The Online Magazine For Amateur Boat Builders














by Jeff Gilbert


This is the big daddy Frequently Asked Question of them all, aptly named an FAQ as it sounds like the word emitted upon hearing the truth.

My first attempt to answer this was a flat unqualified 50,000 dollars, and it was met with general howls of disbelief, derision and occasional despair from an occasional believer. However, I had taken the sentence very literally. Swift to me means capable of double figures. You have to remember that we go sailing to unwind, and over 10 knots starts to not feel like that’s happening, It gets hard on bodies and expensive on gear. General pain in both arse and wallet bones, not to mention nasty objects of debris rushing your boat at uncalled for speed. Ever heard people yelling at each other on yachts? Chances are they are going swiftly in a crowded anchorage, and having fun in inverse proportion to said speed. In a seaway both swell and windspeed across the deck can make real pace abominable, but bowling along at 8 plus knots in an open space never hurt anyone, and a 150 mile day would be a real grinner in a budget boat.

If you want the above notion of swift cheaply you’ll be wanting a plywood multihull. There is no other way for the true amateur to do it, but it’s not a compromise. Strength for weight, plywood is among the strongest materials known. (It’s just a bit voluminous and scarce for building harbour bridges. Strength by weight and so much volume it floats – wood is made for boats and modern resin is made for woods so they stay the distance. A decently built ply boat coated carefully will see us out.) Plywood is easily finished and not toxic to work with. It looks, sounds, smells and feels a lot nicer inside a boat than plastic. If you are so worried by the price of your boat you start gnawing the fixtures, it probably tastes better too!

And because building 2 hulls are easier than three, and a cat holds more comfy space, you’ll specifically want a plywood catamaran. As weight equals expense, you’ll also be wanting it of minimal safe size. You can only travel with you plus two, max, or you’ll throw each other overboard. Small and considerate groups, who are good company and think ahead, are the raw ingredients of a good crew. With this sound basis you’ll have fun creating the necessary experience up and down your local coast. I’ve never heard of Skippers having to chase mad-keen crew off a boat that’s departing at a firm 90 degrees to land. And for all the good people who’d “love to go”, few are free to. Those capable of transforming fear into careful preparation, those you’d most love aboard, are usually slaving to give their children what passes for an education. I’d get on a soapbox but they aren’t wooden anymore.

By and large Trans-Ocean Travel on small boats is as popular as pork in a synagogue. Ocean crossing in small boats and rock climbing could be regarded as the special province of lunatics, and the surprising number who aspires to both might support this notion. You don’t have to do it, there’s no necessity to make a Crossing, ever. The point is that to enjoy Coasting your boat needs to be prepared exactly the same. Nothing is more beautiful than the view of land reaching up a coastline; nothing is more deadly than a lee shore.

Chris White, an offshore multi designer who produces a wonderful blend of flair and safety, mentions in his book that 35000 foot-lbs (4800 kg-m) righting moment is about the minimum buffer he likes against multihull wave capsize. I agree that this defines the size nicely for a minimal ocean cat, and it would usually produce a boat a bit over 30 feet, which in turn is oft held as just enough length to allow the aesthete to draw full headroom without incurring undue windage penalty.

Thomas Firth Jones might go a little smaller. He and his wife have crossed the Atlantic several times, storms and all, in ply multis they designed and built. Some were of sizes I would consider too small. Apart from exciting my admiration, Thomas proved the point and hammered it home. Twenty eight feet of sensibly designed and handled plywood multi is plenty big enough in all circumstances except those in which not even large ships are immune.

I tend to regard 30 feet and 3 tons of boat as about the point where a person of ordinary means stops owning the boat, and becomes its slave. I’ve been playing around with the minimal ocean cat design problem for years, in a project called Gumboots. A pair of Gumboots is the most practical way to get about a wet farm. It’s appropriate and easier to say than Wellington Boots. The 28-foot (8.5m) Gumboots keep changing shape as people threaten to build her, stuff her in containers etc. But I have a current version, Gumboots GT, that answers the original question, and for which I hope to release plans in the next 12 months.

