Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Free Spira International Boat Plans Info

I have been getting a lot of questions about Spira International boat plans.Jeff Spira is a great guy to work with.He will even design a boat for you IF you are serious about buying a set of plans.I am only familiar with the plans I have.If you want to see more boats and builds,it is seriously worth it to join Spira's Facebook Page. You can also connect with other builders and speak to Jeff there.He is usually quick to respond,but he does have a life outside of facebook.There is also a lot of good and FREE info on the Spira International website.Read and re read the PDF manuals he produces on boat building.These are free,UTILIZE THEM.Then get a set of plans and build that boat you always wanted.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

My Boat Has Been Built.Well,kind of.

Jeff Spira posted a pic on his facebook page of a 27 foot Sitka.It's almost exactly what I had in mind for my build.I am wanting a slightly forward raked windshield and I will build mine to 30 feet with the Vee entry bow.I plan to stay out without needing a trip to shore for at least one full week.I also plan to do the Great Loop with the boat.

Here I am going to quote Jeff Spira's post on his Facebook page.

A 27' Sitka Pacific Power Dory was recently completed in Minnesota by Raymond Pollock.

According to Ray, it was started in January 2012 and was in the water in the end of October, working mostly alone and taking 6 weeks off in the middle. It features V-Berths, 30 gallons of fresh water, a water heater for the shower, 28 gallon septic tank and 55 gallons for fuel. It also has a full galley and cabin heater.

With the ETEC 115 horse engine, the top speed is 34 mph (according to the GPS) and will cruise over 30, but runs all day and very economically at 22. It maneuvers and handles very well, and doesn't pound when crossing even large boat wakes. It only draws 7-1/2 inches of water with full fuel tanks, two people and a 2 large dogs. For a 27 footer, it tows very easily also.

I do have a message for Mr.Pollock.

 Way to go.Your version of Sitka is top notch.I am jealous.I hope my boat turns out have as good.Looks real professionally done.You're my hero.

 Here is Mr.Pollock's boat.Sweet ride,eh?Click pics for larger view.

Even Mr.Pollock's lovely mother took a turn at the helm.Way to go,I say.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

I'll be back.

I'm not going to go into the boring details,but I will be away from boats and boating for awhile.Due to health issues,I feel I need to stick close to my doctor until he feels that my health is more stable.I was planning to start my boat build spring of 2013.That has been pushed backed until I feel that I can take on a big project.Until then,I will be completing some auto and motorcycles projects while gathering boat parts and materials.Float on my friends,float on.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Gas and Diesel Sterndrive (I/O) Power

In my posts,"The Chosen One.The Boat Plans For Me", and "Fitting Out A Newly Built Boat",I eluded to the fact that a lot areas are starting to ban two stroke outboards.Following Spria Internatioanls horse power chart,building Sitka by the plans,I need 120 recommended horsepower.I am building to the optional plans which extends the boat to 30 feet and includes a vee entry bow.I am also building my cabin larger like the Bahaman's.

Spira International website quote.
The Sitka may be shortened or lengthened from 25-1/2' (7.7M) to 30' (9.1M) in 1-1/2' (457MM) increments. The plans also show an option for a vee entry to the bow, but these Pacific dories ride quite well in rough water with their upturned bows.
The fact that I will need four stroke power plant,limits my options.Four stroke outboards are rare on the used market here and expensive.Then there is the cost of a gauge package and controls.That can easily add $800 to $1000 to the install, considering the length of steering control hydraulic hoses or cables I would need.So I contacted Jeff Spira about using a stern drive,or inboard outboard(I/O) if you prefer.He has approved the use of a stern drive and will make the needed changes to the plans when someone buys the plans.

With everything sorted out and a power plant type has been chosen,I can get on with deciding on which stern drive I want to use.I know that the stern drive will come from a used boat,probably one I buy for a parts donor.I know I need 120 recommended horsepower.I will also have to compensate for the additional weight from the added length,longer cabin,contents of longer cabin,and stern drive.Checking the horsepower chart,the Coast Guard recommended horsepower is 342.That isssss noooooot happening!This is a cruising boat,not race boat.I want some economy.I will mostly be on inland lakes for the first few years before I do the Great Loop Cruise.On lakes,I won't be dealing with fast currents or rough water.I really don't plan to run the boat on plane.It would be nice to have the option.Technically speaking,I could use 120 horsepower.I think I want a little more.

