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Old 30-03-2010, 23:31   #31
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Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Shelter Island, California
Boat: Stevens 47 Komaru
Posts: 434
I should maybe also have mentioned that if I go ahead with this project, I will likely have all the steel frames, stringers, plates- i.e. all the hull components laser cut (NC plasma) by a professional company- leaving me to "put it all together". I believe this will save a lot of time, if not years off the project, and I will have more time for fitting out, i.e. before I am an old man!
Hi Steve I purchased a Katrina damaged boat. Started on her in April of 2006 part time. The boat was extensively damaged. I removed most of the interior in order to affect the repairs to the hull. I basically took the boat back to a bare hull. In my opinion the hull accounts for about 30% of the cost and time. After 2 years of part time it became clear that I was going to spend at least 10 years completing the project, so I resigned my job and have been at it full time 6 days a week for as much sunlight I can get out of the day. I will splash this year and I have given up saying a date as I have blown by so many. The work is going splendid and looking really good, it has always been a dream of mine to do what I am doing. If you really want to do this, I would advise to try to find away to get a sense of the work involved, like maybe working in a boat yard for a week for free. Others have made some great comments and I understand the dream...its what got me started and it can be done. Is it practical, well I do not regret doing it. Jack

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Old 01-04-2010, 14:15   #32
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Hi Steve,

If you want to build a boat, then build a boat.
Talk to people who have done it, get their input, not the views of those who have never built a boat.

It has been said that building a boat is the male equivalent of falling pregnant and giving birth to a child. Yes, one can adopt a child, but planning the child and creating it is much better and is part of life's journey.

Same with boats.

I am North of fifty and a life long sailor, dinghies, deliveries, trans atlantic races, the lot. But a childhood dream was to build a bluewater boat.

So I started building at about age 48 and four years later launched the boat. And that was very special.

One can debate the financial sense, the lack of spare time while building etc. But believe me, the BEST SAIL in your entire life is the one when your boat which you built yourself first heels over and then stand up to the breeze and starts powering along.

Each person's situation is different. I own my own business and I could have put the boatbuilding time into my business and let someone else build the boat. But I wanted to build a boat, not work at business.
I have a family, three young children and a wife who does not do boats. I also like my sailing and I kept up with regular dinghy sailing. In between building the big boat I also revamped an old Optimist and a Mirror dinghy for my kids and a Finn for myself. I also did all the dad things.
It's a matter of balance and focus.

Yes, boatbuilding will test your wife! But so will a lot of other things you do.

Two practical hints. A designer who specialises in boats for amateur construction will be able to give you the manhours required to complete the project. Compare that with your available spare time. It's a bit of a reality check.

Secondly, do not build a boat that is too big.

Finally, just get going and stay focused. If it was easy, everyone would be doing it.


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Old 01-04-2010, 17:38   #33
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Location: Boston
Boat: 50' custom pilot house cutter
Posts: 115
on boat building

Some people just have a boat inside them that has to get out. If you're one of those guys, then you go for it, no matter what. But you have to be sure you're one of those guys, because a 45-50' boat is an absolutely massive project for one guy working alone. Depending on the level of finish, it could be anywhere from 10 to 35,000 man hours, or even more. The problem is that it takes so long that life, as it is wont to do, changes drastically along the way... and dreams change too. That's OK, but you have to be ready for it. A vessel conceived as a way to see the sights of Polynesia in your 20's can morph to a safe and comfortable home for your wife and kids and from that to a retirement vessel for just the 2 of you. Through it all you just keep putting one foot in front of the other, turning a whole lot of small, inter- connected projects into one big one. None of the individual projects are really all that difficult, but combined they present a pretty daunting task. Some of it is just plain work, but a lot of it is design and problem solving. Seasons come and go, the years fly by, and you’re still building.

If you’re going to do it, start collecting tools now. Especially in this economy, tools are cheap, at auction or craig’s list or yard sales. You can’t have too many c-clamps, bar clamps, hand or electric tools. You’ll wear some of them out and keep going.

The hardest part is not the building, it’s keeping a steady level of commitment, energy, and motivation. Balance is essential to do that. If the project becomes an all consuming obsession, you’ll most likely lose your wife, and probably your kids. Forget television, and learn to get by on 6 hours or less of sleep. Steal hours where ever you can, but not at the expense of your relationships. Always have 3 sub projects going at the same time… one you’re just starting, conceptualizing the how and why, and gathering the stuff needed, one you’re right in the middle of, and one you’re winding down on… just needs more varnish, final install, etc. That way if you’ve stolen 2 hours and you’re stuck on one you just move on to another.

Don’t underestimate the time spent sourcing and procuring stuff. It’s a large part of it. Spend your lunch hours reading catalogues… not just boat stuff, but industrial stuff too. You’ll need a lot of it. Start scrounging lead now. Buy more tools while you’re at it. Establish a note book of boat details you like. Refer to it often… you should have hundreds of pictures. Go to boat shows… see how they did it and why it did or didn’t work for you.

Spend as much time on the water as possible, in all types of boats. Little ones, big ones, power and sail. I had at least one boat in the water the whole time I was building, and most of the time had 3, and we used them often. They kept me sane and the family interested. Without the ability to get on the water anytime in season I would have gone crazier than I probably already am.

Build a book case. Then build a stereo cabinet. Then build a 20’ built in book case with a window seat. Next maybe a built in corner desk with bookcase. You’re not only developing more skill with your tools, you’re developing your design sense, which is critical to success. Build a small wooden boat, then weld up a trailer to haul it with. Cultivate relationships with local machine shops, metal fab shops, and high end interior wood shops. All those guys can and will help, if they like the project… and most of them will like the project, because you’re doing something they can really relate to. Take them beer, and listen to them. There’s a lot to learn.

I think a lot of projects don’t make it because there’s such a steep learning curve… by the end of the metal work they’ve learned a tremendous amount, know it could have been much better if they could just do it again, but can’t possibly start over. Then they’re intimidated by the wood work and systems, because now they know enough to know they don’t know enough to do them well, and the project just stalls and dies. Indecision is a huge problem which will really slow you down, and the only way around it is to have a wealth of experience before you start. That means experience with metal, experience with wood, experience with boats, and experience with design. But sooner or later you just have to start. And you have to start with the realization that you don’t know exactly what you’re doing, but you’ve set your self up with the firm knowledge that you’ll have the ability to figure it out. If you have that confidence, then it will get done.

It’s a huge commitment… but then launch day makes it all worthwhile. It’s a tremendously satisfying and rewarding thing to do, but definitely not for the faint of heart. It helps to have a slightly different view of the world from most people. If you know it’s the only way to get what you want, then by all means, just do it.

Good luck.

Best, Bob S/V Restless

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