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Thread: Where to start?

  1. #1
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    Default Where to start?

    Hi all,
    This forum looks like an awesome resource and friendly community. So thanks for including me!
    I've been waiting for years to have the time, money and space to build a wooden sailing/rowing dinghy. This winter is it. I just don't know where to start.

    I want to build something between 12 and 19.5 feet. I love the 1890-1940 time period for sailboats. It's just my style, I'd be thrilled to build something from back then. I want it to be pretty and pointy at the end, I don't mind putting in the extra work. I'd rather have planks than plywood and I don't want to fiberglass over(or I wouldn't be here haha). I'd love a champagne glass stern and a proper rudder post, with the ability to flip the rudder up so the bottom of it is inline with the keel. I want to do everything with hand tools within reason, obviously I'm not quite ready to fell a tree and build handmade planks, but sawing, planing, sanding etc I'd like to do by hand. If I can use methods true to the era of the boat that would be even better.

    Last night was when I decided it was time to get the ball rolling and I've found a few things. The first is a book on Amazon called Building The Catspaw Dinghy: https://www.amazon.com/How-Build-Cat...catspaw+dinghy
    The catspaw looks great but it's smaller than I want really.

    The second is a book from roughly 1900 that walks the "amateur" through designing and building a boat(I tell you, an amateur from 1900 is one heck of a handyman compared to one today): https://play.google.com/books/reader...en&pg=GBS.PA56
    This is also awesome but it's fairly brief and assumes an understanding of drafting and design that i don't have at all.

    And this is just a free plan that's pretty close to what I want, but I have no idea how to build it from the pictures unless I just printed them out, cut out the shapes then glued them together and put it in my bathtub:
    http://www.duckworksmagazine.com/09/...ella/index.htm


    The majority of use would be salt ponds, inland lakes essentially with an outlet to the sea. So the aforementioned lakes, I'd like to do rivers a bit and definitely semi-open ocean on flat days, Long Island, Rhode Island and Block Island sounds respectively, if anyone here is familiar with those areas. I'd have to tradeoff open water capability for a somewhat shallower draft for the rivers.

    I definitely want to be able to row for the rivers, and I'd love it to be big enough to take another person along comfortably and maybe carry some camping gear/picnic stuff/beer keg in the forepeak. I'd really love a bowsprit because I love the way they look, and maybe a jib run to that. Otherwise I was thinking just a mainsail.

    Beyond that I want a 12v system for running lights/bilge pump/possible depth finder with a solar charger, along with a portable 110 tailgate generator and probably a constavolt for the batter if it's under heavy load, I'm familiar with all those systems but not incorporating them into the design of a sailboat.

    I vastly prefer open cockpit with the exception of the bows, I don't want one of those tiny little cabins that just gets filled with junk and you can't move around in.

    I am nautically savvy, being a former captain of a trawler and still a part owner of one. But that's all steel or fiberglass and I certainly didn't build them myself. Beyond that I used to sail Flying Juniors and 420s about 15 years ago.

    I am not in any way shape or form a carpenter. At all. But I am willing to learn. Also math/diagrams, well. Let's just act like I have never seen either ever before in my life. So I need a resource, or set thereof, that holds my hand from the very basics to the very end. What would you guys recommend?

    I would put my budget for materials at oak and pine before mahogany and teak. Mid range, I suppose.

    Where do I start?
    Last edited by amazedandconfused; 11-28-2018 at 11:09 PM.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Where to start?

