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Old 06-08-2008, 19:44   #1
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Is building Dead?

Hello From Ft. Lauderdale.

The old "long time reader first time poster"... Would be true for me.

As many others the contemplation of long term cruising is having a major lure on me at the moment. So I've been looking around for potential solutions. Especially self built for reasons of being bull headed and wanting it how i want it mainly

I've been looking around and it seems to me that almost all the build pages out there are 5-10 years old. With web-presence having grown so dramatically over the same period, the opposite should be true even with an even number of new projects.

Is Building your own boat dead these days? And if so why?
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Old 06-08-2008, 19:48   #2
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I don't think it is dead.

Just today I saw a couple small wood boats being built along the waterfront in Sausalito. I don't think it is dead, just much less than what it used to be.

The vast majority of people do not have the time or the skills to build a boat for themselves therefore it makes more sense to have someone else build one for them which in all likelihood means a factory built boat.

Additionally, I don't think most people can afford to quit their jobs to build a boat. Building it on the weekend would mean it would take years to complete. Perhaps if one is financially independent, has lots of patience and drive, has the skills and is willing to wait a few years to completion, then it might make sense to build ones own boat.
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Old 06-08-2008, 19:49   #3
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So you are saying that there is no savings in building your own boat anymore?
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Old 06-08-2008, 20:09   #4
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I wasn't saying that. But to answer your question, used boats are so incredibly cheap compared to their original cost that I cant imagine it being cheaper to build one versus buying a used boat. Fiberglass boats just don't rot or really go away so there is a quite a supply of older fiberglass boats on the market, which drives down prices.

Look in Yachtworld.com for boats in the 30 foot range. There are a lot of really decent boats for $20k to $30k in that size range. Many of those hulls are still in decent condition and some just need a little TLC.

You also need to consider the value of your time. The time you spend building a boat is time you could spend making money.

Home built boats don't have much of a resale value at all. There are too many unknowns for a potential buyer. Therefore you would be building very little equity for all your hard work and cost of materials. Most home built boats that I have seen look home built, which is a turnoff for a buyer.

There is at least one positive though. The pride of having built it yourself.
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Old 06-08-2008, 20:26   #5
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I don't think its cost effective to build one from scratch at the moment. The economy is down, and materials prices are up. Project boats still nickel and dime you, but you buy the materials for pennies on the dollar. If you attach a dollar value to your labor they don't make much sense either, but at least you end up knowing every inch of the hull.

Paying pennies on the dollar, means a couple hundred or thousand more (gallon of resin or two... welder/tool shed...) buys something in better, or like new shape. Just have to find a boat that someone dropped a few thousand into maintenance and improvements every year. Price spread between the best and the worst of a boat model is often less than a chart plotter and radar! Three months savings is enough to take three years off the project time line!

To buy new materials and try to build one for the same price as my $5,000 Triton, or any of the other 30 +/- 5 foot boats that people have been trying to sell for a year and a half... The 3019lbs of lead in the keel would be greater than half the purchase price. Toss in 4 sheets of 3/4 marine ply, a mast extrusion, and some stainless rigging wire and the budget is blown, and theres no hull yet!

That being said, Brent Swains origami metal boat construction makes the most sense of anything I've seen. Might not be the lightest, strongest, or best looking... but as far as speed, ease, and cost of assembly I think he's got the best game in town. Strong enough, safe enough, and the wrong prescription glasses and be off sailing quick...

Location is also the problem for me, or I would have built one by now. If you build them in a boatyard, you pay rent. If you build them in your backyard you pay transportation costs. I live 2 miles away from a massive scrap yard. Have a welder, and most of the tools metal working tools, access to a machine shop and sheet metal fab shop... but 2,000 dollars to ship her to the coast removes a lot of incentive to spend the hours burning metal when boats in sailing shape are little more than double that.

My two cents...
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Old 06-08-2008, 20:28   #6
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Csiunatc,

David M is correct.
I have built boats for myself (small ones up to 21 foot) and it came out to way more expensive than advertised. It comes down to the purchase and use of the parts. When you are building it yourself, you try to always pick the BEST item. After all, it's your but out there on the big blue. Soooooo cost goes up. One of the boats I built had plans that said it could be built for $600.00. When I was finished, it was over $2,500.00.

In the old days there were a lot of builders that would supply a hull & deck, you finished it. Now, not so many.

I will NEVER build another boat (OK, so maybe a dink or 2). But, just as you could purchase a hull & deck before, I would consider the purchase of a “good” used boat, then gut it and make it what I want. Consider it a hull & deck. At least you have a sample to go by as you build.


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Old 06-08-2008, 20:54   #7
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THe value of a boat you build yourself goes far beyond the resale. Your knowledge of the boat, your ability to fix what breaks, and how well the boat fits you can never be matched by an off the shelf boat. That said, that value is only to the builder. Home built boats are traditionaly hard to insure, and have a lower resale value. If you want to build something for you, and have the experience to know this will be the last boat you ever own, build your own.
Having started with a bare hull on our current boat, and having started with boats that had to be torn completely apart to bring back to seaworthy condition, I would opt for the bare hull, but I decided long before I started our current project that this will be the last one. As resale goes, I could get the sum of her parts, but my labor is an investment for myself.
The Pardey's have a number of things written about the benefits of building your own boat. I agree with most of them. If I was in my 20's, as they were when they built their first cruising boat, I would probably have made the same decision. Now it takes me a lot longer to do the same work, and it is allot harder to fight those feelings of "This just isn't worth it". We enjoy sailing more than boat building. If it were the other way around, we would just keep building them, and make our money as boat builders, rather than building for ourselves and working to fund the project.
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Old 06-08-2008, 20:59   #8
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Interesting, Thank you all for that. LEts continue.

