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Old 10-08-2015, 16:05   #1
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DIY Catamaran Building

DIY Catamaran Building.

Before deciding on an own build, everyone should look at ALL the options. Do not be deterred by anyone's negative opinions on any issue. Decide on what makes most sense to you. This is my story.

I built a 32 ft. Piver tri – 6pm to 10 or 11pm most evenings for a year. I loved working with wood. I hated handling resin for sheathing etc. I sailed ply tris and spent time looking for the leaks: then found it was condensation – under our matress. Full insulation is essential for live-aboard comfort.

My second full build was the first foam “Toria”– I loved working with foam. Treat it like plywood which is dead easy to bend, cut, sand and edge-glue etc. I love the light weight and versatility. The extra insulation and buoyancy comes as a bonus. Few stringers which just get in the way of finishing the inside. The foam build was considerably quicker than the 45 ft ply tri in build alongside. The cost when counting the less wastage by putting off-cuts together and no need for scarf or butt joins is slightly less. Applying the inside skin was a chore but all in all, I never looked back. Sister ships are still sailing nearly fifty years later. I have surveys – “45 years old and many more decades of useful life in the polyester foam sandwich”. Foam sandwich is less weight and less maintenance which is another bonus which owners appreciate for the life of the boat.

As a professional designer and builder, I have never forgotten the highs and lows of DIY. I have never stopped seeking the better way. We have moved on a long way since Toria. A full length table was a huge step forward in 1973 – a smooth finish and guaranteed fair lines for free. KSS – Kelsall Swiftsure Sandwich. I was never tempted by strip for obvious reasons. A lot less time is spent handling resin compared to sheathing. Now 95% of laminating is on the table and for most projects it is resin infusion – neat and clean and very satisfying. Do not be deterred by negatives from competitors on infusion. “with lots of perfectly infused panels, I now realize just how much I loathe hand laminating” - KSS 38ma builder. Resin infusion is not essential to KSS. Owner's resin choice. Poly, vinyl or if you must, the more toxic epoxy.

DIY is not for everyone. However, there are few satisfactions in life to compare with saying – all my own work and it takes me where ever I want to go. Knowing your ship is a huge advantage when sailing. I know no clients who have regretted taking on the challenge.

For confirmation of what I say, find the comments of my competitors, where two names stand out – Hughes and Woods. False claims for KSS which must question their own credibility. Attempts to undermine the reputation of a competitor where they cannot compete on own merits. . I have continued to refine and still do. No one has done similar or come close to my all round experience. It would be strange if KSS was not the efficient technique which those who have used or seen know it to be. .

Hard chine looks simple. We have done a number of hulls from three panels, hard chine and they are simple, with pre-made radius joins. KSS round bilge takes just a few more hours so have not pushed KSS hard chine.

I would very much like to hear from anyone who has considered KSS. What do you find that you see as a down side? Ie materials, or technique or the opinion of others?

Ref a comment on James W designs. A range of my early designs had open bridge-deck. Almost all owners added a deck saloon later, as did a few Wharram owners.

Happy boating,

Derek
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Old 10-08-2015, 19:07   #2
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Re: DIY Catamaran Building

Hi Derek. Thanks for the post. I did have a look at your website but didn't see much information on the kss system. I'm sure it's there but I found the site a bit busy to navigate. I did look at a few of your designs as I'd consider building a 50' 10T cat in Australia at some stage however I couldn't find a design to my liking. I'll share my personal thoughts on your webpage if you don't mind. I understand you have an impressive history in design and construction of cats, as well as racing and sailing. Unfortunately your webpage seems extremely dated with non working links (some of the links to owners stories) and antique (by today's standards) page layouts. I know this might not be important when it comes to designing, building and sailing but it is when shopping for designs. If I want to see a particular design I would at least want to see a nice line drawing of the sail plan and floor plan and deck layout, as well as some professional photos of the finished cats. (Some eye candy). As well as a short blurb on the design intention (racer/cruiser etc) I know website maintainance and upgrades take time and money but I really feel yours needs to be updated to compete with other designers offering similar services. The page makes your designs look old and dated, and the raked bows don't help. I guess some of the designs are quite old. My advice (I know you didn't ask for it but....) would be to strip back the site, use some modern flash type pages, limit the designs shown to just a few in each category, say a 40/50/60 sailing cat, with decent drawings and photos and basic species for each. Keep some of the older designs in an out of the way page under history or something and have plumb bows as an option. I read that you prefer raked bows and although they may be superior to plumb in some ways, they are becoming dated by modern cat designs and personally building a design that won't date and devalue is a high priority. Here's an example of the type of webpage I'd expect to see when considering self build options. http://www.schionningdesigns.com.au/arrow-1360
Thanks again for your life's work pioneering catamaran sailing and construction. I hope you don't take my comments above personally, they are just my personal thoughts on the first contact most of us will have with your work and times have changed. I still have a study plan for a crowther shockwave, hand drawn and printed in blueprint at home in my desk.
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Old 10-08-2015, 19:53   #3
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Re: DIY Catamaran Building

I don't think Richard Woods has published any negative comments on your designs. Perhaps critized the KISS system which anyone that has built boats before does themselves.

