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RangerE 07-13-2004 07:58 AM

Building a FRG Boat.
OK...who amoung you hasn''t at least toyed with the idea? On a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being really crazy is it to owner-build a 28ft +/- fiberglass boat? I''ve seen molds for sale over the years and have often thought about building.

I''m a contractor dealing mostly with marine constuction projects but have also built 31 houses, 4 BattleBots, restored 2 sailboats and an MGB. IOW...I am handy. But...I''m also a realist. It is incredible how much time and money I spent restoring 2 modest sailboats (22''and 26''). So...I''d like to build new if its practical/possible.

Can anyone recommend some good websites about owner-building as well as the best books on the subject? Another twist is that I''m planning to retire down to Belize next year and could use Belizean workers for my boat-building project. How would experienced but inexpensive labor affect the equation?

Thanks, Tom W.

39512 07-14-2004 12:57 AM

Building a FRG Boat.
If you are planning to build one boat, it could be very expensive, both in material and labor. I have seen many unfinished boats languishing for years in back yards and vacant lots. That said, completing a boat building project is a significant reward.

I would suggest that you visit an active boat builder and arrange a tour of their facility. As for books and websites, first decide on a type of boat. Hull and deck shape, keel or centerboard add various difficulties in building. Core materials are a consideration, as are the types of resins, gelcoats, paints and cloths. Making these choices will narrow the search for information.

Perhaps one way to economize would be to have a hull and deck molded for you and then finish it off yourself. This type of project seems to have a higher incidence of completion.

With your background, I would consider cold molded wood construction. It produces an attractive, strong hull. This technique is more conducive to home boat building. I would suspect that wood products native to Belize could be used, adding another level of interest and creativity.

On a scale of 1 to 10, you are definitely over 5 for even considering this idea, but I don''t see why that should stop you.

If you do go ahead and build this boat, please write about it here. I would like to follow your progress. There are many here on this website you can use as a resource.


Jeff_H 07-14-2004 03:34 AM

Building a FRG Boat.
It sounds like you have the energy and stick-to-it-ness to finish a project like this. It also sounds like you enjoy the buulding/rebuilding process. That pushes you well into the better than 50-50 chance of finishing category.

The hardest part of building a fiberglass boat is fairing the outside. There are core materials that can greatly speed up fairing and layup time, and modern hull forms are more condusive to one off construction. If you had a good source for veneers I do think that cold-molding or a combination of cold-molding with strip planking would produce a strong, reasonable weight boat that would be quite strong and low maintenance.

I suspect that it will be extremely expensive to build a boat down there. The hull and deck represent roughly 20-25% of the overall cost of a boat with the materials being roughly half of that cost. So even if the labor and core materials were inexpensive, the real cost is in fittings and fit out. I suspect that shipping in engines, electronics, hardware, fastenings, sails, epoxy resin and glass for the hull will make this a very expensive place to build a boat. On the other hand, I have never been there and so there may be reasonably priced local sources for all of this stuff.

You are probably well ahead of the game financially of you can find a used boat that suits your needs that simply needs some aesthetic clean up. A lot of folks get to that corner of the Caribbean and facing the slog home will sell great boats pretty cheaply.

The other hot ticket is to try to find a hull that someone bought and never finished. Often there is a pile of gear that goes with it and the unfinished project can often be bought for pennies on the dollar. I have literally heard of people getting some pretty neat project boats simply for the perverbial, "You get it out of here, and it is all yours."


sailingfool 07-15-2004 06:57 PM

Building a FRG Boat.
54 Attachment(s)
The cheapest way to get boat parts is to buy them all at once, as a unit, installed in a boat, prerably slightly used.

I suspect that if someone gave you the new hull and deck, puchasing an engine, mast, sails assorted hardware and instruments, will run up a bill likely to be substanially greater than the value of the resulting vessal, should you beat the odds and end up with a completed boat, even ignoring completely all the labor you will put into it.

My advice - if you can afford to buy the parts, buy them installed in a boat and go sailing.