The thought i have is the advantage of steel. I just visited a glass fiber boat at 75 feet below the surface off the coast here. Apparently floating debris had something to say about the continuation of that voyage.

Since i intend to sail all latitudes (Alaska / Greenland) with the accompanying ice as well as wanting to approach islands, the notion of nothing but epoxy and some fiber matting Isn't that appealing to me.

With regards to time, That is of course a real point. But I've been hard up to find empty steel shells in good condition. All those abandoned projects that people talk about are out there don't seem to make it onto the market that often.

My third issue is that most of the finished boats i've seen are quite frankly poorly designed internally for long range cruising. Tables set up for 6-8 people and atleast 5 berths, etc. I have no intention of having more than 4 people on board for any length of time, and 99% of the time there will be 2 or 1. So that would mean a complete gut and refinish. Which im not sure is time efficient either.

I'm being bull headed i know. But it still baffles me that there isn't more of this going around. With modern tools it should be easier not harder than 10 years ago. Today you can buy CNC machines for little more than you bought a good Gasless welder for 10 years ago. (actually less taking inflation into consideration)

Like Kai said, i'm also attracted by knowing exactly where every pipe and Wire is and how it works.

Getting "the best" items for a little more is of course expensive, but wouldn't most cruisers to this in a re-fit anyway? Ending up paying for the lesser part as well in the long run?
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Old 06-08-2008, 21:05   #9
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Steel is a great material for boats...after all, that's what ships and most work boats are made from. The only thing that would bug me if it were my boat, is that rust never sleeps. There is always a rust stain somewhere dribbling down the cabin or hull. But if you can live with that, then steel certainly is more bullet proof than plastic.
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Old 06-08-2008, 21:18   #10
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So we know your destination, what about route, and purpose. If you plan one voyage to Greenland in a circumnavigation, why build the boat around that one passage? Steel is great. IF you are a welder (I am not), and IF you choose a good design, that was well built. Too many people try to skimp on materials, or overbuild, making the boat a slug. I think steel is a good choice if you find someone who knows steel boats to survey it.
It sounds like you ar looking at large boats. That leads me to ask why? Or am I reading too much into this?
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Old 06-08-2008, 21:29   #11
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No you are absolutely correct.

The goal is to have a boat able to manage all areas. The goal is to do a circumnavigation. But one that isn't focused around just "getting around" as much as hitting some of the areas on the way that many seem to miss.

I am a welder to a point. Meanin its not my job, but i've spent two summers doing construction welding. So i'm not a novice either.

The reason for a larget boat is threefold,
1. Is for stability,
2. is that regardless of what people say about single handing, i feel more comfortable on deck of a large boat alone than i do with a 9 inch wide path to balance forward on in hard weather. (experience from a 26 footer)
3. Comfort. A larger boat has more space for people to not rub. As well as more deckspace for solar panels, and able to carry larger batterybanks (translating to some nicer gadgets such as refridgeration easier access to engines, Availability of having a workshop, etc etc etc.


My thought is that when i look at the solo racers, they are almost always in boats over 40 and up to 60 feet. And they sure aren't waiting for fair weahter to wrestle their beasts.

I'd rather sail a larger boat that was created for short handing than a 27 footer that wasn't.
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Old 06-08-2008, 21:42   #12
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Building your own is expensive and takes a long time

I'm with those who say that building your own is going to be more expensive and take longer than working to make the money then buying.

I'm two years, 2500 hours and more money than I thought into fitting out a steel hull. 44' is a big boat and takes a long time to get ready.

There are just too many acceptable secondhand boats out there.

That said there are a few reasons why you might build your own.
1) You have special requirements - mine was that I wanted to introduce my wife to cruising in a no hassle way.
2) There are very few acceptable secondhand boats in your area. I just could not find a boat round Sydney(Oz) when I was looking that I felt was worth the asking.
3) The boat that you are planning is small and can be built quickly (in under a year!). I built a small trailer sailer in New Guinea a few years ago - that was nice.

My suggestion is to look at ways to get a nice fat kitty together. While you are doing this get training and experience any way you can. Then when it all comes together you can fly to where your boat is being sold, buy it and sail off.
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Old 06-08-2008, 22:06   #13
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To be fair in cost comparison between building your own boat and buying ready made….should we not be comparing new with new?
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Old 06-08-2008, 22:08   #14
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I too am way over budget, and way over time. My boat ate my kitty.
One point I do not agree with is the idea of a turn key boat. I have been on many boats, and sailed quite a few as well. I have rarely found a boat that I could live with as is, and never found one that had everything the way I wanted it. There is always that cabinet where I would like an open space, or that decorative piece where I would like a solid hand hold. A little more headroom could have been gained without adding noticable windage, the head could have been a little higher or lower. Much to be said about buying a project.
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Old 06-08-2008, 22:17   #15
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pelagic, Thats also a good point.

I've read alot about cruisers lately who are doing haulouts a lot sooner than they expected because of wear and tear that wasn't noticed at purchase, but surely doesn't belong on a new piece of equipment
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