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Old 26-03-2010, 08:43   #1
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Building the Dream

Hi there sailing dames and gents!

I’m sure you have all seen this or similar threads before, but I ask you all to humour me, as I am new to this forum (and website) and genuinely seek advice from the experienced and knowledgeable people here.

Although I have lived close to water my whole life, I have limited sailing experience, i.e. mostly with dinghies. However, I have genuinely been bitten by this wonderful bug! So much so, that I someday envisage my wife and I attempting our own circumnavigation, albeit after many more years of experience (and more than a little professional instruction!)

And here it is: I would like to someday build my own blue-water sailboat. I have heard from personal acquaintances (as well as a moderator here) that this is definitely not the cheapest way to go about it, and that I should consider someone’s unfinished project or a good second hand boat. However, I have trawled the internet to get ideas of what’s out there (for when I feel ready someday) and just not found anything that I would really want to pay for-and then have to work on anyway (as it goes with boat ownership). Also, there seems to be a lot of boats on the market in really poor condition and even with a goody marine survey, I just don’t know that I would be able to sleep worry-free with a second-hand steel sailboat, which is what I am ultimately after.

I am not really thinking of building (or buying) to ultimately re-sell someday, at least not here in North America where the market is “pro-fibreglass”, just something that my wife and I (and maybe kids someday) can enjoy until we are too old to enjoy it. I am only 28 years old- a science grad student (Biochemistry) and I hope to someday make a “comfortable” salary, so I am really looking at the long term, possibly starting in about 10 years or so. From the numerous books I have bought and read, I have developed some of my own criteria, but I welcome the knowledgeable people here (Jeff H and Co!) to freely offer their opinions-I have a very thick skin

I would like to build a steel-hulled, center-cockpit, cutter-rigged sailboat, somewhere between 44 and 50 feet in total. I have bought books by Bruce Roberts, and thoroughly inspected the designs of Roberts, Brewer, Colvin and Dix, and none of these except Roberts has a “decent” aft deck version that I am really after. I like the Voyager 450 deck saloon plans which have two spacious cabins and a spacious deck saloon area. Also, Colvin and Brewer seem fixated on schooner rigs (as opposed to cutter, sloop or ketch rigs) which goes against what I have read about good off-shore sailboats- particularly when it comes to short-handed sailing.

Please feel free to offer opinions on all aspects of this dream, including the costs, time and the worthiness of taking on such a project from scratch, even if it is many years down the road!

Thanks for reading through all of this- I welcome your comments and guidance!

Steve L
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Old 26-03-2010, 10:19   #2
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Hey Steve...welcome to the forum...uh....again, and thanks for not embarrassing me.
Just a note for some of you that may recognize Steve's post....I accidentally deleted his previous one...I hope you will take the time to give him the same thoughtful replies as you did before.
Sorry for the inconvenience.
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Old 27-03-2010, 06:35   #3
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Here's a wee bit of information to chew on, and welcome.......i2f
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Old 27-03-2010, 07:23   #4
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Van de Stadt designs

Van de Stadt designed a number of boats that can be "home"-built,

Koppmans too (but probably you will not build one at home).

Dix too (I think his name is Dudley).

Bruce Roberts - many designs, heavy and potentially slow, but easy to build.

hull 1/3 of the cost, equipment and rig 1/3 and the final 1/3 in the finish

home built boats tend to be slightly cheaper than custom builts, also slightly lower quality, hower the 'cheaper' does not allow for the owners-builders time - if you price your time at anything above null then probably the boat will come out more expensive than a yard built one

Unless you are a pro and supported by other pros, I would always BUY the hull and concentrate my energy and money in going from there.

Average time I get when asking them home builder 'how long' - 10 years.

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Old 27-03-2010, 07:55   #5
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Hi Steve
It looks I'm just a step ahead of you. I had the same doubts and finally, in 2008 I decided it was time to jump on, or leave the dream to death. So, after 10 years of doubts I finally bought a Bruce Roberts design, specifically the Voyager 440, which 6 months later I changed for the classic stern version (vertical transom) V445.
I own a smal steel construction business in Brazil, so it's a bit easier to me to deal with this material. But I'm sure you'll go through it as well.
If you are interested, you can find some more information on my boat's blog (Metamundus).
I'm trying to keep it up to date, although I did'nt have much to write on the past weeks.
All the texts are writen in Portuguese AND English.
There you'll find also some links for my photo albums.

Good luck to you and your dream!

Thomas Ogrizek
Brazil
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Old 27-03-2010, 08:02   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve L View Post
I would like to someday build my own blue-water sailboat..... science grad student (Biochemistry)
I'm saying this gently, please don't take offense:

You have little experience sailing or boat building but you want to do the something akin to graduating a gentics phd.

