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Anke and I live aboard WAYWARD, and wrote about it's design and construction at

Access to the net comes and goes, so I'll be writing in fits and spurts.Please feel free to browse the archives, leave comments where you will and write... I'll respond as I can.

Fair winds!

Dave and Anke
triloboats swirly gmail daughter com

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Building Yer Own

Our Hopeful Monster

The whole difference between construction and creation is exactly this:
  That a thing constructed can only be loved after it is constructed;
  But a thing created is loved before it exists.
-- Charles Dickens

Building Yer Own

Anke and I are in the throes of building our 'last' boat.

There are moments, I admit, when I question our sanity. Why build when we have a perfectly good boat (SLACKTIDE)? Why build when we could buy? Why upsize when we were happily downsized?

Without having quite realized it, the new boat will represent a five year plan (assuming no extravagant setbacks). Time and treasure...

Financing, planning, shopping, building, rigging... all these represent time spent not drifting about, or at least cutting it to summer/early autumn months. Will the new boat be worth the investment of those golden hours afloat?

Mmm. Good questions, deserving good answers, with Time to be the Ultimate Judge.

Why build when we have a perfectly good boat? This is probably hardest question to answer. The bottom line is that we're afraid that 'tent-style living', on our knees, would not see us through old age. And if we are to build, the time is now, while it's merely hard going. A decade down the road and it may be untenably hard going.

Why build when we could buy? Well, the number of ultra-shoal, live-aboard boats in reasonable condition and reasonable price is a small number indeed. Lots of deals in boats these days, but most are many, many compromises away from our wish list.

Why upsize when we were happily downsized? Both have advantages and disadvantages. The new boat is still small, by most standards.- affordable and manageable - yet affords a large step toward the SWAB concept. Oh, and it has a stand-up galley... Anke loves SLACKTIDE's kneeling galley for the nonce, but feels that for the longer term, LUNA's stand-up arrangement was preferable. Along with project and miniature garden space, elbow-room. Me? I'm a 'small is beautiful' kinda guy. But it's true... everything but maintenance is a skosh easier with a little extra volume.

Is it worth the investment? Time will have to tell, here. We've got a lot invested and a long way to go. We try to cultivate the attitude that we are cruising, albeit shorebound to one particular phase of a bigger picture.

There's a lot to be said for building one's own boat/home, whatever the cost.

Building one's own connects a sailor to his or her vessel and sailing life in a way that's hard to explain, but which, among those who've done it, needs no explanation. Some things just can't be purchased, at any price. 

And there is nothing - nothing - to compare to the moment yer own creation comes to life under first press of sail.

Our muscles ache and complain, yet we grow strong. Morning comes too early, yet the day is full of challenges met. Our progress seems slow, and yet...

Something wonderful is growing under our hands.


  1. Why not make a sectional boat?...Example three 12' sections bolted or tied together.. Make it over a period of 3yrs..Finished section every yr... You can probably find a heated building for making the sections..It would divide up the cost to an affordable annual amt.. You could add sections later.. Maintenance is sectional and less effort.. Instead of copper could use copper filings w/ epoxy.. Sails could be made later... I would have 4stroke 6.5hp mud motor w/ alternator n Kalcker Reactor to save 6x the fuel n no pollution.. Cost $250 new... Combination motor-pedal power-wave power-fishtail sculling you my not even need sails which are expensive, a lot of work and limited to wind n current... On small kayak you can use umbrella but big houseboats like yours then your talking about big heavy mast and large junk rigs...In our older age do we want to deal with heavy folding mast, leeboards, rudder n sails?... I have always had sailboats but with Kalcker Reactor motors, one handed fishtail sculling, wave power and my age I'm changing my thinking with a cruising boat...You can always have a small sail like trawlers use to have... Of course this depends if your coastal cruising or decided to sail to the tropics...With sectional boat just load it into a cargo box and ship it to the tropics...

    1. Hi Tim,

      Good possibilities, one and all!

      WHAT one builds is always extremely individual, and there's the beauty of it

      I'm interested in most of the approaches you mention, though my experimental reach is pretty small. A wave-powered craft, for example, would take some looking into before I'd feel ready to commit to a liveaboard size.

      This is the first I've heard of the Patrone / Kalker engine. Looks intriguing!

      Thinking about it, but not sure I could give up my sails. There's something so... WHOLEsome about sail. Something in them rings me like a bell.

      Fair winds,

      Dave Z

    2. Your right, Boat building is individual experience and the more if we tailor it to our needs, location, cost n amt of work to complete it...My suggestions were to make a big job smaller..Add alternatives to propulsion...No way I'm I saying to give up sailing but maybe down size its use... Coastal cruising is much harder than trans oceans for reasons you are aware... Therefore need different means of propulsion available...
      The Kalcker Reactor I made 15yrs ago and it worked on a generator... It will burn different fuels including syn-gas which you can make your self.. Gasification can heat your boat, cook, dehydrate, run gen, propane refrig, and propel your boat.. You can even clean up the shoreline and burn plastics.. Mr. Teslonian has good designs...I have seen as small as to fit on the back of motorcycle... This would be a good survival addition...
      Wave power can be made with just oars w/ self springing material like plastic or rubber hinge..You could use it like a dolphin fin sculling oar also...
      I had to change my concepts of boating to fit my environment n along the way discovered alternatives... Always willing to share with you as my teacher...
      I keep downsizing my projects.. I was planning to make a barge 3yrs ago..that got reduced to a sectional Bolger FBOC made of bamboo SOF w/ Kalcker motor- junk sail - fishtail scull...It ended up looking like a junk w/ conestoga canopy...Now I'm looking at a 12'x28" a 3sectional cat-kayak w/Honda 1.6hp mud motor-umbrella sail n canopy-fishtail scull.. Made of 2 shts 1/4"ply n bamboo it will expand both width n length if desired..Break down to 8"x12' for storage...
      Is that a pic of you making the boat?... Massive project!! Hats off to you..Now if I could only muster up the energy to make my small project... Hahaha...Tim

    3. Hi Tim,

      Yep, Manageable beats perfection every day o' the week!

      Dave Z