IS it really possible for inexperienced Joe Shmoes to build a yacht

Discussion in 'Boat Design' started by IanMcEwan, Jun 7, 2004.

  1. IanMcEwan
    Joined: Jun 2004
    Posts: 1
    Likes: 0, Points: 0, Legacy Rep: 10
    Location: Scottish Isles

    IanMcEwan New Member

    I've been looking at all these websites by the likes of Dix, Roberts etc and seen all the plans which they say an average Joe Bloggs can build. Is this really the case and exactly how good are these designs?
  2. duluthboats
    Joined: Mar 2002
    Posts: 1,585
    Likes: 43, Points: 58, Legacy Rep: 779
    Location: Minneapolis,MN, USA

    duluthboats Senior Dreamer

    Pick the designs you like, and then ask for a list of people who have built them. Most builders are very happy to answer your questions. The finished product depends on an individual’s skill level.

  3. tom28571
    Joined: Dec 2001
    Posts: 2,474
    Likes: 116, Points: 63, Legacy Rep: 1728
    Location: Oriental, NC

    tom28571 Senior Member

    Gary is correct, of course but I would argue the main requirements for building a boat. I would place skill no higher than number 3. The first two absolute requirements are commitment to do the job and patience enough to adjust to your drive and skills.

    Of course, if your skill level is in the tank, I take it all back. Most can improve their skills much easier than their commitment or patience.
  4. SeaDrive
    Joined: Feb 2004
    Posts: 223
    Likes: 1, Points: 0, Legacy Rep: 15
    Location: Connecticut

    SeaDrive Senior Member

    I subscribe to several sites for amateur designers and builders. I would guess that about 98% of all amateur-built boats weigh 1000lbs or less, and have a building time of 500 manhours or less. Actually, 500 is a quarter man-year and may be a high guess.

    However, there are guys out there building big boats. Dix built a 35-footer himself, and though he is a pro designer, he is an amateur builder. There is an active Yahoo group (origamiboats) of guys building steel boats to Brent Swain's designs, for example, and I remember seeing a web site about the launching of a very nice Green Peace (Tanton design). Followers of Phil Bolger's writing in Messing About in Boats will have read about numerous boats of 20+ feet built to his designs, including a largish schooner.
  5. Corpus Skipper
    Joined: Oct 2003
    Posts: 606
    Likes: 8, Points: 0, Legacy Rep: 173
    Location: Corpus Christi TX

    Corpus Skipper Hopeless Boataholic

    To wear out an already worn cliche', You can do anything you put your mind to! :D Everyone here is right. You just need to have the desire (addiction?) to do it. The rest is just taking your time, and following the directions- IMPERATIVE!!!! I'm a grease monkey by trade, and have completed my first boat, for a paying customer! Came out beautiful, and the new owner is very happy with it. The only thing I had ever built from scratch before was the shop the boat was built in. Good luck!
  6. tspeer
    Joined: Feb 2002
    Posts: 2,311
    Likes: 282, Points: 83, Legacy Rep: 1673
    Location: Port Gamble, Washington, USA

    tspeer Senior Member

    Build the dinghy first. What you learn there will save you lots of time & money on the big boat.

    I'd say if you want the experience of building, then by all means, build. If you want to sail, the cheapest way is to buy a used boat. You can get a used boat for what you'd pay for materials building a new boat yourself. There's still a million things you can do to the boat to make it "your own".
  7. Not A Guest
    Joined: Jan 2004
    Posts: 55
    Likes: 0, Points: 0, Legacy Rep: 10
    Location: Great Lakes

    Not A Guest Junior Member

    The Wall Street Journal had an interesting article a couple weeks ago.

    An engineer started designing and building a 55' boat when he was in his late 50s. He intended to retire aboard it.

    The boat is finished. He is retired. His boat sits finished in his back yard.

    He lacks the money to get it to the water.

    He is unable to afford a mooring.

