"Though CHAMELEON is intened for the amatuer buildere, she is not an extremely easy boat to build. The number of details involved in making the two-piece nesting dinghy
make it nearly as much work as building two dinghies. Some previous boatbuilding experience, or at least some previous experience working with epoxy
resin, would certainly be an asset. Yet, I think that a very handy builder
, with some assistance (in the form of an an experienced friendd or some reference material on "stitch-and-glue construction) could successlly complete the boat."
So writes the Chameleon Dinghy's designer
I think this is a very fair assessment of his boat and now that my own build has finally f*****g hit the water
, I figure I'd share my own experience building it for what it it's worth.
Prior to starting this project
I had acrued roughly +4,000 hours of boatbuilding experience. All of this experience was gained in my youth and I am afraid that I the intervening years I blocked out a lot of bad memories about dreary hours spent pushing a long board and as such underestimated how much time this project
would take me to complete.
it again?" my wife asked me repeatedly. "Yes, that's how boats are built, by sanding
." I replied consistently and frequently.
I didn't forget the knowledge I gained through my past experience but I think anyone, who was considering building their own would benefit from a complete study of either or both of the two following books
before they started building their own, Devlin's Boatbuilding: How to Build Any Boat the Stitch-and-Glue Way by Sam Devlin and The Gougeon Brothers On Boatbuilding -http://www.westsystem.com/ss/assets/...k%20061205.pdf
"Costs and building time will certainly vary with the skills of the builder
and the sources of the material. I would estimate the time and cost of building rowing version at 80 to 100 hours and $500 to $600. The sailing version would require an additional 30 to 40 hours and approximately $125 to $250." - Danny Greene
Can't say I agree this is a fair assessment, either in time or dollars. Not in dollars, no way. At least not in today's dollars anyway, not sure when the boat was designed but I believe it was years ago.
I don't know exactly how much I spent for a very specific reason, I didn't care and didn't want to know. I also have a wholesale account so my numbers wouldn't necessarily reflect what you would pay but I will say I used domestically sourced APA marine
grade Douglas Fir plywood
, WEST System epoxy
, bought a Tempress hatch
for the bow locker, but didn't buy any lumber
because I had a big Sapele plank someone gave me. If I were to add it all up I probably spent at least $1,500
Time required is more difficult quantify since experience, or lack thereof, as well as build and finish quality are all broadly ranging factors. I wouldn't consider myself an expert or novice
, nor would I consider my end goals to be either workboat or yacht tender
, but rather somewhere in between. One thing I can be specific about is that I spent a lot more time on the project the designer projects in his estimation.
My advice for anyone considering the project is to know that you will enjoy greater efficiency in your build if you are able to devote significant periods (weeks at a time rather than weekends) to the project. When I started planning to build I had what I expected to be two weeks free and clear where I could do nothing but work on the boat but things didn't work out that way and in the end it took me five months of here and there weekends to complete the project.
Given my schedule I felt pressured by myself along the way to get the f****r done which left me wishing I had had the time to do things better, as I know they can be done. Besides all this experience business, your expectations of build quality and finish quality have a lot to do with how long it takes. Build and finished quality matter because short cuts and poor quality finish can save lots and lots of time!
I will leave you to decide what is important to you but will point out that things like oversizing holes in the plywood for bolts or towing eyes and filling them with thickened epoxy before glassing over can add years onto the life of the finished product but that finely faired transitions between fillets and glass cloth will not, they will only be more attractive to the casual viewer and yourself long after the hard work is done.
I am happy with the finished results though. Boat pretty much works as advertised. Little heavier than I might like but I never expected otherwise. We'll be using it this weekend and I'll take some more pictures and follow up with some more specific thoughts on construction later. In the meantime what follows are some pictures of other Chameleons I have found on the web.