Plywood Sailing Catamaran!

Discussion in 'Boatbuilding' started by Bluewater64, Jan 6, 2009.

  1. Bluewater64
    Joined: Dec 2008
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    Location: USA

    Bluewater64 New Member

    Hello folks, I have been reading a lot of the comments from the folks on
    the Boat Design forum and I must thank all of you for helping people in
    need of honest advice, especially when someone is craving for some good
    knowledgeable advice. I also noticed that there is so much confusion and
    different styles when it comes to building your own Catamaran.

    I’m a person with a simple mind and who is a respectful listener. I
    always listen very carefully to knowledgeable people and that is the main
    reason I’m posting this message.

    I have been researching the Home Building Catamaran process for almost
    two years and let me tell you that stuff is addictive. Like everyone else,
    I also have my limitations. However I have been lucky to have the space,
    all the tooling for the construction and living in an area with easy
    access to the main materials, I’m about 20 miles from the water. I have
    solid wood construction knowledge so, I have no doubt I can build my own

    After researching many Catamaran construction methods, I came to realize
    that the industry is still in the early stages, if you compare it with the
    sailboat industry. Because of this, I want to keep things simple and
    affordable for example: a) I’m planning to purchase a used mast, winches,
    dingy, and engines and perhaps make my own sails. The items I will
    purchase new will be the navigations instruments, kitchen, water maker,
    rigging and any other item that I feel the necessity to purchase new. I’m
    taking in consideration the time it will take me to build my Catamaran, so
    I’m certainly keeping my eyes open and well informed, so I can find all
    those items used and for a good price, and I consider that to be a realist
    and very doable approach.

    With that said, the next challenge is the one that I’m most concerned
    with. I love to work with wood so a plywood - Epoxy construction Catamaran
    really appeals to me. The problem is trust. There is a lot of people
    offering their blueprints and different methods of construction and that
    it is a little overwhelming.

    I found a site called Easy Catamarans .
    They are an Australian based company and the process, as well as the
    blueprint seems reasonable to me. My main concern is the credibility of
    the design. When it sounds too good to be true, it may not be true at
    all. For their 43’ Easy cat blueprint they are asking $ 3.000 Aus. The
    Cat construction is 100 % marine plywood.

    I have some questions for you folks; 1) what are your thoughts about
    plywood construction in terms of the weight to ration, 2) do you think
    purchasing a blueprint is important, 3) anybody here familiar with the
    Easy Build Catamaran, what is your “gut” feeling about this company that
    claims to be so affordable and easy to build, 4) even though I will used
    epoxy and glassed the boat inside and out, do I have to use marine plywood
    and 5) do you guys think this Easy Catamaran design will be able to do
    some serious blue water cruising. I’m planning to start the building
    process this summer.

    We are a family of 4 and I do not want to build bigger than 43’. Your
    opinions are very important to me, and it will shape my knowledge and
    thoughts when it comes to making a decision. I highly value all your
    wonderful and kind advice. Thank you many times in advance for taking the
    time to read my words and the willingness to help my family and I with
    your advice. Thank you.


  2. outside the box

    outside the box Previous Member

    Just google Easy's they are every where in Australia many very happy owners.
  3. Bluewater64
    Joined: Dec 2008
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    Bluewater64 New Member

    According to your short statement and the criteria of your comment, I’m
    assuming you must be directly connected with Easy Catamaran. Let me see if
    I can understand what you are trying to convey. You are telling me to base
    my decision completely on a simple Google search? Is that correct?

    Well, I don’t think so and let me tell you why.
    A few years ago a friend of a friend of mine that lives in Genoa, Italy,
    got a hold of a blue print (we don’t know how he obtained the blue print)
    of a 36’ sloop sailboat. At that time this kid was 18. It was known that
    this kid was raised around sailing and had a basic understanding of
    sailing and basic skills of boat construction. He ended up getting a hold
    of some fake pictures. At the time, some of his friends and family were in
    the process of building several sailboats. So, this kid was so slick that
    he took pictures of the different construction stages, had a few friends
    hold a tool in their hand and pretend they were working on the sailboat.
    He set up a very nice website with a lot of pictures and full of personal
    testimonials (of course they were all fake). In addition, he offered 3
    different sizes of building plans, as well as construction technical
    support in Italian, English, and Spanish. He ended up regenerating a
    substantial amount of money until complaints started to come in and things
    eventually caught up with him. So, can we call this kid dishonest? Or was
    he just trying to build a business? You make that call. In addition, you
    have to be very naïve just to base a major decision like this on a simple
    Google search.

    The matter of a fact is that Easy Catamaran does NOT offer a lot of
    information on their website about their plans. The ONLY thing they offer
    is a bunch of pictures (who knows where they came from) and some text
    describing how wonderful and easy their Easy Catamaran are. What about an
    example of their plans? This is what a very respectful Naval Architect
    wrote to a friend of mine on a recent email.