    He is unable to get insurance for the boat.

    He is unable to GIVE the boat away.

    Sure you can build a yacht. But putting it to use may be a different issue.
  8. mmd
    Joined: Mar 2002
    Posts: 378
    Likes: 16, Points: 0, Legacy Rep: 309
    Location: Bridgewater NS Canada

    mmd Senior Member

    tspeer's first two sentences are probably the best advice you will ever get. Most failed home-builds have run out of ambition well before running out of money or time.
  9. Alan Jones
    Joined: May 2004
    Posts: 6
    Likes: 0, Points: 0, Legacy Rep: 10
    Location: Nigeria/Ghana

    Alan Jones Junior Member

    Yes but it aint easy

    I have been involved in 3 large building projects (32 to 46 feet) numerous smaller ones and am just about start another project 46ft cutter, all have been yachts. I have no design skills and in every case the plans came from very reputable designers. You need at least to have somebody to help if its only to talk things over during the times of "what am I doing" and "I cant do this". Sites like this can provide all the help and support needed so use them, everybody who builds a boat as an amature experiences the same problems. Recognise your limitations (I have never tried to make sails and never will). Make sure you choose a design to suit your exact requirements but remember we build because we enjoy building and then sailing the end result, the key is we enjoy the building, if you have the slightest doubt then buy second hand, whatever you do enjoy it and good luck.
  10. Suede
    Joined: Dec 2003
    Posts: 32
    Likes: 0, Points: 0, Legacy Rep: 10
    Location: Sweden

    Suede Junior Member

    I think it´s two different way´s of doing it. Either you build a boat as fast as possible, as an alternative to buy a new boat, the goal is to have a boat and start crusing, you simply need a boat, this is the hard one.
    Or the whole buildingprocess and everything involved is something social, more than just the matter if it takes 2 or 5 will be launched one day...maybe....
    As Alas said...there is a lot of unknowns out there ready to help and support....
    I´ve been involved in building cars and bikes for many years.....but the community of amature boatbuilders beats everything.....
    As a clever man said: "When the nothingness of life gets too a boat"

    Goood luck
  11. Ilan Voyager
    Joined: May 2004
    Posts: 1,253
    Likes: 173, Points: 63, Legacy Rep: 758
    Location: Cancun Mexico

    Ilan Voyager Senior Member

    Everybody is right

    Everybody is right.

    I'll add you'll need a lot of stamina because a medium sized (like 35 feet) yacht needs thousands of hours of work.... Designers selling plans subestimate the number of hours for very evident marketing reasons.

    It's better to make a trial with a project of about 500 hours like a big dinghy. That means 50 days of 10 hours, while in the same time you're working for earning your life 5 or 6 days a week, needs some rest, your girl friend or wife and family is asking some presence, etc... and you'll see how long it will take you without divorce. If you can complete it without problems you can make the big jump.

    A bigger boat means several years working on it!!! The number of hours runs roughly at the square of the length. Interior joinery and finishing are the longest part.

    As retired pro builder, engineer, and also amateur builder for my small racing cats, I've got some experience. I've seen also a lot of amateur builders; bigger the project, more likely it will fail. It's the same problem with experimental amateur built planes.

    I'll use an easy to work with fast results material, not smelling like a dead horse as polyester, not needing a big tooling as composites, not too noisy to work as steel or aluminium .

    Plywood or strip plank with epoxy are good candidates and with these materials you can stop the project for a while and take it again without worries.

    The Dix boats are very nice for monohulls.

    Good luck
  12. sharpii2
    Joined: May 2004
    Posts: 2,021
    Likes: 193, Points: 63, Legacy Rep: 611
    Location: Michigan, USA

    sharpii2 Senior Member

    reasons to build your own boat


    Other than the "joy" of building (I detest all work) I can think of three reasons to build my own boat.