Looking around and asking the right questions,I have decided to go with a carbureted 135 horsepower four cylinder 3.0 liter Chevrolet engine with Alpha I Mercruiser sterndrive.I might get lucky and find a cheap donor boat with a fuel injected 3.0L.The reasons I have chosen this set up over others is numerous.The main one being parts availability.These were produced from the 1970's to present day.They are still being made.There are literally hundreds of thousands of these across the US,Canada,and Mexico,maybe millions.Most parts sellers either have the parts on hand, or can get them fairly quickly,usually overnight without additional charges.These set ups being as simple as they are,most anyone can work on them with basic mechanical skills and knowledge.

While I am cruising to local lakes and enjoying my new boat,I will be designing a new engine install using the 3.0L stern drive set up.The engine will be based on a retuned 1.9 liter turbocharged Volkswagen TDI diesel.Please don't confuse DEtuned with REtuned.Before anyone jumps on the Pathfinder VW diesel and starts bashing them,the only people that had issues with those set ups are the ones that don't understand how to properly run a marinized diesel.99% of all failures were directly related to operator error.CDK's forum post is where I got the idea for this set up.His twins are sweet.

Marine Conversions: Car Engine Conversions for Boats.

Now,where to start.The best place is with the adaption of the diesel engine to the stern drive.I plan to keep the heavy manual transmission flywheel.The weight will help the engine keep spinning and reduce fuel consumption a fraction of a gallon.Depending on the year of the stern drive,all I will have to do is machine the flywheel to accept the engine to stern drive coupler.Next issue will be lining up the engine to keep the engine's crankshaft center line centered with the center of the stern drive's input shaft center line.It's not a difficult process,just tedious.I will use adjustable motor mounts and an engine plate front and rear to mount the engine.Going with the mounting plates will allow me to mount the engine semi solidly at all four corners.The starter will mount to the rear plate in a position that allows access.The starter will be swapped out for an ignition protected unit.

I will use a completely enclosed and self contained cooling system like an automobile.Bowman and Lancing Marine both offer products to marinize a 1.9L TDI VW diesel.I plan to weld up my own using stainless steel tubing.The factory turbo is water cooled but the exhaust side will need a turbo jacket to help contain some of the excess heat.Most of the heat will be absorbed through the water cooled exhaust manifold.The exhaust will run dry.It will be expelled through the stern drive and out of the prop like the original set up.A water cooled oil cooler  will help the longevity of the turbo and engine.In place of the cars radiator,there will be a liquid to liquid heat exchanger.Raw water will pass through a heat exchanger that circulates hot engine coolant through it.Then the raw water will exit the heat exchanger after it's cooled down the coolant.Think of it like this,it's a small radiator, that is sealed inside a box, with water circulating through it.The water box circulates the water around the radiator, to cool off the coolant that circulates through the engine.It's way more simple than it seems.Doing it this way, will allow me to remove the impeller in the lower unit and plug all of the water ports on the exterior of the stern drive.I could leave everything in place and route the water coming out of the stern drive over board.

Know Your Boat's Diesel Engine

The next issue will be the engine itself.Most people that have done this type of install,run the engine as it came from the car.I think I would like to go one step further and have custom ground camshafts to fit the type of use the engine will get.Along with that,I will upgrade the turbo and injectors.The injection pump is electronically controlled.This makes the engine difficult to use in a boat.I will have a custom built and tuned mTDI injection pump that will basically make a one wire engine.The one wire will be to shut off the engine.I will also have a bypass to allow me to run and shut down the engine with no electrical power on the boat.Think of it as a limp home mode.

An air intake for a boat has to be designed in a way that allows enough fresh air into the engine but keeps water out.There are many ways to do it.Mine will basically be two air dams inside a box.The air flows over the first one and under the second one.Then, onto the engine through an intake mounted high on the back side of the box.It's a little hard to visualize but I am no good at drawing with a computer.A lot of marine engines don't run air filters. I will be running a secondary air box with a filter.

