New builder - help choosing a design

Discussion in 'Sailboats' started by TawClaw, Jun 18, 2014.

  1. TawClaw
    Joined: Jun 2014
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    TawClaw New Member

    Hello boat designer forum members! I've never built a boat before, but have been sailing for a while. I'd like to start building my own wooden sailboat this summer and am in need of some help in terms of what designs to look at. I'm looking for something that I can sail around the San Francisco Bay in, as well as Lake Tahoe (which can get surprisingly gnarly some days). I like a more leisurely big-boat feel but at the same time have a background in racing so hard-tacking super-slow floaters bother me. I do want a cabin large enough to sleep two, for camping trips in other places. Oh, it also needs to be trailerable without a large truck (I have a Subaru Outback and a Chevy Suburban as my only means of hauling).

    I first found the Weekender sailboat but have heard bad things regarding its performance. I am attracted to the easy-to-build aspect of it though, as I'm not a very experienced handyman (I will have some friends helping me however). What do you guys think about this?

    I've also looked at some Glen-L designs. I am in love with the 22' Amigo but think it might be a bit too big of a project as well as too hard to trailer. The 15' Minuet seems a bit more easy to handle but I don't like it as much. Thoughts?

    Also, in general, how long should it take to fully build a boat like these? In terms of labor hours, I mean. Also how expensive are the materials in general by the end (all the wood).

    Thanks so much for any help! Let me know if there are any designs out there I should look at.
  2. Petros
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    Petros Senior Member

    welcome to the forum.

    You might consider building a 12 or 14 ft dingy first, learn some skills and see how you like building. Pick something simple and inexpensive for your first boat, it will not be perfect. Than consider a larger boat after you learn the skills and accumulate some tools.

    I doubt the Amigo will be a good performance boat, it looks heavy and has a traditional gaff rig. the Glen-L 17 looks like a better performer, and easier to trailer as well.
  3. Milehog
    Joined: Aug 2006
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    Milehog Clever Quip

    About the Weekender. It is targeted at dreamy eyed novices and is the very definition of hard tacking. You will never see experienced, knowledgeable sailors building them.
    My first boat build as a dreamy eyed novice was a Stevenson plan. Learn from my mistake.
  4. TawClaw
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    TawClaw New Member

    Building a dingy sounds like a good idea. Are you talking about a rowboat or something with a sail? I actually started sailing in a dingy (as many did), the Optimist (ie. bathtub with airbags) and they can be fun. That will give me a chance to make mistakes and learn from them.

    I like the Glen-L 17, it seems more sea (or Bay) worthy. How expensive do you think all the materials for it would be? I do have access to many tools, one of my friends who will be helping me does a bit of carpentry.
  5. TawClaw
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    TawClaw New Member

    Aye I've heard that it's quite a hard-tacker. I think I would have a terrible time sailing it then, as I'm used to racing-oriented boats. That's too bad, though, I kind of liked its appearance and swagger.
  6. Petros
    Joined: Oct 2007
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    Petros Senior Member

    yes, either. I like sailboats, lots of things to experiment with and around with on a small sailboat. You just want to get started on something that will not cost too much and will not take long to build (so you can keep your enthusiasm up). once done you will have a lot more confidence, more skill, and something to use. A sailboat is fun, if you want a sailboat, build it, if you want a row boat, build that. if you ever get a larger sailboat it could even be used as a tender on it.

    it would be cheaper to buy a used sailboat than building it. you build only because you like biiulding boats, the handicraft is very satisfying. think of it as another expensive hobby, but with this one you get a nice sailboat to use when you are done. If you shop carefully, find discount materials and left over supplies from other projects, and buy second hand rigging, you might be able to get it on the water for under $4000, or you could spend $20,000. if you go all first class and buy everything out of a catalog (which I would advise against).
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    UNCIVILIZED DIY Junkyard MadScientist

    A good place to start, dinghy wise, might be the PT11 by PT Watercraft. It comes in a kit, so no lofting, or scrounging for materials (both a pro, & a con).
    I saw an early prototype years ago, & despite copious begging, Russell (Brown) wouldn't let me take a set of lines off of her. I didn't know that it was the beginnings of a staple (joint) project between him & Paul Bieker at the time. That said, he's a great guy, & really knows his stuff.

    Check out some of the build videos for it, as well as some of the related footage/links. They might be helpful for getting a sense of what you're getting yourself into. And also do a bit of reading of other builders blogs, they'll help to get a sense of the emotional/time/$ involved in building a boat.
    I know that there are links to some @ Dudly Dix's website, as well as on building the 34' sailing dory, Badger. Also, Dudley Dix has a whole range of designs, as well as boat kits . Perhaps there's something there that'll strike your fancy. He's real easy to talk to as well, though I've not met him live (sadly).
  8. upchurchmr
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    upchurchmr Senior Member

  9. sharpii2
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    sharpii2 Senior Member

    I suggest you forgo a cabin for now and try camp cruising with a tent that can be incorporated into the boat.

    The cabin on a small boat (say less than 20 ft) can be a real curse.

    It's in the way of the fore deck, so changing jibs becomes more of a chore than it should be.

    It also has space capsule room, so everything has to be shoe horned in.

    A boom tent turns a day sailor into a cruiser then back again, when the tent is left at home.

    You may well find yourself doing more day sailing than cruising. I had a 17 footer with a cabin. I slept in it only once.

    I would pick a design that has a fore deck and an aft deck. The aft deck doesn't have to be too long, maybe a foot or two. Its purpose is to have something to attach the back wall of the tent to, so when the tent is pitched, rain can't get in the sleeping area.

    A fore deck and an aft deck also provide reasonably dry spaces to put your stuff while under way.

    The boat doesn't have to be that expensive to build, if you're willing to forgo yacht quality construction (epoxy everywhere, all stainless steel rigging, and new dacron sails).

    The cheaper boat will require more diligent up keep, but is not very big to begin with. And, being a half decked boat, it has far fewer nicks and crannies for rot to get an unseen hold on.

    The next decision is if you want a sloop or an unstayed.

    The unstayed rig has less flexibility with sails (No half a dozen jibs), but it spares you having to deal with stays and shrouds.

    If you go with a stayed rig, you can used galvanized turnbuckles rather than stainless steel ones and not have to pay yachting prices for them.

    Galvanized rigging wire can be used as well along with screw clamps and thimbles rather than pressed ends.

    Of course the boat won't look as purdy as the yachting standard one. And, arguably, it won't last as long either, or be as strong, or be as light, but it could still be very workable.

  10. philSweet
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    philSweet Senior Member

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