The biggest issue for me was cost of plans and setup cost for KISS. Woods plans for my 34' NEW custom design was 1000 quid. And the finished boat is nearly as fast as a Crowther 42 built in foam that I understand was Crowthers last design. Slightly faster than the Morelli Melvin Leopard 40 and 46.
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Old 10-08-2015, 23:10   #4
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Re: DIY Catamaran Building

Boatguy,

thanks for your comment - appreciated.

Woods claims among other things, that the KSS hull shape is restricted and that making panels is not practical over 15ft. without a large crew. He chose to make these statements - either knowing they were not true or failing to understand KSS.
Woods worked for me for a year and had free use of my table!!!. I think the intent is obvious. I got no reply when I emailed him direct on this.

To choose a design on cost of plans is not recommended and a very minor outlay - unfortunately the first - as is the set up for KSS. A table is used long after you have made the panels and it is a few melamine covered chipboard sheets. The set up for shaping is a few straight timbers which stand on the table. The big saving is the smooth finish. The neat clean shop lead to "I make panels for fun" by one builder who was half way thro when we introduced resin infusion. KSS takes years of the typical part time builders time frame - and I do not make idle claims.

We have a new website in progress, new prices etc. Amaury Sciard is a v well qualified young French designer who is working with me.

Happy boating,

Derek
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Old 11-08-2015, 00:38   #5
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Re: DIY Catamaran Building

And the point of your posts, especially the negativity towards other designers, on here is?
Whom are you helping & how? As what your going on about surely doesn't come off as a sales pitch full of positivity. Let alone professionalism... This, on a forum where I can't say that I've seen other designers commenting negatively on your work.

Also, everything that monte had to say is spot on.
As they say, "Publish or perish". And by that I mean professionally, not via posting an abridged, unpolished resume/CV, & taking pot shots at other designers in posts on a public forum.
~ One where you've not posted enough to have yet established a reputation, name recognition, or credability.

Positive correspondence with, & attending to the wishes of your clients, along with continual trend setting in all areas of; innovation in design, construction, website user friendlyness, etc. Is what garners both first time, AND repeat customers.
Plus, & this is key, it generates positive, cumulative, word of mouth (business).
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Old 11-08-2015, 04:52   #6
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Re: DIY Catamaran Building

[QUOTE=monte;1887934]Hi Derek. Thanks for the post. I did have a look at your website but didn't see much information on the kss system. I'm sure it's there but I found the site a bit busy to navigate.QUOTE]

Monte,

thanks for all your comments and taking the time to write. Our website has grown over the years. We agree and our new website should be up and running within a few weeks - hopefully addressing the issues you mention.

I have achieved what I have done by not following fashion, unless I see good reason. Fashion should follow function. Some years ago, I was in Moorea. Five French cats were lined up at the marina looking like someone had taken an axe and chopped off the bows - plumb ugly. My main reason to retain the raked bow is two fold. Mid Atlantic solo I ran over something heavy, taking away dagger board and rudder. I can imagine a plumb stem could have demolished my bow. On another occasion a German owner of a 40 footer had a strange accident where he ran up onto a pontoon, leaving just a deep scratch down the step. We do offer the plumb stem option, or what we call a bow blade, which extends the waterline but is not a structural part of the hull.

The current reverse stem fashion - there have been many times when I or my crew have needed to get right forward to fend off.

Thanks again and hope you get round to building your cat one day soon. Building changed my life.

Happy boating,

Derek.
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Old 11-08-2015, 05:22   #7
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Re: DIY Catamaran Building

I seem to recall there are now several designers hoping to charge around $10,000 for plans for a 35' cat. my boat was sailing for about $30,000. So in my case the "cost of the plans" was a major factor.
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Old 11-08-2015, 05:55   #8
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Re: DIY Catamaran Building

Quote:
Originally Posted by UNCIVILIZED View Post
~ One where you've not posted enough to have yet established a reputation, name recognition, or credability.
That is funny!

I don't think Derek Kelsall needs more than a single post here to "establish" his reputation, name recognition or credibility.

Maybe to someone who has no experience or knowledge in multihull designs, production and history, but not to the rest of us.

Mark
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Old 11-08-2015, 08:43   #9
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Re: DIY Catamaran Building

Quote:
Originally Posted by colemj View Post
That is funny!

I don't think Derek Kelsall needs more than a single post here to "establish" his reputation, name recognition or credibility.

Maybe to someone who has no experience or knowledge in multihull designs, production and history, but not to the rest of us.

Mark
+1 !

I agree on the bows, traditional bows handle drift well.

Derek, I remember the Tabago 35 (think that's the one, Tonga? its been a while...) design that used to get advertised in Multihulls magazine with the caption "Different but most effective." I was always interested in the layout, are any study plans still around? I liked the unusual looks.
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Old 11-08-2015, 16:20   #10
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Re: DIY Catamaran Building

"The more toxic epoxy"... also the most water proof and the strongest. On a catamaran the strength of secondary bonds is cruicial. Epoxy is by far the best resin for this.
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Old 11-08-2015, 17:14   #11
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Re: DIY Catamaran Building

That's definitely the real Derek Kelsall. No question about it. That's his standard posting style.
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