the boatbuilding journey

Discussion in 'All Things Boats & Boating' started by tugboat, Mar 10, 2012.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. tugboat

    tugboat Previous Member

    this thread seems, to me at least, very appropriate. and hopefully there isnt another one like this:

    but I was talking to "catbuilder" on here and we got into a discussion about patience and the amount of labour involved in a boat project. So i thought it a good idea to offer a thread to those starting a build -like me- who may not have a good idea of the amount of work involved in building any boat over 20 ft-

    that is not to say that a smaller boat of 16 ft could be even more labour intensive than a boat of 27 ft, but the realistic amount of work necessary to build a boat of 27 ft has , at least for me, caused some procrastination over the years.

    so im wondering what others on here who have been through the whole process from hull to launch could contribute in the way of encouragement?...or whether they thought it was worth it in the end? -what influenced your decisions about size of boat, hull types, material types -the amount of work you thought it would be v.s. what it actually was, and other such yarns which would benefit us "new -to an entire project types" just entering into the journey?
    basically offer us new guys simple advice in what to expect?
    i have heard many cliches too such as - expect it to cost more and take longer than you first expected--ok fine..but what else??..what else is there to expect...

    so ill start and offer a candid look at what my process was--the troubles I intially went through(and still have in some areas).

    so maybe this is not everyones case but for me the planning phase-and lack of experience led me down the worng path many times and it cost me money and time which i hope others can save by reading this...
    i see building a boat as a giant process.from the concept to the launch to maintaining really never stops in mho.

    so ill start-

    presently im awaiting spring weather to set up my "finally" completed steel frames for the 27.5 ft tug build.There is still danger in the projects status as the place i have to build it -could at any time be taken away from me due to the fact -i dont own the property. so there is a risk involved there- should the owners want thier land back or it starts to take too long...i could lose the project- but acting on faith things will work out somehow...

    also, to those who have been annoyed with my desicion process on here ill explain;

    my current project is based on the idea that i wanted the easiest and most cost effective character tug i could find. anyone who has read my threads will note i started out with a large design- then after much denial-

    realized i was getting in too deep with a large build that realistically i didnt even need. so i then went to a smaller design of 25 ft but of very heavy displacement...this was too large of a displacement for my needs(25 000 lbs!) and i was forced again to think about its intended use.(a very very important part of a build i think)
    practically i wanted a small tug--that was a given- one that could push a smaller vessel like a barge houseboat which i have built several of. and even big enough or poweful enough(just) to pull another small boat of a sandbar or grounding or even the occasional small tow/push...

    finally after two years of denial about what i could realistically afford, and -to me, an agonizing decision making process--i realized that to be able to afford my dream -i needed a simple and cost effective boat- this is why i chose the Porker tug design. by Mal Low-

    advantages: low cost- easy to build cheap to run, flat bottomed-rockered single chine design- least amount of welding required, a far cry from my first ideas of a 45 ft heavy displacement tug...

    it has little in the way of brightwork, or chrome and has simple controls and -pretty much everything else is minimalist in design.

    using the cheapest methods and materials possible for this design, including the wheelhouse, which will be done in wood and epoxy for cost reasons and to give a period feel to the boat.
    so there you have it--i am on my way --yet still fearful-but i think patience is a virtue that is gained through a project like this...

    anyone else that has any input about their process/journey--id love to hear it...
  2. philSweet
    Joined: May 2008
    Posts: 2,597
    Likes: 366, Points: 83, Legacy Rep: 1082
    Location: Beaufort, SC and H'ville, NC

    philSweet Senior Member

    Sounds familiar. First build was in a rented apartment's garage. Figured that by the time the landlord found out what I was doing, I would be far enough along to blow smoke and tell him it was no big deal. That didn't work out too well. Of all the dumb luck- my land lord was an amateur builder himself! He knew exactly what I was up to and in for better than I did. He had a very nice 21'er in his driveway.