    1.) The type of boat I like may not be popular. If that's the case there may not be any good used examples avilable. Say I want a 16ft gaff rigged sailing sharpi. I can easily get plans for one, but finding one nearby up for sale may be a real problem.

    2.)I want a boat that is designed to be inexpensive and built to stay that way. It seems that many if not most production boats are designed to appear as yachts. They have gleaming exteriors and plush interiors. They look nice (at least when they are new) but as the years wear on they develope problems that may be difficult or impossible to repair. When built, they may have skimped on matterials or workmanship and may have used undersized fittings. The sandwitch construction may start failing. How do you fix that? I have often read in magazines like "Wooden Boat" where it is often been said that it would be cheaper to build a new boat based on the old one than to repair the original. Of course, we're talking about rotting wood here, but I can imagine, as the years roll by, a lot of boats built with fancy composites will start comming to grief before their time. Add to the that the fact, that with many production boats, ease of maintanance is not a top design criteria. Good looks, good performance, and, above all, low production costs most often are.
    It is probably easier for a home builder to build a boat that will really last than it is for a production builder. Extra sturdy construction adds to cost and is difficult to see. The temptation to save say a hundred bucks on one hull is a lot easier to resist than to save the same on a hundred hulls.
    I do believe, however, the production builder has a definate abvantage when it comes to finish. Unless you are a skilled craftsman, his production tooling is going to outshine your brave, first time, efforts.

    3.) I want a boat type that no reputable builder will touch with a ten foot pole. I can think of two examples of this. One is the example of early multihulls. Since they were considered 'freek and ******* craft' many bulders of their time didn't want to fool with them. So many, if not most, were originally home built. The other example is on a more personal note. I have two design concepts I'm working on. One is a twelve foot scow with a short waterline in relationship to its length. the other is an ocean mini cruiser that will be narrow, have shallow draft, and probably be as slow as a 15 year old dog on a 115 degree day. But will carry a lot of stuff for its size, float level if holed, and right itself from a capsize.
    Whether the vertues of either of these two creations will outshine their obvious vices, only time and home built prototypes will tell.

  13. Craig_Hastie
    Joined: Jun 2004
    Posts: 11
    Likes: 0, Points: 0, Legacy Rep: 10
    Location: Airlie Beach, Australia

    Craig_Hastie Junior Member

    Hi Ian, Yes it is possible. My wife and I are halfway through building a Tony Grainger designed 40' cruising catamaran. Neither of us are skilled trades people, skill comes with actually doing it rather than talking about it. However, do your homework well with regards to how realistic the project is. We have had few surprises in costs and time as we talked to a lot of home builders before deciding to take the plunge.

  14. donjames
    Joined: Jun 2004
    Posts: 35
    Likes: 1, Points: 0, Legacy Rep: 23
    Location: usa arizona

    donjames Junior Member

    A new shmoe

    Im looking for advise on the same subject, Ive had boats in the past and have done all the work needed and I am a 20 year carpenter who can' t
    wait to to get his feet wet or, not wet, in undertaking a project of this
    level of craftsmanship.

    don james

  15. donjames
    Joined: Jun 2004
    Posts: 35
    Likes: 1, Points: 0, Legacy Rep: 23
    Location: usa arizona

    donjames Junior Member

    I agree with Tom......

    Commitment and patience are most Important and I think all would agree to
    do your home work. Although this will be my first project with building a boat
    from square one, My past experience as a life time Carpenter proves that
    study before start achieves progress. This is a great place to start on this
    sight and Im sure glad I found it simply for the opportunity to share information and get feedback that will save countless hours of research
    uncertianty,and most important, costly mistakes.
    As far as Skill level is concerned..... Lots of Questions and .......OJT. Goodluck
    I can use some too. DON
Forum posts represent the experience, opinion, and view of individual users. Boat Design Net does not necessarily endorse nor share the view of each individual post.
When making potentially dangerous or financial decisions, always employ and consult appropriate professionals. Your circumstances or experience may be different.