Paper Jet 14 as a first boat project.

Discussion in 'Sailboats' started by kroberts, Jun 18, 2010.

  1. kroberts
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    kroberts Senior Member


    I'm contemplating a first sailboat. I want to build it.

    I introduced myself in this thread: Since then I've participated a bit but mostly lurked and read up on boat design.

    I think for the most part my head is still in the same place it was at the end of the thread.

    I'm attracted to the Paper Jet 14, mostly because it can be rigged several different ways as I gain skill, and because it's small enough to go on top of the car. And because I don't think it will ever really get boring, even if it turns into a toy for others while I play with some other boat in the future.

    So I haven't actually contacted a kit supplier, but I want to know a few things before I go that far.

    First, there's the cost of the plans. If I build per kit, the plans come with it according to the docs. But does the kit contain all the rigging and whatever hardware might need to go on, or is it just wood and epoxy and sails?

    The price on the web site is around $1000 USD. That's probably no longer accurate, but given that amount how much extra do I need to budget just for all the fittings and other stuff that isn't mentioned in the plans?

    I'm not looking for super-fancy, this is my first boat. I just want one that works and doesn't look like hell.

  2. messabout
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    messabout Senior Member

    The Paper Jet is a snazzy little hot rod. It is capable of humiliating your friends Laser. It will need a bit of skill to get the most from it. The big rig can make it into a holy terror. Dudley Dix (the designer) did good.

    Plan on spending some money on this project. The kit at 1K is probably OK. The rig will cost that much in addition. By the time it is splashed, you may have burned through something in the region of three grand. You could buy a decent used Laser for much less. I'm all for the PJ but the reality of cash outlay might get in my way.

    I think that the PJ is lighter than the Laser so roof racking might be a little easier.... except for the long mast. Lasers have the advantage of two piece masts and reasonable length of boom.

    If you think that you might ever want to be a competitive sailor, then go for the Laser or other popular class boat. You will hone your skills much faster while sailing in a fleet. Besting the girlfriend in a superior boat is no fair. Besting her and her damned Laser with another Laser has more direct bragging rights.
  3. kroberts
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    kroberts Senior Member


    Thanks for the post. I thought maybe nobody read this section.

    By "rig" you mean what, exactly? I'd like to have some idea what sort of things are necessary, because I'd like to know if I'm running over budget or not at any stage.

    I'm thinking of the PJ as a route to some other boat mostly. I've raced a hovercraft a little bit, it's fun but it's ONLY fun, if you know what I mean. I'm competitive in an informal way, not in anything organized. Once people get too serious it's not fun anymore.

    I anticipate going in one of two directions after this: Either to a faster or more competitive boat, or to some sort of day sailer for camping and taking a few friends out. Don't know and won't know which one, until I get some experience with the little hot rod.

    I'm a big man. I'm 6'4" and 260 lbs. 44 years old, if that matters. I don't know that I would be able to compete in a laser or any similarly sized boat. I figure I would need to have a bigger boat for that.

    BTW, the PJ has a two piece mast too. Two different top parts, the turbo setup has a taller top piece. And besides, couldn't the Laser get re-rigged too?

    And one more thing: This is a long ways in the future since I haven't even bought plans yet, but I was wondering about sails. I thought maybe I could practice making a sail by using blue tarp material. I've made hovercraft skirts, and the first one wasn't too pretty, I was thinking of making an expendable version. Then I wondered if I couldn't use that the first little while, to get past the first few times out and have a chance at keeping the good sail good for awhile longer.

    Has anyone done that sort of thing? How stupid is it?
  4. doyle007
    Joined: Oct 2009
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    doyle007 Squirrel's Dad


    I believe that the $1,000 USD cost for the "kit" is just for the wooden parts of the hull that are cut on a CNC machine, as well as the epoxy resin and glass that would be needed to "glue" the hull together. So, in addition to the $1,000 you will spend for the kit, you will need to buy a mast, all rigging lines and wires, blocks, cams, and cleats, as well as a sail, rudder, and centerboard.

    I would say that $3,000 would be somewhere close to where you will end up after all is said and done, but being that this would be your first boat, you may end up spending more on epoxy and fiberglass, as beginners (myself included) will use more of these items than someone that has a few boats under their belt.

    There is an article in Wooden Boat magazine from about a year or two ago on the Paper Jet. It states that a professional boat builder spent something like 310 hours on building the hull, and another 80 hours or so on the mast, rigging, etc. For a beginner, I would probably almost double this time. That being said, it might be a while before you get this boat on the water. Is that something that you can live with?

    I also like the PJ, and am thinking about building one. I don't care about being in a fleet and racing others, which is good because there aren't many of these boats around. It was designed as a trainer boat, but for me it would probably be my boat of choice for the next 20 years. I'm 40, so I won't be moving on to a higher performance boat anytime soon. The PJ should fit my needs nicely.

    If you are looking to get on a boat sooner rather than later, and are looking for a fiberglass boat, check out the thread on Sailing Anarchy under the Dinghy section called somethink like "single hander for a big guy". There were lots of good suggestions given, with the Finn and Contender being the most popular "big guy" boats. I just got rid of my Laser a few years ago, but sailed pretty competitively against other adults, even though I am 6'2" and 200 lbs. That was a fun boat, but I was regularly beating by some women that were about 70 lbs lighter than me.