I see there as being really two types of interest with this minimal size ocean boat -getting there and entertaining. Getting there probably means you come up against paradox – do you want a space to motor from shelter, or do you want a little saloon? You won’t get both so your saloon is likely to be a good helm seat and a couple more seats where people can yak to the helmsperson and a chart table if you can cram it in. My feeling with a boat this size is that it isn’t big enough to be an entertainer, and you are better off to extend your house if that’s what you want. At a pinch it may fit a small family, but for serious offshore work it’s a boat for two or three if you intend a 24-hour watch.

The GT is designed for getting there and doesn’t have a saloon, just a good sheltered deck area and a little wheelhouse that could instead be a wind-screened alfresco dining area for a determined entertainer. The two types of interest are utterly opposed with respect to enclosed volume. The GT has just enough in the lower pitching center of the boat so you can’t hit your head cooking or sitting, or sitting up in bed. After that it’s pared right down, but does have a hold in each corner so what space you do have isn’t filled with jerrycans and wet sails. She is 28 feet long and weighs a max of 2.5 tons loaded with a full ton of ocean bound folk and their food and fuel. There’s a ton of wooden structure and the other half-ton is in masts, anchors and all the stuff I’d like to pretend was lighter. Few decently made objects are light and cheap. Getting there means you want room to carry a drogue or two, preferably a solid one to be deployed short and a bigger one to go out at 1.5 wavelengths. How you keep track of the wavelength is beyond me – let out a bit of rope if the noise outside gets worse. I’ve always been a bit worried about the complexity of a chute drogue in the confusion of a storm, and have more faith in the small solid ones. Whatever keeps the boats head up while you keep yours down will do. I’d put a rope thru the plughole and throw the sink over if it would help, which it might.

Talking about storms brings us to the ultimate paradox of cruising cats. How do you design a hull with good board-free resistance to lee-drift, without it tripping if hit sideways by a wall of white water. You can have mini-keels and rely on keeping her head-up, or you can have full sideslipping and daggers that hit things. How bad is this problem? Well if you solve it let me know. As an example of this problem Gavin Le Sueur’s Crowther cat “D-Flawless” survived a storm off New Zealand where it was side-slipped many times, but hit a whale with a dagger when nearly home to Australia. The hull disintegrated, followed by the rest of the boat. This was the most efficient of daggers, high aspect right thru the hull with the bottom creating a good end-plate effect.

This is a complexity of multihull design that is inescapable, devoid of elegant solutions. You have to try balance the various foulnesses into an edible blend. I like a catamaran with some inherent hull ability to make it upwind without daggers, but without a fixed mini-keel that can trip the boat if it’s hit sideways. To make the upwind difference I like a lee/dagger board outside the hull that won’t wreck the boat when it hits something solid. (These days hitting stuff in the ocean is a given.) Such a board will lose end-plate effect but you can’t have it all. If you like you could poke it thru a little vortex board to get a bit of end plate, but then the board won’t break away. On the 15ft mini-cruiser Hot Chili I drew bumper rungs on the outer flat sides behind which one can poke a “lagger” board. You can use breakaway balsa or foam blocks as rear guides. The other reason I like such a “lagger” board is the opportunity to tune it for perfect slight weather helm no matter what ghastly cheapnesses you have been forced into in order to poke up a rig. To do this easily you desire a section of hull that’s fore and aft parallel. This is best done by committing a slight asymmetry inboard under the bridgedeck where the panic merchants may miss it. Again these laggers are built inboard where they can be pushed down to bridgedeck level in perfect safety, and need be only 8 feet long.

All too often I’ve seen daggers that need the strength of a weightlifter and the agility of a ballet dancer to operate. When you succeed in abseiling into their vicinity you push yourself overboard when they jam. This might look hilarious from the helm but the few deaths that have occurred on multihulls are nearly all from falling off, the trouble being that even if the faller yells like buggery, the boat is too fast and you lose sight of the swimmer in the swells.