    Ignorance is bliss. The more you learn about how the pros do it; the less likely you are to go ahead. You learn that a factory's material AND labor cost is probably less than your material cost alone.:rolleyes:
  3. tugboat

    tugboat Previous Member

    Hi Phil-may i ask what happened in the end??thanks for your input- itll go far for others-
    also recently i have read accounts of builders..many infact who state unoquivically that they could never have bought a boat for what they aid to build. same goes for me--looking at 6500.00 for the hull but to buy this hull fabricated would be around 25 000 in steel labour and materials -easily if not more...
    it seems these are the advantages of building.
    to add an anectode-- a guy i knew built a 25 ft cruiser out of wood/epoxy.very nice design too!
    he stated he never could have afforded to buy this boat new. also brent swain makes some outstanding points about the comparison to build rather than buy . Catbuilder has come forward and stated even though he spends an inordinate amount of time building--and equates it to a college degree in learning- he still could never have afforded to buy-
    to sum up building:
    1 you get a custom boat- that has exaclty what you want for less money and you pay as you go...
    2. There is a reward in building your own boat
    3. you have total control over the project and know what your getting
    4. its cheaper.
    what you save on is labour costs.
    id rather have my own custom boat for 1/3rd the costs...but hey thats me..

    sound like your landlord was a jerk..
    what eventually happened?
  4. pdwiley
    Joined: Jun 2008
    Posts: 1,004
    Likes: 86, Points: 48, Legacy Rep: 933
    Location: Hobart

    pdwiley Senior Member

    The further from 'mainstream' your wants are and the less you're prepared to compromise, the better fit you'll get by doing it yourself. Flip side is, if you build something exotic, better value its resale value close to zero.

    'Cheaper' totally neglects the value of your own time. As long as you accept this, fine.

    Do not believe any of Brent Swain's figures, because they aren't based in reality. Classic tales of "I knew a man who knew a man who once found a pile of free plywood on a beach and fitted out his hull for free, so you can too". Check up with people who've built to Brent's design and see what they spent, not what Brent said it can be done for. Steel, welding consumables and paint cost the same for the same amount of materials regardless of design. Most of Brent's savings come from scrounging on fitout and are applicable equally to any other design.

    I know where I can buy a 36' steel ketch in run-down but restorable condition for less than I paid for the new engine for my boat. Naturally I found it after I'd got to my point of no return in my build. Point is, there are a lot of boats out there and I don't believe for an instant that saving money is a good reason to build. I'm doing it because I wanted to, no other reason at all.

    I've just spent $1200 on paint for the inside of my boat. No way am I going to risk pulling out the entire interior and blasting back to bare metal in order to maybe save $500 at this stage of the build. Etc.

  5. tugboat

    tugboat Previous Member

    Your point is duly noted-im about as far from mainstream as it gets--i still haven't found a 27 ft tug -and even if i did i doubt id buy it for the price of what i could build it for..

    case 1: i looked at a 40 ft hull that needed major work on the bottom--the whole boat was rusted to the flake-off stage and would have cost more than the asking price of 5000.00 to fix...better to sell her for scrap at that cost....this had a wheelhouse that was sheered off the hul, borken windows etc..a real dogpile!

    the whole was as bare as can be..had holes and rust and needed a lot of work --almost as much as building her from the ground up...
    one good thing about my tug build is that its scantling are Loydds standards and if someone wanted to buy it they could work it and get it certified.
    so it has the potential to make a profit. i saw a smaller one than this go for 30 000 u.s.

    there was another 40 ft'er tug in Wisconsin. an old pre -st tug similar to my first love 45 st tug.

    he wanted 8000.00 u.s- the owner was from Boston. -with an engine and prop etc. a DD 6-110(?). but the broker stated to me that the whole hull needed to be redone due to deterioration in the plate and framing- this was why the boat was a good deal-but turned out to not be a good deal after you think of the work and 20 000 that needed to be me the moving costs alone would have broken me-- and i dont need that big of boat anyway and the operating costs are going to be much larfger and the fix up take more time.