    “By going to a reliable designer and/or supplier, they will have worked
    out all the engineering and design ahead of time which is what you want to
    be assured of. Of utmost importance is the hull lines plan as everything
    about a boat derives from this. Therefore, your plan package should
    include the hull lines and lofting instructions and/or full-size patterns.
    If it does not include the hull lines, go someplace else. You also want
    a detailed set of construction plans that include the plan view, the
    inboard profile view (looking at the inside as if the boat were sliced
    down the middle of the hull, and in the case of a catamaran, also down the
    middle of the bridge deck), and section views. Obviously, there should
    also be a rigging plan showing the sail plan in profile and the mast in
    transverse section. The more rigging details, the better”.

    On the Easy Catamaran web site they do not provide ANY sample drawings on
    which to judge. Like I stated on my previous post, I have been searching
    and doing a lot of reading about Catamaran construction for two years,
    and I can tell you 8 out of ten offered a sample plan on their site. So,
    I’m not going to spend a large sum of money in building plans, material,
    and time to build something that I do not have a clear understanding of
    their the company goals, history, reliability and business ethics. Thank
    you for your advice.
  4. marshmat
    Joined: Apr 2005
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    Location: Ontario

    marshmat Senior Member

    Hi Bluewater,

    It looks like there are a few drawings buried deep within the Easy Catamarans site. See , click the boat's name, and about half of them have a link at the very bottom of the lower right frame (who uses html frames these days, anyway?) to a couple of drawings.

    They don't look as detailed as I would expect for study plans. On a full set of study plans (available from most designers for about 1 to 3 percent of the cost of the building plans) there should be enough information to see how the boat is put together, what the materials requirements will be, and where the tricky spots are that will need special techniques or skills. Study plans are supposed to have enough information to do a preliminary construction budget and schedule (both of which will be shot to hell a month after you start building, but that's another matter).

    So, Bluewater, if I were in your position- and one of the Easy boats looked appealing- I would be giving Peter Snell a call and asking to buy a copy of the study plans (not the build plans) for the design you're interested in, and also asking if there are any previous builders who'd be willing to discuss the boat with you. I'd also be prowling the net for information on Snell and his design firm, people who have done business with them, etc. This isn't paranoia, it's standard due diligence and is part of normal business process for designers, engineers, investment brokers, and just about anyone else who, for various reasons, needs to cover their backside.

    As to your other questions:
    1) Good quality plywood is nice to work with, very strong, and durable.
    2) Once you're down to a couple of designs you like, buy study plans for comparison and costing purposes. Only shell out for the full construction plans once you have a place to build and are ready to commit to going ahead.
    3) Never seen one in person, never sailed on one.
    4) If the plans call for marine ply, that's what you should use. Marine ply has multiple, thin, void-free veneers and long life, waterproof, nothing-eats-them glues. Exterior ply usually has fewer, thicker veneers and they usually have some voids, and the glues may be the same as marine- or they may be lower quality, you have to check. Some designers (Phil Bolger, for one) have drawn plans that are intended for AC exterior ply, and have an extra safety factor built in to allow for the variations in quality.
    5) The 11 and 12 m Easys might be a little lacking in bridgedeck clearance (0.6 m, compared to 0.9+ m for many cats this size that are clearly intended for offshore work). Other than that I don't know enough about them to comment on their bluewater capability.

    Best of luck in your hunt for answers.

    PS - Not sure what program you're writing your posts in, but they're coming through with a hard return (enter) about every eight or nine words. May I suggest that your posts would be much easier to read if you were to write directly in the response box on the forum, or use an editor that doesn't put a hard return after every visible line.
  5. waikikin
    Joined: Jan 2006
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    waikikin Senior Member

    Hi Bluewater, I live in Australia & am a shipwright & has been involved in multihulled sailing vessels since 1976, I have no affilliation with the Snell designs & have never built one of his vessels but am familiar with them, they have a reputation to be quite a reliable craft, I would consider one to cruise with my family on but have for myself chosen another designer in composites. Some may have been built with lower grades of ply which would not generally be a recomended practice but here in Australia some brands of Aust/NZ standards exterior ply are of superior quality to British standard stamped marine ply available here, the Aust standards marine ply available here is generally of excellent quality & at a small premium definatly worth the extra investment, also there is an Easy forum called some thing like "easytalking" which might give you some more insight in regards to build times etc, also the larger versions may well prove a better investment on resale at a later date. All the best with your design choice from Jeff.
  6. russglass
    Joined: Dec 2008
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    Location: queensland australia

    russglass New Member

    hi jeff do you know anything of col clifford design cats using his alloy frame method i am seriously thinking of building his 31ft motor salor cat, i have met him he seems like a nice guy and very knowledgeable.

    regards russell
  7. Manie B
    Joined: Sep 2006
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    Location: Cape Town South Africa

