Building Milestones

Building your own boat is a passion, one that lasts for years. The inspiration for building my own boat is explained in this page, building your own.

When I started this project, my goal was to complete it from plans to launch in 5 years.  I thought that there was a lot of visual progress in the first two years, and for good reason, I was making the hull.  However, I was quite surprised at the time required for cabinetry and the subsequent fitting out that followed.  It took nearly twice as long as I had expected, more than 7 years of construction over a 10 year period.  However, we did in fact launch at the 4 year period.  I found it easier to work on the interior when the boat was in the water, and it gave us many outings just motoring around (with no instruments or rig) and another 2 summers of sailing with no  plumbing or heads!  It was worth it.  In recognizing the contributions from others, I’ve listed people who helped, on this page.

For “boat-builder wannaabbee’s”, I offer these tips:

1. Work steady, on a daily basis if you can. In addition to my day job (50 hours per week), I put in 23 hours each week working on the boat.  This translates to 2 hours per day (anytime during the day), Sunday morning (the rest of the day on Sunday was always left as family time), and a long day on Saturday.  Take a deserved holiday each year.

2. When your friends come to visit, put them to work. I’ve me many home boat-builders that get drawn into a social event with lots of alcohol drunk.  Drink in moderation ……. but get the work done.

3. Do you homework and figure out how you are going to get this boat to sea.  Know the distance, dimensional tolerances along the route.  These dimensions may limit what you can build.

4. Try to establish a business or wholesale relationship with a marine supply company. The markup on these products varies tremendously and you’ll go broke if you buy everything at retail price.

5. Buy what you can ahead of time.  For example, you need the waterheater before you make a space for it.  But, be careful with rapidly expiring warranties. The engine, for example, will have dried up seals and belts before you ever put it to use.

6. Visit other boatbuilders.  This gives you and your spouse “outings” and perhaps an opportunity to learn about other building materials or techniques.  I was building alongside several other builders, within a 5 hour drive.  I developed friendships with Allan Skjodt (who built a Roberts 53) and Dick White (who built a Roberts 64).

Below, are my milestone summaries, by year.  Press on the hyperlink of each year to see photo albums, on a year by year basis.

1992I spent most of 1992 preparing the work environment.  I bought a house with a barn, and needed to remove hay, and get the electrical and water systems back to a functioning state.
1993In 1993, I basically erected a skeletal structure, starting with the keel, stem, frames and longitudinals.
1994In 1994, I plated the hull.  First the radius chine, then the upper and lower sections, and lastly the deck.  When plating, it is important not to stress the skeletal structure.  You must install a plate, and then flip to the other side either fore or aft, in order to fairly distribute the load.  I have seen this done poorly and the result is obvious.
1995I only worked to mid July 1995.  I finished the hull, dragged it out of the barn, and then sandblasted and primed it (Devoe inorganic zinc primer, then Bar-Rust 235 2 part epoxy).
1995-1998 (to September 1998)During this 3 year period, I was stationed in Brunssum, the Netherlands.  I was able to visit the boat each summer, where I installed the firring strips and had the inside sprayed with 2 part polyurethane foam, and also installed the hatches and portlights.  While in the Netherlands, I made the dorade boxes, the companionway hatch and many grab handles.  I also used the time to research and buy many of the components that were necessary for the fitting out. This effort cannot be overstated.  There is a great deal of time involved in going to boat shows, browsing through catalogs and ordering bits and pieces.
1999In 1999, I lined the inside of the hull with 2″ wide maple strips, essentially a boat within a boat, and painted the topsides, deck (Devoe 2 part polyurethane) and bottom paint (Devoe ABC).  We launched in September 1999, but it was only a bare hull.  The boat stayed in the water until August 2003 when it was first hauled.  (Well that’s not completely true because I did haul for a couple of weeks in 2002 to check the bottom and fit instruments.  I used a Guest de-icer during the winter.  The interior was warm enough to dry glue and varnish, and that’s what I was looking for.
2000In 2000, I continued with interior carpentry and basic engine and systems fitting. We went out for out first cruise in May 2000.  It was a hoot.  We had no instruments or sailing gear, just a hull with a motor. I also managed to get the mast, boom and standing rigging erected by December 2000.
2001By 2001, the interior cabinetry was really starting to take shape.  Andy Soper in Kingston built our sails and we went sailing for the first time ever in June 2001.
2002By 2002, most projects were finished, but I kept working on the installation of solar panels, wind generator etc.
2003 (to July 2003)In July 2003, I declared the boat finished.  That being said, I believed that I had finished it to the same or greater state than what you might normally expect with a production boat.  The installation of more capable instruments and creature comforts took place in later years, together with maintenance requirements.

After the boat was “finished”, we sailed on Lake Ontario for 6 summers, before I retired in April 2009 and headed South.  To see what we did during the period 2003 – 2008, go to the page called Sea Trials.