There is no perfect leeway prevention system, although an efficient motor comes close! You can’t deny the problem by simply motoring upwind and sailing down, as cats travel fast enough to nearly always wind up on a reach.

Two–point-five tons of ocean bound and victual led minimal ply cat produces our discussed righting moment off a 12.5 foot hull CL stance, which in turn gives a well balanced boat in terms of equal stability in all directions. Remember this weight is a lot more than most people would consider “proper”, but most people are not going miles from land. This weight can be pushed with remarkable little power and will punch through a swell too, if and only if it doesn’t present too much volume to said swell. The ends of the true ocean cat should be accommodation free, which may seem extravagant in a boat this size but they are better used for dry capsize bunks, sail and stow holds and a crash bulkhead forrd. Exactly where you go in the boat if she capsizes in an issue that folk don’t like to consider, but they should. An inverted and flooded monohull needs a raft, a catamaran is one. Prepare for the worst, plan and pray for the best. You can be overtaken by no win situations – it happens to rock climbers, motorbike riders and people simply walking down the street. The point is the better prepared you are the less time you get to spend worrying. It’s a good deal. Turn the drawing of your boat upside down and see if there is a spot for a dry bunk. One thing not shown on plans is the water temperature.

So what might this minimalist catamaran cost?

Lets assume you’ve made your compromise in size and are going to go for good quality from here on in.

She needs around 60 sheets. I like a good marine ply throughout of mostly 9mm, some 12mm and a few heavier. At least 6000 dollars in Australia. She needs epoxy resin but little glass, if you decide to glass her fully I like Vinylester and 200-g/sqm cloth faired and finished with a gelcoat. I would not recommend glassing her fully. It's upping the weight and work for works sake. Glass below the waterline as leak insurance, and coat the rest with epoxy.

All your coatings glues and the like, along with odd strengthening and framing timber should see the whole structure of about 1500 square feet of surface complete for about 12000 dollars and weighing in at around a ton. As I’ve designed Gumboots to be built without jigs, frames, or molds on a flat floor, build time could be as low as 40 minutes a pound and you should get her to this stage in 1500 hours. You may do an awful lot better. Building ply epoxy is a trade-off of speed and accuracy. You are not making a telescope lens, but experience really tells. If the first simple dory hull takes 250 hours, the second will take 150.

Shell list:

Ply hull & cabin
Bridgedeck duflex sheets extra strong
Assorted lumber
Epoxy, glass, tape
Inspection/escape hatches, windows
Paint and bottom coat

The total here is 16,000 Australian dollars, or about 12k US.

You may do better in some areas of the list, but consider this: you may do worse in others. Marine Plywood may differ only in the quality of the faces, and you can sometimes obtain structural exterior ply with the same glues, and the same veneers but one fair face (sometimes with holes filled) and one not so fair. The trick is that the marine has more plies (more insurance) and so I would only consider a minimum of 5 plies. Some of the thicker structural 5-plies are very strong particularly in the direction of the face grain where it has 3 plies in that direction to two at right angles. The grain should run across a bridgedeck in this case. Look at your ply carefully. Read your local standards and look at the labels – every symbol has meaning and they are in the standards. I don’t mind knot holes inside a coated boat. Knowing manufacturers, if there are voids on the face there will be more inside. Many designers specify cheaper ply for bunk bases and so on, but 60 sheets is often just the right amount to get a discount and if you break up your order into several types you may pay more for less quality.

Read what your designer is trying to achieve. If he is obtaining hull strength by torturing ply it will be 6mm and requires the very best. If he or she is going for two layers you might use marine outside very cheap structural as the knotholes can be full of epoxy. Use common sense, but remember delamination is the enemy and to avoid it your best shot is marine quality veneers joined with the best waterproof glues. If you have time get a sample of what you think you may use and throw it in the sea for a year on the end of a line.

