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Old 21-04-2013, 13:47   #1
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You'll probably all laugh at me but...

Hello all,
I've been lurking around here for a while now since I said hello a couple of years ago. Pleased to report that I've built a few miles up with my work sailing club and gained a huge increase in confidence. The problem is that the ops team at my club are a bunch of hateful begrudging (expletive deleted) who could not be more offputting in their attitude to newcomers to the club.

That's not a bad thing - it makes me 100% determined to get my own boat so I don't have to go near them any more.

So here's what I'm inviting your ridicule regarding - do I build or buy? I am very interested in building a boat since I like carpentry and have some rudimentary skills. I'm looking at a Janus catamaran (a Richard Woods design) or a Scarab 22 trimaran (a Ray Kendrick design). I'm still looking into that. But should I just buy something so I can get out on the water? Funds are low so it would be small and scabby. But the boat you've got is the right boat, right? I'm trying to gather the courage to do one or the other.

As I said, I invite your ridicule! And some sound advice. I sail in the UK and expect to be sailing shorthanded or singlehanded in the future.


Aylesbury, UK.
(Insert boat type here - eventually!)
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Old 21-04-2013, 14:08   #2
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Re: You'll probably all laugh at me but...

I don't think anybody should, or will, laugh at you. I do think, however, that you should think long and hard about building a boat. It will be a multi-year project and oftentimes results in heartbreak. I can't give you much more, because I have always bought boats. But I can tell you that even the maintenance on a production boat makes me cringe at the thought of building one from scratch. I am sure there are many benefits, including knowledge of every inch of your boat when you are done, but don't take on this task lightly.

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Old 21-04-2013, 14:25   #3
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Re: You'll probably all laugh at me but...

I wish I had the time to build a boat, as I think it would be very satisfying. It is an enormous project, and I suspect that many of us would never complete it. I think building can be good for those who enjoy the building part as much as (or even more than) the sailing part. I'm pretty sure I fall into the latter category, but you have to decide for yourself which category you fit into. The other big question for you is are you sure what type of boat you want? After years of building it would be a shame to realize you built the wrong boat! Maybe some more sailing on a purchased boat of some sort would give you a better idea of what type of boat to build later.
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Old 21-04-2013, 14:25   #4
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Re: You'll probably all laugh at me but...

Hello Nigel! Do NOT build a boat. Buy a used 20-24 footer sloop, as a starter but NOT as a project. Acquire your seamanship skills by sailing her. When the time comes to move-up to a bigger boat, sell the sloop; you'll recover back most of the money spent on her. Sail away! Mauritz
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Old 21-04-2013, 14:34   #5
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Re: You'll probably all laugh at me but...

If you have time to build a boat, then you have time buy a cheap beater first and sail it as much as possible. You'll know after a while what you want in your next boat, and can then decide whether to build it or buy. There's also the bare hull option, of which several wonderful examples occur in the UK. I sailed several thousand miles in a cheap, small fixer-upper before knowing for sure what I wanted, so my investment of time and money in a bare hull was maximised: not as much learning to do along the way, and the boat was just what I wanted right from the start. Something worth having is usually worth the effort and time it involves.
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Old 21-04-2013, 14:40   #6
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Re: You'll probably all laugh at me but...

Atom Voyages - Good Old Boats List. Building your own boat on a small budget is not impossible but nearly so. Go simple and go (used) now.
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Old 21-04-2013, 14:44   #7
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Re: You'll probably all laugh at me but...

G'Day Nigel,

In my view, the only reason to build your own boat is a stron desire for the process of building, not for the product at the end. You voice a desire for time on the water and skill building. Why postpone those goals for what could be several years, or even more if life gets in the way of your building plans?

I don't know what the boat market is like in your area, nor what your budget would allow, so suggestions are speculative at best! But, a cosmetically challenged (!) trailer sailor in the 22+/- 2 foot range can often be found. This is big enough to take on fairly challenging waters, but small enough to be affordable and simple to maintain, and without attracting marina fees.

In my case (a long time ago) in the San Francisco Bay area I started with a 16 foot day-sailor to learn the basics with, then bought a Catalina 22 which I sailed on SF Bay and coastally, with the occasional 3-4 week vacation cruise thrown in. Did some racing, too, which helped develop sail trim, etc. Kept that boat for 7 years by which time I had a very good idea of what I wanted next.

If I had been sidetracked by a building project, I don't believe the progression would have been as smooth or as well directed.

In the long run, there is no substitute for experience... hours and miles on the water. The sooner you can accumulate the experience, the sooner you can become a confident and accomplished sailor/cruiser and carry on with your life afloat.

Good luck with your decision

Jim and Ann
s/v Insatiable back in MBTBC marina, waiting for next eye jobs to be done
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Old 21-04-2013, 15:18   #8
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Re: You'll probably all laugh at me but...