Going with a diesel cuts down on the risk of fire.It does not eliminated it.Diesel fumes are not as flammable as gasoline fumes.Ignition protection isn't as critical with a diesel,but that doesn't mean you should use standard automotive electrical parts.I have already stated that I will use an ignition protected marine starter.That goes double for the alternator.As long as the engine is running the alternator could be sparking inside which can ignite any fumes around.I will be running an externally regulated Balmar 150 amp alternator package.

Marine Diesel Engines: Maintenance and Repair Manual

Sewing Machine For Upholstery and Enclosure Canvas

A few years back,my girlfriend and I purchased a 1962 Singer Fashion Mate 237 from my aunt for a song.Soon after,I located an owners manual for the sewing machine on Ebay.Reading through it,I have found that the sewing machine is capable of doing upholstery and canvas sail cloth work.I was a bit surprised that the sewing machine is rated for canvas sailcloth.The sewing machine is heavy,around 80 pounds.I believe the body is cast steel.I know the internals are high quality precision machined steel,possibly hardened.I worked for a friend that did auto,rv,and marine upholstery.His father also owned a household upholstery shop.I worked for him when we didn't have work.At those two shops,I used a Pfaff and a Consew.I briefly had an auto upholstery shop where I leased some off brand sewing machine.It was a horible machine that wouldn't hold it's timing and constantly bent or broke needles.It's not fun having a needle fly past your eye at sub light speed.Always wear safety glasses.Sounds goof,I know,but flying needles can be dangerous.Some of the newer industrial commercial machines have clear plastic glass guards to protect the operator.I don't need,nor can I afford,to go with an industrial sewing machine.

Recently,I had been looking into Sailrite sewing machines.I know that when I build my boat,I will want to do all the work I can myself.After viewing some of their sewing machines,I feel confident that my sewing machine will handle the job.I am not knocking Sailrite sewing machines.They are quality.My sewing machine may not have all the options and accessories as a Sailrite,but it is more than enough for the simplistic interior and canvas work that will be on my boat.I will have a few seat cushions,interior,and exterior window coverings.I won't have a flybridge to deal with covering and/or enclosing.I will enclose my rear deck.I will have a rack over my rear deck to carry my dinghy.My plan is to hang my canvas from the rack like the old external frame tents used in the 1950's and 60's.It will seal to the back of the cabin with a belt rail system similar to those used on Jeep CJs and Wranglers.All in all,there won't be as much sewing on my boat compared to something like a Bayliner of comparable dimensions.

Here are some pictures of my sewing machine.It came with a beat up cheapo cabinet.I will build a small table to set it in when I get ready to do the upholstery for my boat.

Photobucket Here is the cabinet open.The sewing machine nestles down inside of it. Photobucket Lifting the stand allows the sewing machine to rotate up and out of the cabinet. Photobucket Here is the speed control(gas) pedal.It is aluminum with a plastic pedal. Photobucket Here is the machine rotated up out of the cabinet.You can see all the precision steel machine work.Also visible is the date stamp,8162 or August 1,1962. Photobucket This machine has a lot more options than first appears.About 60 different ways to set up for sewing.It will even do embroidery and buttons.That's gotta be useful. Photobucket Here is a picture of the built in light and the motor.Don't be fooled by the motors compact size,it got some power. Photobucket

Monday, July 16, 2012

Carrying A Dinghy On A Boat

My situation is a little unique.I am building a boat and a dinghy.Carrying one,however,has presented a challenge because of my boat build.Most boats use a davit system and carry the dinghy on the swim platform or transom.Some carry them on the roof.At first,I thought the roof would be a good place,but as pointed out to me on a forum post,it's not.Carrying on the roof can make for a dangerous situation in rough water.It's hard to launch a dinghy while it's swinging on a boom or crane.It could crash into the boat and break stuff.It could break loose and hit someone or sink.In an emergency,the boat could sink before getting the dinghy in the water, taking the dinghy down with it.

Most production boats have a lot of freeboard or height of the sides above the water.The boat I am building doesn't have much freeboard at the transom compared to production boats.Because of my boat's lower freeboard than most, presents some major challenges for carrying a dinghy.I can't run a full width swim platform because my I/O comes through the transom right in the middle of it.This rules out swim platform dinghy lifts.A transom mount davit could possibly work,but it would be of my own design.Production davits wouldn't be able to lift the dinghy high enough to clear the water or I/O,at least none that I have seen.Then there is the issue of carrying the dinghy across the back.The dinghy will be longer than the boat's beam is wide.This could cause problems when in tight marinas or narrow channels.Any of these options would severely limit my rear visibility, thus blocking my transom and preventing my boat's name from being visible to other boats.I do plan to tow my dinghy, on the days I plan to use it,if the weather is good.

