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Thread: Advice required for first boat build!

  1. #1
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    Smile Advice required for first boat build!

    Hey everybody,

    I'm new here and this is my first post. I have been hugely inspired by a book I've just picked up, 'A Voyage For Madmen'. I'm sure a lot of you are familiar with it!

    Anyway, I am wanting to learn to sail and want to start by building a very small wooden yacht, a skiff perhaps? I really know nothing about what type of boat is best for learning and what is achievable as a first build. I'm pretty confident in my hand skills and ability to follow a good plan and set of instructions, I'm an aircraft engineer by trade.

    So, 2 questions.

    1. What exact type of boat should I go for?

    2. Where can I acquire the plans?

    I really want to start soon and am fizzing about it! I live close to Picton in New Zealand which is part of the Marlborough Sounds, a great sailing area.

    I appreciate any and all help and any additional bits of advice or hints!

    Cheers,

    Elliott

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Advice required for first boat build!

    Hi Elliot!

    This is what I'd be eyeing in a first build small yacht category:

    https://www.archdavisdesigns.com/davis_penobscot13.html

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Advice required for first boat build!

    Welcome to the Forum. There are LOTS of possibilities for boats to build. One place to see plans for a lot of them all at once is DUCKWORKS BOATBULDING SUPPLY.

    A simple boat with a flat bottom and sides is generally the easiest, cheapest build--but will be somewhat limited in its ability in rough water. Designers like Jim Michalak (on the Duckworks site) specialize in these kinds of boats. His Mayfly design (12' and 16' versions) is pretty capable in the right hands. I know one Mayfly sailor who cruises pretty extensively on the Texas coast.

    John Goodman 1.jpg

    New Zealand is home to a great small boat designer, John Welsford (also on Duckworks). His boats are more complicated to build, but very capable and seaworthy.

    If you're just learning to sail, a boat with a simple rig (one mast, one sail) is probably the way to go.

    Other people here will chime in, but they will want to know a lot more about how you imagine using the boat, and where, and with how many people. They will also point out that if you want to sail, buying a used boat (like a Sunfish) would get you there faster and cheaper.

    Tom
    You don't have to be prepared as long as you're willing to suffer the consequences.

    www.tompamperin.com

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Advice required for first boat build!

    Welcome Elliot,
    Sailing small boats is fun, it sounds like you are in a good area for it. There are a good number of modern designers to pick from. Some have been mentioned already, Ross Lillistone and Segway-Fisher are more. Let us know how many people you will want to take, how long you of a hull you can fit where you are building or storing. What looks good to you is important also. And don’t be afraid to build just what you want the first time, as opposed to starting with and “easy” build.

    I definitely recommend sailing first though. If anything is close enough to you. NZ is a sailing center for sure. Get into a dingy club or hop on some racing yatchs for twilight racing. The community is typically very friendly and welcoming. Ask around on this site or the John Welsford Facebook page, someone might take you out on one of the boats that might end up being recommended. Without actually sailing it’s hard to guage what you really want, like, or can stomach.
    Last edited by Matt young; 10-08-2018 at 10:06 AM.
    "Yeah, well, that's just, like your opinion man"
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  5. #5
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    Default

    Welcome aboard! If you make the effort to learn to sail first; the boat you you build will be much different than the boat you think is right for you now.

    It just makes more sense to learn to build boats rather than build boats to learn to sail.
    Denise, Bristol PA, Oday30, Anchor Yacht Club, On tidal Delaware River. my current project; http://forum.woodenboat.com/showthre...0-Ducker-Resto

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    Default Re: Advice required for first boat build!

    Denise030 has it. There are many lovely small sailboats around for short money. Yeah, most are frozen snot, but they sail. Start by seeing if there is a nearby club or sailing program you can get in on to start learning. As you get to thoughts of buy, look at the cheap small size classes locally where people do some racing. Nothing sharpens your skills like having an objective test. Also, after the race the better sailors will quite happily share what they saw you doing wrong and right. In a year or two you'll be ready to build.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Advice required for first boat build!

    As above, see what small boat class is being sailed and raced locally. An option to building a small boat from scratch is buying an old one and restoring, as you'll get plenty of experience during the restoration.

    If you really want to build from plans, I'd consider something small enough to be used as a tender for a larger boat and large enough for you to learn to sail -- usually something in the 8' range is common. I like the small prams like the Sabotina, but you'll do much better if you build something being raced locally as you can pick up parts and used sails much more easily.
    "The enemies of reason have a certain blind look."
    Doctor Jacquin to Lieutenant D'Hubert, in Ridley Scott's first major film _The Duellists_.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Advice required for first boat build!