If you want to go a boat.
If you want to build a boat......then build.

These two goals are only very rarely combined together successfully.

I fall more into the "I want to build" group. My 13 year (and counting) rebuild is chronicled, in part, by a thread that I started. Link is below my signature.

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Old 21-04-2013, 15:19   #9
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Re: You'll probably all laugh at me but...

Welcome Nigel, I echo the rest, buy a beater first. Sail on as many different vessels as possible, to learn what you like and don't like.
" Wisdom; is your reward for surviving your mistakes"
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Old 21-04-2013, 15:35   #10
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Re: You'll probably all laugh at me but...

The Scarab 22 and the Janus 22 both look to be good boats.

I built a Van de Stadt 6.5m minitonner quite a few years ago and it took some 500 hours. The cost did not put a significant dent in my budget.

I'd estimate that the Janus 22 could be built in around 1000+ hours, the Scarab would need much more than that. Plywood would be much quicker than foam composite, but the composite would give a much better boat.

The Scarab website suggests a cost of $12,000 in plywood and $15,000 in foam composite. I'd estimate that the Janus would cost a little less.

Both look like excellent projects.

Both would be way more enjoyable to sail than a beat up trailer sailer! Going up the NSW coast it seemed like the small trailer tris were fast enough to squeeze through gaps in the weather. The owner I saw looked happy enough. I saw no small cruising catamarans.

When I've been making decisions as to whether to build or buy the overriding factor has been the availability of a cheap (free?) building space. The second factor was time (You'd need to allocate at least two years part time).

As far as money went my employers seemed to appreciate the initiative and drive needed for a major project so I never wanted for employment. They also kept me cheerful so there was always that social advantage.

Do include enough in the budget for a good trailer.

If the money runs out there's always Ebay, Craigslist, scrounging and dumpster diving.
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Old 21-04-2013, 15:54   #11
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Re: You'll probably all laugh at me but...

not a silly question - sailing and boatbuilding are two quite different but related enthusiasms. you can be one or other exclusively, thats definitely a question you should ask yourself early - ie. do i only want to sail, or do i only want to build boats? Like a lot of people you seem to like both. I started off focussed on sailing, knowing i could use my skills to keep up and improve a boat which i could afford. Over the years i've found i get a lot of satisfaction from working on my boat - not to the point that i dont enjoy sailing, but if the wind isnt right i'm happy pottering. My ruling principle has always been - buy a boat with good bones, get it sailing any way you can and start improving it without putting it out of action.
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Old 21-04-2013, 16:18   #12
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Re: You'll probably all laugh at me but...

No.1 I think you need a new sailing club! or none at all.

No.2 I would definately skip the boat building thing - always time to do that later, and as said, only build a boat if you want to build a it won't be cheaper.

Ebay in the UK a good source for small (20 - 25 footers), and plenty of choice from stuff built in 60's, 70's and 80's in all manner of conditions. I would avoid too much work for your first boat, certainly nothing that would stop you using her this season......even if less than perfect (but a hosepipe and a scrubbing - inside and out does work wonders!).

Dunno where you are in the UK and what mooring arrangements you have to hand (Marina / mud / swinging / trailer etc) but boats that spring to mind on the cheap, cheerful and fun end of things are:-

E-boat (22? foot) - 4- 6k?
Newbridge Corribee (21 foot) - 2-5k?
Westerly Nimrod (18? foot) 1-2k?....a dinghy with a lid!

I picked the above as a spread of sizes and types and prices and lots of each made (so should always be a few for sale)........but loads more to choose from.

If you avoid buying a complete lemon and don't pour squillions into her simply because you want to then a decent chance of getting money back, or at least as close as (depreciation all long gone with stuff like the above - they sell only on condition).
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Old 21-04-2013, 16:54   #13
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Re: You'll probably all laugh at me but...

Different clubs have different overall personalities. Given your club is filled with a bunch of clannish snobs then look elsewhere.

If you would rather build a boat than sail a boat then by all means, build one. You won't really save yourself any money because the real cost of a boat is not in the hull construction itself but in everything else...the rigging, electronics, yada yada yada. You would be amazed at how much you still have to spend once the bare hull is built. The resale value of a home made boat is also going to be much lower because people like to know that what they are purchasing was professionally made. There is also that home made look that home made boats have that to many is a real turnoff, which limits the number of buyers who might be interested.

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Old 21-04-2013, 17:16   #14
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Re: You'll probably all laugh at me but...

...and, one more thing...getting insurance coverage for a home-built is very tough! Mauritz
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Old 21-04-2013, 20:18   #15
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Re: You'll probably all laugh at me but...

I note recommendations for all sorts of monos, you blokes do realize that this was posted in the multihull thread?

Ray Kendrick is a lovely chap who designs sensible simple boats, if building is your thing, I would have no hesitation in recommending Ray.

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