    A few thoughts:
    1) About the boats you mention: The Catspaw dinghy is a very different boat than the Ella skiff. The Ella is a basic, easy to build flatiron skiff and there are many, many plans for boats like these in all sorts of sizes available. Check out http://www.atkinboatplans.com for some traditionally-built examples. John Atkin supposedly rowed his "George" skiff all over Long Island Sound. But be aware that flat-bottom skiffs are not well-suited for conditions that you will likely find in "Semi-open ocean"
    2) The Catspaw and boats shaped like it are going to handle waves better and will row more efficiently than the flat-bottom skiffs. There are all sorts of possibilities for plans. Google "Whitehall rowboat" and you will find many options. These boats are going to be significantly harder to build traditionally than a flat skiff. I know you don't want plywood but if you really like the shape/look but don't think you have the skills to do a traditional build, there are plans for some really nice looking plywood Whitehall's available.
    3) For the conditions you mention, you could do far worse than a dory skiff - a Chamberlain or Swampscott rather than a Banks- style. Perhaps the best compromise between easy of construction, looks and performance is the Amesbury dory skiff. Plans for all of these can be found in John Gardner's books.
    4) Which brings me to the real answer to your question: If it's traditional construction of traditional-looking boats you're interested in and you need a excellent introduction to boat building and plans that give you step by step directions, you MUST get John Gardner's books. Start with The Dory Book and then get Building Classic Small Craft.

    ETA - If you are willing to deal with plywood and modern construction methods but still want a traditional-looking boat that can be rowed and sailed, check out the Sailing Skiff 15 from Chesapeake Marine Design http://www.cmdboats.com/ . Other options for traditional-looking sailing boats in modern materials are the Windward 15 and 17 from Chesapeake Marine Design and Doug Hylan's Chesapeake Crab Skiff http://www.dhylanboats.com/design/pl...b_skiff_plans/ . But note that these boats are SAIL boats that can be rowed short distances when/if necessary. Once you're willing to enter into the plywood realm, there are MANY other options out there. Check out John Welsford's designs. I'm sure others will be along with many more suggestions.
    Last edited by BrianY; 11-28-2018 at 11:39 PM.
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  3. #3
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    Default Re: Where to start?

    I retract my plywood reservations. These boats are gorgeous and the windward 17 is almost exactly what I was picturing, though I'd like to get the full 19.5 feet I can build without registering. As for going into the sound, it would be on days when it's near to glass to just follow the southerly breeze along the coast for an hour or two from Point Judith to Wickford or Charlestown.

    The estimated cost for the windward is $7000?! That is way far and beyond anything i'd pictured or really even read for this project. Does it have to be that high or can I compromise on things and bring it down to something a little less terrifying?

    Thanks!
    Last edited by amazedandconfused; 11-29-2018 at 12:02 AM.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Where to start?

    I bought the study plans for the Windward 17, uh what's a study plan vs a construction plan?
    And assuming I'm building the windward, what are the basic tools I need to do this type of construction?(or something very similar) I want to make a budget but I don't want to spend a fortune on plans until I'm sure I've got the right boat.
    Last edited by amazedandconfused; 11-29-2018 at 12:27 AM.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Where to start?

    Quote Originally Posted by amazedandconfused View Post
    .

    The estimated cost for the windward is $7000?! That is way far and beyond anything i'd pictured or really even read for this project. Does it have to be that high or can I compromise on things and bring it down to something a little less terrifying?

    Thanks!
    You could contact Karl Stambaugh directly and ask. Much will depend on where you get your materials. If you can find a local saw mill that can provide the lumber you need, it will probably be cheaper than getting it at a lumber yard or Home Depot. The type of plywood you choose will be significant cost-wise but remember that there are tradeoffs for using cheaper materials and cheaper doesn't always pay off in the long run. Also keep in mind that the price includes the cost of the hardware/fittings, screws, glue and paint, not just the hull bits. I think a lot of folks forget about those things when they're thinking about what a boat will cost to build.

    Quote Originally Posted by amazedandconfused View Post
    I bought the study plans for the Windward 17, uh what's a study plan vs a construction plan?
    And assuming I'm building the windward, what are the basic tools I need to do this type of construction?(or something very similar) I want to make a budget but I don't want to spend a fortune on plans until I'm sure I've got the right boat.
    Study plans are the line drawings and basic specifications but without the details and dimensions you need to actually build the boat. Those are included in the construction plans. I have plans for the Sailing Skiff 15 and they are well-detailed and very clear.

