how do I sort through the slew of beachcat plans available?

Discussion in 'Multihulls' started by timmie, Jul 1, 2007.

  1. timmie
    Joined: Jul 2007
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    timmie New Member

    Okay, new to the board, my first two copies of my first post were eaten by your interface, so this will be a bit short. Sorry, hope you can bear with me.

    I want to build a boat. you will notice I didn't say I wanted to buy a boat that someone else built: that's because part of the reason is that I am considering building a significantly bigger boat sometime in the future, and want to try my hand at it and see if I like it and if it is practially doable.

    I want my boat to be this:

    -fairly fast
    -reasonably cheap to build.
    -sailable by one person.
    -able to operate fairly well in a wide range of wind conditions.
    -incorporating fibreglass for an outer skin, as I want to try finishing fibreglass as I get the impression that that's a LOT of the work of building a larger hull, and it's very important to have a smooth finish below the waterline.

    I don't expect it to be these. In many cases, I don't want it to be these.

    -capable of competing in major races. it doesn't need to be knife edge competitive, or designed to conform to major racing class standards.
    -large enough to carry more than 2 people or 3 small people.
    -an ocean going vessel. I live in the interior, and I can't see me sailing this farther from a lake shore than I can see.
    -so big that I need an engine if I get becalmed. If I can't row it, I don't want it.

    I have been looking at the designs you guys would probably expect: the pixie, the quattro series, the sc435, and other hobiecat clones. And also the hobbycat, the free version. But what my novice eyes see is a bunch of very very similar looking boats and no really easy way to choose between them. How does one sort through these plans? Should I just close my eyes and pick the cheapest? Is there any place to get a side to side comparison of some of these? Does it even really matter which of these I pick? are there any plans in this class I really want to look at, or more importantly, really want to avoid?

    Also, What would what I am looking at ballpark for materials cost do you think? I know it's tough to estimate, etc, etc, and we wring our hands for the next 20 minutes, but if anyone could just give me an idea to the nearest few hundred in a currency of their choice, that would be great. Don't worry, if you are wrong, I won't come a whining. I just want a heads up if it is going to cost me 10 grand to build a boat that isn't really much bigger than a canoe if you forget the fact that the two hull halves are seperated by a couple lengths of tubing.

    thank you for any advice you can offer, and must say, I have been lurking for a couple days and am impressed by the level of discussion here. I don't know much about boats yet, but perhaps that will change in the future.
  2. Trevlyns
    Joined: Oct 2006
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    Trevlyns Senior Citizen/Member

    Hi timmie

    First up, welcome to the forum! I’m sure you’ll spend many hours browsing. The beer is free and so are miscellaneous idiots who appear from time to time. :p

    Have you had a look at the grand old master (James Wharram’s) beach cats? I reckon they incorporate most of your requirements. Check out the hitia 14 and 17 footers.

    All the best, and don’t forget to post some pics of your chosen build.
  3. Troutcatcher
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    Troutcatcher Junior Member

  4. jamez
    Joined: Feb 2007
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    jamez Senior Member

    Hi Timmie

    "part of the reason is that I am considering building a significantly bigger boat sometime in the future, and want to try my hand at it and see if I like it and if it is practially doable".

    I was in the same boat (pun intended) a few years back. My wish was (still is) for a 7.5 to 8 metre performance cruising cat, however the resources and time just weren't available. Keen to get some build experience I looked at small cats and tris. I even bought plans for a Marples 16 tri. What stopped me going any further was the amount of dollars I was going to drop building vs. just buying an old Hobie or suchlike second hand. It would have been fine to build if a beach cat was what I ultimately wanted, or if I had a bunch of bits to use up, but it seemed a bit pointless to spend time and dollars on a boat I was likely to want to sell (at a loss) relatively soon after completion.
    Re. cost I figured I wouldnt see much change out of 5k to build the Marples.

    A boat builder friend suggested building a kayak to get some build experience - in the end I opted to build a 5 metre stitch and tape rowing dory (which I glassed). It was a better choice because I think I learned just as much as I would have done building the Marples, but at far less cost. I've since utilised the skills (and tools) i picked up rebuilding a Wharram Hinemoa, but thats another story. I still have the dory. It cartops, rows like a dream, and is a great option to get out on the water on a calm day.

