All About Plans
Have you been searching for the ideal boat to build?
Glen L sailing dinghy frame.
Take care when searching for plans on the www as the old saying goes “you get what you pay for”. If you have no boat building experience do not go cheap and nasty unless you are a thrill seeker or like a challenge. For example there is a well known boat designer and plans supplier that customers, who have built several boats, tell me his plans always have errors in them. One builder, is an architect, who has extensive experience in drawing and interpreting plans. Therefore, I have faith in his comments. When pointed out, the plans supplier denies there is a problem. A good way to tell if the plans are bonafide is by checking whether there are any photos/projects pages with boats being built. Some builders set up websites or provide photos of their progress to us and we have an extensive portfolio of customers builds in progress at www.BoatCraftNSW.com under projects.
I have people call me and want us to work out a materials list for a set of free or cheap plans they have organised from the www. My response is “how long is a piece of string”. We do not know the plans and it takes effort to come up with a materials list. Therefore, I usually charge $50 for the exercise which is discounted when they purchase all materials through us. There are many suppliers of cheap plans, mainly from the USA and I suggest you are a thrill seeker unless purchasing from a reputable designer. They come with minimal information on how to build the boat and quote materials and products not readily available in Australia. When I see these plans, it is obvious many have never been built, or if they have, the errors have not been sorted out.
David Payne 2ft model skiff.
The other problem is, that many older designs are based on heavy frames and use heaps of Silicon Bronze screws and nails as shown at figure one. The designers do not take into account modern boat building techniques that will save time, money and weight. These designs are fine, if you are building a traditional boat, but not necessary when using modern boat building materials.
By the way, we love people who build these boats as they use heaps of silicon bronze screws and nails. I also believe the companies who sell plans described above influence people deciding not to build a boat and contribute to the number of unfinished projects.
There is no need to go overseas to purchase plans as we have some excellent designs in Australia with local support and designed around using products readily available in Australia. The best range of Aussie plans has been assembled by David Payne, who must have had his uncle’s flair rub off onto him. As his portfolio includes plans for boats from a 2ft Model Skiff which were extensively sailed on Sydney Harbour in the 1920’s and 30’s with an array of designs to a 12m yacht.
David’s latest creation was a modern version of a traditional native canoe. He built it laminating two 1.5mm thick sheets of Hoop Pine together using Purbond Polyurethane glue and then fibreglassed using Bote-Cote Epoxy Resin as shown in figure three. David used Purbond to laminate the sheets into his desired shape. I fibreglassed it for him as he had become highly sensitised to old technology epoxies. By the end of the day he realised the Bote-Cote was having no effect on him.
David Payne paddling his native canoe.
Unfortunately, David has decided to step back from selling his plans due to workload at the Australian National Maritime Museum and personal commitments. Some of you may have noticed his absence if you have tried to contact him through his website since before Christmas 2016. He apologises for doing this, but had no choice due to time constraints. By the time this article is published David will have spent a month in Papua New Guinea surveying historical and traditional craft in a converted fishing boat. It will be interesting to catch up with him and hear the story on his adventure.
Anyway, we caught up with David at the Australian Wooden Boat Festival in Hobart and convinced him that it was important for his plans to still be available to the boat building community in Australia. As a result, David’s plans are exclusively available through DRIVE Marine Services and BoatCraft Pacific as of May 2017. Except, the Snapper Boat and 5.0m Lapstrake Skiboat, that are available through Ian Smith.
When I take a set of David’s plans to my printer to organise a copy to be printed, Bruce is in awe of the detail and quality of David’s plans. He considers they are worthy of framing and becoming a masterpiece on the wall of your study or office with an example shown at figure four.
Back to the plans, David has designed all sorts of boats from traditional to modern designs with all tastes in mind. If you have not come across his plans before, his kayaks are practical and cater for plywood and strip plank building techniques. If you want to be caring and sharing there is also a double seat design to go paddling with your best mate as shown in figure five. It is available as a pre-cut kit for the 6.1m and plans for the 6.7m version. Kits are a great way to start your boat building past time as they save heaps of time and no hassles with incorrect marking out.
6.1m double kayak.
Then there is the Rocks River Skiff for the romantic who wants to woo the other half or needs some good exercise rowing a passenger around, whilst they enjoy the scenery. His designs include a range of plywood tinnies with a 3.65m Punt, the 3.36m Woodie and 4.50m planing dinghy that can be set up for control aft or centre console configuration. Then there are the traditional designs that include putt putts from 14ft long (4.26m) to the Cinema 18ft launch that are designed for Carvel, strip planked or in some cases lapstrake construction. All designs are shown at
www.BoatCraftNSW.com under Kits and Plans. Whilst there, check out the other plans and kits available including the Bellinger Canoe and the Starlight Dory trailer sailer that is another easy to build hard chined boat.
Plus, there is the Payne 7.4m Daysailer designed for disabled sailors to get out and mix it cruising or racing and is in action at figure six. Two of these functional yachts are raced regularly by Sailability sailors from Rushcutters Bay on Sydney Harbour. They are very stable and perform well from light breezes through to a howling southerly. Their crews are regularly collecting prizes at the RAN Sailing Association Prize Night.
If you have never done any boatbuilding before, I strongly recommend you take on a canoe or dinghy that can be completed in approximately three months, spending a few hours every weekend, before tackling your ultimate boat building project. It is a great way to develop boat building techniques before taking on the big one.
By the time you have finished, you will have made all of the mistakes and developed the techniques without costing a lot of money. Further, you will be the only one who will know where all the gaps were. You will either be hooked on boat building or decide to find another hobby. There are many partly finished boats sitting in sheds or under tarps, because people ‘bit off more than they could chew’ and lost their enthusiasm.
The other piece of advice to finish up – do not skimp on materials. The most expensive thing you will put into building a boat, is your time. People will skimp on plywood by buying cheap marine plywood which does not comply to BS1088 which is full of voids and uneven thickness veneers or use exterior plywood to save a few dollars. This usually ends in having to buy a chainsaw to cut it up or have to carry out considerable restoration work to keep it going.
Payne 7.4m daysailer in action.
By all means do not go overboard on premium marine plywood for your first boat in case you mark out incorrectly or make the wrong cut, as that is a sure way to dampen your enthusiasm. Especially, if you have to go and purchase another sheet of European Gaboon or hoop pine. For more information on Plywood refer to AABB Issue 90 and the article titled ‘Plywood Idiosyncrasies’.
Now a free tip, there is a resurgence of interest in the Sailfish sailing dinghies that were very popular during the 70’s. There was an article published on them in AABB 97 titled ‘Sailfish Zombies’. A free set of plans are available at www.australiansailfish.wordpress.com These are an easy to build dinghy with the opportunity to get together with like-minded people. Or an easy to build dinghy for the grandkids to learn to sail or muck around on.