Quick building strategies

Discussion in 'Multihulls' started by simon, Oct 17, 2007.

  1. simon
    Joined: May 2002
    Posts: 101
    Likes: 3, Points: 18, Legacy Rep: 70

    simon Senior Member

    Hello everyone,

    what are the options for building a catamaran and not spending valuable years of your life and lot of your financial ressources doing so. I like the Bob Oram's approach with building pre-cut kits with hard chines. Are there any other designers or approaches in the range of 40 - 50' with a focus on building a catamaran for a reasonable amount of money, in a short time?

    The ones I know are:

    - Schionning Design
    - Fusion 40
    - Spirited 380
    - D. Dix
    - Kurt Hughes
    - Wharram

    But even so, the projects that are present on the internet seem to take up years.

    Does anyone have experience in successful projects that have been completed in a short time?

    I have tried to reach Bob Oram, by Email, phone and web, but it seems that there is no way to get in touch with him. Does anyone have his email? Or does he avoid any contact?

  2. Freenacin
    Joined: Sep 2007
    Posts: 48
    Likes: 3, Points: 0, Legacy Rep: 44
    Location: Earth

    Freenacin Junior Member

    It comes down to how much you can afford to pay. The Fusion is probably the fastest boat to build, but it's the most expensive kit to buy. The spirited would be next. ie. Cheaper but slower to build. (There is a similar type of kit to the spirited available from RMK marine too, for a similar price.)

    Most of the Schionning designs are strip plank cedar - fairly inexpensive, but huge amounts of work. The flat panel Schionnings are quicker builds, but IMHO Schionning doesn't take full advantage of the building material - he basically builds his Duflex boats the same way as the strip cedar boats - upside - down around the bulkheads. This adds unneccessary difficulty IMHO - you have to use ratchet straps to lift and hold the panels in place, (some of these are very large and quite heavy) and you have to stand on raised platforms to work overhead inside the hulls, with epoxy dripping down on you, surrounded by epoxy fumes.

    I feel that Bob Oram has the better building method for flat panel boats - right-side up inside female frames.
    1 person likes this.
  3. waikikin
    Joined: Jan 2006
    Posts: 2,410
    Likes: 165, Points: 73, Legacy Rep: 871
    Location: Australia

    waikikin Senior Member

    Nice question Simon,I reckon anything thats contact molded with gelcoat finish is gunna be the quickest, anything that needs fairing-epoxy primer & poly-u shot at its gunna wear you down, kinda suck the energy out of you before you get to bolt down the beautiful shiny deck gear & do some nice joinery inside- these things still take plenty of time but they do on the faired & sanded boats too(when your worn out). plenty Knock molded & gelcoated vessels in the multi world(for weight & build quality) but often "have an agenda" - as I do too! Years ago my girlfrend(now wife) & I bought moldings of a Beach Marine(no longer trading) molded cat- probably agricultural compared to some other vessels but fitted with engine first made a great motor boat, later fitted with rig & sails made a fabulous cruising home & we sailed & enjoyed her very much sooner than "building from scratch". Many of the kits on offer seem to be not a lot more than a materials package with some "easy construct" spiel to go with it attached, sounds like your doing the research & aware of this, on your list I'd rate the Fusion & then the Spirited at the top for build speed but the fusion will be much less effort from the start & always worth real money to resell if circumstances change during construction, the spirited will be the quicker boat to sail but at a later date(although I dont know how long kit delivery affects this as they both may have some lead time). My next cat will be an Egan 12.40 thats molded & gelcoat finished, cant rate her for sailing or build speed yet but the pedigree is certainly there. All the best from Jeff.
  4. simon
    Joined: May 2002
    Posts: 101
    Likes: 3, Points: 18, Legacy Rep: 70

    simon Senior Member

    Looking at the possibilities that exist nowadays e.q all the Compute aided tools, I believe that there should be ways to design structures that are very simple to build, with a minimum number of elements to assemble ( hulls, bridgedeck and interior), but still are visibly appealing and performing well (of course a very personal matter). I agree with Bob Oram that length matters and would rather go for longer hulls with less living volume and structural weight. They will be more seakindly and accept more payload.

    One problem with the leisure marine industry is the model launching cycles are very long and very few units are build (Compared to the car industry). To gain experience through feedback takes too long and the knowledge is kept by a few people who have been in the business for a long time.

    I think the Spirited 380 is a refreshing approach by a younger architect.

    Is there anyone out there who has experience in building a catamaran in the range of 40' - 50' in a few months.

