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Go Back   SailNet Community > On Board > Boat Review and Purchase Forum > Sailboat Design and Construction
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Old 05-21-2008
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Unhappy need advice on building a boat

Hi all--

i'm seriously thinking about building my own sail boat -28 to 31'-what advice can you give me?? anyone out there have any experience doing this? any hidden problems? any advice would be helpfull.

tx,,,,
novicesailor
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Old 05-21-2008
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Be aware that building a boat in that size range is often more expensive than buying a used boat in that same size range in good condition. Do not skimp on the materials, as they are a relatively small part of the cost of building a boat—for instance, if you're building it out of plywood, don't skimp and buy exterior grade plywood instead of marine grade plywood... you'll regret it in the long run.

It would help if you said more about what kind of boat you're looking to build, since some boats are more difficult to build than others. It would also help if you said what kind of sailing you plan to do with this boat, and what kind of building experience/skills/resources you have to do this with.

If you have little or no financial resources, no large workshop or work area, and no skills, I would HIGHLY recommend you not bother starting. It would probably be a waste of money, time, effort and materials. That said, if you do have the financial resources, a proper work area, and some skills, then, by all means, go for it.

I'd also highly recommend that you read the post in my signature, as it has a lot of information to help you get the most out of your time on sailnet.
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Old 05-21-2008
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If you're handy with tools and not afraid of a daunting project, building a boat in that size range is certainly doable. Do not expect to save a lot of money that way though. You are going to be paying high prices for all the hardware, fittings and addons that builders get bulk rates on.

It will also take a lot more time than you may imagine unless you're able to work on it full time - and even then you'll probably have delays. Do you have a good place to build it? Close to home (or at home) works best.

Without a doubt you would be able to buy a suitable boat for similar money, and have several years' use of it in the time it would take to build your own. Another factor is that, as a novice sailor, you really won't have any strong ideas about what works and what doesn't and you may end up with something less than ideal. Generally boatbuilding projects are more successful when someone builds a boat after they've had some experience and can't find what they really want in a production boat.

Keep in mind that the cost of the hull and deck is a small fraction of the overall cost of any boat, and the hardware intensive nature of a fully rigged sailboat means that the cost savings of building your own hull can, in the end, be negligible.

But if you want to do this for the experience, that's a whole other matter.
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I should also ad--

Hi--
thanks for the fast replies...

I should have added---I was thinking of the 27' james cook trailerable crusing sailboat from glen-L boat kits. My sailing is basically the delaware river, chesapeak and perhaps the jersey shore...
I am able to do a lot of carpentry at home and have done a lot of home house projects with the exception of building my own home. and I have a side yard at home that could be covered to do the boat with access to the road so I don't have to lift it over a house or garage...
I was really thinking this would be cheaper than purchasing a used (or new)boat and a way to be sure of what i'm getting???

so let me know if my thinking is flawed,,,,and perhaps by purchasing,,,I could be sailing my own a lot sooner??

thanks,,,
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If you build the boat using marine-grade plywood, epoxy and fiberglass, I doubt you'll be able to build it for less than what you could get a decent used coastal cruiser of about the same size for.

However, you would have the advantage of having the boat built exactly the way you want it, and the advantage of knowing exactly how the boat was built... and how to repair it in the case of damage. Of course, if you have serious problems with the boat, there's only one person you can blame as well.
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You know what the first rule of sailing is? ...Love. You can learn all the math in the 'verse, but you take
a boat to the sea you don't love, she'll shake you off just as sure as the turning of the worlds. Love keeps
her going when she oughta fall down, tells you she's hurting 'fore she keens. Makes her a home.

—Cpt. Mal Reynolds, Serenity (edited)

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Old 05-21-2008
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Nice looking kit . . .



















I don't have any experience building a boat of this size, but completely agree with the comments pertaining to cost and time. This appears to be a VERY ambitious undertaking and would involve thousands of man-hours and dollars - beyond the base price of plans and the kit contents.

