Adventure of building a sailing catamaran

Can I do this?

1. Do you have perseverance and a desire to achieve?

2. Can you step outside your comfort zone. This type of project will be 3-5 years (2 days per week).

3. What is your single primary goal once your yacht is complete?

4. What do you intend to do with the yacht for 90% of the time once you are on the water?

Getting these points set in concrete is very important. Is it cruising, racing, performance, build to sell?

Look at it as the tree trunk of your building project. From the TRUNK you then BRANCH out. You need a solid tree-trunk (or goal).

TIP: Do not get distracted in the leaves of your tree with items like fitout, colour, sails, motor types, inclusions etc, this will only slow you down.

These challenges will all come later.

Boatbuilding, where do I start?

Looking at this page is an indication of how serious you may be. A few key decisions that may sound obvious but are a little more complex than first thought, may be causing a barrage of questions or excited confusion.

What type of yacht to build.

This is very dependent on the budget. One cannot have a $500,000 yacht with a $100,000 budget...period. It is all relative and the money spent will heavily influence the type of fitout too. For those with a budget of say $250,000; some of the composite coastal cruising designs are just within reach with a below-average fitout.

Why do you want to build a yacht?

Is it because you would like to tackle a sizeable project and have no interest in sailing? This approach normally brings its own challenges unless you are familiar with large catamaran sailing or have previously built a catamaran.

Are you after a performance catamaran?

STOP...becuase a lot more research needs to be done. Performance and cruising (together) come at a high price due to the size and hull design. Here too, look closely at the comfort factor, our results found that yacht size and weight became key factors for the sake of improved performance.


From your (1) primary GOAL...

...branch into these topics.

pure majek catamaran

Books, books, books

Be armed from the start. We found paper books invaluable for our build as a quick reference, worth their weight in gold. We shortly list resource books we found useful.

Is the yacht for private use? Or is it to be built to Survey standard?

'Survey standard' costs much more due to the additional regulatory requirements that need to be met. Are 'Survey Standards' mandatory - certainly not. Is it preferred - yes.

Boat Plans - are you looking for the cheapest (or even free plans)?

The Yachts plan price is often reflected in the content of the plan. If you are a person who requires all information to be methodically laid out for you and you then follow a prescribed documented process, this type of yacht-building project will not be for you. Those types of plans (and projects) are available, but come at a much higher price and normally in a Kit-Form.

Many of the cheaper yacht plan projects require a certain amount of self-judgement and initiative. You will be required to do your own research and the resulting build and installation of some non-structural components. Hoping to be 'spoon-fed' from a cheap plan is not an option.

Plotting the project roadmap

Very important to have this as a visual GOAL stimulus. I have seen people use the back of a door with texta!

While not that seeming that important now, this becomes very useful during the build for goal setting, ideas, research notes, ordering, mixing ratios, reminders, in particular - 'to-do' lists etc.

Should be treated as the 'trunk of your build'. You can always change it...but have only one primary goal.

These can include:
1. Family sailboat cruising, days at a time, or
2. Solo offshore and coastal cruising - weeks at a time, or
3. Build a boat to sell to make cash, or
4. Build a yacht - coastal scuba diving weeks at a time.

1. RESEARCH BRANCHES of the tree (4).

These can include:
1. Type of boat (mono, cat, multi),
2. Type of build (plywood, carbon fibre, composite timbers, aluminium),
3. Where to build (a HUGE challenge. Read our Book on how we were cost-neutral on our whole project),
4. Project time (most builds are around 4000 hours) etc.

2. RESEARCH BRANCHES of the build type. As you research further, the 'branches' are limited by budget, size and type of boating.

As an example, if you are looking for a performance catamaran that is 12m long and want to spend extended periods away from land (ie on the reefs for two weeks), YOU WILL NEED a budget in excess of AUD200,000.

These can include:
1. Motor use (sail & motor, motor only)
2. Resource centre (plans, books, trade manuals),
3. Offshore or coastal cruising (offshore being more expensive),
4. Planned BUDGET etc.

These branch of from your Secondary Goals.

These can include:
1. Motor type (electric, diesel, gasolene)
2. Rigging and mast types,
3. Building material type,
4. Insurance for your build,
5. Security of the build (fencing, alarms, utility shed),
6. Electrical fitout (solar, batteries, switches) etc.

These include:
1. Looking for a Designer? (ideas - click here),
2. Breakdown the budget? (ideas - click here),
3. Build location - access and availability to equipment and materials,
4. Go searching marinas to get ideas.
5. WARNING: Talking to people is a great idea, however be mindful that there are many biased opinions, in particular from those that have never built a yacht. You see them on Forums ranting on about performance, yacht brands, designers etc, yet they have little to no idea from a practical and financial perspective.

build within your budget
What's your boatbuilding budget?

For those with a budget around $100,000 (2010), there are a few designs well within reach. However, the bigger you go (i.e. greater than 11-12m in length) - the more you have to outlay and the less you have for the fitout.

We fitted within this bracket and discuss this in the A Sailing Catamaran Building Project. This budget region will cover most glass over plywood designs.

We started with a $100,000 budget which we soon realised was not enough for the fitout we wanted. Our budget was spread over a five year period, making the pain more bearable.

While it came in 'drips-and-drabs' and we managed find the funds. One needs to be very realistic too, money does not grow on trees (or on our trees anyway).

The decision in the type and size of yacht you finally build, is so important. Many half-finished examples sit idle in building sheds haunting those who started building them as they were not realistic in this initial decision process.

The 'wish-list items' from all of the projected crew members, need to be carefully analysed and a cost apportioned. It's here too that the realisation of what you really need, hits home.

don't join the 'Lemming Squad' - back yourself
Trust yourself, not the armchair critic.

They say that many a dream is lost, because few take the bull-by-the-horns in fear of failure, the gamble being too much or the job being perceived as too hard.

Having said that, the idea of a large sailing Catamaran was lightly bounced on some of our friends and work colleagues, who all joined the 'Lemming Squad'. Lemmings being little rodents that have a habit of being followers. If one runs - they all run, if one jumps of a cliff - they all jump.

We have proved that it can be done and you do not have to be wealthy or a professional builder either. Having a family of four and very little sailing experience, we took the plunge to fulfill what many only dream.

It was time for a change and a move to another State as well as a new job, that gave us this opportunity.

stay focused on your goal
Decipher the 'armchair waffle' from the important information.

'Armchair critics' will babble all the wish-list items that they consider mandatory without applying a practical angle to their thoughts.

We recently provided data on a Building Forum, the Moderator (of all people) chose to respond, his response being very critical and negative toward our safety input.

We were later advised privately that he didn't even own a multihull, just a 26' trailer sailer. Sadly, he was out of touch with catamaran/multihull design and safety requirements not only in the EU, but throughout the world.

And its this type of information that sadly clouds the thought processes and one ends up not knowing who to believe.

It is important to join a good Forum where you can feel free to ask a question without being ridiculed or made felt foolish. However, you will only get out what you put in, if you limit your input - others will limit their responses and are only as active as the Forum participants make them.

"...'bells and whistles' don't make it easier, THEY MAKE MORE WORK"

"Don't get bogged down RE-INVENTING THE WHEEL. Remain focused and celebrate each building goal from your 'Plan'."

"Do you really need a hairdryer?"

"Do you really need a watermaker?...

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