own lots of other craft.

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    Default Re: The work-to-reward ratio

    There's also the question of how many hours of other work you have to do to pay for someone to build a rudder or a boat for you. Or what you have to forego in order to afford to contract out the boat or rudder. And the difference between being able to say, I wrote a check for that, vs I built that. And what activity you have to give up to find the time to build it yourself. But most important is whether you enjoy the work. If you enjoy the work, it's a recreational pass time every bit as good as playing golf, sailing, watching the Dodgers on TV, or going for a bike ride or whatever else.

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    Default Re: The work-to-reward ratio

    The work is the reward.
    Sometimes the process is more important than the outcome.

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    Default Re: The work-to-reward ratio

    Quote Originally Posted by Barry View Post
    The work is the reward.
    Sometimes the process is more important than the outcome.
    That's a very philosophical thing to say/write and in some aspects of life I would agree with you.

    Just not in boatbuilding....for me, anyway. The work is A reward, not THE reward. If there's never a splash day, if there's never "completion" then the reward of working on the thing at some point becomes no reward at all, and just a pain in the butt.

    I suppose there are people who never want to finish. For them, truly the work is the pleasure in it. There's a guy here in the SF Bay Area who builds a 12-14 foot whitehall every spring. He sells it for the best offer and an honor-promise to make annual donations to an African childrens health charity that he cares about. I assume he essentially never rows his creations, though I bet he's got his own sitting on a dock, somewhere.

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    Default Re: The work-to-reward ratio

    Quote Originally Posted by Phil Y View Post
    There's also the question of how many hours of other work you have to do to pay for someone to build a rudder or a boat for you. Or what you have to forego in order to afford to contract out the boat or rudder. And the difference between being able to say, I wrote a check for that, vs I built that. And what activity you have to give up to find the time to build it yourself. But most important is whether you enjoy the work. If you enjoy the work, it's a recreational pass time every bit as good as playing golf, sailing, watching the Dodgers on TV, or going for a bike ride or whatever else.
    Yeah, there are many days when I am very jealous of the guys who can just write checks. Want a new suit of sails? Write the check. Want a new rudder? Consult with the foils expert and write a check. An awful lot of the guys I sail with/against operate mostly this way. Their philosophy is to not own a boat where you can't just "write the check".

    Truth is, they usually beat me on the racecourse. Do they have more fun? I dunno, but they seem to have a pretty good time farting around out there. The wind and waves and race courses are the same for them as they are for those of us who make or scrounge an awful lot of our stuff. All this is not to say that I haven't written a fair share of my own "checks".

  9. #9
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    Default Re: The work-to-reward ratio

    Quote Originally Posted by Alan H View Post
    Doing this rudder project has gotten me to thinking... what's my acceptable level of "work to reward"?

    So, the rudder..... I made the decision to make my own rudder for my S2 7.9 in the first week of October 2017. For those who aren't following my thread where I document every single layer of fiberglass, the rudder goes on a 26 foot 1980's vintage racer-cruiser. It's about 7' 8" tall, has a chord of 15.75 inches and when done will weigh about 60 pounds. I've made progress on many weekends and the occasional weeknight. It's now February 13th, and if I'm lucky, the rudder will be ready to hang off the transom in about two weeks. I'm sure that "two" will probably turn into "three" but whatever the case, I'm getting close, and that makes the finishing point in the last week of February +/-. Total time is four and a half months. It's been a rewarding project, as I've learned a lot and done some things I'd never done before and besides, I'll get my required emergency rudder out of the project as well. It's been a "Win" all 'round.

    So, was four and a half months worth it? Yes.

    If it took me four and a half months to build a small 15-16 foot sailboat, would that be worth it? Yes. If it took me three years to make that same boat, would it be worth it to me? Probably not. Now, "Time" is not the only measure of investment, here. Obviously there's the cost of materials, but I guess the best way to put it is that I think there's an investment of mental and spiritual energy that goes into building something. There is, of course, also pleasure and satisfaction in the process of building, itself. Yet for me, I could not just "build" indefinitely and be happy. There needs to be a day when the boat goes splash, I put away the saws, router and sewing machine, and go sailing. I need to see success and completion within a certain amount of time, for the process to be satisfying and not unduly frustrating.

    Once settled on a design for a 15- 16 footer to sail and sometimes row, what is my best guess on how long I should take to build it, or COULD take to build it before the hope, energy and so on run out? My best guess is probably something like 6-8 months.

    There's also Mrs. Alan H's patience level to factor in!! I'm testing her sorely with this rudder!