    my belief is that steel always holds a better resale value than other that not correct?
    the designer states fiberglass or wood(west system) could be used--but when i factored in costs of epoxy and cloth with marine ply or even cheap ply--it ends up being about the same fact fiberglass was more expensive and not as strong...

    i can get my steel for about 4500.00-tax in. (see attached quote-yea this was an offical quote-funny it was done on my B.O.M...just plain weird)i dont know if you can see the attached- it might be too small but thats a list of prices for all the parts except the towing bitts. and of course the mechanicals etc. but it comes out to 4000.00 cdn maybe about 3800.00 u.s.
    and i added 2500.00 for misc , paint , lifting devices etc. which puts it at around 6500.00 u.s.or so. I doubt i could buy a new hull for that even if not sandblasted.
    I do like swains ideas..but i think his designs are limited. you cannot do my design this way. it is too hard to get accurate panels. he does make some convincing arguments in his book about buying instead of building. i agree with most of what he says on that. but in the end you still need the internal stiffening and he also talks about all the epoxy he used on his boat- like 30 gallons or something..this is unjustifiably my understanding you dont need that much epoxy coating. although i know it wont hurt it. it just seems like overkill to me...
    the reality for me too is --i cannot get that kind of a loan--so i might save it up..but then while saving --i could be building. so there is little difference...
    when done your project will like;y be worth more than that othe rone you were looking at anyway + you get exaclty what you want? in the end i think we all do what we think works for us in a build..and have our own reasons for doing it..what works for you might not work for me and vice versa...but its good to be heading somewhere now rather than sinning my wheels. i am prepared to use the proper paints ..still not going to sand blast and use a 7 inch grinder and sanding disks...then prime etc...
    Wynand-has been a great help- gave me some good tips on how to circumvent a gantry--since my hull is only 18 inches at the counter stern. and four at the bow averaging about 24-30 inches depth or so...

    Attached Files:

  6. pdwiley
    Joined: Jun 2008
    Posts: 1,004
    Likes: 86, Points: 48, Legacy Rep: 933
    Location: Hobart

    pdwiley Senior Member

    I looked at a hell of a lot of boats & hulls too, passed on them all. Hindsight now shows me that I missed 1, maybe 2, that would have been worthwhile structurally & price-wise but neither were exactly what I was looking for, so - tough. I understand how you get to the build it point and I'm content with my decision.

    WRT steel, for a tug you're likely right WRT resale. Sailboats, no. I think steel is pretty low on the list really.

    WRT paint, here I'll agree with Brent. So far I've used over 25 litres of primer on the interior and I'll have at least the same in top coat, so 50 litres all up. Exterior, probably more. That is getting right up there with Brent's figures. You only get 1 good chance to do it right. Keep in mind we're building for salt water, you're not. The amount of paint is definitely not overkill in my opinion, in fact I may put on another coat or 2 yet.

    I like my gantry and use it for all sorts of stuff.

    If you can avoid blasting the plate, more power to you. I hate blasting. I also hate spray painting and I've got to go apply another coat to the inside so it's time to get off the net and do it....

    Main thing is to have persistence. Once you start, just keep going. Eventually you'll finish. I hope....

  7. Corley
    Joined: Oct 2009
    Posts: 3,781
    Likes: 196, Points: 63, Legacy Rep: 826
    Location: Melbourne, Australia