    Thinking of the old times when bigger wooden boats where built and launched in a few months. In some countries this is still the case. In the south of Chile, wooden fishing vessels (> 40') are ready to be used within 3 Months ( build by 2 people) and do not cost a fortune. Of course the finish is not the nicest, but what matters is being out there on the water. So what happened to efficiency by modern tools and methods?

  5. garydierking
    Joined: Sep 2004
    Posts: 182
    Likes: 55, Points: 28, Legacy Rep: 174
    Location: New Zealand

    garydierking Senior Member

  6. catsketcher
    Joined: Mar 2006
    Posts: 1,315
    Likes: 165, Points: 63, Legacy Rep: 790
    Location: Australia

    catsketcher Senior Member

    It takes time

    Hello Simon

    You can build a boat in a few months. I was lucky enough to get on Thomas Covilles 105ft tri which was built in less than a year - but it still had over 30 000 man hours of work in it. You need lots of people.

    I guess I will be the bad bloke and say it - you can't get a good big boat quickly. Bob's boats, any Schionning Jeff or Craig , or the Fusions will take time and awful amounts of it around 5-7000 hours for most. The Fusion will be less but is a little deceiving as to build times as it is a shell. If you include the time taken to build the interior then the time balloons.

    You can build a shell in a few months. About 15 years ago a guy on the lake built a 38ft Grainger in 18 weeks so that he could motor it home. Then he took over ten years to finish it inside and out. Please don't think that you will be able to get around some concrete fundamentals - boats are big and composites take lots of time to construct.

    Even with the kits a boat can take time - my mate I built my little folding cat next to took 5 years of full time - no weekends - to build an immaculate 1320 Waterline. It is gorgeous and he enjoyed the build.

    I would encourage you to build something small - even kayaks can take a few months part time and fully understand why these things take time. It will help you become fully aware that building the hulls is only a fraction of the time required for building a boat.

    My own preference is to get absolutely all of the boat computer cut. It is the interior of the boat that usually takes the greatest amount of time.

    One of the best bits of boatbuilding advice was given to me by a friend. When I asked him about how much his boat had costed I looked quizzical - I has heard lower estimates of the same boat. He said

    "Don't go around picking out what you want to hear. At least pick the average of the comments you get."


    Phil Thompson
  7. Freenacin
    Joined: Sep 2007
    Posts: 48
    Likes: 3, Points: 0, Legacy Rep: 44
    Location: Earth

    Freenacin Junior Member

    How long it will take really depends on the standard of finish you are willing to accept. But even so, most kits will take 3000 hours and upwards (for a very basic finish).

    I met someone who Launched an Oram 40 (an older design) in one year. He had use of a shed for 12 months, and lived in it, and spent every waking hour working on his boat, but he did launch a quite well finished boat in 12 months.

    The Fusions and RMK will be quicker, but you pay for that in $$$. Kits like the Spirited will save some time in interior fitout compared to say, the Oram, but you lose flexibility too. I know someone building a Spirited and he HAS to use saildrives, even though he would prefer outboards. Also, much of the Spirited 380 interior kit is made from Featherlight, which has a paper honeycomb core - I would not use this material by choice for any part of a boat.
  8. kengrome
    Joined: Jul 2006
    Posts: 718
    Likes: 25, Points: 0, Legacy Rep: 305
    Location: Gulf Coast USA

    kengrome Senior Member

    It takes lots of guys working full time to do this, and the money to pay them consistently so they keep coming to work every day. It also helps if the materials are readily available, the design is simple, and the workers are experienced.

    When people care more about what a boat's finish looks like than how it performs it will always take a long time to satisfy them. At least where my shop is located they can afford the labor ... :)
  9. northerncat
    Joined: Jan 2007
    Posts: 170
    Likes: 1, Points: 0, Legacy Rep: 9
    Location: australia

    northerncat Senior Member

    build a ply boat like the waller sunseeker or the snell easys, these can be and are put together in 6mths by 2 guys, yes they are ply but ive seen at least 2 where you wouldnt be able to pick it, my next boat might be an oram but my current one an easy has taken only 2 years to build part time by only myself and i work full time and have a family of three kids
  10. rob denney
    Joined: Feb 2005
    Posts: 832
    Likes: 204, Points: 43, Legacy Rep: 436
    Location: Australia

    rob denney Senior Member


    Google Scrumble and email Tom and Judy, they handle Bob's web page. They are also building one of his boats.

    Build time is about surface area, finish and technique.