    I'm curious what all your thoughts are in terms of the patience/effort/time/reward equation.
    I'd say that's a reasonable time estimate, but how many hours are you committing a day/week? Without much experience I built a 16' melonseed. While the total time elapsed was 3 yrs, that included no or little work during winter months. During the warmer months I was only able to put in a few half days a week. I'd guess it was about 6-8 months of dedicated work, and that is unskilled labor. Bottom line was I enjoyed the heck out it, mistakes and all. She's still sailing and if you don't look too close, she's mighty pretty.
    Steve B
    Sjogin IIIa
    PAYTON 13' Pea Pod

    RIVUS 16' Melonseed


    "If a man must be obsessed by something, I suppose a boat is as good as anything, perhaps a bit better than most." E. B. White

  10. #10
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    Default Re: The work-to-reward ratio

    It's not work. It's an activity.

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    Default Re: The work-to-reward ratio

    i cannot buy a boat, which I want. There is simply no such a boat on the market in Lithuania. I there would be one, I would still not buy, but build - a bit different. Because I like the engineering - creative process, the art of turning pile of wood (or plywood) into physical object I can use, enjoy sailing her and see others (or take other on board) to enjoy.
    There is a balance of time vs enjoyment - it should not get boring.
    Last summer I managed to get my wife aboard of my dinghy. Surprisingly, she has liked sailing small lugger dinghy more, than sailing much bigger boats. She felt safer, despite we have got several buckets of water overboard. That was a reward!
    Cheers,
    Jonas

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    Default Re: The work-to-reward ratio

    If one sets a time limit on a boat build and that isn't met, the rest of the build has the potential to be not so much fun. I'm building a 13 footer now. I think I'll finish in time to row her this summer but if I don't, then I have a project already for the fall/winter.

    Working to a deadline very often becomes exactly that... work.

    Jeff

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    Default Re: The work-to-reward ratio

    As time goes by the rewards from building wanes.

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    Default Re: The work-to-reward ratio

    Quote Originally Posted by Barry View Post
    The work is the reward.
    Sometimes the process is more important than the outcome.
    My sentiments exactly for work that I do for myself.

    If its work for a client then the check at the end of the job is part of the reward. The real reward is when someone calls me and says " Hey, you come recommended by....".

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    Default Re: The work-to-reward ratio

    I love sailing. If I did not enjoy building a boat, I would only be sailing. As it is, I look at it as two "related" hobbies. So the work/reward ratio works out for me because each step of the way, seeing what I have accomplished that is part of the reward. If the reward was only going to be time spent on the water on my boat, I would not considering building. Too many other ways to get out on the water and go sailing. However, I am looking forward to the feeling of "reward" when I am actually sailing my boat immensely. Long and short of it: build a boat because that is what you enjoy doing, not as a means to get out on the water.

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    Default Re: The work-to-reward ratio

    Quote Originally Posted by peb View Post
    Long and short of it: build a boat because that is what you enjoy doing, not as a means to get out on the water.
    Spot on

    I like building things and putting them to work. If there is a downside it is that I also like to be continually challenged, so one boat leads to the next more complex one and so on. Marianita has so far provided ample opportunity for tweaks and upgrades that will keep me busy for a few more years, but there is another build just over the horizon.
    Steve

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    Default Re: The work-to-reward ratio

    I've found the more time you stretch the project out over the more work it becomes and the more hours of work - both real, and perceived - it takes. Which I think is in agreance with you Alan. A 200 hr boat build done in 5 weeks is much more fun than a 200hr boat build done in 2 years. Not because the joy of completion is sooner, but because there's far less tool up/down, figure out what you were doing, oh look I made a mistake, oh the whatever went bad, etc. etc.

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    Default Re: The work-to-reward ratio

    For me, it's not because I don't have the patience to stick with long-term goals for many years. I have seen several very long-term projects through to completion and by this I mean 3-10 year long projects. It's just that for me, sawing/planing/drilling/gluing/sewing....there's a limit to how long I want this to go on.

    I enjoy it.

    Peb wrote this
    Long and short of it: build a boat because that is what you enjoy doing, not as a means to get out on the water.
    I agree. But I ENJOY making things. However, there's a time/energy limit to it. I could not be happy "building" forever.

    Also, a number of people have written things like... "building boats isn't work". I completely disagree. Sure it's work. But who said "work" can't be pleasurable or fun? Does the definition of the concept of "work" HAVE TO include "misery"? Of course not. Work can be satisfying. I WORK AT playing the clarinet. I WORK AT throwing heavy stuff at the Scottish Highland Games. I definitely work..**Work** at those things. They're still fun.

    Everybody has their own line...where the break-even point is. I'm just curious about where others break even point it.