    I'm not suggesting for a minute that the same boat would suit you but sometimes I think it pays to get on and build a dinghy or something. A simple build can teach a lot and should make future build decisions more informed.

    If you go ahead and build a cat and you want to car top IMO the most important thing, given that they are all probably similar to build, is set-up time. The Pixie looks good in that respect as it slots together. The Wharram designs have to be lashed together, which is more time consuming. I'm not familiar with the other designs mentioned. The quicker and easier it is to get the boat rigged and sailing the more likely it is too be used in my experience.

    For something a little different Jeff Gilberts Roonio design might be worth a look.

    keep us posted on what you choose..........
  5. timmie
    Joined: Jul 2007
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    timmie New Member

    When I said car top, I meant that I wanted to car-top it ASSEMBLED. I live in a rural area, and so as long as I am no wider than a 1 ton dually with the mirrors extended, I had hoped that I could just detatch the mast, throw it on top (I am a big guy. I know lifting 200 pounds onto the top of your car sounds optimistic, but when you are 6'3", it really isn't.), and drive out to the lake.

    As for boats, I am interested to hear that cats are so expensive materials wise. I assumed that since there is so little to them (plywood/fibreglass hulls, a couple wooden beams between the two hulls, and a deck made out of pretty much whatever you want: hell, you could butcher an old trampoline and run a cord around the exterior to sew it around and provide you with some loops for attatchment points.

    What am I missing? If I go with a cat, do I need to go with a much fancier sailing rig? Is it just that you go through way more fibreglass by having two really long, large surface area hulls? or is there something else to them beyond the two hollow plywood pontoons, 2 or 3 wooden braces to hold them apart, a deck that is not even remotely structural in nature, and then a sailing rig which I know very little about the costs of, as I to date have only been a passenger on a few sailboats, never an owner.
  6. Hobiestoke
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    Hobiestoke Junior Member

  7. messabout
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    messabout Senior Member

    You have two conflicting wants. Car toppable vs 2 or 3 people. To be car toppable it needs to be smaller and lighter than the boat that will adequately accomodate 2 or 3 people and still sail decently. It is acknowledged that you are a big guy. Being a big fellow further suggests that you not build a too small cat.

    Try to abandon the car top scheme. That is practical for kayaks and canoes but turns out to be a poor choice for a fair sized dinghy or cat. The trailer borne boat is a damn sight easier to launch and retrieve than the alternative transport method allows. With a trailer you can go sailing alone. With a 150 to 200 pound car topped boat you are going to need help no matter your strength and size. As an aside, I have seen a 20 foot inland lakes scow transported atop a Chevrolet sedan. Six husky lads took if off the car without smashing it or the car. Get a trailer.
  8. timmie
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    timmie New Member

    I would be fine with a trailer, I am sure I could rig something up. I was more thinking of making absolutely sure it had a beam narrow enough to drive down the highway. I get the impression that as cats start hitting the 25 foot mark, they start getting too big to go anywhere without significant disassembly. I would like a boat that I can transport when I have everything but the mast still in place and ready to go.

    I am finding the proteus catamaran very interesting. It seems to be the sort of thing I am looking for, and I may inquire as to more details. I really think that the production values on Wharram's webpage are excellent, but of course because someone else used his plans to build a very pretty boat doesn't really speak overwhelmingly for his plans on it's own (though I am sure by his reputation that his plans would not dissapoint), and when considering that one of the boats recommended has a testimonial that a bargain hunting builder got it in the water for $500 U.S., and Wharram wants more than $350 just for pictures of how one would go ABOUT building his boat, I think that that in and of itself is a pretty strong endorsement of the proteus over the hitia.

    And no, I don't really expect to get my boat in the water for $500. But I am not fantastically interested in putting one in the water for $5000 either. At that price, I know I could put a full fleet of small sailing dinghys in the water with polytarp sails and wood masts, and to be honest, while I love the idea I have of what kind of utility and performance a cat would provide, I am not absolutely set on a multihull if I can get a boat that would sail 8 knots slower for one tenth the cost.

    And now that you mention it, I like the idea of a trailer. It would allow me to have it permanently tied down in storage, so if an opportunity to sail arises, one could just put it on the hitch and start going, which would probably mean I would get onto the water more often than if I had to load it before I headed out and unload it when I got back, as well as the lakeside maneuvering.