Sails and rigging are not a minor expense after you finish the boat. They are the major expense and the heart of the boat. You can make a saving by going second hand, but do so sensibly. A rig that cost $1000 and barely works at all is no saving. You can compromise with the rig, but not to the extent of making your pride and joy a slug. I recently redesigned a mainsail for a chap whose second hand rig had created massive weather helm by being too far forward, and in the end he is going to have a brand new mainsail cut to put things right, and bring the rig up to the fine standard of the rest of his cat. We were able to get away with his mast position and jib by carefully redesigning the main to produce a net Center of Effort that suited the boat. The job took many hours of drawing and balancing but in the end will be worth it. But when it’s all over he saved only on the mast, boom and a jib that is next to go. The golden rule for rig modification is that you be able to position the CE of your sails over the CE of the designed sail plan, and to ensure this you need a design that has some flexibility in the mast position, and if there is some flexibility in the dagger position, you have all the ingredients for a happy ending.

Catamarans sail across the wind and you want stiff sails, preferably battened and not of genus Saggus Sackus Maximus. A taut headstay means you want a strong forebeam with seagull striker. If you poach a rig your stays will change position and alignments at spreaders may be incorrect. Measure and think before you act. Most designers don’t like to see adaptations of this sort, but if it’s the only way you can afford to get on the water and you explain that, offer them fair recompense to help you get it as right as it can be. Another thing not shown on plans is that sail area should be proportional to experience. An optimal sail plan usually means optimized for racing in a windspeed that can be quite a lot lighter than where you intend to sail. Few amateur builders are safe with a race rig even if they can afford it. Most homebuilders are not fueled by dreams of rounding plastic buoys.

A cruising cat of this size will scoot right along in a bit of breeze with 400 square feet of sail usually in the form of a fully battened main of about twice the area of a blade jib. Some of the cats this size such as the early Prouts favor very small aft stepped mains with big headsails, that’s largely a matter of taste and preferred sailing style.

If you scrounge around second hand in a pre-educated and sensible manner, you may get away with as little as $6k ready to go, by the time you’ve replaced everything you cant trust and fitted the rig to the boat, which will usually require new standing and running rigging and some sail cutting. Richard Woods rigged his Gypsy Ocean cat with hand-me-downs for less than a tenth of that but he is a designer and was lucky. If you stand back a safe distance and hand your plans to a rigger and sail maker you will wind up with a beautiful rig and boat that flies once teething problems have been sorted. And not much change out of $20k.

If you live in an area rife with multihulls you may be able to buy a wrecked boat but often if it’s an old, plywood Piver the rig will be fairly pedestrian anyway. An Etchells rig, mast 36 feet, is a good option for the size boat we are talking about, with a 225 sq foot main which is not heavily roached, a good cruising sail and a strong rig designed to push nearly 2 tons of keelboat at race speeds. It’s a little small in the headsail for the size boat we are taking about but would do for a windy area; else you add a bigger jib or even a Genoa. Heavily roached square top mains are all the rage and are great for experienced racing cat sailors, but there is a lot of power high up and they will drive your bows well in. They need to be watched carefully. Wing masts are also great if you like a cat that bolts around its mooring like a quarter horse on cocaine. Leave them alone if you want to sleep at anchor. Battens, yes, reefing tapes, yes, you want them, and it will be worth carting your sails off for a good going over, reinforcing and addition of extra reefing tapes.

One design racing and cruiser-racer classes are a good place to pick up a rig as racers are always replacing and selling little used sails, often discarding the heavier cruising oriented sails in favor of racing gear. Furthermore one-design boats have rules with fixed sail plans and you are able to draw your rig profile on the boat so the center of effort is right over the design version, then check if the mast will land somewhere reasonable. You can pull the CE forward with a bigger jib, a relatively cheap sail. Lets try an example:

Suppose you get an Etchells rig, and with it, some secondhand deck gear. USA 109 above is currently for sale for 12,500 US so you can see that you can buy an entire Etchells and trailer for less than what you might spend on a custom one-off rig. Is a bit small but the jib foot is only 8 feet, you can add a bigger jib.

