The "I built my own boat, or mostly built my own boat" thread

In honor of mister FKT, probably more than two people interested.  If you built your own boat or mostly built it, share your success and failures here.

I'll start, on the refit end, probably biggest mistake for us was the "esthetic original notion to save things".  We wasted alot of time and money trying to save components or parts of the boat that had issues but were original for a misconceived tra lala idea.  The layed wood decks were a big one.  The original wood masts another.  On paper both were in the red in a big way when done.

On the plus side, doing our own rigging and going with some outside the box thinking worked out pretty well. Also buying used sails from a reputable loft like Bacon proved to be a good way to go.

 

Blue Crab

benthivore
16,507
2,717
Outer Banks
I built a 24' Wharram cat in Galveston way way back. Covered with Dynel and WEST. A shit ton of extra work over FG. I should have vac bagged it. Then-wife and I had a lot of fun in FL bay and the keys with the shallow draft. Wife loved to drive the boat if I kept her in the shade and always a cold beer in her hands and lobster waiting in Igloo. 

I built the hulls of a Hartley Sparkle trimaran in a rented storage shed in Austin. One particular guy kept coming by (6 pack in hand!) and was very interested. There was a month or two of good-natured jiving re selling the project to him. In the end, he offered very high dollars and bought boat and all my tools ... literally lock, stock and barrel, and storage unit one afternoon. Same wife said, " You did what?" Also built several dinks and a Chameleon nesting dink. Great boat but heavy.

 

The Q

Super Anarchist
1996-2000 built my own boat, designed it at 16ft, before I started construction the class I was to sail it in, disappeared from my club.. so I extended the design to 18ft for the next class up, by the time I brought the boat home from Saudi the class had reappeared and is now the biggest class in the club.

The boat took about 3years of free time to build,  the rebuild? Still going on after 5 years, in Saudi I was effectively living in a hotel no spare time consumed for anything else.. here I have a house,  garden, other things to do and SWMBO requires attention.

I've missed getting the boat ready for this years regatta week in 3weeks time, so she won't get launched till next March.

Everything takes longer than expected.

I too bought some second hand sails, they're old and tired, but are only for trial use, as I have now got an ally mast instead of a wooden gaff rig and may need to adjust the C of E from my current estimates.

 

Autonomous

Turgid Member
4,353
1,528
PNW
First build? I was poor and went with free plans. Trust me, plans are the last place to be cheap. Everything, material and time was a waste in the end. When I think of the clear, old growth Douglass Fir I butchered... BTW this was long ago when that wood was common and affordable.

 

cyclone

Super Anarchist
1,490
731
Maine
It was a prolonged project but I am happy with the boat. Best decision I made was to have it painted professionally with Awlgrip. Best new skill was learning to TIG weld. Many little stainless bits.

 

Zonker

Super Anarchist
10,147
6,336
Canada
Half a boat. Took about 4-1/2 years, working 2 days a week on it.

The Big Push when we hauled it for one month and did the following:

- dropped the mast

- installed a new bigger carbon mast beam and glassed it into the hulls

- re-installed the mast

- removed the old bridgedeck and inside uppers of the boat with a chainsaw

- put in a new bridgedeck/cockpit sole, glassing it to the hulls and fore/aft beams.

- put together a new bridgedeck cabin

- put in a diesel (outboards before) and all the diesels auxiliaries including a prop shaft and strut.

- painted the bottom (of course!)

My wife kept track of the work leading up to during the Big Push

  • Evan took 3 of the 32 days off.
  • We averaged 3.5 people at the boat each day
  • The largest one day work party was 6 people
  • Except for the day we hauled, Evan never worked alone
  • 12 different people came to the boat to help us out - most worked more than 4 days
  • Leighton was at the work site the most frequently, working around 20 days
  • We removed approximately 500 lbs when we took off the old structure
  • We added back about 1200 lbs including the diesel
  • We went through a 55 gallon drum of epoxy (mostly pre-fabbing parts ahead of time)
  • We used up 250 yards of fibreglass and 16 sheets of 4X8" foam core  (pre-fabbing parts)
  • It rained on 5 days out of the 32
  • Evan bought 30 icecream bars for our helpers
  • We drank 14 cases of beer and cider and 3 bottles of tequila
  • I made meals for 6 or more 14 times
  • I made meals for 10 or more 4 times
  • Dousing your body liberally with baby powder before grinding fibreglass, then showering with cold water is the best way to combat the itch
  • Three other methods were tried first
  • I did 10 loads of fibreglass dust covered laundry
  • Washing each load twice is the trick
  • We put 20x our normal monthly mileage on the car
  • We used 2 grinders, 3 sanders, 2 drills, 1 jigsaw, 2 skillsaws, 1 reciprocating saw and 1 chainsaw
  • We went through 4 chainsaw blades, dozens of jigsaw blades, 8 grinding discs and 50 sanding discs
  • The only paid professional help we had was the crane operator for lowering and lifting the mast and a machinist who machined our prop coupling
  • Many of our helpers are computer geeks, who needed the business end of a power tool pointed out
  • We have taken 4 rolls of slide film and a few hundred digital pictures
  • Evan had 3-4 demoralizing days and only 2-3 minor setbacks
  • Between us we averaged 8 hours less sleep a night than normal
  • Maia gave up her bed to guests for 10 nights
  • Evan and I are still talking
 

Autonomous

Turgid Member
4,353
1,528
PNW
Half a boat. Took about 4-1/2 years, working 2 days a week on it.

