Choosing the right design / Finding plans

Discussion in 'Sailboats' started by cjmovie, May 19, 2009.

  1. cjmovie
    Joined: May 2009
    Posts: 1
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    Location: South Carolina, USA

    cjmovie New Member

    Hey everyone.

    I've been looking through information on building boats for a good while now (maybe even a year?) but have recently become excited about the chance to build a sailboat. I just personally like the classy styling a lot of them have... powered boats are just a completely different beast, and not to my personal tastes.

    The problem I'm having, though, is finding a plan that I really like. I was wondering if any of you had some recommendations. So far what I've been able to gather about specifications is something 21'-24' in length plywood based construction (I can only work with wood, and furthermore, would rather not have to plank an entire boat. I also like the finished look plywood styles allow, near to that of fiberglass. I would rather have the wood grain showing, however). I've never sailed before, but a lot of the people I know own sailboats and so I don't imagine learning would be too difficult to work into.

    I've been mostly looking at the Glen-L designs... They seem like the safest bet in terms of buying plans, and even have kits for the hardware. At the same time, I can't find a plan from their site that really suits me. The two closest I could find along what I'd like are the 21' Fancy Free and 22' Amigo. However the cabin in the former is a bit too cramped for my liking, and the latter is a planking-based design which I'd like to avoid. In addition, I'd like it to be seaworthy. The Amigo is stated as being, but I'm not sure about the Fancy Free (it says coastal waters but I'm not completely sure how far I'd ever take it out - certainly not an Atlantic crossing, but maybe 50-100 miles out at best given good weather). Currently living on a good sized lake (50,000 acres) where it'll find most of its use but might end up moving to the shore in the long run and would like to take it with me. Also I have heard about the Allegra 24, but am having trouble finding much more than a couple pictures and a lot of online spam/pharmacies.. It does, however, look nice.

    So basically things I'm looking for are:
    Plywood construction
    Very detailed plans available for purchase (first time build)
    21 to 24 feet (Leaning towards the upper end)
    Small, but not cramped, cabin space (Double berth, stovetop, seating, and if possible, headroom. Will likely customize interior a good bit)
    I'd like the cabin to not sit up too high from the top of the deck. For instance, I don't like the way the 25' Coaster on Glen-L looks because the cabin sticks up so high, but I do like the looks of the Fancy Free's cabin, Allegra 24, etc.
    Inboard engine as a possibility (that, or outboard in a motor well - would prefer to not have an outboard sticking out the back, but also don't want to go without a backup)
    Not too complicated for a first time builder/sailboater (I've done a bit of woodworking and fiberglassing in the past, however, so the tools won't be new to me)

    Thanks for any help in the right direction.
     
  2. bistros

    bistros Previous Member

    Welcome.

    I hope I'm not seeming less than positive here. To some degree, you are putting the cart before the horse here. Building a boat is a big commitment, and the romance of building one can easily overpower the practicality of making the right choices.

    I think you should sail some first in other people's boats. Take a course and become familiar with things. You'll have a better idea of what you want once you've got some time on the water.

    There are LOTS of designs of there - many from members here and thousands of others. Each has good and bad points, and each has compromises and trade offs.

    Boat size is a real issue - smaller, easier to move boats may get used more if you are trailer sailing - and the same boat may not get used at all if it is too small to be comfortable for family cruising. Your expectations are better set once you've done some cruising in your target area. Local conditions and venues are very important in determining what you need.

    --
    Bill
     
  3. Landlubber
    Joined: Jun 2007
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    Location: Brisbane

    Landlubber Senior Member

    Can only agree with the above, get lots of experience before attempting to build, there ar far too many things to understand that require actual use before building, then you will understand what needs to be done.

    Go sailing asap.
     
  4. gonzo
    Joined: Aug 2002
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    Location: Milwaukee, WI

    gonzo Senior Member

    Glen-L and Bolger designs are easy to build and practical. If you are looking for classy looks, they are not the best choice. To decrease cost and difficulty they are rather boxy.
     
  5. lewisboats
    Joined: Oct 2002
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    Location: Iowa

    lewisboats Obsessed Member

    Ensenada by Ken Hankinson...available from GlennL. One of my favorites.
     
  6. PAR
    Joined: Nov 2003
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    Location: Eustis, FL

    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    Cjmovie, selecting a design is a difficult process, particularly if it's your first build and/or you're an inexperienced sailor.

    Pictured is one of my designs, intended for home building. It's 24' on deck and is available with a sloop rig (recommended, though double heads are shown). The hull form here is multi chine plywood and is a taped seam type build. A round bilge version is also available for strip plank or cold molded construction. Shoal draft is also an option.

    I show this boat just to tell you that it's a big project requiring a 1,100 hours for a reasonably skilled person to complete. Since this is your first build, frankly you should double this figure and be grateful to get it done in this amount of time. Now that doesn't seem so bad does it. Well lets take a look.

