Amateur Boat Building


 Building a 27 foot Catamaran




by Héctor de Ezcurra 

For a long time, due the economical crisis we've been having in our country, those of us who dream of having our own boat see how the chances of accessing that dream narrow year after year. If one can't afford to buy it, why not building it oneself?

      That was the question that allowed me to evaluate that chance for the first time. "But how?, if I'm not a carpenter", could be the answer, but not necessary the right one. Actually, ther are lots of desings available, many of them thought especially for those legions of amateur builders, (allthough not that many in our country, as there could be). They are projects to be accomplished with many of the abilities that many of sailors have: common sense, fondness to wood, it's properties and the way of working it, getting along with tools and pleasure for working for the boat.

     So that's how we started our search for the most suitable design for us, which took time, money and effort, because we had to ask for several study plans, and read them carefully. These are a summary of the boat specifications, a list of the materials needed, so as to evaluate if it is the right boat for you, and how much could it cost where you live. Usually it also brings some clippings from magazines, with pictures, and a sample of a couple of sheets from the building plan, so as to have an idea if you can understand the instructions.

A Surfsong, (plywood version), built in the Great Lakes area
 of the United States..

    We ended choosing the Surfsong (in all the pictures of this article), a "V" hulled cruising catamaran, designed by the English designer Richard Woods. It has a 8,4 metres length (27 foot), 5,1 metres beam, and 46 cm draft (1,2 metres with daggerboard down). It has a cruising sail area of 35 square metres, bunks for 3-4 people, a small galley and WC, and plenty of room for loading equipment, food, clothes, etc. It is a fast, safe boat, with a roomy cockpit, lots of space on deck, and easy to build (at least it seemed). We found it perfect for the Rio de la Plata, which has lots of shallow areas near the Delta of the Paraná River (were you need a low draft boat), as it has sea at it's limits (were you need a seaworthy boat). It also has cick-up rudders, which can be lifted (as the centerboard), allowing to beach it anywhere, or to remain straight if the boat is aground or on dry deck.



Once the design was chosen , the second step was to order the full set of building plans (allways online), which took three weeks to arrive, giving us time to order the materials listed on the study plan (plywood, timber, stainless steel screws, gripfast nails, epoxy resin and fiberglass. During that time, building a small dinghy, (an auxiliary boat for the catamaran, see Construcción de un Chinchorro de Terciado, in this same chapter), was extremely useful, allowing us to try our materials, getting used to work with them and experienced with the use of our new tools.  

    The building plans arrived while we where working on the dinghy and preparing the place where we would build the bigger boat, and stocking the materials. We've been taking long hours for reading them carefully and for taking notes of the many detailed explanations that come with the drawings.


    After finishing with all these steps, the adventure is about to begin. As the construction pregresses, we will be publishing online pictures of each step, so anyone will be able to see it grow.

Hopefully, after a  couple of years, we will be like these people in the picture!


(All pictures in this first page were "borrowed" from Richard Woods' website.)


See the Pictures (bilingual version )                



Héctor de Ezcurra
e 2004 (beginning)

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 Última actualización de esta página:   Domingo 18 de Diciembre de 2011 21:37hs.