Take a looooooooong look before you plunge in!

Its vastly easier and cheaper to buy one of the boats many hate without reason than to build one you have no idea will sail to your liking.

Maybe you could go to the local sailing club and get some experience crewing on boats racing on the weekends. Volunteers will always be welcome, and you will be immersed in the latest technolgy of boat building and sailing. You will see and probably sail on a vareity of boats and drink with people after the race who will give you tips on what they like/dislike about theirs. I reckon its the fastest way to learn and check out kit.

Remember, sailing is moving as fast forward as Biochemistry: What was standard 20-30 years ago is in the far distant past today...

If you then decide to build one yourself at least after being racing for a few years you will build a better boat to your absolute specifications

All the best


Mark
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Old 27-03-2010, 09:27   #7
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for me it's been a question of which I really prefer. Did I want to sail or build boats. Some I have seen build boats they love this but don't sail much. Others have built boats and gone on to sail lots. I love working on boats but I also like to sail. I'd be happiest building you a boat while I also sail mine. I have a 30 year old Peterson which satisfies my need for boat rebuilding. While the projects are managable enough so the makes it to state of being able to be sailed. That fits my needs nicely. It is an amazing thing to build a boat. Their are multiple trades and an endless learning curve. I found at last the balance that suits me. Do you want to build a boat or sail? May be a bit of both but it's worth spending some time working on that. For me lofes to short to use 400 grit sandpaper others find it meets their desire. Good luck
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Old 27-03-2010, 09:59   #8
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Well said sabray
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Old 27-03-2010, 18:33   #9
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Yep - building boats is for those who love to build, sailing them - for those who love to sail.

There is a small group of in-betweens, but one never knows who's in it.

b.
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Old 28-03-2010, 07:41   #10
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Thanks everyone, I really appreciate the feedback!

As I mentioned earlier, I'm only 28, and if I decide to go ahead with this, it would be a long term project- something to give me pleasure and keep me busy outside of the lab- something I can really enjoy that'll keep me out of the pub!

I understand your views- that if I'm building, I'm not sailing, but there is a long term goal here- to create a comfortable, safe cruising sailboat for my wife and I , the way we want it laid out and in steel for the peace of mind at sea on those dark nights... I'll admit it, I may have a bit of a need to "create" it the way I want, but I truly want to know where every single wire, pipe, etc leads. I want to know exactly how it all fits together, how every component of every system is integrated- all so I can be totally self-reliant when repairs are required. As far as sailing ability goes, I am not after racing speeds and handling-otherwise I would buy a Beneteau 45 and stick to the ICW and the Caribbean (can you take these offshore?). I have read enough books by Moitessier and others to feel steel has adequate capabilities and will get us “there”- albeit at an average of 5 knots! Also, I understand this kind of boat is “kindly” in rougher weather, which makes it easier on the crew!
Please keep the comments coming! I am still after some specifics on time and costs- if anyone can provide any rough estimates! Where are the home builders here? I would love to hear from you guys!
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Old 28-03-2010, 13:39   #11
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Steve, I too have been where you are, even with a slight advantage in the experience with boats area. In the end I opted to buy a steel boat that I could rebuild rather than build from scratch.

As for being a long term project, unless you can dedicate up to 30 hours a week on building, it will quickly become a never-ending project.
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Old 28-03-2010, 14:33   #12
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After we were too far into building our boat to quit, a veteran amatuer boat builder gave us this advice: "If you want to build a boat, build a boat. If you want to go sailing, go sailing. Under no circumstances combine the two as you'll probably accomplish neither.

We built our boat in a home built yard in Costa Mesa, then the boat building capitol of the US. Their were maybe 20 other boats in the yard, most on their second or even 4th owner. We stopped by the yard about 5 years after we launched. Only one other boat had launched in that time. Sadly, most of the boats weren't a whole lot closer to completion than when we launched ours many years before. The yard is now gone, often wonder if any of those boats were ever finished.

You will not save any money, actually will spend more money, than buying a compleated boat. The project will take way longer than you ever imagined and become a drag that can pull you down. Your marriage will suffer especially if you make decent progress towards completion of the project. And if you are lucky, will get out through the project in one piece.

We bought a Westsail hull and deck. Working 12/7/365, we launched a year after we started and took another 6 months in the water finishing the boat off. We don't regret the experience of construction but our goal was to go sailing and we wasted that time not doing what we'd originally intended. We spent about 25% more money than a fitted out factory finished boat would've cost. An accident with a table saw cost me the ends of four fingers.

