by Barrett Faneuf

The Ugly Numbers

Recently on the John Welsford Builders forum, the question of whether to buy the very best materials or to go cheap when building a boat came up. Here is one insightful reply.

> 2.How much would I need to plan on setting aside to
> buy the materials necessary to complete?

That's a somewhat loaded question, of course, since your choices in materials can make a big difference in cost. You have to make the final call on stuff like that - we can only say "what we did and why".

Here's what I did, and why.
Oh, let's get the heart-attack done now, shall we?

US$8000 packed up on the trailer, ready to sail.

That's what one Navigator has cost ME to build. We don't talk about time invested, here. It's like asking a woman her age.

Let's break that number down, a little. I have a comprehensive spreadsheet, but it's at home and I am writing this from work. But the basics are pretty clear.

First, basic materials.
It turns out that the simple, innocent plywood which receives so much discussion and anguish is not, in my opinion, a significant cost in the grand scheme of things. I chose to buy top-quality Okoume plywood because maybe it cost US$10 more per sheet, but come on, that's $100 in the grand scheme and I'm going to use that much money in disposable gloves, cups, sticks, an paper towels. Really.

I chose to buy additional quality wood to veneer onto the transoms. An aesthetic choice, it added about $100 to my material costs in wood and epoxy and varnish.

I chose to buy hardwood for seats. Very snooty. About $250 there.

I chose to use epoxy for all my assembly, and to 'glass the bottoms in Kevlar. That addition rather than simply fiberglass taping the bottom seam probably added $500 in Kevlar and all the epoxy to saturate it and filler to fair it and sanding discs to drive me insane.

I chose to have top-name sails designed to the sail plan rather than buy an off-the shelf set. I chose a roller furling jib and it's attendant hardware. That's a big chunk, there, about US$3000 in all.

I chose a brand-new unused marine galvanized trailer for the boat. That was pretty reasonable for this area, I'm sure it may vary elsewhere. $550 for that with licensing and plates.

I spent $150 on paint and $75 on brushes, cleaners, etc to apply it.

I've used about $300 in incidentals like sanding discs, drill bits that get broken, sharpening fees, gloves, stirrers, cups, etc, etc, etc.

Bronze fasteners were about $200 including the chainplates and mast tangs that I'm making from bronze strapping, and the solid bronze rod for centerboard axle.

Rope and line was $225

"Jewelry" like all the stainless, etc was $350

I am making my own blocks, saving quite a lot there, but had to buy the materials, about $50.

I've probably forgotten stuff, but you get the idea. Prices for some things varies up and down by nationality. I used the Web heavily to shop for the best prices, but I was utterly unwilling to compromise on the quality of ANY of my materials. The boat can undoubtedly be built for less than I spent. Those choices would be different.

Hope this helps, at least a little.