    WI-Tom & Ian both have good sound suggestions

    as WI-Tom stated the MayFly 14(pictured in his reply along w/ her 12' & 16' sisters)) is quite capable simple to rig and easy to learn to sail

    get Jim Michalak's book

    http://www.duckworksbbs.com/product-p/bb-bfbab.htm

    great book complete w/ the plans for the MayFly 14 accompanied by detailed instructions n lotsa pics

    whichever way you end up going remember it is always good to have high ideals butt keep a pocket full of waivers just in case

    sw
    "we are the people, our parents warned us about" (jb)

    steve

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Advice required for first boat build!

    The advise by Denise and Ian is probably best, but I would modify it just a little. I think of myself as having two hobbies: building a boat and sailing. Yea, they are related as the fact that the boat I am building will be what I will eventually sail. But that's a ways down the rode. So I would say, get a small, cheap frozen snot boat on the used market and start sailing. At the same time, pick a small design and build a boat. Something easy, and not too complicated. Do both. By the time you finish building your first boat, you will already know how to sail, and then can play around on what you built while you build your "dream" boat. And you might find out that you really enjoy only one of the two hobbies. I know a couple of people who actually seem to love building boats, but don't seem to love sailing that much. The opposite is really common. If you like both, you might be in a very small minority.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Advice required for first boat build!

    NZ gets it’s share of weather. Winds in that area will have significant local effects, funnelling along fjords and variable in direction, as well as between the Islands. As such i’ be looking for something with 6ft beam. It will have better stability, even better if it has decent freeboard and side decks and a coaming to keep the water out When healed. As a first boat a single sail will give you only one focus, as well as being quicker to rig and cheaper to buy. You also want a safe boat that is easily self recoverable. Your looking at a lovely cruIsing area, so overnighting on it might be a dream. A boat easy to sail, hard to knock over with plenty of rocker will enable it to turn on a sixpence which will make learning to sail more enjoyable.

    Overall, i’d recommend a John Welsford/ Small craft advisor Scamp. Its a known ‘good boat’ in beginner or very experienced hands. Lots of organised storage and a cuddy to get out of the wind. Get into bad conditions and her waterballast tank will steady it down. Easy to store out of season. Being an aircraft engineer, i’m sure you could get your head around any construction method and enjoy building any way. The Welsford method of panel on stringers will look familiar to you I expect, as it was used in aircraft.

    You wouldn't have to build another boat if you spent a bit more time building a Scamp. It’s a simple boat to build, made quicker/ easier if you get a kit cut, a known NZ designer, so if you went to sell it, you’d have buyers who know what she is.

    She’s not an ultralight boat, you would be trailering it in and out, not a light trolley boat. A Navigator is lighter, but with three sails to tend to, might be more stress initially compared to a single sail rig. The unstayed lug rig will be quicker to put up and down.

    Scamp owners have there own forum at Small Craft Advisor magazine.

    http://smallcraftadvisor.com/message...wforum.php?f=3
    Last edited by Edward Pearson; 10-09-2018 at 11:11 AM.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Advice required for first boat build!

    Quote Originally Posted by eman8201 View Post
    Hey everybody,

    I'm new here and this is my first post. I have been hugely inspired by a book I've just picked up, 'A Voyage For Madmen'. I'm sure a lot of you are familiar with it!

    Anyway, I am wanting to learn to sail and want to start by building a very small wooden yacht, a skiff perhaps? I really know nothing about what type of boat is best for learning and what is achievable as a first build. I'm pretty confident in my hand skills and ability to follow a good plan and set of instructions, I'm an aircraft engineer by trade.

    So, 2 questions.

    1. What exact type of boat should I go for?

    2. Where can I acquire the plans?










    Despite what others have answered here, I think you might do OK if you rather get a small Keeler ( which should be readily available in your area) and after consultation with those in the JUNK Rig Association, you get out in the sounds and learn to sail.
    Of course you will have a motor to help get around, and will be able to spend good lengths of time living aboard and waiting out weather episodes.
    With a junk rig you will ( as a beginner) be better equiped to handle the wind vagaries in the area.
    Having not read the 'voyaging madmen' book you refer to, I am not sure whether or not a racing skiff is more likely the only thing that will satisfy you...... is so, get over to Wellingtonon the ferry and catch up with the dinghy racing scene.

    I really want to start soon and am fizzing about it! I live close to Picton in New Zealand which is part of the Marlborough Sounds, a great sailing area.

    I appreciate any and all help and any additional bits of advice or hints!

