Building a Boat or Die Trying

Jul 31, 2010
5,354
Hunter 260 Lake Murray Sailing Club, SC
Don't put a mast on her and you have a nice motorboat you can live aboard or cruise around in until you come across another amazing deal in used, but good spars. With time and your own labor, this is a pretty cheap way to get into an ocean cruiser.

Is the Des Moines River navigable to the Mississippi?

-Will (Dragonfly)
Can you make into a chicken coop?
:stir:
 
Oct 3, 2006
993
Hunter 23 Philadelphia
My dad has invested probably north of $100k, plus $25k on the plot, building a cabin in upstate NY. It's been almost two decades, and in retirement with the amount of work left to do dwindling, guess what?

He rarely goes - instead selling the first house he built (in PA), and moving to a 20's stone farmhouse ("Taking it easy in my old age and starting with walls and a roof"). Of course, as soon as he got there, he realized the property wouldn't be complete without a barn...

Many people enjoy creating. This man might not have enjoyed a circumnavigation at all, but hopefully he enjoyed every hour spent creating this hull.

(Bonus for me, I am very happy to someday maybe inherit an almost-finished cabin than an almost finished boat)
 

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Sep 15, 2016
431
Catalina 22 Minnesota
Major project boats, including new amateur builds, often don't end well.

Looking briefly at that vid - the investments made in $$$, my guess is the building may have satisfied the dream for the builder.
The project made little financial sense in it's day and makes less $$$ sense to finish, today.
I fear it will end it's days with another dreamer,...or two, to 'finish' it.
That is my guess as well. I think someone will purchase the boat, strip it and all the additional parts in it before scrapping it. Perhaps it's my lack of boat construction knowledge but it just seems like a project of this undertaking is not something most can do and putting 25-50K into a boat to get it to the water in the Midwest just seems like more of a dream. Still though you can see that this boat was a labor of love.
 
Jan 1, 2006
4,104
Marblehead Skiff 14' Greenport, NY
Again it's not for everybody but success stories exist. There is a well regarded sailor here in Greenport who built his own boat in his backyard in north Nassau County on Long Island. He is a dentist who worked a full time schedule and then worked on the boat sometimes only getting a few hours sleep. He is extremely fastidious and ended up with a solid boat. He sailed the boat between Long Island and The Bahamas for years - I believe sometimes solo. After many years of that he sold the boat and bought a production boat which he kept sailing to The Bahamas until he was in his nineties. I believe he is still alive but doesn't sail any longer. He is locally famous the there have been articles written about him. I expect a few forum members know his story and could supply his name.
 
Nov 8, 2010
10,557
Beneteau First 36.7 & 260 Minneapolis MN & Bayfield WI
Does anyone here remember @philwsailz ? Where are you buddy?

He undertook a total restoration of a Catalina 27. Man it was awesome. I'm convinced he got more satisfaction out of the construction /restoration than he ever did sailing, which is not a bad thing at all. I had to chuckle when once during the work, and before the boat ever got wet, he had to replace the CO/smoke detectors he put on the boat early in the project because the 5-year batteries in the devices died!

I'm 100% the other way. I do everything possible to optimize SAILING time.
 
Aug 1, 2011
3,463
Catalina 270 Wabamun - on the orange ball
Indeed. Winter gets in the way of building time. If it weren't so cold, it would be sailing time.
 
Jul 31, 2010
5,354
Hunter 260 Lake Murray Sailing Club, SC
Does anyone here remember @philwsailz ? Where are you buddy?

He undertook a total restoration of a Catalina 27. Man it was awesome. I'm convinced he got more satisfaction out of the construction /restoration than he ever did sailing, which is not a bad thing at all. I had to chuckle when once during the work, and before the boat ever got wet, he had to replace the CO/smoke detectors he put on the boat early in the project because the 5-year batteries in the devices died!

I'm 100% the other way. I do everything possible to optimize SAILING time.
Phil knows a lot about adding really great sound to boats. I always enjoyed reading his posts even if I didn’t understand everything. Another great shipwright is @woodster . He worked for several years and shared his knowledge with us. And we’re all still waiting to hear more from @B757Captain .
 