    Corley epoxy coated

    I've found the key to staying motivated is to enjoy the small steps along the way. I cant imagine completing the job if the sole focus was the end result it's always too far away!
  8. tugboat

    tugboat Previous Member

    yea its not a big build by other standards but wow--lots of welding and patience-- ill finish it--i have no choice--i have no other dreams--even if i do have to paint it now for one year then sandblast --or even if it does need sandblasting--I will figure that out somehow...presently there is a guy -doing a brent swain style(in this case i dont really agree with the scantlings)origami yacht--you can see his progress at --and im not exagerating- 74 ft loa and 16 ft beam!!..all origami style with 1/4 inch plate..this doesnt make sense to me since at 1/4 inch for a 74 foot boat seems very light?? anyway compared to my build his makes mine look like a dinghy...check it out- he has a hundested comtrollable pitch prop for it too--the guy is a great problem solver and he does everything himself--but if you watch his vid--he has so much invested in tooling in mho he probably paid for the hull just in tools if built by a yard! its very interesting to watch...
    I wanted to apologize to you for an earlier post--i was frustrated and didnt handle it hope no hard feelings...i always appreciate good input...
    i am inspired by your "saugeen witch"(?) it still must make you feel proud to accomplish that...even though you said you could have bought one and fixed it up--i bet it wouldnt have the quality you did on it...and the labour of love involved + you still would have had to put lots of work into a used in canada your hull would be
    $60 000! after completion and about 40 000 as a bare hull since its new...

    blasting- well-- it really does cost as much to build the hull as it does to blast--i MUST find a way to strip it down even if its labour intensive...i know that blasting is the best way...i did think of using a watergun with sand..from northern tools...its about 80.00 bucks shipped and can be used with a power washer...but it is really time consuming...doesnt go as fast as a standard blast...worse comes to worse i will find the money for a blast...time will tell...all i know is--i will never give up...even if it take me five years...appreciate the support--pls accept my apologies..
  9. tugboat

    tugboat Previous Member

    so it kinda zen-like--? i originally got carried away and lost focus- i wanted an engine first then the build but realized--i need the hull done before i even consider an engine--although the designer says dont deck over till the engine is installed...thanks-- what project are you doing?..or have done?
  10. Corley
    Joined: Oct 2009
    Posts: 3,781
    Likes: 196, Points: 63, Legacy Rep: 826
    Location: Melbourne, Australia

    Corley epoxy coated

  11. tugboat

    tugboat Previous Member

    Hi Corley--very nice!!--the formula 40--thats a Kurt Hughes design??..i love his cold molded system for plywood using long panels...i looked at a small tri by him-talked to him a couple times... finally decided i wasnt ever going to do any real ocean cruising..but liked his designs..both are worthwhile projects!--fast sailing for sure...let me know how it goes--thanks for the post!..when i get time ill go and read through your builds in full...btw the crowther--wasnt that the designer who designed donald crowhursts trimaran in the late 60's? the golden globe of 1969 i think?
  12. Corley
    Joined: Oct 2009
    Posts: 3,781
    Likes: 196, Points: 63, Legacy Rep: 826
    Location: Melbourne, Australia

    Corley epoxy coated

    The Formula 40 is to Kurt Hughes design and will be built with the cylinder mold method and a vac bagged balsa core for panel stiffness rather than stringers.

    Donald Crowhurst's boat "Teignmouth Electron" was a 40' trimaran built to an Arthur Piver design, Crowhurst's story is a sad saga of mental collapse under pressure.

    Lock Crowther has a large back catalogue of designs his early trimaran designs included the Krakens, Zephyr, Tempest and Buccaneers. Sadly he has passed away now.
  13. CatBuilder

    CatBuilder Previous Member

    My Struggle:

    It is very difficult to keep up with the latest in technology and figure out all of the aspects of systems design while you are trying to complete a boat build.

    Sourcing materials is also a rather large headache.
  14. tugboat

    tugboat Previous Member

    laugh--not to mention learning this now...
    how do you plan on engine mounts? im curious because it must be relatively easy to design in and epoxy into the hull the bearers for the engine?

  15. tugboat

    tugboat Previous Member

    "Deep water' wasnt that a great movie?..i watched it maybe three times now...there were things in his log that were not all that insane-even though he was losing it...some of it profound. I didnt realize that was a piver design?
    Didnt piver die at sea also?? another weird disappearance...
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.
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.