    Cheers,

    Elliott
    Despite what others have answered here, I think you might do OK if you rather get a small Keeler ( which should be readily available in your area) and after consultation with those in the JUNK Rig Association, you get out in the sounds and learn to sail.
    Of course you will have a motor to help get around, and will be able to spend good lengths of time living aboard and waiting out weather phases.
    With a junk rig you will ( as a beginner) be better equiped to handle the wind vagaries in the area.
    Having not read the 'voyaging madmen' book you refer to, I am not sure whether or not a racing skiff is more likely the only thing that will satisfy you...... is so, get over to Wellingtonon on the ferry and catch up with the dinghy racing scene.
    It is not altogether a bad idea to buy a boat that needs fixing and re rigging, in order to learn the ropes in order to get sailing.
    Take a look at the junk rig association web site and get hold of Annie Hill's book on cruising.

    I really want to start soon and am fizzing about it! I live close to Picton in New Zealand which is part of the Marlborough Sounds, a great sailing area.

    I appreciate any and all help and any additional bits of advice or hints!
    Last edited by Lugalong; 10-08-2018 at 03:38 PM.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Advice required for first boat build!

    Be crew. Join groups. Volunteer. Get your feet wet.

    Scrape, sand, and paint somebody's boat in somebody's boatyard.

    Read boat books -- at least 100.

    You need to know what you need, and you can't learn that in your garage.

    BUT -- good on you for doing this!


  13. #13
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    Default Re: Advice required for first boat build!

    You might be able to get on a few different boats as crew, to find what feels best for you through the NZ Dinghy Cruising Facebook group.

    https://m.facebook.com/groups/dinghycruisingNZ/

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Advice required for first boat build!

    Wow! I am overwhelmed by responses. Thanks for being so willing to help.

    I have taken on the key bits of advice. 'Getting the feet wet' per se. There is a bit of a local legend here in Blenheim who was an insomniac and would work a normal 40 hr weeks then retreat straight to his wood working shop and whittle away at wooden canoes until it was time for work again. I thought of him as soon as I started thinking of building a boat and have since got in touch so I will definitely spend some time in the shop learning from him. A few other guys at work are into sailing in a big way and will be going out with them ASAP!

    It's worth noting also that my desire to build a boat is just as strong as actually sailing it at this point. I've nevertheless checked our local online market place (www.trademe.co.nz) and have found a tonne of old dungers but nothing local. I will keep my eyes peeled though because I hear your logic on that one... maybe I hate sailing and won't want to build a boat anyway... but I think chances of that are low.

    For those interested, I imagine taking the boat on short cruises around picton to learn, the when I really have the hang of things venturing further up the sound with potentially a few over-night trips (sleeping in a tent on the ground, not in the boat of course!), only me and the other half.

    The Mayfly which has been recommended is similar in size to what I have been envisaging and it looks relatively straight forward to build with the flat bottom. Is there any reasons anybody would recommend against this design? I will continue to research before I make a final decision.

    Thanks again for all help.

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Advice required for first boat build!

    Having made the suggestion to buy a little Keeler, I scanned 'Trademe' and found that there is a 23 ft Southerly advertised as 'going cheap" ( bids are in the $200 range).

    Sure, it is not a wooden boat, but needs a bit of fit-out, so woodworking could come into the pic...... production moulded GRP boat at a give-away price is not much of a risk, and it is on a swing mooring in Picton.
    Worthwhile as a starter, I think, and could get you into the swing of things.
    Last edited by Lugalong; 10-09-2018 at 04:27 AM.

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Advice required for first boat build!

    Boats like the Mayfly, and other like it: Goat Island Skiff, Saturday night Special, etc., are fun, fast, and easy to build. They are also light weight and require your body weight as movable ballast for stability more than other boats. This ties in with what Edward was talking about above. A heavier slightly deeper boat will drive through rough conditions better and be more stable. Like the Scamp he talked about or Weldfords Pilgram, for a longer option. http://www.jwboatdesigns.co.nz/plans/pilgrim/index.htm

    Again once you get on the water and sail in dinghies and then boats with ballast, you can compare the experience and see where you want to be.

    While you are getting into the sailing scene. If you are itching to build, I understand, and are into paddlesports, you could make a canoe, kayak, or SUP. Or you could build models of sailboats. Lots to be learned in building models.

    6285D6D0-C391-4081-B968-456B6E65B850.jpg
    Last edited by Matt young; 10-09-2018 at 03:46 PM.
    "Yeah, well, that's just, like your opinion man"
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  17. #17
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    Default Re: Advice required for first boat build!

    If you want to build a boat, build a skiff, like the Mayfly. It is simple enough to go quickly, even if half way through you learn you don’t like building.

    If you do like it, there are enough boaty jobs to do to teach you a bit about the basics of how boats go together, and how to measure things that ain’t square but make sure they’re true.

    A simple little skiff like that will always be useful for a quick near shore day, and a good flat bottomed skiff makes a wonderful swim and play platform.

    You may find you never want or need another boat. Or, your life may be ruined, and you’ll need to build at least one of each of them. ALL of them. Hahaha.

