Where to get started

Discussion in 'Sailboats' started by Lochness, Oct 11, 2008.

  1. Lochness
    Joined: Oct 2008
    Posts: 2
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    Location: Machias, Maine

    Lochness New Member

    Sorry ahead of time if you guys get a lot of posts like this.

    I'm currently a student up here in Maine. This coming summer I'm taking down a bunch of trees in my back yard (mostly Sugar Maples and Black oaks) and as such I'm going to have a lot of wood to play with. I've always wanted to build a wooden sail boat and this seems like the time to do it. Not one too be satisfied with using someone else's designs I wanted to make one of my own.

    Heres what I have:

    20' length (not counting bowsprit)
    displacement hull
    full length keel
    double ended
    lapstrake hull construction (have some experience related to it, not to mention I like the look)
    Ketch rig
    Self tacking jib (would like to use a boom but I've seen other very interesting self tacking systems for small boats that seem mechanically simple enough to replicate)
    Spritsail or gaff main (can't decide which)
    If needed for sail area a triangular top sail above the main
    lateen (traditional) mizzen

    It would be intended for all day cruising around shore or in a lake. The unusual sail plan is is basically for the sake of fun and not for performance.

    What I don't get or even know how to determine:
    beam (I know I want it narrow but not canoe narrow)
    sail area
    rudder area
    bowsprit length
    how the hell to do the lines drawing
    how to understand a lines drawing
    anything else important that I'm forgetting (I'm sure there is)

    I don't own a computer anymore (apparently the blue smoke form capacitors is bad for you) so I have to use the school ones. As such I don't really have the ability to use any design software so its the good old pencil and paper method for me. Just need someone to point me in the right direction as anything I've found on the internet on boat design either didn't make any sense, was a lead in for you to buy something, or contradicted itself.
  2. PAR
    Joined: Nov 2003
    Posts: 19,133
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    Location: Eustis, FL

    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    Considering your experience and education, you have a quite a bit of information you must absorb before you can even think about success in a 20' design. Contact Dave Geer at; Westlawn Institute of Marine Technology www.westlawn.edu.

    The other route is to attempt to acquire this knowledge though books. I suspect this will take several years and at least a dozen books. Start with Howard Chapelle's "Yacht Design and Planning" which is out of print, but available used through your local book store of on line sellers. It covers the hand drawn methods, though much of the data and many conclusions have been considerably updated since it's publishing over 70 years ago. Also the original version of Norman Skene's "Elements of Yacht Design". It's also a 1930's text, but is in a reprinting currently.

    After "understanding" the contents of these two books, you'll be able to design an old school sailor, but the engineering end of the formula will be lacking. It will not be a cutting edge sailor, but it'll be stylish and if you don't veer to far off the path of construction "norms" then you'll be safe.
  3. George S
    Joined: Oct 2008
    Posts: 32
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    Location: Washington DC

    George S The old fellow

    I think that the WOODEN BOAT store is still selling spline weights "ducks".
    L. F. Herrshoff's THE COMON SENSE OF YACHT DESIGN is available second hand, try Amazon. Fiberglast has a website of that name and has french curves and ship curves in its catalogue.
  4. alan white
    Joined: Mar 2007
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    Location: maine

    alan white Senior Member

    It's likely that you'll find cedar, hackmatack, spruce, and pine, but no good white oak in your neighborhood. Down in southern Maine there are a few white oaks. Red oak, which is the commonest species, or similar varieties found downeast, is unsuitable for boatbuilding due to rot issues.
    As for the boat, an Alpha dory or a Caldonia yawl design sound like what you're looking for. These are light but seaworthy designs, trailerasble and not too difficult tio build.


  5. Lochness
    Joined: Oct 2008
    Posts: 2
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    Location: Machias, Maine

    Lochness New Member

    Well I can't afford classes so I guess I'm going the book route. Read some of the sample pages online and while the writing comes off as pretty stuffy its manageable. Oddly enough I have a lot of those drafting tools back home and in decent condition. My step dad used to be a draftsman for a tool company.
    Concerning the tree species their around 60-100yo (the poplar is the exception only like 25yo) coming out of a backyard in RI. 2 Sugar maples, 1 black oak, 1 poplar, 1 silver maple, 1 Norway maple, and 1 cherry (age unknown but its the biggest cherry tree I've ever seen...the cherries are quite yummy too.).
    Out of curiosity if I was going to use a computer program to assist me what one should I look at (either free or low cost)? (I might have a computer to use but its still up in the air.)
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