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    Default Re: The work-to-reward ratio

    Quote Originally Posted by navydog View Post
    As time goes by the rewards from building wanes.
    Even more true with the rewards from explaining how to do it correctly to others on internet forums!

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    Default Re: The work-to-reward ratio

    Quote Originally Posted by navydog View Post
    As time goes by the rewards from building wanes.
    If you're talking about time into a project, maybe yes. If you're talking time as in age, I'd say no. When I started sailing I had little interest in how the boat was built, now that is my favorite pastime. Sailing is still fun but it's time for me to let my copy of Cornell's World Cruising Routes go.
    Steve B
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    RIVUS 16' Melonseed


    "If a man must be obsessed by something, I suppose a boat is as good as anything, perhaps a bit better than most." E. B. White

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    Default Re: The work-to-reward ratio

    Really an individual thing i reckon. If i get to even start my next build my project, i reckon i can get the hull and deck knocked out over a winter and launched in the late summer, with no internals. This is only a reasonable exercise if the hull is designed as being self supporting from the outset, and not relying on furniture as a structural part. I have not had any projects extend over a 2 year time frame, though having a multitude of boats to use, a long term project in the barn is a possibility, but so is losing interest......even if full of enthusiasm at the start.
    The 15ft Michalak family skiff, was a simple 200 hour build started during the winter and launched late spring. I found it the epoxy stints could be long, trying to get fillets and taping done all in one session, even when divided up, so "im just going up to the barn for an hour", ended with me coming in sometimes 4-5 hours later than intended.
    I could not personally imagine spending that amount of time building a rudder, but i guess many might feel the same way of building 12ft scale models that have a short life.
    Catching wind was my initial passion, building came later, and took over somewhat, to the point where i could spend all day building, and go for a sail in the evening for a few hours, rather than vice-versa. But creating and building something that catches the wind and can take you places, is something quite magical, i think.

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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Alan H View Post
    For me, it's not because I don't have the patience to stick with long-term goals for many years. I have seen several very long-term projects through to completion and by this I mean 3-10 year long projects. It's just that for me, sawing/planing/drilling/gluing/sewing....there's a limit to how long I want this to go on.

    I enjoy it.

    Peb wrote this

    I agree. But I ENJOY making things. However, there's a time/energy limit to it. I could not be happy "building" forever.

    Also, a number of people have written things like... "building boats isn't work". I completely disagree. Sure it's work. But who said "work" can't be pleasurable or fun? Does the definition of the concept of "work" HAVE TO include "misery"? Of course not. Work can be satisfying. I WORK AT playing the clarinet. I WORK AT throwing heavy stuff at the Scottish Highland Games. I definitely work..**Work** at those things. They're still fun.

    Everybody has their own line...where the break-even point is. I'm just curious about where others break even point it.
    I agree with the thought that building a boat is work. But is not toil. If you guys will let be be theological just a nice above the bilge: we were created to work, toil is a result if our fall.


    Oh, if I wasn't building to a deadline, I suspect the project would drag on and soon seem like toil. Even if I get behind schedule and the end date moves, I try to work against a schedule. That actually helps with the enjoyment.

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    Default Re: The work-to-reward ratio

    Quote Originally Posted by SBrookman View Post
    If you're talking about time into a project, maybe yes. If you're talking time as in age, I'd say no. When I started sailing I had little interest in how the boat was built, now that is my favorite pastime. Sailing is still fun but it's time for me to let my copy of Cornell's World Cruising Routes go.
    I believe how involved in the activity of building and construction a person is over a long span of time has some bearing of the interest level later in life. When it has been a vocation and the body is unwilling to cooperate the mind loses interest as well.

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    Default Re: The work-to-reward ratio

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Cleek View Post
    Even more true with the rewards from explaining how to do it correctly to others on internet forums!
    I like teaching and helping people but I have little patience for and no desire to work with people that are to smart to listen to others.

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    Default Re: The work-to-reward ratio

    I first buildt a Glen-l squirt, plywood and epoxy, and now building a Argie 15 also plywood epoxy.

    I think it is worth the effort, but I realize that also an easy stich and glue construction takes time to build. I dont mind it takes time as i like the process, but my next boat will definetly be traditional buildt with close to no glue.

    If I spend hundreds of hours building a boat, I think its important what those hours consisting of. I like working with wood, more than working with epoxy and sanding, so if a traditional build takes more time, for me it will be more quality time in the workshop.

    I guess most of the builders here like the work of shaping wood more than the epoxy work, and it affects the work - to reward ratio. Agree?

    That said I love epoxy depending construction, because it made me think it was posible for me to build a boat, and I now want to build more...