The Big Push when we hauled it for one month and did the following:

- dropped the mast

- installed a new bigger carbon mast beam and glassed it into the hulls

- re-installed the mast

- removed the old bridgedeck and inside uppers of the boat with a chainsaw

- put in a new bridgedeck/cockpit sole, glassing it to the hulls and fore/aft beams.

- put together a new bridgedeck cabin

- put in a diesel (outboards before) and all the diesels auxiliaries including a prop shaft and strut.

- painted the bottom (of course!)

My wife kept track of the work leading up to during the Big Push

  • Evan took 3 of the 32 days off.
  • We averaged 3.5 people at the boat each day
  • The largest one day work party was 6 people
  • Except for the day we hauled, Evan never worked alone
  • 12 different people came to the boat to help us out - most worked more than 4 days
  • Leighton was at the work site the most frequently, working around 20 days
  • We removed approximately 500 lbs when we took off the old structure
  • We added back about 1200 lbs including the diesel
  • We went through a 55 gallon drum of epoxy (mostly pre-fabbing parts ahead of time)
  • We used up 250 yards of fibreglass and 16 sheets of 4X8" foam core  (pre-fabbing parts)
  • It rained on 5 days out of the 32
  • Evan bought 30 icecream bars for our helpers
  • We drank 14 cases of beer and cider and 3 bottles of tequila
  • I made meals for 6 or more 14 times
  • I made meals for 10 or more 4 times
  • Dousing your body liberally with baby powder before grinding fibreglass, then showering with cold water is the best way to combat the itch
  • Three other methods were tried first
  • I did 10 loads of fibreglass dust covered laundry
  • Washing each load twice is the trick
  • We put 20x our normal monthly mileage on the car
  • We used 2 grinders, 3 sanders, 2 drills, 1 jigsaw, 2 skillsaws, 1 reciprocating saw and 1 chainsaw
  • We went through 4 chainsaw blades, dozens of jigsaw blades, 8 grinding discs and 50 sanding discs
  • The only paid professional help we had was the crane operator for lowering and lifting the mast and a machinist who machined our prop coupling
  • Many of our helpers are computer geeks, who needed the business end of a power tool pointed out
  • We have taken 4 rolls of slide film and a few hundred digital pictures
  • Evan had 3-4 demoralizing days and only 2-3 minor setbacks
  • Between us we averaged 8 hours less sleep a night than normal
  • Maia gave up her bed to guests for 10 nights
  • Evan and I are still talking
If you're ever in the mood to share pictures or more details I'm all ears.

 
Definitely for a couple leaving on the boat it has to be the right balance.  My wife told someone a while ago when they asked how we made it through the refit, she said that we never wanted to divorce beach other at the same time..

The "Big push" seems like a common denominator.  No matter how well planned or even if planned at the end there is the marathon run to get away.  I thought we were doing pretty well but always take the rosy outlook on planning.  Our last hurrah before leaving was a month in PT.  Did the rudder, cockpit steering and electronics.  Definitely did not plan on the boat getting filled with snow trying to do layups in almost zero weather and 25-40kts most days.

Sitting here in Penasco there must be ten different boats with people and lots of kids.  Kinda wierd as most are in the stages of getting ready to go west or to the canal etc.  We are plugging away on the neverending maintenance getting ready to go back to the beginning.

 
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Oh geez.  Not sure I should remind myself (or, more importantly, my wife) of this.

We bought a perfectly good (well, except for some deck soft spots around the mast) used Soverel 36, largely because I had worked at Soverel 15 years earlier when they were building the same model and we both always lusted after the 36.  This is NOT the reason to choose your cruising vessel.

After a year, we hauled it  to do the bottom, repair a skeg crack (that we knew about when we bought it) and replace a seacock.  On removing the seacock, I was surprised to see that the hull was thinner than I expected.  It was the layup of the racing (fin keel, spade rudder) versions, but we'd bought the cruising (keel/centerboard and skeg-hung rudder).   All the boats were semi-custom and could be modified to fit buyer preferences and my experience is that the cruising boat buyers always went for heavier hull layups.  I will note here that after 15 years, the hull had no flex spots or oil canning and was in fine shape.

However, I decided that while we had the boat out of the water, I would add some interior hull laminations to thicken portions of the hull.  One thing led to another, "while we are at it", and long story short, we spent 10 years and ended up with only the exterior 1/4-1/2" of the hull and deck, the major structural bulkheads, and the fiberglass liner of the head being original.  The ENTIRE hull above the water line ended up with an additional 24 oz laminate, then the hull above the waterline got a vacuum-bagged structural-foam core,  glass laminations were added over that that core plus the entire hull below the waterline.  Then two fiberglass structural stringers were run along the entire hull.  Two of the main bulkheads are now watertight collision bulkheads and every mechanical and electrical system was replaced or rebuilt, including a new engine.  Oh, we also recored the deck and cabin trunk.

