Everyone who digs boating has heard of the Hobie Cat, the sleek little catamaran that burst on the scene and captured the attention of all the fast-action sailors. We finished up the last of our own boats for customers, then John spent a season working at Doug Hylan’s shop on the Coquina, among others (if you check out Doug’s great photos for the Coquina, you’ll find John.) An opportunity to join the crew at Brooklin Boat Yard opened up, so John took it and spent the next five years working on several beautiful and amazing yachts including Seminole, Aphrodite, Anna, Ginger and the 90′ yawl Bequia.
For example, if you’ve never fiber-glassed plywood before, just practice on a small piece first to get your confidence up. This was my first boat build, so I did a lot of learn as you go. Not only am I going to show you the right way to successfully build your own sailboat, but I’m going to share with you the mistakes I made along the way to hopefully save you from repeating them.
A 30 year old hull, however, is still a 30 year old hull with it’s inherent weaknesses and problems after almost as much financial outlay to repair and update it. Besides the challenge of the building process, and the intimate knowledge of every aspect of our boat was something that appealed to us. The next hurdle was deciding what and where to build.
Those of you who have been here before probably understand how big the challenge has become, telling the story of Sam Devlin, one of the most prolific boat designers in the world, while distilling his huge body of work – 472 boats of great design variety, located all over the world, and a much debated number of designs in the catalog – into something understandable and accessible.
While boats are built the width and breadth of Maine, this study concentrated on one small community that claims itself The boat building capital of the world.” Although it may seem a lofty title for such a small community (with a population of about 800 souls) nearly everyone in town has built, is building, or plans to build a boat, so perhaps per capita” there is some truth to the idea.
And the best way to learn how wooden boats are put together and how to maintain them, I thought, would be to build one from scratch. You will also be receiving the weekly Make: Newsletter to keep you inspired with new projects and more product reviews. A better approach is a composite superstructure of wood encapsulated in fiberglass and epoxy resin. The woodworking I learned in the winter and spring is almost entirely wood and glue. I had to make one phonecall to clarify what the seat braces were for and how to attach them.
We also built a strong wooden cover for the solar panel, as it will be necessary to walk there when raising the mast from its horizontal trailering position. That is because I understand your need for clear, comprehensible, detailed plans and instructions. When steel and fiberglass replaced wood and steam, and motors replaced sail, wooden boat building no longer supported Maine towns. It may be a natural crook (e.g. apple, oak, pohutukawa) or sawn from a larger length of timber or laminated in a wooden vessel. Showing how the mast scissors are mounted in the cockpit, positioned between small cleats on the sides of the footwell.
It will take about $1,000 in total to build if you buy everything at full retail cost (not including tools you might need to buy), but you can spread that across the length of the project. Tests on the original Falcon showed that she could easily out-distance boats of comparable size such as the one design class Snipe and Comet sailers. All my plans include clear, detailed building manuals, and my personal back up, when you need it. Just don’t build one of my boats unless you are willing to show her off, wherever you take her!
By the time the world was ready to rediscover wooden yachts (most suggest the revival began to take hold in the 1980s) many had simply rotted away in the estuaries of the world. I don’t thaink that I would build a wood boat for any thing as large as a live aboard. With fibreglass sheathed hulls to resist puncturing and abrasion, these boats are tough. Anything longer would require you to either make a scarf joint (which is a bit tricky) or buy longer sheets of plywood (which is considerably more expensive).