Oct 19, 2017
4,930
O'Day 19 Littleton, NH
When I first got married, my wife and I looked at buying a house. One of the properties was a 12 acre lot and 1800's fieldstone and wood cottage, here in Littleton, NH, 3 hours drive from the ocean. The owner was a boatbuilder who was building his own traditional wood planked 55' bluenosed schooner to sail as a commercial cargo carrier. He had a plastic tarped shed, a table saw, a bandsaw and a collection of hand tools. The hull was almost done being planked when he showed the house.
We didn't buy the house, too much work to maintain. He did finish the boat and had it trailered to the ocean. His last name was Smith. I wish I could remember the what he named his boat. This would have been around 1984-85. That guy worked fast. I imagine he eventually sold her and built another boat with the money.
Maybe there should be a support group for people with this problem.

-Will (Dragonfly)
 

TomY

Alden Forum Moderator
Jun 22, 2004
1,825
Alden 38' Challenger yawl Rockport Harbor
I know a hand full of very accomplished boat builders. Between them, they have built hundreds of custom boats, mostly traditional wood construction, some composite boats.

They've taken projects from start to finish; the process, the timeline, the expense. If you make a living at building then projects all have to come to a pre-determined end.

They know what the amature builder, usually does not: How long and how much $$ the project will take. They know they are not boat designers and buy that skill when needed.

I can only think of one that built himself a boat and that project was strictly a build for profit in the charter trade. The boat was a 50' Alden designed schooner. He with a small crew (mostly himself with his wife-also a boat builder) completed the build in less than 2 years, on schedule. They have been chartering the schooner full time (Maine to Caribbean seasonally), ever since. Hardest working boat I've every seen.

All the rest own old boats that they maintain. They maintain them to a high degree because they know that saves them $$.
 
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Jan 1, 2006
4,104
Marblehead Skiff 14' Greenport, NY
The posts above made me think of some other homebuilders. While I was waxing my topsides one spring a guy showed up in the yard with a truck full of steel. He preceded to lay out a keel on the cement pad and started to weld frames up on it. Within a year he had a 40' + schooner which he used to charter out of Greenport. He did that a few seasons and then sailed it South where I lost track of it. He worked alone most of the time.
There was also a guy out of Port Jefferson who was carrying cargo across the Sound and back from Connecticut. I believe he built the boat himself. I don't know how long he lasted at the cargo business but he had a decent run.
 
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Jun 4, 2004
385
Hunter 23.5 and 25 Stockton State Park Marina; MO
I have purchased several Roberts study plans and a full set for the Spray 27 in steel. I'll probably never get to building it, though it is still a dream. Meanwhile, my Cherubini 25 re-build is still not finished, though the end is in sight. And then there is the plans I purchased for a 12 foot day sailer. That one I will start on when the 25 is finished.

A sickness? Maybe. An obsession? Definately!
Dennis
 
May 25, 2012
2,193
john alden caravelle 42 sturgeon bay, wis
the family business model in the 1800's was walk up into the woods, cut down trees, build a schooner, sail the schooner for the season, sell the schooner, build another one the next winter. 75' cargo schooners. built his own house, everything came of his land but the glass for the windows. still enjoy the house today.
gramps built his own boat for pleasure. he also built the largest factory/company in his town. still the largest employer in that town today.
dad built his first sailboat when he was home from collage, 19' boat. took a month.
i grew up around wood sailboats, know how to maintain them.
sturge is a famous boatbuilding town. know lots of home builders too, that are sailing their boats.
sailors sail, builders build, dreamers dream, ............................. some people do it all.
 
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Jul 21, 2018
6
O'day 25 Zawerucha Portland Oregon
I wonder if they guy who built this boat was dreaming of being someplace else or was he very happy being in his barn building a boat? Did he waste the last 38 years of his life on this? We will never know.

If your the type of person who presently has hours of spare time everyday and free weekends and gets pleasure from working on things then this might be good for you. You would be happy because you enjoy building and working on stuff. But if your dream is to be sailing and cruising rather than in the barn always working while dreaming of doing something else then I would say this would not be good for you.
 
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Dec 11, 2008
1,337
catalina C27 stillwater
Does anyone here remember @philwsailz ? Where are you buddy?

He undertook a total restoration of a Catalina 27. Man it was awesome. I'm convinced he got more satisfaction out of the construction /restoration than he ever did sailing, which is not a bad thing at all. I had to chuckle when once during the work, and before the boat ever got wet, he had to replace the CO/smoke detectors he put on the boat early in the project because the 5-year batteries in the devices died!

I'm 100% the other way. I do everything possible to optimize SAILING time.
I’m still here! The boat is in the water. The A-frame to install the mast is built and ready to go. I just need to step the mast, tension the rig, and then re-align the prop shaft and motor.

This spring hopefully!