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.