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Old 25-04-2009, 22:22   #1
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Newbie Boat Builder

Howdy folks!

I just started building my own boat with some plans that were handed over to me by a friend. I'm a skilled carpenter and an architect but I have never actually built a boat before, nor have I sailed further than 20km from any shore line and I have never operated a motor powered boat.

The boat I am building is known as the Vagabond 26'
Vagabond 26 - Study Plans

The plan upon completion is to sail from Miami to Brazil and then motor back.

I'd love it if I could do the trip back with no stops... the main reason for wanting to motor back is that after a vacation I am always anxious to get home and the wife isn't gonna want to wait for the long sail back either. I usually rent a car to Travel to Seattle in June to visit my sister and fly back :P


Providing this thing actually floats, what kind of motor should I put in it? Diesel or Gas? Keep in mind I want long range.

Is there an unsafe amount of fuel to bring on board?

Thanks for any advice!

Newbily,
Joseph
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Old 26-04-2009, 00:01   #2
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Welcome Joseph

Good luck with this project.

I'd go with a diesel engine if its going to be an inboard….however an out board on a boat this size is not unreasonable, in which case it’ll be petrol.


IMHO the only unsafe amount of diesel is NOT ENOUGH TO GET OUT OF TROUBLE!

I actually cant think of any reason why more diesel would be dangerous providing its stored and its weight distributed properly, and within the load/design capacity of the vessel.

I’m not crazy about the boat...and wonder just how much fuel/range you would get in her.

Building and fitting out a boat from scratch is a big job and you can most certainly buy and refit an older boat cheaper...and the level of refit required can be from extensive to none at all depending on your desire….its a buyers market out there BIG TIME!

Having said that, completing a project like this is incredibly satisfying.


Good luck.
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Old 26-04-2009, 01:22   #3
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Dear Joseph,

You'll also get good technical advice from the bateau2 builder's forum. I assume your friend didn't build a Vagabond and just gave you the plans? If so, no worries, but if he built one then you need to purchase your own set of plans before building according to the licensing agreement.

No, you wouldn't be able to motor back. No 26' boat would carry enough fuel for that long a trip.

How long do you expect a trip to Brazil to take? This type of boat would probably average 4 knots for that length of trip. That's a lot of days.

By the way, I am also the naval architect for a number of designs on the bateau.com web site.
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Old 26-04-2009, 01:41   #4
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It may just be me, but there seems to be a dis-connect here. Driving to Seattle and flying back to Florida is a tad different from building your own boat (what, 1 to 2 years?), sailing from Florida to Brazil (a couple of weeks?), touring Brazil (I'm assuming here), then motoring back (again, a couple of weeks?).
If I'm not mistaken, part of this trip is along the "thorny patch", a difficult stretch of water. Others may want to clarify this.
I'm not discounting your goal here, just trying to understand it.
John
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Old 26-04-2009, 02:20   #5
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Do you really want to go to Brazil?

Some time ago I built a Van De Stadt Sea Mini 21. Totally basic finish, minimal fitout. Porta poti, metho stove.

I sailed that boat up and down the coast from Wewak for short distances, and to the nearby offshore islands with my then wife for a year or so. I was young, it was great.

It took me close to a year of consistent effort to build it. Estimating 500+ hours. Scaling up your Vagabond 26 would come in at the top end of the designers estimates (at 800 hours). A first class finish and fitout could easily treble that.

I would suggest doing your homework on costs very carefully. While the basic materials may look reasonable new parts from your friendly chandlers are really going to add up.

To give you a comparison the (roughly) equivalent Van de Stadt design to your Vagabond 26 is the Dolphin 26. I found the Van de Stadt Sea Mini design to be complete to the point of not requiring any enquiry or thought on my part. The parts list was so thorough that I was able to order everything needed for delivery from Australia to New Guinea.

This looks to be a really nice boat for gunk holing and limited coastal cruising for weekend and holidays with your wife, not to mention being a rewarding project. Together with a suitable trailer it would be able to access many cruising grounds.

Others may have better insight than me as to it's suitability for a trip to Brazil. I would hesitate to contemplate that voyage in the steel Roberts Offshore 44 that I am currently fitting out.
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Old 26-04-2009, 07:22   #6
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Since you said "thanks for any advise," . . .