You still need to re-step the mast correctly, probably on a cabin top as they measure only 750mm step to tack. You need to reposition your stays as your entire system is designed for an 8-foot wide boat. You have a backstay on an Etchells and there’s a good chance you could replace it by one to each stern of your cat.

I’d be looking at a diamond stay setup with swept back side stays, and new spreaders. I’d be off to buy a 100m roll of spectra. Unless you buy a good rigging book and study it carefully, you are going to need some help from a rigger/sailmaker and/or designer, and they won’t be keen unless you do what you would expect if you were to spend hours on something that will never be optimal or look great with your name on it. Pay them. If you want to read the book anyway you will have to pay less as they won’t have to spend ages educating you.

When you read about someone who has rigged their boat with secondhand gear they often talk about how they got the mast and sails for 1200 bucks, but don’t mention the 2000 and massive hassles they had to get it working less than optimally on the boat.

So don’t just buy secondhand willy-nilly. You are not going to save a thing, just get a dud rig and have a horrible time, unless you educate yourself. If you get offered a rig for 1200 that may be ok, don’t knock them down to 800 and run away with it. Indicate what it’s for and say you’re willing to pay the price if the owner will help you as much as possible to check that it will do the job. Pump the owner for dimensions and plans. Spend some time measuring your potential purchase, make sure you can step it with the boom clear and the CE is in the right place, although that can often be corrected with a new jib. Price and find out all you need to make it work well.

If all looks right pay the 1200, if not you’ve saved wasting a packet.

If you are really handy you may consider building your own mast as a money saver. And by the time you’ve finished the shell you’ll know whether you have it in you. It’s never too soon in the build process to start thinking about your rig, as you want strengthening ply pads in the way of chain plates and winches.

Above all remember that the rig is not an add-on after the major expenses are over. Normally it is the major expense; it makes or breaks the boat. But the original question was how cheaply, so I’ve included the cheap option.

Now we’ve spent $18k – 32k.

Don’t forget rudders, warps, anchors, a parachute drogue and a solid drogue. You can’t deploy them without a net forrd. You may also want some opening portlights and two properly dogged nonleaking safety hatches inside the hulls between the waterline and under the bridgedeck. Theses are expensive and you can make one that will bash open but you won’t shut it again if capsized and living in the hull. These are now required in new Cats in Europe - I know James Wharram was fighting this from the aspect that his standard hatches offered the same level of safety. If they are required it’s a wonder I can’t find more info on them. These look good.

Since you have to have them you may as well get one you can see through and fish through at anchor. They will be near an underbunk area you can sleep on if capsized, and are there so you can get out onto the underside of the bridgedeck. There’s not much point in going out there unless you are being picked up so your underbunk haven needs to be equipped in a waterproof locker with EPIRB, flares, chocolate, water, batteries, torch, flares, first aid and a bottle of brandy. In both hulls. All these things are directly to do with offshore safety and if you are using your boat as a serious traveling machine, you need to grit your teeth and buy them.

You just spent another 7000 dollars, if you are lucky.

Total $25k – $39k

I ought to have said that the word ocean does not for me conjure up cruising thru glittering teal waters with brightly colored fish frolicking, dolphins in attendance and flying fish landing in the pan. It more often resembles a gathering breeze and 6 foot swell off a breaking bar, with the lights of the town hopelessly mixed with car headlights, anchored yacht masthead lights, bridge-lights, neon and disco lights, and somewhere amongst that lot the marks to guide our wreck of a trawler in. It is too deep to anchor and there be rocks about. Thank God for the 4000 dollars worth of radar, the thousand dollars worth of gel batteries, depth sounder, and the diesel to charge them. The boat is worth 31,000 dollars and half is in the electronics, most of the other half is in the motor. You check how far away the bar is, set the radar to pick up the point where it lies, and sneak up on it. You pick a gap and thunder in at 8 knots, face buried in the rubber radar screen surround and cut off from the real world. As you cruise alongside and just a boat length off the breakwater with the radar set on just 50 meters and every boat and landmark sticking out on the screen like a sore thumb, you realize you wouldn’t have a hope of getting in at night without the gear.

