Part 1 - One of Those

By Perry Burton - Holyrood, Newfoundland - Canada

Part 1 - One of Those
Part 2 - This Small Space
Part 3 - So Where's This Boat of Yours?
Part 4 - Planking Nightmares

Part 5 - It's All Downhill from Here
Part 6 - The Routine

You know those people who buy sets of home built boat plans. The kind who lurk on websites and building forums. The type who asks relatively normal questions but the type that has been asked so many times that the regulars know instinctively the kind of person their dealing with. There are even articles written about this species of builder. The “Dreamer”.  Unfortunately it’s almost a derogatory term used to describe someone in boat circles. Well I am one of them. I’ve been down that road of indecisiveness. Of wanting to build a boat not just own one. I can wallpaper my house with the plans I own, I guess that qualifies me as a “Dreamer”. For many years that has sustained me. A set of plans is like a lottery ticket when you can’t afford to build or even buy a boat. It doesn’t mean you got your boat/fortune, but at least it gives you the legitimacy to dream about the “what if’s”. So like in an AA meeting I stand, “Hi I’m Perry and I’m a Dreamer” *All others respond* “Hi Perry”. But sometimes, when the moon is full and the planets align, some make that extra step. They start building. Which is what I have done.

Newfoundland is cast off the continent in the North Atlantic Ocean. Its coastline is rugged, its weather is how can I put it nicely, HARSH!. And the ocean, well let’s see, the “Titanic” (the world’s largest unsinkable ship), the “Ocean Ranger”, (the worlds largest floating oil rig) Both lie at its bottom just off the coast, with a company of no less than a thousand other ships. When I began to look for a day sailor/ cruiser with some ability to let me get to a safe harbour alive, I had my work cut out for me. Of the many suitable designs, John Welsford’s Pathfinder suited my needs the best. The salty gaff rig and fine lines it has certainly didn’t hurt either. The fact that I could build it in my basement sealed the deal. Our winters would prevent any construction in nothing but a fully heated garage. Not in the cards. A few conversations later with the folk at Duckworks and my plans were in the mail.

The intention was to pick up a bit of wood here and there, some epoxy and screws over time. And start when I had enough. Bit by little bit, that’s how it happens. No big purchase of 10 sheets of plywood or a 45 gallon drum of epoxy, just enough to start. All my wood was delivered to my house in my little Corolla. No big trucks or rentals. If you want it bad enough, you make what you have work for you.


Laying out templates as per the drawings was easy and consumed little time. I Have access to a computer and large printer and I made use of it by printing off full size patterns from the template drawings I created.

click images to enlarge

Cutting them didn’t take long either.

I celebrated my first cut piece, not to boast or fish for compliments from strangers, but to announce to myself and those who could hear in the house that I had started. If you want to save time and have a company cut this stuff for you in a kit, don’t. The time saved here will be a disappointment.

There are many places in this build where the hard earned money can be spent more wisely. A good quality jig saw perhaps, A pint of beer. As well, it’s an easy process to lay out and cut. It gives you practice with a couple of under used tools and it gets you familiar with the project. Besides, it’s fun.
In no time I had a complete parts kit. 2 sheets of plywood used not including Transom. To make sure my port side and left side frame members matched, I clamped them together and sanded them on my belt sander. The belt sander was clamped to a work table to make things easier.
Epoxy is new to me, so I approached it with the reverence to that of nitro glycerine. But it was not the demon I feared. (I tend to read up a lot on a topic and get paranoid to the point of fits) A bit of protection and care it’s easy stuff to deal with.
Latex gloves are a constant companion and I never need to clean any epoxy off me. Eager to try out this super glue by the gallon, I glued together frames #1 and #2.

Another enjoyable process. No surprises and I had enough time each evening, to router the exposed finished edges with a 1/8” rounding bit. I’m still waiting for the error that will cause me to scream in frustration and burn a part of my entire project in one glorious Bonfire. Each evening I went down into the basement I would build a frame. And hour here and there stolen between cutting grass, barbecues, and fishing trips and oh yes, work. You still got to live after all.

This is easy, I’m wondering what tragic mistake have I made but not yet realized. Oh well no point second guessing, On with it!  Now, where do you find 18 ft long straight lumber without a Bob Vila budget? In the woods, how novel an idea. A visit to my old home town, a walk through the woods and voilla!, boat lumber.
Mind you, I know most don’t live in a place like this, and their trees are protected as much that the penalty for cutting them is life in prison. I still needed a permit, but it was also only two trees. Cut, dragged to the beach and towed by boat to a borrowed truck.
Sawn and carted home on the roof of my car. 20ft long. 6 hours drive. I’m insane my in-laws declare. No, insane is building a 17ft sailboat in your basement with no thought of how to extract it. My shop is tiny, but I do have a plan. Well... sort of. Details details, no time to worry, I have a boat to build. And it’s now too late to stop.

Wood is bought and cut. And the first frames are made. I have to keep a pace because my intention is to be in the water by next summer. Tall order indeed. Now only time will tell if I succeed.

continued next month....


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