Given a bit of wind, the engine won't get you home any faster than the sails. Given no wind, you will not be able to carry enough fuel to get all the way home from Brazil. You cannot travel over oceans and adhere to a strict timetable. The ocean and the weather will dictate your schedule. That is simply something over which we have no control. Trying to bend the sea to YOUR schedule is not only impossible, it can lead to some really bad and dangerous desicions.

If this just happens to be the boat you decided on after months of research, then I apologize, but I question whether choosing a boat to build based on the fact that your friend had the plans is a smart way to go. You are looking at a couple of years of work (minimum). Your carpentry skills will be valuable, but you will also be climbing the learning curve for electrical systems, plumbing, fiberglas work, engine systems, rigging, etc etc. If you're going to spend that much time and money on a project, I'd advise that you be in love with what you're building -- that it be the boat you really want and not just what happened to present itself.

I've built three boats, though nothing close to what you're doing (my largest is 16 feet). I would suggest you build something smaller as a way to get yourself familiar with the process. There are plenty of low or no cost plans for little boats out there that would all make nice tenders to a 26 footer and/or something to learn how to sail in (while you;re building the big boat).

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Old 26-04-2009, 11:09   #7
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Hey Evan,

It was actually a Birthday present. He has a number of boats that he has designed and built himself. I'd been bugging him to send me some easy to follow design/instructions so I could try building one... I guess he didn't have the time, so I assume he ordered these plans to get me off his case :P

I only work 6 months a year. Trip there could take as long as it needs to.

Thanks for your input!
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Old 26-04-2009, 11:35   #8
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For the skeptics,

On top of being a fairly skilled carpenter, licensed architect - My actual job is designing and building car bodies. I have a very technologically advanced shop with a CNC router and Milling machine. I also have the experience and inventory for what I will need to do the fiberglass.

My friend (who has built more than one boat) who gave me the plans told me that with my experience I would have no problem building this boat, and told me that with a couple helpers I could have it done within a couple months.

The building of the boat it not a concern. I'm more concerned about the victory lap :P

If its something thats gonna take more than 6 months I'll have to make my first trip something, maybe Cuba, Trinidad/Tobago, or visit Chavez in Venezuela even. (a hat trick actually sounds quite appealing too!)

I've been adventuring my entire life, ran away from home at 17 and backpacked Europe with nothing more than an acoustic guitar 2 changes of clothes and plenty of clean underwear. Everyone who i told before the fact said it was dangerous and I would starve to death. Yes, I know its apples and oranges compared to sailing, and hunger and sinking are entirely different :P


So lets forget I ever said Brazil, because this trip is something I'm going to do. Lets just say I'm going south. Is there a "reasonable" expectation with this boat?

I'm sorry that I haven't addressed all of the responses yet, I hope to - and I do appreciate all your advice and warnings! Expect to hear lots from me during this process!
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Old 26-04-2009, 12:02   #9
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Jazzthing,

Good luck with your project.

I might question the wisdom of such a trip given the size of the boat and your stated lack of off shore and boat building experience.

Not meaning to be a party pooper just trying to supply food for thought.
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Old 26-04-2009, 12:09   #10
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I completely see where you're coming from

When my mother caught drift of what I was planning she basically went nuts. She's been calling me twice a week to ask me if I'm still planning my ocean suicide, haha.

It's something I'm going to do, though. I'll take a few more lessons, but I don't want to wait until I get bored of the idea.
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Old 26-04-2009, 12:31   #11
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Lessons aren't likely to help unless you can find someone to take you water sailing">blue water sailing. It's when push comes to shove out there that it needs to be instinctive. Have someone take you out on snotty days, bring your better half since she is the intended crew.

For what little it may be worth.
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Old 26-04-2009, 12:39   #12
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My better (much better) half comes from a family with a big yacht that can transport a car. She has more experience in blue waters then I do, but I'm sure thats not worth much because she's never been "sailing" in blue waters. She does accompany in all my lessons, I might be behind the wheel, but she's the one calling all the shots :P
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Old 26-04-2009, 13:03   #13
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The specs call for a maximum outboard of 15 hp with a 6 gallon portable tank, or a diesel inboard with a 20 gallon tank. Given the amount of fuel you would need to carry, diesel seems to be more prudent, more reliable and safer.
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Old 26-04-2009, 13:20   #14
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I'm leaning towards an inboard diesel. Its probably a little more expensive than an outboard gas, but I have experience working on Diesel engines which is probably going to prove to be invaluable on the road...water.
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Old 26-04-2009, 13:27   #15
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Maybe Mother knows best?
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