    Tools - Nothing exotic. My guess is that you could probably build the boat with a circular saw, a jigsaw, a block plane, a larger plane like a Stanley #5 and a power drill/driver. Maybe a couple of sharp chisels too. A band saw may be nice to have but isn't absolutely necessary. A table saw would help to get out the longer solid wood pieces like the chines and mast but there aren't many straight things on a boat so that's a luxury. You could also do a lot of the sawing with a handsaw - a Japanese-style pull saw works well for many people - if you're not in a huge hurry and don't mind the work. Again, ask Karl Stambaugh. He'll probably know better than anybody what's essential and what's not. Other folks on this forum will have more advice on this stuff. Good luck!

    ETA - I just looked a the website again. If you click on the "FAQ" link, the answers to your questions are there.
    Last edited by BrianY; 11-29-2018 at 01:22 AM.
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  6. #6
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    Default Re: Where to start?

    As a starting point you might think about (dare I say it)...a kit? John Harris' Southwestern Dory might fill the bill at a little lower cost https://www.clcboats.com/shop/boats/...ster-dory.html Especially if you want to make up your own sails and are willing to make your sailing components from the plans included in the kit rather than buying their pre-fab components kit (although the latter might be the cheaper route). The CLC website has a "builders forum" and "tips" all of which compliment what folkd here can add. Admittedly, building from a kit has been likened to assembling cabinets from Ikea...but cabinets don't float and this'll get you on the water fairly fast.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Where to start?

    Thank you for the links! Especially for http://www.dhylanboats.com That was what I looking for. You are wonderful community!

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Where to start?

    Quote Originally Posted by amazedandconfused View Post
    I want to build something between 12 and 19.5 feet. I love the 1890-1940 time period for sailboats. It's just my style, I'd be thrilled to build something from back then. I want it to be pretty and pointy at the end, I don't mind putting in the extra work. I'd rather have planks than plywood and I don't want to fiberglass over(or I wouldn't be here haha). I'd love a champagne glass stern and a proper rudder post, with the ability to flip the rudder up so the bottom of it is inline with the keel. I want to do everything with hand tools within reason, obviously I'm not quite ready to fell a tree and build handmade planks, but sawing, planing, sanding etc I'd like to do by hand. If I can use methods true to the era of the boat that would be even better.
    These days I'm sailing an 18' whitehall design called "Alaska" by Canadian designer Don Kurylko. It would fit the above requirements pretty well--I built it with a circular saw, table saw, bandsaw, power planer, and hand planers. It's strip-planked with 1" x 1/2" pine strips, edge-nailed and glued with epoxy, so a traditional shape with modern materials. Fiberglass is not required, though I did glass the outside of the hull for extra abrasion resistance. I spent perhaps $2,000 not counting the sails. Here's a look at the result:

    DSCN3557.jpg

    Quote Originally Posted by amazedandconfused View Post
    I definitely want to be able to row for the rivers, and I'd love it to be big enough to take another person along comfortably and maybe carry some camping gear/picnic stuff/beer keg in the forepeak. I'd really love a bowsprit because I love the way they look, and maybe a jib run to that. Otherwise I was thinking just a mainsail.
    An Alaska can do all that minus the bowsprit, and especially the rowing part--rows like a dream, sails decently as well. It's designed as a ketch (2 sails, 2 masts) but I am sailing it with just the mainsail and one mast in an alternate center mast-step instead--simpler.

    Quote Originally Posted by amazedandconfused View Post
    Beyond that I want a 12v system for running lights/bilge pump/possible depth finder with a solar charger, along with a portable 110 tailgate generator and probably a constavolt for the batter if it's under heavy load, I'm familiar with all those systems but not incorporating them into the design of a sailboat.
    What do you want the batteries and generator for? Another option (simpler, cheaper) would be battery-powered LED running lights like THESE, and a bucket and scoop bailer. I've found the centerboard works well as a depth finder--when you can sail in 7" of water, depth is not critical.

    Good luck, and enjoy the journey! Lots of great boats to choose from--it's worth looking around a bit. Do you know the boat plans section at DUCKWORKS? That will let you see lots of possibilities all in one place.