So when we talk about an ocean boat, we need to set aside money for getting electronically into unknown harbors at night, lest our arrival become truly virtual. Your swift boat won’t be so swift parked incessantly off various potential paradises.
Now it is true that you can get a nice little Furino radar for under $2000, and a handy person can get it up the mast on a bracket above a fractional jib where it wont fry any crew gonads (I exaggerate). It will however greedily gobble up many more watts than your solar panel has on offer, but luckily you have an outboard big enough to keep you off a lee shore if the wind doesn’t blow the direction it does in the movies. Such outboards have a charging circuit and you have an extra battery.

The battery is always charged because currents being currents and winds being controlled by Murphy, your outboard gets more of a workout than you ever thought it would. It works well too because its at least big enough to give you a horsepower for every 500 lbs of boat, and doesn’t swamp because you’ve built a nacelle for it from marine ply and glass, and the nacelle is ford of the rear beam so the motor wont cavitate or be stolen as its invisible kicked up.

I recommend the 18 hp Tohatsu as its cheap reliable and easy to service, and will kick a minimal laden cat of 5000 lbs along at 8 knots on a US gallon an hour. It weighs 102 lbs and has the best specific power output (14hp on per imperial gallon-hour) of any its size I’ve researched. Motor, Nacelle and long range automotive fuel tank, plastic jerry cans you can stow fuel ford in and you have it made, about 6000 dollars and you’ll fill them all up too. And have enough for a couple of gel batteries making quite a nifty electrical system that will even work if you decide to invert your yacht. It will be well charged too because with a viable motoring setup like this you are mad if you don’t use it unashamedly. Grab a few hours upwind under power and convert a day’s slog into a reach, make harbor in daylight by motorsailing, thunder across a troublesome bar or thru a nasty tack etc etc. If you’ve got it use it, there is no point going cruising without a decent donk these days, unless you are an absolutely confident gun sailor. Are you? I’m not.

So what have we spent on electronics so far. 8000 dollars. Better get two GPS’s and a fish finder as you want to enjoy your cat and beach it. You can stand on the bow and look down nicely but the water isn’t guaranteed clear. You may hardly need a fish finder, but the day you do, you may rip your bottom out. It’s a toss-up really. Besides; they are better value than insurance. Now you need a compass and a marine band radio. You can get a set of charts or a laptop and electronic charts plus Lawd knows what-all on it. I suppose its better weight-wise than books, but I like books.

Up to 12 k
Total 37 – 51k.

The cost is never what you want it to be, but you can guide it down that way with some cunning compromise. However in simplifying a boat it’s easier to save labor than material costs. A certain volume of space is to be enclosed, and the cheapest ways to enclose it are about 3 dollars a square foot for the skin alone. (Say 9mm marine ply with a layer of epoxy).

There are a lot of things we missed.

Galley 400; stereo 400; bilge pumps 200; toilet 500; long-range flexi tankage 1000; Jerrycans 300; wind generator 1200; autopilot 2000; seating 200; plexiglass 300; coolbox 100; ash for daggerboard 300; hinges screws pintles shackles bolts 800; spare prop 100; tools 500.

Boathooks and lifejackets 400; more safeties and first aid 1000; lighting 300; Fusebox and electric loom 300; ventilation and inspection ports 300; maps 500.

That’s another 11000 in bits.

That comes to 48k – 62k Australian dollars.

A final 4000 goes in paying for the plans and launching the boat.