    Lets say you don't have much of a life and after work you can put in 4 solid hours on the boat, 5 days a week and a solid 10 hours Saturday and Sunday each. That's 40 hours per week. If you have nothing but productive time 1,100 hours of diligent building at 40 hours per week will yield you a completed boat in 55 weeks. Wow, not bad a whole boat in a year. Okay, you're a novice builder and you've made some mistakes that needed to be fixed, weren't as economical with your time and the 2,200 hour figure is more accurate. So, it takes a little over 2 years to complete the boat.

    Lets assume you have a job that is 40 hours a week, plus your boat building duties, also 40 hours per week, plus sleeping 8 hours each day for a grand total of 136 hours per week. There are only 168 hours available in any given week, so showering, shaving, eating, playing with the kids and Rover the wonder dog must be preformed in the 4.5 hours of free time you'll have each day.

    My long way around this point is, because of a cute and often quite complicated little fact of life called the law of similitude (relativity). We engineers often have to deal with this little bugger and what it means is a boat that is 20' long may be only 10% shorter in length then a 22' boat, but it could be as much as half the volume. You build boats based on volume (how much in materials it takes to make a vessel of this size, etc.). There is a huge difference between a 20' boat and a 24' boat. In fact you'll find that the 24' boat literally is double the 20' in every regard. It'll have twice the materials, need twice the HP, twice the sail area, require twice the labor, etc., etc. etc., even though it's only 20% longer in length.

    It's common to want much more boat then you actually can do economically, if a novice builder and/or sailor. We all start out dreaming about the 50' classic schooner and sailing the south seas, but end up building an 18' to 22' trailer sailor and working up from there.

    My advice is to climb aboard as many 20 to 26' boats as you can. You'll find standing headroom is a rare thing, unless the cabin roof "pops up" or you have to step down into a hollow keel pocket. A basic galley, port-a-potty, dinette and V berth will be all common items, though each design will approach these things differently. And most importantly, keep looking for designs. You can easily build a boat you'll hate to sail. For this reason, it's best to start with a relatively small project. This could something like the dinghy for the larger dream ship or a different boat, but with similar build techniques and/or rig. This way you'll get a feel for the method, develop skills, assemble tolls, materials and most importantly the confidence to see a large project through to launch day.
     

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  7. alan white
    Joined: Mar 2007
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    Location: maine

    alan white Senior Member

    Unfortunately there's no easy way to accomplish what you are setting out to do---- to decide what design you like. I guess it would be like deciding which guitar to learn to play on. A pro might insist on a certain shape of neck profile and a particular set of tonal characteristics. But how would a novice choose, and how could he get advice that was meaningful if each player had unique requirements?
    Further, the novice guitarist is stating that he is willing to spend 10,000 on that first guitar. He is particularly attracted to mother of pearl inlay and cutaway bodies...
    There is a solution for the guitarist, and a solution for the sailor too. That is, based on the best consensus of advice buy a second hand guitar or boat at an extremely affordable price and see how you like it. There are boats equal to the Amigo selling for $5000.00. Roughly what you might spend for a good suit of sails for a home-built boat like an Amigo. In addition to sails, however, you'll likely get a whole diesel engine, a ton or so of lead ballast (price that!), a molded fiberglass hull, a nice collection of stainless rigging wires, a few anchors, berths for four... who knows? A dinghy perhaps, a couple of radios, a GPS, a tiller pilot, a depth guage... you get the picture.
    Meanwhile, with the left over $45,000, you could build a nice workshop, try your hand at a couple of small boats, fly to Europe, buy a truck, etc, etc...
     
  8. bistros

    bistros Previous Member

    Both Alan and PAR are dead on the money. Given our current crappy global economy, used boats are a serious bargain. The same folks who bought way too much house on floating interest (and have been repossessed) have to get rid of their boats and leisure purchases.

    Revisit the build concept after two seasons on the water. You will thank yourself a thousand times over for waiting before you build, as the boat you end up with will be a thousand times better.

    OPB (Other People's Boats) is a great way to start. People are always looking for reliable crew - all you hvae to do is show up. Most clubs have a "crew board" somewhere you should post your name on.

    --
    Bill
     
  9. PAR
    Joined: Nov 2003
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    Location: Eustis, FL

    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    If you do find a sailing club or similar and post your name on the board add this comment "I can bring beer . . ." which will pretty much insure someone calls.
     
  10. Landlubber
    Joined: Jun 2007
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    Location: Brisbane

    Landlubber Senior Member

    "which will pretty much insure someone calls"..... forming bad habits PAR, once started it cannot stop!

    If he did that here in Brisbane (Australia), the whole yacht club would invite him onboard.
     

  11. lewisboats
    Joined: Oct 2002
    Posts: 2,329
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    Location: Iowa

    lewisboats Obsessed Member

    [​IMG]

    Warm wood (ply) but looks plastic or plastic-ish.

    Check with BHOFM about build difficulty...just don't say anything about storms or hurricanes ;)
     
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