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

    www.tompamperin.com

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Where to start?

    I love that you think about building solid wood construction. I recomend this book to you: https://books.google.no/books/about/...page&q&f=false I have it myself and was thinking about building it but I decided to go a little bigger.

    This is also a great boat, and it can be buildt solid wood: https://www.woodenboat.com/boat-plan.../tammie-norrie http://thetroublewitholdboats.blogsp...delivered.html

    Btw: Gartside have som great designs that might suite you: http://gartsideboats.com

    Regards

    Fred

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Where to start?

    I'll second the recommendation that you consider a plywood kit. For a first-time boat project, it will make the building process go far smoother than starting from scratch. It's hard to get the cost of boats like this really low if you want one that will last. A traditional plank-on-frame skiff can be done more cheaply than a marine ply boat covered in fiberglass and sealed in epoxy. But those traditional boats with caulked seams don't do well living on trailers. They just dry out too much, the wood shrinks and the seams open up. The CLC kits, like that dory, come with very complete directions and go on sale several times a year. Sewing your own sails and finding a used trailer will knock a lot of the final cost.

    The kits also save a lot of headaches trying to find good boatbuilding wood, although you live in a better area for this than most.

    BTW, I've sailed some of the areas you're talking about, and I think you're on the right track as far as boat type and size.
    -Dave

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Where to start?

    If I had a dollar for every girl who found me unattractive, eventually they would find me attractive.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Where to start?

    If you can afford it, a kit would be a great place to start. They still offer lots of woodworking opportunities, but take some of the uncertainty out of the process. They are also a huge time-saver.

    You didn't mention an ideal timeline for the build.

    My first boat was an Oughtred Whilly Boat. Glued-lapstrake construction. About two years and $3,000 to build, including sail. I had basic wood skills. Not from a kit.

    If you are planning on going out into the sound, I would advise some built-in flotation.

    Here's me in Swift in Narragansett Bay:

    [IMG]Mike in Swiftcrop by Michael Owen, on Flickr[/IMG]

    Good luck, and keep us posted,

    Mike
    "near it, a small whale-boat, painted red and blue, the delight of the king's old age."

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Where to start?

    If you are considering kits Clint Chase has some very nice designs.

    How about his Calendar Islands Yawl: http://www.chase-small-craft.com/cal...lands-yawl-16/

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Where to start?

    Quote Originally Posted by Falcon1 View Post
    If you can afford it, a kit would be a great place to start. They still offer lots of woodworking opportunities, but take some of the uncertainty out of the process. They are also a huge time-saver.

    You didn't mention an ideal timeline for the build.

    My first boat was an Oughtred Whilly Boat. Glued-lapstrake construction. About two years and $3,000 to build, including sail. I had basic wood skills. Not from a kit.

    If you are planning on going out into the sound, I would advise some built-in flotation.

    Here's me in Swift in Narragansett Bay:

    [IMG]Mike in Swiftcrop by Michael Owen, on Flickr[/IMG]

    Good luck, and keep us posted,

    Mike
    Oh my god she's a beauty! And I know exactly where you were!

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Where to start?

    Quote Originally Posted by BrianY View Post
    You could contact Karl Stambaugh directly and ask. Much will depend on where you get your materials. If you can find a local saw mill that can provide the lumber you need, it will probably be cheaper than getting it at a lumber yard or Home Depot. The type of plywood you choose will be significant cost-wise but remember that there are tradeoffs for using cheaper materials and cheaper doesn't always pay off in the long run. Also keep in mind that the price includes the cost of the hardware/fittings, screws, glue and paint, not just the hull bits. I think a lot of folks forget about those things when they're thinking about what a boat will cost to build.