    Thanks for all the advice everyone, and I am starting to get a firm idea of what I am looking for. I also picked up a couple beginner boat building books and am starting to think that this might be quite a doable project. I will try to update with how it goes.
  9. tspeer
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    tspeer Senior Member

    Highway Traffic Regulation, Alta. Reg. 155/1997
    "Trailer towing prohibitions
    9(1) No person shall, on a highway, operate a vehicle that tows a trailer
    (a) that exceeds 2.60 metres in width, or
    (b) that exceeds a height of 3.85 metres as measured from the road

    I'm sure other provinces are similar, and I don't see any reason why the maximum width would be different for car-topping (but I didn't look it up).

    Personally, I find a trailer to be far more convenient than car-topping. You can store it on the trailer, and it's quicker and easier to get it in the water with a trailer. Without a trailer, you're still going to want a dolly or beaching wheels to maneuver it on land. If you use a dolly, you could have two ramps that hooked onto the roof rack so you can push the boat up.

    The biggest reason I can see for not wanting to trailer a beach cat is because you are pulling some other kind of trailer, like a camper.
  10. PI Design
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    PI Design Senior Member

    I have to say that $5000 is very cheap for a home built GRP cat, let alone $500. It depends on the quality you want, but assuming you don't want something Robinson Crusoe lashed together, I would have thought £4000 ($8000 US) would be a more realistic (fairly modest) total cost (sails, spars, foils and fittings all cost more than you think, plus tooling for the hull).
  11. timmie
    Joined: Jul 2007
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    timmie New Member

    thanks all, I have a much clearer idea of what kind of hull I want. I think I will be looking at a start date for construction of sometime this winter, and target a launch by june of next year. Plus, that gives me some time to read a few books on sail rigs and decide what I want to put on my mast. I have seen some people who were very happy with junk rigs, especially for safety and good power when reaching, but perhaps that would make it impossible or very challenging to fly a hull, and rather defeat the purpose of having a catamaran in the first place.

    So, to summarize, off I go to read about what kind of rig is suitable for a 16-18 foot beach cat with a desired beam over all of no more than 8 and a half feet, and start thinking about building a shed that I could roll the trailer into.

    Thanks all, and I will let you know how it goes once I actually get underway.
  12. grob
    Joined: Oct 2002
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    Other Reasons include cost, trailers can add a considerable amount to the total cost of a boat, and toll fees are increased for bridges, ferries etc.

    Storage, people that store the catamaran on the beach then have to find somewhere else to store the trailer.

    Speed, most countries restrict the speed you can drive at when towing, that is not the case when using a roof rack.

  13. Hobiestoke
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    Hobiestoke Junior Member

    A quick note Timmie,
    On my site when I say $500 to build the boat, That was considering I already had A mast from my dihngy and H 16 sails in hand to modify, the $500 was basically for the cost of the ply, fiberglass & raw materials and tools needed to build the hulls and basic structure of the boat - A mast could easily be very expensive I then spent another $200 for a rudder system from a Hobie 16 because the rudders I built just had too much slop and were causing me taking problems also have spent a bit modifying mast to be 22 feet tall and new sails. So I would definatley be prepared to spend more than $500. You have to be ready to throw $ at it cuz you love to sail, not cuz you want an inexpensive craft :)
  14. TTS
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    TTS Senior Member

    You might try looking at a-class plans. Yes the new ones are usually carbon, nomex, kevler or a layup shcedule similar to that, but there are a lot of plywood ones out there. Gougeon Brothers have plans for plywood construction. I know of a pair of hulls with mast, rigging, sails and so-on sitting in Bristol, RI that could be had for under what you want to spend. One of the hulls is holed and would requre a patch, but it is an easy job to do. Look up the Bristol Marina, I believe is the name.

  15. Rolf Nilsen
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    Rolf Nilsen Junior Member

    Are there any data available on how wooden A-cat hulls (3mm ply or strip) would compare to the carbon/nomex/foam hulls made commercially if fittet out with glued carbon beams and mast?

    Timmie, I would suggest one of the sailing kayaks from CLC. It's a sailing trimaran configuration based on their kayaks. Plans available from CLC, and the result is a versatile craft which you can cartop. Not dead sexy, but functional and a very good training project in how to build light and strong. Ref:
    I have buildt one of their kayaks, and the plans are nice.
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