Some have suggested that I go with an inflatable or folding Porta boat.I've had issues with inflatables in the past and they are heavy for their size.Some folding boats are a little to flimsy to really carry any weight.I need to be able to carry roughly 800 to 1000 pounds.I don't think it's possible,so two trips to shore will be required.Maybe I could pull a ski tube behind the dinghy with our supplies in it.Wait,I know!I'll toss the kids in the ski tube and put our provisions in the boat.They will love that.

My hull draft will only be 16 to 18 inches,so I could possibly drop anchor and wade to shore.I'm not sure how my significant other and our kids will like that.Got to keep Mama happy,LOL.When I am in a marina,I will more than likely moor the boat, while we go ashore for provisions.If the area will allow for it,I could beach the bow and let everyone off ,moor the boat,and take the dinghy back to meet the family.When we return,I could take the dinghy back to the boat,bring the boat back to shore,and load up.Seems like to much work.Some places will allow boats to temporarily dock for a quick trip to town for supplies.that would be the ultimate solution.

I still have a while to go before I make a final decision on how to carry a dinghy.Until then,I will be looking and watching other boats and how they carry a dinghy.I'm always open to suggestions.

After some discussion on the Trawler Forum,I am considering adding a rear rack to carry my dinghy and to hang the rear canvas enclosure from.I feel that this rack needs to be removable.I only plan to carry the dinghy when I do the Great Loop Cruise.Every where else I will be able to dock or trailer the boat out.Here is what I had in mind for those that are scratching their heads trying to figure out what I am rambling on about.

More info on the boats in the picture can be found at Allweather Boats.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Fitting Out A Newly Built Boat

Fitting out a new boat can be difficult and very very expensive.I have known people to buy $20,000 boats and then drop another $50,000 to $60,000 on refits before they even touch water.Well my boat will cost around $3500 for the completed bare hull and cabin. See my post "Spira International 27 Foot Boat Plans Build Costs".I'm looking at another $2,000 for paint,finish,and interior,and roughly $2,000 for powering the boat.So what about electronics.This is a difficult one to put a price on.The one system that you want to be all new is the waste,water, and plumbing system.This could give you tainted water,flood your boat, and/or make it stink like a sewer,if old equipment is used.Pumps maybe ok with a good cleaning,but tanks and piping need to be all new.

Understanding Boat Plumbing and Water Systems

First,how will the boat be used?For the first two or three years,the boat will be trailered to lakes and coastal areas.Eventually,it will be used to do "The Great Loop Cruise". Knowing how I will use the boat and when I may need to make upgrades helps a lot.I can resell my old equipment, when I upgrade, to recoup some cost.To do this, I will have to buy decent quality reliable products and maintain them in as new condition as possible.I've rarely ever had problems taking care of things.

 The Great Circle Route

Second thing,the power plant.Jeff Spira,the designer of my boat, recommends an outboard for power.I have some issues that make outboards a bit of a challenge to use as a means of propulsion.My area has a strict ban on two stroke outboards.That leaves me trying to find a four stroke with controls and gauges.Four strokes are a relatively new thing and used set ups are still fetching top dollar.I can't afford to pay around $10,000 for a 90 horsepower four stroke outboard set up.After consulting with Jeff Spira,he has approved the use of a sterndrive.These are plentiful in my area and cheap,relatively speaking.A good complete four cylinder 140 horsepower 3.0L Mercruise set up goes for between $1500 and $3000.

Third thing,I have a plan to cut costs,get most of the stuff I need,and possibly make a little money back.I will buy a donor boat that is complete and running good.I can find sterndrive boats in good operating condition between $1000 and $6000.Some even have twin sterndrives.That would give me a few options.1)Sell the extra sterndrive set up. 2)Keep the extra sterndrive set up as a back up. 3)Clean up both sterndrive set ups,sell them,and buy a completely new set up.My choice would be the 140 horsepower diesel Volvo Penta D3-140 sterndrive set up.These are hard to find on the used market and most are damaged.New they start out around $12,000.A new 3.0L Mercruise sterndrive set up runs $6000 to $8000.On rare occasions,they can be had for around $5000 to $5500,but come with a catch.They must be set up by a factory Mercruise service center.