    ETA - I just looked a the website again. If you click on the "FAQ" link, the answers to your questions are there.
    Thanks! It looks like I'm actually a bit ahead, I've got a hand saw, a rip saw, a plane saw and a few assorted weird handsaws for like fretwork and stuff. Beyond that I've got a table saw, circular saw, jig saw, power plane, a couple of power sanders, a few block planes, a wood steamer and a miter saw. I spent all summer scoping garage sales for this stuff in preparation and I think I got all the power stuff for about 300 total, plus 80 for a new motor armature for the dewalt table saw.

    I've got a local sawmill I visited today on your advice and they'll cut me anything I want from any wood I want, and it's *way* cheaper than home depot. I also found a great source out in Newport, RI for copper roves and nails, they're cheaper than decking screws at home depot.

    as for the roves I may forgo them for the traditional new england thing where they just bang the end of the nail over until its flush with the wood, Can't remember what that's called.
    Thanks for the link!
    Last edited by amazedandconfused; 12-02-2018 at 01:07 AM.

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Where to start?

    Thanks! I actually went to a used bookstore and found an Autographed! First edition of the Dory Book by John Gardner as recommended above, and I bought Boatbuilding by Chapelle, came in at a cool 8 bucks for both.

    I think I am definitely, definitely moving away from a plywood construction. This is a lifelong dream for me and I don't mind the challenge and the time. I actually think, after reading some old 1900s era texts about design that I'm going to design it myself based on modified plans from boatbuilding and the dory book.

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Where to start?

    Quote Originally Posted by WI-Tom View Post
    These days I'm sailing an 18' whitehall design called "Alaska" by Canadian designer Don Kurylko. It would fit the above requirements pretty well--I built it with a circular saw, table saw, bandsaw, power planer, and hand planers. It's strip-planked with 1" x 1/2" pine strips, edge-nailed and glued with epoxy, so a traditional shape with modern materials. Fiberglass is not required, though I did glass the outside of the hull for extra abrasion resistance. I spent perhaps $2,000 not counting the sails. Here's a look at the result:

    DSCN3557.jpg



    An Alaska can do all that minus the bowsprit, and especially the rowing part--rows like a dream, sails decently as well. It's designed as a ketch (2 sails, 2 masts) but I am sailing it with just the mainsail and one mast in an alternate center mast-step instead--simpler.



    What do you want the batteries and generator for? Another option (simpler, cheaper) would be battery-powered LED running lights like THESE, and a bucket and scoop bailer. I've found the centerboard works well as a depth finder--when you can sail in 7" of water, depth is not critical.

    Good luck, and enjoy the journey! Lots of great boats to choose from--it's worth looking around a bit. Do you know the boat plans section at DUCKWORKS? That will let you see lots of possibilities all in one place.

    Tom
    She's gorgeous! And very close to what I want, the centerboard as depth finder made me laugh. The depthfinder is actually because I own a commercial trawler(I may end up building a traditional sail trawl boat if this first project goes well) and I like the idea of taking a much shallower draft boat into areas I can't blindly steam into with the big rig, so I can mark hangs and update charts and perhaps capture a fish or two where I haven't been before.

    The power stuff is because I really want to do like, a week long river to ocean trip (CT river on to the sound to block island to point judith ideally but I haven't done any research on if thats all navigable), so I want the creature comforts that come with 110 along with GPS and electronic charts. I have all that equipment bought anyway already for the dragger so it's free; and I want to be able to sail overnight or lay up and make a tent from the boom if I do a long trip.

    I very much see the logic in the kit thing, I dunno... I want her to be mine from stem to stern, top to bottom.

    This boat is definitely going to be on the longer side, that's for sure. The more I read about design the more I realize that with a couple months of careful study and a baseline from a master I can probably design a really bitchin rig that'll make all the ladies blush. Again, I've dreamt of doing this since I was 13 and first started sailing. I've got the money, time and shop, I'll never have this opportunity again. It's all in.

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Where to start?

    Quote Originally Posted by Woxbox View Post
    I'll second the recommendation that you consider a plywood kit. For a first-time boat project, it will make the building process go far smoother than starting from scratch. It's hard to get the cost of boats like this really low if you want one that will last. A traditional plank-on-frame skiff can be done more cheaply than a marine ply boat covered in fiberglass and sealed in epoxy. But those traditional boats with caulked seams don't do well living on trailers. They just dry out too much, the wood shrinks and the seams open up. The CLC kits, like that dory, come with very complete directions and go on sale several times a year. Sewing your own sails and finding a used trailer will knock a lot of the final cost.

