Finding plans based on specifics

Discussion in 'Boat Design' started by Seth211, Jan 18, 2023.

  1. Seth211
    Joined: Jan 2023
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    Location: CO

    Seth211 Junior Member


    Can anyone recommend current, active designers or a good way to find plans detailed a specific way? I'm looking for design plans for a ~50ft L/~14ft B, full keel, wooden built, ketch, with a full center cockpit with a sleek modern looking angle.

    Long story:
    My wife and I are planning our retirement now, in our late 30's. One of those options is to build our own house. One that floats. I am a fairly able craftsman and tinkerer, already owning all manner of tools. Our LTP right now is to move coastal in 6 years. Likely somewhere SE US. Right now my spare time is spent absorbing all manner of knowledge regarding building boats. I've burned through Buehler’s Backyard Boatbuilding which gave me some research insight, and I have 2 Dynamite Payson books and Robert Stewarts Boatbuilding manual to read. I've also enjoyed the plethora of youtube channels, especially Salt and Tar. The goal is to move, find a marina, make friends, take lessons, learn the art of sailing. We're planning to do this for around 5 years. During that time, we plan to build our "house". Yes, I plan to start small, dinghies, day sailors, etc, work my way up. Nothing I've read or watched so far has given us any hesitation so far, including the numerous videos for (and against) living the minimalist life on water. We have and will continue to do a lot more research.

    That out of the way, I feel like I have done enough research to start to get an idea of what I want. And I think further research on construction methods would be most productive having an idea of plans in place. I've read opposing views on stitch and glue vs traditional planking for a vessel of that size. All things being equal I think I would prefer woodworking to metal, So I can narrow that down. Buehler also reinforces the concept of chining, and cross planking, so I'm looking for that in the design to help keep costs and simplicity (relatively speaking) down.

    I also wanted to post to say I've lurked a lot of the posts here and thank everyone for the time and effort they have put into their posts. Nice thing about boats is that what people posted in 2006 holds relevant today.

    So that's the longwinded life story from us. I'm open to constructive feedback on the options I've nailed down so far, but I've got to start making decisions somewhere. And what I've got so far is a longer, trim, symmetrical based ketch, full keel, wood constructed, chined, center oriented enclosed cockpit. I don't think we want less than 12' beam, and length is also not something I'm hard set on. And if I've happened to describe a boat that matches a set of pre-existing plans, please help me find them!
    Thank you and sorry for the post length,
  2. gonzo
    Joined: Aug 2002
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    gonzo Senior Member

    I think that you need to define your goal. Is learning how to build boats and build one the goal? In that case, be prepared to spend a few years to accomplish that endeavor. If what you want is a good boat, the most economic choice is a used one. The middle ground is to buy a hull/deck from a reputable builder and finish it yourself. A planked boat requires a lot of maintenance, which is expensive. I understand the allure, being a wooden shipwright. However, to master the skills to build a boat of the size you want is not easy.
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  3. Seth211
    Joined: Jan 2023
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    Location: CO

    Seth211 Junior Member

    I appreciate the reply. The immediate goal is to find/buy study plans with the specifics listed so that I can apply what I'm studying and researching to my LTG. Building small boats is an intermediate goal to gain knowledge and experience. It would be my full time endeavor starting in 6-8 years, possibly sooner depending on where we live. Kids graduate in 6, after that the plan is to relocate out of state. I understand buying a used boat could be cheaper in the long run, and we aren't currently opposed to it. I've built computers, (re) built pickups, cars, furniture, welded, fabricated. Its nice to know every piece of your vehicle, having built it, for troubleshooting. It also allows us to make exactly the boat we want. Building also gives us the ability to choose when and how much we invest in the project at our pace.

    Edit: I would also be interested in the option to buy a hull or deck unfinished, but I don't know where I would shop for that, or if it would be a custom order.
  4. wet feet
    Joined: Nov 2004
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    wet feet Senior Member

    I suggest you begin by building a small boat for use as a tender,it will give you a familiarity with the techniques and be a useful thing to have in any event.Along the way you could keep a lookout for a boat of the right size to buy,in the present market you can find some bargains,and it could give you an insight into life afloat.More importantly,it will happen before you spend several years building something that may not work as well in reality as it does in your daydreams as you will have found the snags with the early experience.Then perhaps in three or four years time you will have gained definite views about what will work for you and you may have even seen the perfect design along the way.
  5. TANSL
    Joined: Sep 2011
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    TANSL Senior Member

    It would help the OP a lot if we don't forget what he is looking for right now. What he needs later is another matter. Therefore let's try to help him, whoever can and knows, to find those plans. The question is whether he wants existing plans or plans for something that suits his SOR.
  6. DCockey
    Joined: Oct 2009
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    DCockey Senior Member