Stern Drive Manuals

The donor boat.This is tricky depending on location or region.Most boats here are bow riders or water sport boats.All tho,it's not unusual to find cuddy or cabin cruisers for really good prices.Beware that a lot of boats are not properly maintained, and that's the reason they are for sell.Of course, one can get lucky at times and buy a boat that barely needs anything to be back on the water.Look for soft spots in the transom and floor.If they are soft then the stringers and flotation foam have been compromised,and the boat's structure has been compromised.This is a good negotiating point.It is really expensive and labor intensive prospect to gut a hull for transom and stringer replacement.

What can be used from the donor boat?This depends on what boat is decided on to be the donor.When building a boat you need everything.

Here's what I look for in a donor.
Power Plant-must be running with all controls and gauges.
Electronics-VHF,depth sounder,radar,gps,etc... in operating conditon.
Pumps-Wash down,bilge,fresh water,black water,and grey water.
Electrical-Batteries,inverter,charger,genset,breaker panel,fuse panel,switches.
Windows-I plan to build my own to fit my boats design.
Bimini Top and canvas-It won't fit the boat,but it can be modified and save some money.Resell is an option.
Interior-It's hard to reuse interiors but they can be modified to work.
Thru Hulls-Pure preference,but I want bronze if they're under water,and stainless steel above water.Plastic ones crack and fail.
Anchor,Rode,Bow Pulpit,and Windlass-These can usually be modified to work.
Heads(Toilet)-These things are a pain,save yourself the headache,buy new.
Sinks,Faucets,Showers-If these are in good condition,I will use them.I prefer stainless steel.
Tanks and Plumbing-All new.This was discussed earlier in this post.
Cabinets-These can be modified to work.
Hatches and Vents-These can usually be reused as is.
Swim Platforms and Ladders-Modified they can work.New they are outrageously priced.
Air condition unit(s)-These can be reused without much change.Good insulation can help keep the cool in.
Heaters-These can be reused without much change.

There is other items that can be reused but this is the most common expensive items.Anything that isn't used can fetch good money on Ebay or Craig's list.

RV's,motor homes,travel trailers can provide some good stuff also.I wouldn't use parts from them on a full time cruiser.A weekend cruiser should be fine.However,nothing will be USCG or AYBC approved.

Boat Systems Handbook

Monday, June 18, 2012

Spira International 27 Foot Boat Plans Build Costs

This will be my first keel up boat build.Well,unless you count the single person knock together boats I have built.I have rebuilt and restored a number of boats by myself and with friends.I even held a job doing interiors and upholstery in boats.

The one main factor is the cost of building the hull and cabin.I will layout the cost to build the 27 foot trailerable Spira International boats.I am using the bill of materials(BOM) off of the study plans that are available on the Spira International website.It's good to be able to get an idea of what costs are involved before building.Most other designers require you to purchase a study plan to get an idea of what's involved to build their design.You may still be required to buy the full plan set to get the BOM.This is a bad business practice in my mind.With the BOMs in hand,I started getting the numbers together and adding up cost.I will layout the cost break down and then give some ideas on how to cut some costs.I will start laying out things and end with the boat I have chosen as the design I plan to build.

The Elements of Boat Strength

Suppliers for pricing are as follow.
Lowe's Wood supplies.
Home Depot Wood supplies.
Raka Epoxy and fiberglass.
Fastenal Screws and bolts.
McMaster Carr Screws and bolts.
DuckworksBBS Duckworks carries some of the odd size screws called for in the plans.

Avoid treated woods as much as possible.Treated wood usually contains traces of copper which corrodes fasteners and any other metals that come in contact with it.Even painted it can still leech copper.Also,copper is bad for the marine environment and is illegal to use in bottom coatings in some areas.

I prefer A/B fir plywood but will accept A/C fir,if it's good quality.Avoid plywood with voids and footballs if possible.