Personally, if budget was the critical decision behind this decision, I would prefer to restore a project boat with a sound hull and hardware. There's more economy of time and money by using this method.
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Old 05-21-2008
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Faster and Sailingdog have offered some very sound advice, the gist of which is that it is usually MUCH cheaper to purchase an existing boat than to build one yourself. So don't do it to save money (and certainly not TIME!!)

If you're planning to build for other reasons, then my suggestion would be to read up quite a bit on what this sort of undertaking entails. Many folks that do build for themselves, often will contract to have a hull and deck built for them, which they fit-out with interior, engine, deck hardware and sails. This appraoch can really jump-start the process and make a successful outcome more likely.

There is a guy writing for Cruising World who has been chronicling the build of his Cape George 31. (I think it would be very instructive for you to get hold of those back issues and follow his progress and trials.) Cape George sells hull/deck kits for several models, including the recently added Bristol 28 and Falmouth 22 channel cutters: Cape George Cutters § Port Townsend § Blue Water Boats § Cruising Custom Boat Building

Years ago I very nearly purchased a partially completed CG 31 -- glad I didn't because I'd probably still be working on trying to get it launched. Instead we bought a used Dana 24 for about the same price and went sailing!!
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That's a salty looking cruiser! A tad narrow, of course, by today's standards but required for trailering. She's unusual in the Glen-L catalogue for being a cold moulded soft chine design. Most of the plans there are for plywood panel hard chine boats, which are simpler to build.

There are some nice looking results in their photo gallery.

But you could certainly be sailing sooner and spending about the same cash by buying a suitable used boat - especially if trailering is not a hard and fast requirement. There are plenty of 26-29 foot boats available for under $10K that would be suitable for you... I don't really see you being able to complete that boat for less.

Eventual resale is another consideration......

But she's pretty, and Glen-L plans and packages have done the trick for many amatuer builders.
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Another option is to rebuild a beat up, but otherwise complete, production boat. You get the satisfaction of building the boat the way you want, greatly shorten the man-hours to complete it, dramatically reduce the cost of purchased materials and have something more marketable at the end.

Read through the projects done by Lackey Sailing for some ideas of what can be done. I especially like the daysailor he built from an old Pearson Triton:

He had put it up for sale at $89,900 and sold it within two months.

This is a pretty extreme example, but unless you go crazy with expensive equipment, it shouldn't be difficult to sell the finished product for the money you've got in it. It's also excellent practice if you do decide to build your own boat later on.

Pure homebuilts, on the other hand, are very lucky if they can recover even the cost of the raw materials in them. Someone just sold a welded-up Bruce Roberts 388 on eBay for $8100. The Roberts kit price is $49,850. That's just for the steel parts. This fellow basically lost his whole investment and two years of work. Even if he had completed the boat (which, based on watching homebuilt boats sold on eBay, seems to happen less than 1/3rd the time) he still wouldn't have been able to sell the whole boat for the price of the steel in it.

Good luck,

Tim
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Old 05-21-2008
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I love the look of the Glen L boat that you have your eye on. But as others have said it is a HUGE investment of time and a sizable investment in money. You could be sailing much sooner on a used boat. Unless you are independently wealthy and gainfully unemployed and can take this project on as a full time job (no, obsession) it will take you years to complete everything and be ready for launch. You will also need to buy or fabricate a trailer for it. Not easy or cheap.
You seem to have an eye for old fashioned lines and a desire for a trailer-able boat while wanting maximum size so I wont mention the older MacGregor 26S to you (even though they can be bought for under $10K, sleep six, usually come with a trailer and <10HP motor - they have new lines that are more reminiscent of a bleach bottle though). Some of the Cape Dorys have an older look as does my '67 Tartan 27. Look around and compare years of work (and frustration) versus buying something you can fix up at a more leisurely pace for a cheap entry price.
If you really have the desire to build your own then perhaps building a smaller vessel first (dingy: Snipe, Lightning etc) will help you decide which way to go.
Good luck with your dream.
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