You have no idea of the immensity that the project of building a boat until you actually get into it. Without a fully equipped wood and metal shop, simple tasks either take forever or have to be farmed out. Unless you live near a fully stocked boat chandlery, marine lumber yard, and other supply houses, time involved in getting materials is vastly more time consuming than you can possibly imagine. Small decisions like where to put a through hull become big decisions that can leave you lying awake at night for weeks. Construction of the hull and deck is the fastest easiest and cheapest part of boat building. It's the finishing off of the boat that takes vast amounts of time and money AND determine the value of the boat when finished.

Some people do actually complete their home built boats before they die. A few even do it with the same wife they started with. Only the highly skilled with the shop to back them up save much, if any money. We finished our boat and sailed off to SoPac but we were the small minority. Thanks to Uncle Sam's unemployment and dumb luck in buying and selling a house at the exact right time and place, we were able to work full time on our project which made a big difference. Looking back, we were lucky. It was dumb luck, desperation and pig headedness that got us through. I would only build another boat if I had an overpowering need to create a job for myself. Save yourself a big headache, save your money, buy a boat that you can putter on while still using it, and go sailing, if that is your true desire.
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Old 28-03-2010, 15:16   #13
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Some reasons why...

I built my first boat (32' Hartley Ferro) in Sydney when I was 25 (a very long time ago). I wanted a boat and at the time with my resources it was the only way I was going to get one. Took 3 years to build.

Sailed it for 3 years, had a real good time, sold it for what it cost.

Then I got a job in New Guinea and built a 21' Van der Stadt (excellent design) sailed it for another year (had a great time), sold it. Kept me off the grog which was a real occupational hazard in New Guinea in those days.

Now I'm outfitting a 44' Roberts (everything inside is going to be new!). It's turned out to be a way bigger job than I ever imagined, but again it's the only way I could ever go cruising. Have a look at my blog if you want to see the good side of what you're looking at.

To me Cruising (and sailing) is a social activity. It's the other people who make it fun. Having a boat by myself I really don't enjoy, and when I've found myself with a boat and no companionship I've sold the boat and found something more enjoyable to do.

So as you're planning your cruise (this is the Cruisers Forum, sorry) it's not really about the boat. It's about the people that you'll have with you. So the planning is to have a boat that they'll like.

But to digress, if I think back, 28 years old is party central. Why not get one of those trashed out, but still usable, older fibreglass boats, about 30', hunt through your friends for a few sailors, and enjoy now?
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Old 28-03-2010, 15:43   #14
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You'll get plenty of people telling you it can't be done, or you won't save money by building. Of course none of them will have actually built a boat!

I've just recently (Jan 25) launched my home-built 44' catamaran, and I say it CAN be done, and if you build the right boat, and do it well, you CAN do it cheaper than buying a similar boat. MUCH cheaper.

But the right boat, if you're trying to save money, probably isn't a steel monohull.

If you want the satisfaction of having built it yourself, and knowing every millimetre of your boat, and if you are going to treat it as a long term hobby, then go for it!
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Old 29-03-2010, 06:36   #15
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Steve
I have some more words about building your own boat, and building it in steel.
I decided to jump in this project for two basic reasons:
- I believe (as you do) that steel is a very strong material, and suitable for all kind of conditions that a serious cruiser would find in his way.
- I want a boat fitted with most of the features and equipments that I think, are essential to a perfect cruiser, and cannot be found in a serial fiberglass boat.
But... I've only decided to go ahead because I work on steel constructions for over 25 years, and I have the equipments and the workers to do the job. Steel is not an easy material to do by your self. For the rest of the job (joinery, systems, deck hardware...) I'll hire professionals on these specific areas. Even though, I'm planning to spend 5 years on this project.
If I didn't have these conditions, I'd never start to build a boat. Building such a big thing is not a simple task to do on weekends. Or you may never finish it.
I'm engaged in this construction as an engineer, who has fair knowledge about steel construction, and who didn't know anything about sailboats some years ago . I've been studying, researching and reading on the matter for many years, and only the time spent on this, is already a very big time consuming. I'm sure I wouldn't be able to accomplish the building process.
Talking on costs, I don’t have much to say, because I’m in the beginning of the construction, but I spent US 37,000 on all steel plates and laser cutting service. Assembling and welding and grit blasting will cost nothing to me, because this job will be done by my co-workers on their free time. I have an estimate to spend around US 30,000 on coating materials. So, the bare hull will arrive to near US 70,000. This is a price I’ll get because I have a very special condition, as a steel construction business owner.
On the other hand, I know a Hungarian man who accomplished to build the same boat (Roberts DS440) on little more than two years, with little help, but he has previous experience on steel working and he dedicated full time to his boat, doing a wonderful job. You can visit his website at Norvikinfo - Norvik vitorláshajóval kapcsolatos h*rek, információk

I hope this will help you in your decision

Thomas Ogrizek
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