    Bridge deck cats have huge surface area, much of which is not doing much, most of the time.

    If you want a show room finish, it takes a lot longer than if you skip to the finish the boat will have after a season of knocks and bumps, fender scratches and dinghy bashing.

    The quickest non moulded technique I have come across is KSS. Even quicker if you get a workshop happening for interested locals. We built two 50' half hulls and a deck in 4 days. Not very good gel finish, minimum weight vac bagged skins and core, very clean, quite cheap materials, little or no wastage and hardware store consumables. Plenty of critics, but very hard to find one who has actually seen it happen.


  11. Spiv
    Joined: Jun 2007
    Posts: 221
    Likes: 16, Points: 28, Legacy Rep: 207
    Location: The Big Wide Blue Brother

    Spiv Ancient Mariner

    Having built a Schionning 12.5m I can tell you that the fairing is the most time consuming and colstly part of the building process.
    Boats that have a lot of round surfaces are a real pain to build and slippery and unsafe later on in the water. You drop any thing and it ends up in the drink.
    Stay away from pretty rounded decks and choose a design with more flat surfaces.
    I agree with Rob about the KSS boats and Dereck Kelsall will help you do it properly.
    Also look at the Easy, they are really easy to build and go well.
    By the way, my Cosmos took 2y to build in a boat yard: two of us (partners) and a professional boat builder for 10 months solid, 6 days a week 10h/day, then 14 months the two of us with the occasional professional help in fairing and painting. We ended with a nice shiny charter boat, but it took twice what we expected and cost us nearly twice as much as what we were lead to believe it would cost.
  12. simon
    Joined: May 2002
    Posts: 101
    Likes: 3, Points: 18, Legacy Rep: 70

    simon Senior Member

    Thank you all for your replies.

    I have never actually seen the KSS technique in action and there are a lot of critics out there about it.

    I heard a lot of good things about Bob Oram.

    Both designers have specialized on specific looks and also design philosophy what introduces an extra decision difficulty, besides the building technique.

    I guess that building of the hull structure takes up big part of construction time. But interior fit out, technical installations and finally the finishing will weigh even heavier. So the hull building technique is just on part in the game of efficient boat building;

    ?What are your experiences about the time spent for the various building phases?

    The lesson I learned from the complete interior refitting of my 36' monohull, is:

    20% structure
    30% detailing
    10% technical installation
    40% Sanding, fairing, sanding, fairing, painting, sanding fairing.....

    My conclusion was, to use as many pre-sheeted elements as possible to minimize the finishing work. ( by the way, what about sheeting hard chined hull exteriors with some tough finishing panels, no painting needed?)

    Also I believe that there is a lot to be learned and improved through something like gathering "best practices" for efficient and low cost boat building.

    What are the experiences and opinions out there for something like "best practices" in efficient and low cost catamaran building?

    - for building the structure
    - fitting out the interior
    - technical installations
    - deck fit tout
    - finishing


    All the best

  13. Fanie
    Joined: Oct 2007
    Posts: 4,603
    Likes: 174, Points: 63, Legacy Rep: 2484
    Location: Colonial "Sick Africa"

    Fanie Fanie

    Very possible, you can have the parts pre-cut from lightweight closed cell rigit foam and then fit them together like a puzzle. Couple of small problems though. You'll need a fairly large machine to do the milling and someone has to spend quite a bit of time on a computer to develop the software and to plan the parts, so economy flies out the hatch yet again.
  14. rob denney
    Joined: Feb 2005
    Posts: 832
    Likes: 204, Points: 43, Legacy Rep: 436
    Location: Australia

    rob denney Senior Member


  15. Bruce Woods
    Joined: Sep 2007
    Posts: 134
    Likes: 12, Points: 18, Legacy Rep: 90
    Location: perth

    Bruce Woods Senior Member

    Quick Build

    Hi, I'm not sure theres such a thing as a quick build. Leaving things out, such as not fairing the structure, basic interior and keeping things simple will certainly speed the building up.

    I'm not sure the 50 foot harryproa has many advantages in this regard after reading robs web site. The cruising version is listed as :

    3 tons empty
    1.7 tons payload
    So sailing weight is 4.7 tons
    2 queens and one single ( similar accomodation to 30 ft cat)
    approx build time 4500 hrs
    factory built "Rare Bird" 4750 hours
    For sale for $180,000 Aus Brand new. ( wouldn't even cover build cost ex factory )

    So if one is prepared to put up with the inconveiniences of a proa you get 20 feet of extra boat length . cheap and quick?????

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.