    Of course, that’s if you really want to build a boat. I totally understand that want.

    The others have covered it all so well. I will second models. They are a satisfying way to build and own many, mini boats. I am a habitual model builder.

    Peace,
    Robert

    ETA what is that boat, Matt? Lovely job on the model!

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Advice required for first boat build!

    [QUOTE
    Peace,
    Robert

    ETA what is that boat, Matt? Lovely job on the model![/QUOTE]

    The model is Welsford’s Navigator. Not my work, I pulled the image off Welford’s Facebook page. It’s by a Huw Morgan
    Last edited by Matt young; 10-09-2018 at 01:52 PM.
    "Yeah, well, that's just, like your opinion man"
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  19. #19
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    Default Re: Advice required for first boat build!

    Quote Originally Posted by Matt young View Post
    [QUOTE
    Peace,
    Robert

    ETA what is that boat, Matt? Lovely job on the model!
    The model is Welsfoed’s Navigator. Not my work, I pulled the image off Welford’s Facebook page. It’s by a Huw Morgan[/QUOTE]

    Ah! Thanks. I suspected as much. He do have a way of drawing boats, don’t he? My fave is the Walkabout. I’ve been trying to convince myself I really don’t need one for quite some time.
    I might should probably just build a model, eh?

    Peace,
    Robert

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Advice required for first boat build!

    Yep, build a model. Make it 1' = 1' scale and you can go cruising afterwards!

    Tom
    You don't have to be prepared as long as you're willing to suffer the consequences.

    www.tompamperin.com

  21. #21
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    Default Re: Advice required for first boat build!

    Lots of great advice from this forum's usual suspects, especially the idea about learning to sail before building. A couple of caveats regarding building. One, a build will take longer than you think it will, especially your first build. Count on this. Two, build exactly to the plans. Plans authors usually go through a great deal of deliberation, examination and analyses regarding their creations. Taking shortcuts or altering designs will lead you back to caveat one, only more so.

  22. #22
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    Default Re: Advice required for first boat build!

    3774F2A9-5464-4F84-9E59-F256C006E992.jpg

    This is is a screenshot from the Facebook. I am not sure if you are on it Eman, or close to this event. Looks like a good small boat hangout, chance to see some good designs and maybe try them.

    nice one Tom, that cracked me up!
    Last edited by Matt young; 10-11-2018 at 08:13 AM.
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    Default Re: Advice required for first boat build!

    Quote Originally Posted by entrenous71 View Post
    Hi Elliot!

    This is what I'd be eyeing in a first build small yacht category:

    https://www.archdavisdesigns.com/davis_penobscot13.html
    Arch Davis is a very nice man. He's also a New Zealander (based in Maine). I have the plans for his Penobscot 14, a beautiful sailing or rowing boat. Just as easy to build as the 13-footer, and a bit more volume.

  24. #24
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    Default Re: Advice required for first boat build!

    Quote Originally Posted by eman8201 View Post
    I'm pretty confident in my hand skills and ability to follow a good plan and set of instructions, I'm an aircraft engineer by trade.
    Don't be afraid to punch above your weight. I had no skills and couldn't read blueprints but managed to build this. Not bragging, just saying that patience and determination can take you beyond your expectations. Also nice to build something that you can grow into as your sailing skills improve over the years.
    Best of luck.

    ALASKA.jpg

  25. #25
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    Default Re: Advice required for first boat build!

    Rod,

    did you re-paint your Alaska blue, or is that just how it looks on my computer screen?

    Alaska is a real piece of boatbuilding. Very curvy. Lots of pieces. Not many straight lines. Mine took me 7 years (more like 1 year of actual work spread out over 7 years).

    Tom
    You don't have to be prepared as long as you're willing to suffer the consequences.

    www.tompamperin.com

  26. #26
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    Default Re: Advice required for first boat build!

    Actually, it's seafoam green. Does the blue look good? I see frequent colour changes in her future.

  27. #27
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    Default Re: Advice required for first boat build!

    Well, it's a greenish blue on my screen. Looks good to me. Quite a different look from your white hull. What prompted the change?

    Tom
    You don't have to be prepared as long as you're willing to suffer the consequences.

    www.tompamperin.com

  28. #28
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    Default Re: Advice required for first boat build!

    It was time to re-finish inside and out and I was a little tired of white on white.

  29. #29
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    Default Re: Advice required for first boat build!

    Quote Originally Posted by darroch View Post
    ...patience and determination can take you beyond your expectations....
    I like that quote. Might just hang that up on the wall to keep me going through the next build.

  30. #30
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    Default Re: Advice required for first boat build!

    If I had any shame I would confess to the genius of the designer foremost...

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