    Good luck with whatever you decide. If you do go ahead and build the PJ, please post lots of pictures. I am very interested in watching the building process move forward. If you google "Building a Paper Jet 14", you will find a blog dedicated to this pursuit. The guy is about a year into it, and has the hull pretty much assembled and glassed. It's a good read into what you can expect.
  5. kroberts
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    kroberts Senior Member

    I've done a whole lot of searching on this boat over the last year or so. I may have seen nearly all the web content there is on it.

    I've also contacted the USA kit vendor, and the $3000 is not that far off for the standard rig. His estimate was a bit lower. There's not a lot of metal on it, in fact it seems that most of the builders who have online pics want to avoid visible metal. The kit includes just the laser cut plywood and plans, epoxy and a couple other things. Then there's a lumber order and the sails.

    As far as I can tell, there are not very many copies of this boat out there. Under 25, I'm guessing. That doesn't bother me, everyone seems to like the boat who has an opinion.

    If I do go with this boat, I will almost certainly have him leave the epoxy off the order. I have used System3 and don't particularly care for it. I think I'm going back to West System, I'm done trying to find the better-and-cheaper combination that everyone seems to be hunting for as though it were the Holy Grail. I just want the stuff to work, and there's only one brand I've found so far that does what it's really supposed to every time.

    I'm pretty experienced with fiberglass and epoxy, at least for a hobbyist. I won't be using a lot of extra epoxy or glass. I have my own gear for vacuum bagging, and most of it for vacuum infusion but I won't be using that on this setup probably.

    My requirements may have changed without my knowing it. I just acquired a Rottweiler. He's 3 years old, and he seems to have an amazing affinity for water, usually with a liberal addition of dirt. I'm not sure how helpful he would be on a PJ-14, but I'm sure he'll insist on going along.

    Something to think about anyway.

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    BATAAN Senior Member

    Sounds like fun. The sail for a paper jet is properly made of light hard dacron and virtually impossible to sew properly by hand. A home sewing machine with straight stitch would probably be good enough for this small light sail.
  7. CT 249
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    CT 249 Senior Member

    With due respect to the designer, if his shape is right then the majority of today's leading dinghy and skiff designers - who have normally got vastly more experience in dinghy and skiff design - are wrong.

    I've not been able to find any backing for the claim that the wings provide lift rather than a tripping hazard, as they normally do. Experience indicates that low wings like that can be a significant form of drag in waves, where they are often slapped by crests.

    The very low freeboard is something that often makes a boat hard to handle, and as Farr and people like that learned in the '70s, the sharp chines can sometimes cause handling issues. Farr and other designers therefore put a round in the section under the chine.

    Furthermore, the narrow and Vee bow/wide flat stern shape can work well on something like a '9er that is inherently quicker, but experience in many other classes indicates that it can lead to handling and speed issues in boats under '9er pace.

    It COULD be a great boat, it's good to see it there, and I'm certainly not sure I'm right - but it looks very much closer to something from the '70s than 2010.
  8. DrWatson
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    DrWatson New Member

    Just wondering if the OP ever built this boat?

    I'm wondering because I did build a PJ14, and, although perhaps tinted with Fatherly pride, I'd say it does what it is supposed to do exceptionally well.

    While the chines may have gone out of fashion on modern skiffs, it's had to build a S&G boat that has a round hull form. Of course you could cold mold it, but then it would be outside the skill level of many. There are now over 70 sets of plans sold, with a sizable number of boats on the US East coast. I can see the class growing.

    I built the boat with the big rig, and although my sails are far too heavy and the mast I built is also too heavy (DF and not Poplar/cedar) the boat goes remarkably well considering we have very little wind where we are. The hull weighs just under 50kg, which is pretty amazing.

    Of course, like all boats, you have to get used to it to sail it well. Initially I thought it was slow to come around in any kind of wind, but having done all my sailing in keelers, I rapidly learnt that one has to be more assertive and use crew weight much more strategically. In the light I could outpoint the RS700 fleet on our lake on chilly day in October.

    It was never designed to be a 49er, to beat production top end skiffs, but rather as a progressive trainer. And I think for that it is particularly good. It also attracts lots of attention because it looks fantastic with the polished wood.

    The wings have never been a tripping issue for me. Also if you go over far enough they add lateral plane...

  9. Skyak
    Joined: Jul 2012
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    Skyak Senior Member

    I think I can help you in your search for an appropriate dingy. I am in the chicago suburbs and have a cold molded mahogany Jet 14 (not PJ, a full 2man + boat with 100lb swing keel) that is for sale. It's not straight class legal because it has a tapered hall spar but that would be good for you if you intend to build a hot rod later -it's a very nice rig. I'm asking $900 with two sails and the trailer, cover and misc parts, and only $700 without the trailer.

    For comparison I also have a laser in fair condition which is very similar to the PJ with the self standing rig. I think you will find it is more than a handful in a breeze.

    We should talk.


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  10. DrWatson
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    DrWatson New Member


    This thread is quite old (started in 2010) so I'm not sure if Ken is still looking for a design. I was just adding my opinion on the PJ14. The cold molded one looks nice, though.

  11. Skyak
    Joined: Jul 2012
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    Skyak Senior Member


    Never mind.
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