    Manie B Senior Member


    here is the easy site

    they are VERY popular boats and fetch good prices even 10 years old

    search EASY catamaran

    i have done A LOT of reading on Easy over the past 4 years and i still believe it is the best way to go for the amateur / home builder, i am confident that i have also read just about every catamaran site on the web and after all these years Easy is still very good

    you MUST stick to their specifications - dont waste your time with cheaper alternatives

    i am busy building my own cat with ply and epoxy, it is a user friendly medium:D
  8. outside the box

    outside the box Previous Member

    Bluewater 64, there is an old saying you should not assume as it makes an *** (out of) u (and) me, further to your reply above I have no connection with " as you assume, Easy Catamaran".
    I have worked for a long time both in New Zealand and in Australia building mostly Catamarans of Ron Given design and Tony Grainger designs for one of Australia's finest Company's.
    Due to my favour of the Multihull, I followed a life long passion into the study of marine design, I have a staff of 7 working with me, (design 2 mechanical engineering 1, concept development 3 and plug making 1 ,full time designing and developing a range of Multihulls for a New Zealand Company, we have also been doing design work for a local power boat builder on contract.
    The Google comment was simply do some broad research on the designs without assumption then ask questions and seek advise from people like waikikin, and also go direct to the designer as marshmat advised.
    I was on here often, looking and reading some years back but found the site full of armchair experts with a small percentage of very good professionals who take time to answer questions of the general public, for example Richard Woods, Eric Sponberg and others.
    Again I will be signing out admiring people like Manie B who "JFDI" IT.
    All the best in your search.
  9. Manie B
    Joined: Sep 2006
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    Manie B Senior Member

    hi "outside the box" please show us some pics of your work

    i am always keen on learning what the others have to offer:D
  10. sabahcat
    Joined: Dec 2008
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    Location: australia

    sabahcat Senior Member

  11. waikikin
    Joined: Jan 2006
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    Location: Australia

    waikikin Senior Member

    Hi Russglass, I cant comment too much on the Col Clifford system, my only exposure to it was an article in a Multi magazine on it, no real hands/eyes on the real thing, the concept may have merit & be successful but do your research & get some comment, paid if need be from an independant design professional as although alu connective beams have acceptance in multis, the framing system outlined is unconventional & I have no idea how handsomely skin loads transfer & interface with the framing system, maybe you can invite Col to offer his system to scrutiny here? All the best with your boating from Jeff.
  12. outside the box

    outside the box Previous Member

    Hi Manie B
    I can't post any further information as the design contract we have undertaken has confidentiality clauses in it as the client is in the Patent process presently with a couple of the design features. The design should be released mid 2010 (i will keep you posted) its really just the clients slant on his ideal boat and should someone else like it well and good, the patent is to protect his IP.
  13. Freenacin
    Joined: Sep 2007
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    Freenacin Junior Member

    you say this:

    Then when someone post a geniune answer to your question you reply with this?


    I personally know people who have built and launched Easy catamarans. There is also a member on this site who has. But if it suits you, you can go on thinking everybody is part of some huge fraud to try to con a (very reasonable) design fee from you.
  14. robherc
    Joined: Dec 2008
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    robherc Designer/Hobbyist

    Wow, it took you a month and 5 days to come up with that? If he's suspicious about the first post, that's fine, the problem was already dealt with; why are you reviving a dead thread just to sling mud at someone?!?

  15. turbofnq
    Joined: May 2009
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    Location: Cairns, Australia.

    turbofnq New Member

    Hi all, I am "reviving a dead thread" as well I suppose. I launched an Easy 37 last November after a three year build, and am more than happy with the results. The boat was built out of Hoop Pine both the ply and all other timber. The ply is "BB" grade, which by Australian standards in nearly as good as it gets for the job. There is no need to use Marine Ply as the glue is the same in both grades and entire boat, inside and out is sealed in Epoxy, so in theory the timber will never get wet, and if it does, then the type of timber used in the build is not all that important, the hole is. The Easy design is an extremely ridig design, which I discovered when moving the almost completed boat a few meters. I had the weight on two diagonally opposed jacks for a short while (not intentionally) and there was less than 3mm flex from one mini keel to the other.
    The Easy is not the be all and end all of ply cats, it is just one of many and the others may or may not be as well designed, I don't know, or care. This is just the design I picked, and the designer, Peter Snell is more than helpfull.
    The boat sails quite fast, and while it doesn't have a big rig, it is fairly light.
    The bridgedeck clearance has not been a problem but then the beam is not huge so it doesn't need to be. Sailing around the world may be different, but that was never my plan, besides there is big jets for that.
    The Easy plans are cheap, as stated above, however there is all the info there to build a boat. The interior fitout is up to you. You can pay more for other plans and you will get more detail, but I didn't find any major problems.
    This Forum, has just about every question and answer you could think of, and it is not just limited to Easy's, there is other designs there as well.
    My boat can be viewed in Members Multis, the Leslie James.
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