I only use stainless steel fasteners for the extra corrosion resistance.Most of them will be sealed in with epoxy.I only use Raka epoxy kits with non blush hardener.

50 inch width is considered standard width for fiberglass boat cloth.Try to purchase all of your fiberglass cloth at one time.It saves a lot of money.

Bahaman Hull only No BOM for cabin.
$105=240 ft. 2x4
$40= 38 ft. 2x8
$60=2x stock for transom splash well
$78=180 ft. 1x4
$75=170 ft 1x4 decking-You can use decking or epoxy coated and painted 1x4 choice is yours.
$50=1x stock for rail cap-A good hardwood works well but is costs more.
$297=9 sheets 1/2 in. plywood
$195=5 sheets 3/4 in. plywood
$219=500 #10x3 in. screws
$196=2000 #8x2 in. screws
$338=5 gallons epoxy
$259=50 yards 6oz fiberglass cloth

You can look at the cost of other models to gain and idea of the cost to build a cabin.I estimate between $300 and $500 depending on length of the cabin.

Hull Only
$264=8 sheets 1/2 in. plywood
$142=10 sheets 3/8 in. plywood
$103=240 ft. 1x4
$79=180 ft. 2x4
$341=1000 #10x2 1/2 in. screws
$30=250 #8x2 in. screws
$76=5/16x4 in. machine screws
$26=5/16 in. nuts
$9=5/16 in. washers
$60=12 ft. 5/16 in. threaded rod-washers and nuts included above price
$5=four 1/4 in.x 4 in. lag screws
$338=5 gallon epoxy
$25=3 in. glass tape 50 yards
$311=60 yards 6oz fiberglass cloth

$36=80 ft. 1x4
$99 =3 sheets 1/2 plywood
$25=250 #8x1 1/2 in. screws
$30=deck finish

$29=62 ft. 1x4
$58=2 sheets 5/8 in. plywood
$165=5 sheets 1/2 in. plywood
$25=250 #8x1 1/2 in. screws
$55=2 quarts epoxy
$46=8 yards 6oz fiberglass cloth
$378 total

$2377 total hull,deck,and cabin

Cane River
Hull only-The cost for Chubasco's cabin would be close.
$284=20 sheets 3/8 in. plywood
$462=14 sheets 1/2 in. plywood
$131=300 ft. 2x4
$47=240 ft. 1x3
$50=55 ft. 2x8
$341=1000 #10x2 1/2 in. screws
$188=100 5/16x4 in. screws
$26=100 5/16 in. nuts
$9=100 5/16 in. washers
$245=2500 #8x2 in. screws
$608=10 gallon epoxy
$622=120 yards 6oz fiberglass cloth
$3013 total

San Miguel
Hull only-The cost for Chubasco's cabin would be close.
$142=10 sheets 3/8 in. plywood
$330=10 sheets 1/2 in. plywood
$172=6 sheets 5/8 in. plywood
$105=240 ft. 2x4
$55=280 ft. 1x3
$16=32 ft. 1x4
$171=500 #10x2 1/2 in. screws
$196=2000 #8x2 in. screws
$798=15 gallons epoxy
$518=100 yards 6oz fiberglass cloth
$2503 total

This is the boat I am planning to build.I will stretch it to 30 feet and build the V entry bow per the plans.
This total will be to build Sitka at 27 feet.Add approximately $200 to $300 to build to 30 feet with the V bow.
Hull Only
$105=240 ft. 2x4
$85=125 ft. 2x6
$30=32 ft. 2x8
$50=100 ft. 1x4
$199=14 sheets 3/8 in. plywood
$396=12 sheets 1/2 in. plwood
$113=6 sheets 5/8 in. plywood
$451=60 yards 6oz fiberglass cloth
$498=8 gallons epoxy
$97=300 #10x3 in. screws
$98=1200 #8x1 1/2 in. screws
$176=60 ft. 1x8
$2298 total

$31=64 ft. 1x4
$141=48 ft. 1x8
$462=14 sheets 1/2 in. plywood
$XXX=12 yards 6oz fiberglass cloth-price included in bulk order above
$182=2 gallon epoxy
$25=200 #8x1 1/4 in. screws

$3139 total for hull and cabin

Newfie.Some may notice that I didn't include Newfie.I really like that boat, but it has a very small interior and there was no BOM on the study plans.