    Fred

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    Default Re: The work-to-reward ratio

    Quote Originally Posted by Fredostli View Post

    If I spend hundreds of hours building a boat, I think its important what those hours consisting of. I like working with wood, more than working with epoxy and sanding, so if a traditional build takes more time, for me it will be more quality time in the workshop.

    I guess most of the builders here like the work of shaping wood more than the epoxy work, and it affects the work - to reward ratio. Agree?



    Fred
    I would agree. But perhaps the overall build time can be reduced (if thats important) by the gap filling miracle whip. I find sanding most things a chore these days, but making the effort on a fine grained bit of timber that will be clear finished does bring dividends that a painted bit of epoxy coated ply might struggle to compete with. That being said, my boating season is extended from building in such a manner, and i do really wonder if a new , well impregnated fir/pine/spruce planked boat would be free from frost damage, but anything that releys on the timber to swell from getting wet is going to be at risk; but just like the cars of today, they were never built to last a lifetime. Maintaining a "tar" boat is a lot more pleasurable than one with a 2-pack paint job, when it comes to making good.

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    Default Re: The work-to-reward ratio

    It’s okay to change your mind too. Whitewater kayaking used to be “it” for me. Then as I got older, I got into a whole variety of different boats, big and small, including some full-keel cruising sailboats.. Now I only like small boats and kayaks again. I’d never be willing to put the work into a big cruising boat now, but there was a time when all that extra “work” was part of the play.

    The nice thing about little, beachable boats is that even the large jobs are still pretty small. But they obviously have their limitations. The bigger you go, the more commitment it takes, even for occasional stuff. Maybe the best thing of all about little boats is they don’t require you to give up all your other hobbies just to have enough time to take care of that one big ‘un.

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    Default Re: The work-to-reward ratio

    Quote Originally Posted by Phil Y View Post
    There's also the question of how many hours of other work you have to do to pay for someone to build a rudder or a boat for you. Or what you have to forego in order to afford to contract out the boat or rudder. And the difference between being able to say, I wrote a check for that, vs I built that. And what activity you have to give up to find the time to build it yourself. But most important is whether you enjoy the work. If you enjoy the work, it's a recreational pass time every bit as good as playing golf, sailing, watching the Dodgers on TV, or going for a bike ride or whatever else.
    I enjoy the work. I have a boat of one sort or another being repaired/renovated/restored permanently these days. I spend the spring/summer/autumn nights out in the shop with good music on working mostly with hand tools. The present project is 60+ years old and a restoration.
    Keeps me out of the pub.

  29. #29
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    Default Re: The work-to-reward ratio

    No pictures- Darn.
    I love the smell of fresh cut plywood in the morning.

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    Default Re: The work-to-reward ratio

    Quote Originally Posted by skuthorp View Post
    I enjoy the work. I have a boat of one sort or another being repaired/renovated/restored permanently these days. I spend the spring/summer/autumn nights out in the shop with good music on working mostly with hand tools. The present project is 60+ years old and a restoration.
    Keeps me out of the pub.
    I have the same problem, my project turns 64 next week. She never lets me go to the pub alone!

  31. #31
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    Default Re: The work-to-reward ratio

    For me the dilemma is not so much that my interest/enjoyment of building ever runs out but rather the time spent building means time not doing other stuff... actually what I mean is time not spent cruising. I started my latest build in 2013 and increased to full time on this project in late 2016. Now I still enjoy the work but am increasingly impatient to get back out to sea. Life is short and all that. So, I am building like a man possessed determined to get out of my shed before the year is through. Only so much birds, trees, and rolling farm lands one can take... and this being stationary all the time makes me crazy restless.

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    Default Re: The work-to-reward ratio

    Quote Originally Posted by Alan H View Post
    Everybody has their own line...where the break-even point is. I'm just curious about where others break even point it.
    I’m not sure where the line is, no doubt I crossed it awhile ago.

    And just so we don’t keep disappointing Donald with a lack of pictures.

    2652FD3C-0CC6-468D-AB6B-12A80CEA73B7.jpg

    84909F60-C771-49D8-8056-29910DA6324F.jpg
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    Default Re: The work-to-reward ratio

    Thanks for the PHOTOS men!
    I love the smell of fresh cut plywood in the morning.

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    Default Re: The work-to-reward ratio



    Oh man, that was weird. That picture bought a memory flooding back, but complete with smells, pipe tobacco, musty canvas with overtones of paraffin(kerosene) and a hint of pine tar.....very cosy and atmospheric !

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    Default Re: The work-to-reward ratio

    How do you stop the chess pieces from making their own moves if the anchorage gets choppy?

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