DO NOT DO THIS!  We love the boat but the cost in $$ and time make it a very unwise investment.  On the other hand, we didn't do it as an investment and it is set up pretty much exactly as we like.  But I still repeat...don't do this.

Now, another 20 years later, we are making additional changes as part of a Covid-lengthened refit before leaving to spend a few years cruising.  Crossed fingers that the South Pacific is open after hurricane season ends here in Florida. We'd like to leave the first of the year to work our way over there.  Like we were going to last year.   And the year before.   And the year before.  But we really mean it this time.

I'll finish with a picture of one part, the galley, with before, during, and after shots, noting that my best-wife-in-the-world partner helped with the hull glasswork (how many wives will do that?) and that's her in the last photo helping clean up after the core vacuum bagging in the lazaretto/engine room area.

*1  Slide #1994-5253b Arcturus 12-1994.jpg

*2  Slide #1994-5254a Arcturus 12-1994.jpg

*3  DCP_1055, Lori and new galley 2 2003.jpg

*4  Slide #1994-5080 Arcturus 4-1994.jpg

 
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The Q

Super Anarchist
I'll add to my bit, although SWMBO gave up sailing nearly 30 years ago, she's at this time making woven sail ties on an Inkle loom with the boats name in the weave. To be followed by a seat cushion base and back. With an Inkle loom woven band  around the edge, and the boats name woven in at the top .

 

SloopJonB

Super Anarchist
70,064
13,249
Great Wet North
Oh geez.  Not sure I should remind myself (or, more importantly, my wife) of this.

We bought a perfectly good (well, except for some deck soft spots around the mast) used Soverel 36, largely because I had worked at Soverel 15 years earlier when they were building the same model and we both always lusted after the 36.  This is NOT the reason to choose your cruising vessel.

After a year, we hauled it  to do the bottom, repair a skeg crack (that we knew about when we bought it) and replace a seacock.  On removing the seacock, I was surprised to see that the hull was thinner than I expected.  It was the layup of the racing (fin keel, spade rudder) versions, but we'd bought the cruising (keel/centerboard and skeg-hung rudder).   All the boats were semi-custom and could be modified to fit buyer preferences and my experience is that the cruising boat buyers always went for heavier hull layups.  I will note here that after 15 years, the hull had no flex spots or oil canning and was in fine shape.

However, I decided that while we had the boat out of the water, I would add some interior hull laminations to thicken portions of the hull.  One thing led to another, "while we are at it", and long story short, we spent 10 years and ended up with only the exterior 1/4-1/2" of the hull and deck, the major structural bulkheads, and the fiberglass liner of the head being original.  The ENTIRE hull above the water line ended up with an additional 24 oz laminate, then the hull above the waterline got a vacuum-bagged structural-foam core,  glass laminations were added over that that core plus the entire hull below the waterline.  Then two fiberglass structural stringers were run along the entire hull.  Two of the main bulkheads are now watertight collision bulkheads and every mechanical and electrical system was replaced or rebuilt, including a new engine.  Oh, we also recored the deck and cabin trunk.

DO NOT DO THIS!  We love the boat but the cost in $$ and time make it a very unwise investment.  On the other hand, we didn't do it as an investment and it is set up pretty much exactly as we like.  But I still repeat...don't do this.

Now, another 20 years later, we are making additional changes as part of a Covid-lengthened refit before leaving to spend a few years cruising.  Crossed fingers that the South Pacific is open after hurricane season ends here in Florida. We'd like to leave the first of the year to work our way over there.  Like we were going to last year.   And the year before.   And the year before.  But we really mean it this time.

I'll finish with a picture of one part, the galley, with before, during, and after shots, noting that my best-wife-in-the-world partner helped with the hull glasswork (how many wives will do that?) and that's her in the last photo helping clean up after the core vacuum bagging in the lazaretto/engine room area.

View attachment 450161

View attachment 450162

View attachment 450163

View attachment 450164
I'd say you married very well.

I'm not so sure that she did though. ;)

 
I didn’t need another boat, but I needed a pandemic project.  Didn’t want to spend a lot and shop size limited LOA to 22’
Always liked Joel White’s designs, especially his Fox Island Class sloop.  Made a few changes:
Construction is cedar strip composite instead of glued lapstrake.
Scored a J/24 that  had gone mushy and used its rig and keel.
Here’s the result on the first sail.

601474B6-71F6-4EC2-8103-7AC30F0DB688.jpeg

We’re debugging it.  Results are encouraging.  
As I said, i needed a project, not a boat, so I’ll probably try to sell it.

 

trisail

Anarchist
507
562
It was a childhood dream to build my own boat and sail it across the ocean.

One day I walked into an empty shed with a set of plans, a pile of foam and rolls of glass and resin. And I would picture the boat reaching into an anchorage after a trans-ocean passage.

Finally did it at age 50-something.

403100195_f9ax102.jpg

 




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