Boat Building Manual

There are some ways to cutting material costs.I added a few above.

Lumber.Find a local saw mill and have the lumber cut to full boat length.You could also use trees from your property.Make a deal to get your lumber ordered filled and let the mill have the rest to sell as payment.This can be tricky as some saw mills are mobile while others require you to haul your wood to the mill.This option takes longer and requires a place to store the wood while it finishes drying out.The best option for most people will be finding a local builder's supply.They get huge loads of lumber with a volume discount.If you buy enough,they sometimes will negotiate for  lower price.Also,there wood tends to be better quality than most places like Lowe's and Home Depot.

Fasteners.I recommend finding a local supplier and purchasing everything at once plus 10% to build the hull and/or cabin.Later when you need fasteners and hardware to finish out the boat,you can possibly negotiate for a slight discount on pricing.Hey,every little bit helps.

Epoxy.Some epoxy manufactures set a shelf life for their products some do not.I have had epoxy either, go bad, or it was a bad batch.Which,I am not sure.Epoxy is heavy and can get expensive.Try to buy in bulk to save on cost and shipping.It's best if you can find a dealer or supplier.Be careful tho.Their mark up may be a lot higher than ordering a kit.Shop around.I like Raka because they have an easy mixing system.

PL glues.I have had bad experiences with these, so I stay away from them.My main gripe is the ability for PL and epoxy to stick together.I built a knock together plywood boat and when I sheathed it in fiberglass and epoxy,the area around the PL let go.I won't knock PL glues, but they're not for me when boat building.

My next installment will include more ways to cut cost during fit out and finishing.

Practical Encyclopedia of Boating

Sunday, June 17, 2012

The Chosen One.The Boat Plans For Me.

I here by reserve the right to change my mind, (like I change underwear,at least once a month) on the boat I plan to build.

In my last post,"Deciding On A Boat To Build",I gave a vague idea of what I want in a boat.There are so many pros and cons to building a boat by yourself,that it is nearly impossible to list them all.Any boat bought or built is nothing more than a series of compromises,unless money is no object or you simply want it to float.I started with my main compromise and worked back from there.You're probably thinking,"what would be the main compromise?"That would be the ability to trailer the boat, without legal implications, behind a full size pick up truck,van,or class C RV.My state,and most states, the legal width allowed is 8 feet 6 inches and a combined length of 65 feet with a maximum height of 13 feet.With this information,I know I want a boat that has an 8 foot six inch beam or narrower, and as long as possible.Over the years,my research has shown that most boats with a beam around 8'6" are between 25 and 30 feet in hull length.Don't confuse this with length over all.Swim platform and the bowsprit/pulpit contribute to the boats total length.After searching and searching some more.I found Spira International.He has many viable boats with a beam at 8'6" or narrower.Good thing about his site,he has the study plans right there in PDF for all to view.He will design a boat specifically for you,but you must be serious and ready to buy the plans.His plans are for the average DIY guy with a local lumber yard or home improvement store.I like to refer to his plans as "every day man's boat plans".They are fairly fast to build, and simple to construct with basic construction materials.He even has a video and ebook on how to build his boats.You can use top shelf marine grade materials and dress your boat up in polish and varnish if you wish.Nothing wrong with that at all.I prefer a more low key working boat appearance.


I studied Spira's site and really considered what I wanted in a boat.I have to have a full stand up head with shower,enclosed cabin,and galley.With the health issues and medications I take,I can't be in the sun or heat for long periods without getting sick.I only want a small rear deck for fishing from so a larger than usual cabin can be built.All this adds up and makes the boat heavier affecting the boat's draft.I need a hull that has a flat bottom and a draft of around 12 to 16 inches with the lower unit out of the water.A flat bottom allows the boat to sit flat on the ground when the tide runs out.I will get more into this in a later post.Shallow draft is a must here.Our area is prone to sudden shoaling.I don't mean going from deep to shallow water in a short distance.I mean the bottom will silt up and become shallow over night, or after a freak down pour.Ask me how I know,but I rather you didn't.