    For the large boat also consider purchasing a used boat with a hull in good condition, and then doing a rebuild as you desire.
  7. Flotation
    Joined: Jan 2020
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    Flotation Senior Member

    Before going any further at least find a way to spend three weeks on a sailboat with your spouse. As part of a crew on a bareboat charter for example. It is impossible to form an idea on what you want from a boat without having spend some time on a couple of different ones. And sailing is not all that nice and comfortable like what is shown in the youtube videos.
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  8. Rumars
    Joined: Mar 2013
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    Rumars Senior Member

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  9. Seth211
    Joined: Jan 2023
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    Seth211 Junior Member

    That boat looks spot on for what I want, thank you for the link! I know I have seen Mr. Roberts' name show up on this forum and he seems well respected. I will reach out to him to inquire about the plans. I agree following instructions to the letter. I fancy myself a builder, not a designer. I have also seen comments about Buehler over engineering his designs. I still think it was a good place to start, however, if anyone has good recommendations for more modern reading I will happily seek that book out.

    I appreciate the cautionary tales from everyone. All the tertiary advice. We are considering it, and have. This is not something we are rushing into. We couldn't if we wanted to. Part of exploring options is knowing the scope and detail of those options. It is exceedingly difficult to determine the level of difficulty or price of something without the details of the project (hence the plans). I know this forum gets peppered with similar questions on a weekly basis and it probably gets old recycling the same information.
  10. Waterwitch
    Joined: Oct 2012
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    Waterwitch Senior Member

    There was a couple who circumnavigated in a 42 ft Buehler designed hull they called Iwalani. Although the builder was an shipwright who may of used the lines but built to his own sensibility.
  11. skaraborgcraft
    Joined: Dec 2020
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    Location: sweden

    skaraborgcraft Senior Member

    Telling people to "forget Buehler", is like asking people not to build Colin Archer types, and forget all the Westsails and Atkin boats that are still comfortably cruising the worlds oceans. Whatever and however you define " inefficient", there are hundreds who may disagree with you.


    Building something in the 50ft range is incredibly expensive compared to buying something in the used market, and bigger projects usually fail at a higher percentage than something smaller. 30 years ago it was cheaper for me to build a boat from scratch than buy secondhand ( for a very simple cruiser), but today, people are giving boats away as they can not afford storage. Having a 50ft boat is great while at sea and anchor, its when they have to come into docks, haul outs and storage and maintenace that the costs add up significantly. Just be realistic.
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  12. Seth211
    Joined: Jan 2023
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    Seth211 Junior Member

    It's an option we are keeping open. This is a long term project for us, we are in initial planning phase. Building is like building a house. We get exactly what we want, know exactly where everything is. There are definitely pros and cons of each, and finding them all is part of the process. I really love the modern designs that Mr Roberts incorporates such as a transom beach door and a pivoting centerboard. I also really like his views and ideals he posts about enabling the backyard builder to build.

    I understand the high failure rate of projects. It's the same with many large projects. We're fully considering, planning, and budgeting now, when we have plenty of time. This is a long time away.

    I've now gotten through Stewart's Boatbuilding manual as well, and I've brushed through the WEST book as well as Devlin's. Been watching the art of Boatbuilding as well, which is fantastic. If anyone else has good reading of viewing recommendations, I'm open to them. I have six years of time to read them ;)
  13. fallguy
    Joined: Dec 2016
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    fallguy Senior Member

    Do you realize building a 50' boat for most people with a controlled environment, enclosed building, and massive financial budget will take 7-10 years?

    The hulls are where labor can be leveraged, but time is the greatest challenge and it increases exponentially for each foot.

    The SOR needs to be well defined and if you don't need 50', then for a custom build; you don't want it.

    I tend to agree with our German contributor about Buehler. We must love his inspiration, but his designs tend to be built pretty heavily.
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  14. skaraborgcraft
    Joined: Dec 2020
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    Location: sweden

    skaraborgcraft Senior Member

    I would read "cold moulded and strip planked wood boatbuilding", if you are thinking of using that method, or "the laminated wood boatbuilder". Having a live designer around might be usefull, and Tad designs good stuff.

  15. Seth211
    Joined: Jan 2023
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    Location: CO

    Seth211 Junior Member

    Not to be morbid, but this was part of the reason for my inquiry. It seems the industry is losing a lot of its modern pioneers. Researching designers turned depressing quickly. I will check those books out, I've seen them mentioned before. Thanks :)

    Do you have references or examples for this? Because a lot of source material and people with a lot of experience are contradicting this. 10 years at 8 hours a day is 28000 hours. Right now I'm planning 10,000 hours, which slots between 2 and 4 years. The rest of your argument seems even more subjective, without any valuable information. I've been very transparent that this is a research project for future long term goals, and if you can validate your argument, it could be worthwhile information. But I'm not much of one for "Can't do it" one liners.
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