This question reminds me of the dialogs earlier this year with a member who bought a 30'' salvage boat for under $1000 and couldn''t believe what a good deal he had. After a varitey of questions about surprises on engine replacement, wiring problems, and etc. we no longer hear about the good deal, nor when or whether the boat will be sailing.

Good luck.

jackvandijk 08-22-2004 06:04 PM

Building a FRG Boat.
look at

spinnakercc 12-29-2004 11:04 AM

Building a FRG Boat.
I happen to have a Bruce Roberts 25'' FRP Hull and deck assembly sitting on a tandem wheeled trailer in my garage. I have the mast, boom, sails, etc. for it but not the time to finish her. She has been cast from a mold and needs to have the interior finished, etc. A great project boat for the ambitious.

sailingfool 12-29-2004 02:44 PM

Building a FRG Boat.
54 Attachment(s)
Gotta ask -

Are you yet offering a bounty to for someone to take this collection away as-is, or do you expect someone to PAY you for the privelege? My advice is throw in $500 cash - someone who has never dealt with the concept of boat money may be swayed.

dman 12-29-2004 03:42 PM

Building a FRG Boat.
Yes you are crazy but that doesn`t mean you cannot do it.If you have plenty of money, time and or skill no problem.The question then becomes why? and if you can come up with a good enough reason for yourself then go for it.I have watched people go broke,never mind divorced and even buried waiting to enjoy something that never happened.Having another boat to use while the project drags on also helps.Take it from someone who has been there ,got rid of it and enjoyed a boat that just needed a refit.The biggest thing that kills are the little things it is like being bit to death by ducks.Now if you do not understand my position on this get out the tools and get to work.There are so many good hull boats out there needing a good home don`t make any more.Remember you are 1 man and you won`t find any boat yards with 1 employee.At1000 hours per ton things can get out of control quickly.Sailing is much more fun and if you have the money to build you already have the money to sail.LIFE IS SHORT

Sasha_V 12-29-2004 06:13 PM

Building a FRG Boat.

c25 12-30-2004 04:15 AM

Building a FRG Boat.
The posts above offer some good advice. If you''d like to get a better idea of what your up against look into the following books:

>Boat Strength by Dave Gerr (all materials)

>The Nature of Boats by Dave Gerr (all materials, many types of boats)

>Backyard Boat Building by George Buehler (wood & steel)

>From a Bare Hull by Ferenc Mate

>This Old Boat by Don Casey

>Wooden Boats by Michael Ruhlman (for the spirit, great book)

>The Fiberglass Boat Repair Manual by Alan Vaitses

>Boatowner''s Mechanical & Electrical Manual by Nigel Calder (for all systems...the right way)

>check out Sam Devlin is a real artist in stitch & glue/cold-molded boats. He has kits, study plans, videos....

If you do this I''d definitely spend some time looking for vendors of materials at better prices. I picked up 100'' spools of marine wire from Hamilton Marine in Maine for about half(including shipping) what BoatUS/West Marine charges. Jamestown Distributors is a good source for various epoxies & glass at better prices than ''West System'' materials from any source. Defender Marine is a good source. Garhauer for rigging..the list goes on...including Sailnet.

>This guy has a site where he gutted & refit a Triton...he also has a message board where other refitters hang out. He''s waaay upside down in what he has in the boat vs what it would sell for...but it''s a labor of love...and he''s starting another.

If you want to start from stratch(whether that be a kit or any stick of wood in your garage after reading Buehler''s book) go for it. Another option that may have good timing is what others have mentioned...combine the thought of 1)getting lots of equipment and a hull/deck in an assembled boat for less than the cost of individual parts and 2) the hundreds/thousands of salvage boats available in Florida due to recent weather and you may have a great opportunity to just about start from scratch and end up with quite a boat. There has to be some very desirable boats available at the auctions & I''d guess (?) the prices have to be a bit lower due to the volume of them available.



Whether you''re building from scratch or rebuilding from salvage the most important concern is your time & desire to finish what you started. For some folks, building the boat is just a bump in the road to where they''re going...Moitessier had his steel boat assembled by a local boiler-maker, grabbed a telephone pole for a mast & went around the world...the boat is still sailing some 30 years later. Isolated event? maybe, but unwavering desire is the key to doing almost anything.

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