 Another issue is propulsion.Most areas around me have banned two stroke outboards.Only the newer two stroke OBs with EPA approval can get the OK to be on the lakes.Four strokes are a non issue.Both are very expensive still,especially around here where two strokes are banned.The only viable option for me is stern drive,straight inboard,or V drive.The least expensive option for me is a stern drive.They are also referred to as I/Os or inboard outboards.I can usually find them in complete boats in good condition from $1000 to $5000.Buying a complete donor boat insures that I get everything needed to make my boat go.I will get more into this in another post.

I looked at a number of Spira designs in the 25 to 30 foot length.Most of Spira's designs are based on dories of different locales around the US.I live in South Carolina and went straight to looking at the Spira Carolina dories.They really are wonderful boats but they have narrow bows and taper to a fairly narrow transom.This kills interior volume compared to other dory designs.However,he does have a design with a layout that I really like,just wish it was beamier.That boat is the 27 foot Bahaman.The layout can be found on page two of the study plans.I have decided to go with the Bahaman cabin and layout.

The other boats I considered were.
24 foot Clamente-This boat was to small over all but would make a great weekender or fishing boat for the family.
27 foot Chubasco-This boat would be good compromise and could still happen.
27 foot Newfie St.Pierre dory-This boat is to small but they are beautiful,have great fuel economy,and get attention.
25 foot Kona Hiwaiian Sam Pan-These boats are solid,but have a center keel and deeper draft than I prefer.
27 foot Cane River-This boat is an option for me.It has a shape that is a little more time consuming and difficult to build.
27 foot San Miguel-This boat is a serious option and gets good fuel economy.The down side is the center keel.
27 foot Sitka-This is the boat I chose.I will build it to 30 feet with a V entry bow as shown on the plans.

The deal with center keels,is they do not allow the boat to sit flat when the tide runs out and the running gear can be damaged if the boat is allowed to sit on it's bottom.

Why I chose Sitka.If you look at the study plans,you will see that the boat has a rounder bow and the sides run straight back to the transom.This design allows for maximum room in the largest space.It can be stretched to 30 feet with a V entry bow.This is my intention.The bottom is dead flat with no rocker(curve) from bow to stern.This makes for a very shallow running hull.This hull was designed specifically for outboard power.However,I contacted Jeff Spira,and when I start building,he is going to advise me on how to build the stern to accept a stern drive set up.I think I will be the first to build this design to these specs.I will be purchasing my plans early spring 2013 and hope to start building soon after.While this design will not get the best fuel economy,it will have room and the ability to carry large amounts of weight.The V entry bow will help with fuel economy since the boat will spend most of it's time running displacement speed.

My next post will deal with build costs and planning.I will break down the cost of a few of the bigger boats,including the one I plan to build.


Saturday, June 16, 2012

Deciding On A Boat To Build

I finally narrowed down my boat search.I have been tormenting myself with buying or building.After doing the math,I have come to the conclusion that I can build a new boat cheaper and better than buying a used turn key boat.Most of the turn key boats I looked at really needed work.Fiberglass boats are the worst.Most have water logged flotation foam that causes the wood stringers and transom to rot from the bottom up.I've stripped (and helped strip) and rebuilt a few boats.It is not fun in a big 25+ foot boat.It's faster and easier to start from scratch.

 Most of my boating will be on larger lakes and the ICW around South Carolina,North Carolina,and Georgia.I do plan to take the boat around the Great Loop,so it must be a sea worthy design.I searched for years for a design that was easy for a first time builder with some basic carpentry and boat building skills.There are a lot of excellent boat designers with plans out.Most are more suited to the advanced DIY builder than a first timer with basic skills.Out of all the producers of plans,I decided on Spira International.Jeff Spira is the designer of all the plans.The best thing about his plans,is access to Jeff Spira himself.He can be contacted through his website or on facebook.He always gets back in contact with you within time.He is a busy man tho.So please give him a few days,he could be away.

 My base criteria for a boat is as follows in this order.There are more variables,but these are the main ones.
1)Trailerable behind a full size pick up truck,van,or class C RV.
2)Shallow draft, 12 to 16 inches with the lower unit up.
3)Absolutely no more than 2 gallon per hour fuel burn at displacement speed.
4)Must have sleeping arrangements for four.
5)Must have full head with shower.

In my next post, "The Chosen One",I will review the Spira plans that I considered,a break down of build cost,and the plans I chose.

Honey,Let's get a boat.