    The kits also save a lot of headaches trying to find good boatbuilding wood, although you live in a better area for this than most.

    BTW, I've sailed some of the areas you're talking about, and I think you're on the right track as far as boat type and size.
    Yeah, I'm stubborn and meticulous and particular and I know I'm setting myself up for lots of frustration and expense, but I don't mind if this takes me three years, or if I have to build it twice over. I'm still reading about the swelling and caulking stuff, I have tons of more reading to do, but general direction looks like a 19-22ft carvel build based on a widened sailing swampscott. She won't live on a trailer, I've got a second garage bay all set up for this.

    I went out and got some books on drafting, a drafting table, pencils, bizarre mathematical instruments, pencils, pens, graph paper, french curves, everything I could possibly think of and don't at all understand. Also lots and lots and lots of heavy weight posterboard and exacto blades so I can build the boat thirty times as a paper model before I ever put saw to wood.

    I may mix traditional and modern wood and methods. I need to learn more to determine whats worth the aggravation for traditional vs what I should just cut out of plywood.
    Also I'm figuring about 2500 before any sort of brass fittings, pulleys, cleats, lines, inlay, epoxy, paint what have you. For the bare wood hull and masts anyway, and the bowsprit that I will never surrender.

    I also have access to heaps of vintage marine brass from work skiffs and dories. Every fisherman I know has some sort of wooden work skiff rotting in their yard from their father or grandfather I can just go pilfer from.
    Also an old lobsterman told me he used to let his skiff sink on purpose?! Apparently something to do with swelling up the seams?
    Last edited by amazedandconfused; 12-02-2018 at 02:11 AM.

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Where to start?

    WOW! Sounds like you've made some good scores on tooling! Now you need to do some research on sharpening and tuning those beasts grab a hand microscope like: https://www.amazon.com/Lumagny-MP751...ld+microscopes and start playing with different sharpening stones. I started out with wet/dry sandpaper on thich glass and have moved to water stones, but experiment and see what works for you. There's a really nice video on tuning power planers (I'm assuming a handheld unit here, not a benchtop thickness planer) at : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_a1HCqK5i-A . You'll find all kinds of good experience on sharpening and tuning and fixturing tools throughout the forum with a little digging.

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Where to start?

    Vivier's Ebihen 18 has both a bowsprit and an out board in a well at the back.

    [IMG]Livraison Corto 2009 159 by Michael Owen, on Flickr[/IMG]
    "near it, a small whale-boat, painted red and blue, the delight of the king's old age."

  21. #21
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    Default Re: Where to start?

    Iím not going to muddy the water (too much), and it seems like you are getting logical advise with a kit or modified type of dory. There are just so many classic designs that would fit your requirements.
    Something like the Town class sloop also came to my mind.

    I keep my boat in Pawcatuck/Watch Hill so I understand the waters you are talking about. Great boating area!
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  22. #22
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    Default Re: Where to start?

    This boat is definitely going to be on the longer side, that's for sure. The more I read about design the more I realize that with a couple months of careful study and a baseline from a master I can probably design a really bitchin rig that'll make all the ladies blush. Again, I've dreamt of doing this since I was 13 and first started sailing. I've got the money, time and shop, I'll never have this opportunity again. It's all in.
    If the project is about the process as much as it is about the final product, then success is to be expected. If you want to go all traditional and figure out the basics, you wouldn't go wrong building a small flat-iron skiff or a little banks dory. The expense in wood wouldn't be much, and you'd learn a lot. No plywood, no epoxy needed.

    I'm thinking something along these lines - Atkin's Jebb. When done, you could probably sell it for the cost of materials. A similar boat shorter still would fill the bill for learning -- something that a person could use as a tender.

    -Dave

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