Luckily at this size, around 28 x 15 feet, launching is not an insurmountable problem. Plans for Gumboots will be toward the lower end of the price scale, some examples of which are below. There are very few sub 30 footers designed with the strength and payload for ocean crossing.

Plans for true ocean minimal sized cats:

  • Wharram Tanenu 28.5 ft $1112 AUS
  • Woods Gypsy 28 600 Eng pounds ex VAT

A cross section of others less known for ocean crossing

  • Bora Bora 28 $US 800
  • GBE 28 $US 800
  • Havkat 28 Euro 928
  • Kendrick8.4 Siren $Aus 1020
  • Kelsall 30 $ US 2050 *
  • Kurt Hughes 30 $US 1800
  • Tennant 30 Shilo $us 1500

*where he estimates 30,912 us plus 2000 hours for a boat which is free of electronics and engine and strangely plans or lumber.

Our total cost is $US 39,700 – $50,368 with a brand new rig, and you and a mate or two can go anywhere in the wide world, and pretty darn swiftly and safely too. It’s a darn lot but I haven’t been optimistic or fibbed even a little bit.

There are many reasons people don’t like to come up with 50,000 right off the bat. It’s pretty hard to face if, like me, you are on a modest salary and are thinking you just might not get through life without doing it. You keep thinking there’s a cheaper way and there is – you can use cheaper materials and go second hand – I priced this to use gear that won’t break immediately and give you a shot at cruising without a series of disasters. I’ve already done my tours in clapped out Kombis. The sailing equivalent would drown me.

The above price also includes a full complement of offshore electronics which some of the more intrepid can do without. A sheltered water version can be built and enjoyed for half the price, while experience is gained and the electronics and safeties are built up over the period prior to the big cruise. So the project could boil down to 12k a year for 4 years, with a year full time to build the basic boat and 3 years of working and weekend sailing.

Many people don’t believe they have spent that much, some have collected a lot of stuff over the years that now counts as free. Many people reckon that they will beat the above price by a country mile, and many will too by golly, by dint of scrounging a messing about, good luck and good management.

If however you are intending to get this project done in a minimal time without holdups, you can probably win 10 percent here and there and lose it again in other places. All the bargains you might be able to get will not arrive in the year or 2000 hours you might spend putting together this minimal ocean cat. And you can do it in a year if that year doesn’t include endless driving about for bargains.

That is the secret of savings. People have traded time for them. If you are in a bracket that earns good money its not good use of your time, is it? It all comes down to balancing time and money and enjoyment. Do you buy a hundred dollar tool if it saves 5 hours? I would if I thought I’d use it again. I would if I never needed it again but hated the job. If the job’s bad enough I may pay someone who hates it less to do it. Mowing lawns comes into that category for me. Don’t like glassing much either.

Building boats can be done in different ways – some people potter for years spreading the expense, and some do it in an obsessive burst. Some people save the cost of their boat in alcohol by being in the shed not the Boozer.

There must be a reason why so many don’t get finished. My explanation is that the modern burst of communications persuades people to take on too much. It’s all on the web! All the info you need! What about all the enthusiasm you need? My theory is that enthusiasm comes in finite amounts, and when it runs out you can’t buy more. It can be dissipated by yakking & poring over plans forever – it can be used up by fussiness in the early stages.

A boat design should be simple and doable with some swift visible rewards. With Gumboots I’m working up simple dory hulls one sheet high and half a sheet in the bottom, that can be built jigless and frameless on their sides on a flat floor, rolled about with a few mates to glass below the waterline, and stood up to be joined
by a bridgedeck and beams built in situ. You get to see a hull really quickly – a fast reward. Joins are butt blocks and cuts are every few.

The object is to get into and across the water swiftly, not to build a monument to design and modern technology. There is another type of optimal design – optimized for getting the job done. It embodies the idea that a narrow hulled cat is faster than a mono even if the hulls aren’t optimal, and have given up a little pace thru the water to hit it a lot sooner.

click to enlarge