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Where to start...

Posted: Thu Aug 20, 2009 2:44 pm
by Iggy
Hi there. I apologize for the long post.. I need to give some background so I can get the right advice.

I've recently re-discovered my interest in boating after a 20 year break. I am in the land-locked (but Oil rich) province of Alberta, Canada. Alberta has a fair amount of lakes but most of them are relatively shallow and/or small. My family has a wonderful lake-lot rustic cabin back that I used to spend my teenage years, learning how to canoe and sail from my father in law.. but that lake is almost gone now, it was never very deep and is now too shallow for most boating.

I have a family of my own now (10yr Daughter, 5yr Son) and my wife has discovered the joys of camping. We spend this summer pulling a camper to various lakes around western Canada and having a wonderful time.. except for the fact I did not have a boat to use on the lake. Fishing from a peer or trout pond was not all that much fun.

I was going to simply go buy a used aluminum or fiberglass boat & trailer.. but my heart was not into it for some reason. Then I remembered that when I was 18.. I finished building a 3' inboard deep V wood remote controlled boat I got as a kit when I was 14 and started with my dad. It took a few years till I had a good paying job and could afford to buy the motor and controls necessary to use it, and there was a lot of fun and satisfaction in the process of building it and making it work. I find it immensely ironic that the same financial limitations I had as a teenager (motor costs) on a small R/C boat is what is holding me back the most from building my own boat now at age 38.

However, I've been itching for a 'build' project that I can fall in love with and share with my family. My wood-working skills is better suited for 'construction' than fine-work.. but I do have an eye for detail and know how to take my time to get it done right. There is just something very appealing to building something for your family.. something you made with your own hands for your kids to enjoy.. a potential family heir-loom with any luck.

Now, I have to admit I've only been mulling over building a boat for the past two days, but its been a very intense desire and I want to explore it further.

I am doing my 'internet' research, as there are very few 'boat makers' in Alberta that I can talk to. This site has been probably my best source of information to help me understand the scope and process.

Ok.. some questions.

I want a boat that will:
- Hold 4 people comfotably & safely, so I can fish with my kids.
- Be suitable for the odd choppy water lake (we get some good wind gusts sometimes).
- Eventually pull a waterskiier when my kids are teens (in a few short years). I will likely use a smaller& more affordable (likely used) outboard engine for starters to pull them on tubes and fish till I can afford to drop a few thousand dollars (unbelievable) in a run-of-the-mill 40 Hp engine.

I like the following plans:
- 13' Tuffy (I really like profile of the stern)
- 14' ZIP
- 15' Ski Tow

My obstacles are:
- Engine costs... I nearly dropped the whole thing when I discovered the price of a basic outboard. I still don't get that.
- Time... I don't want to take seven years to build this.. I want to form some boating memories with my children before they grow up and move out.

I was thinking I might buy a used 'manufactured' boat next spring to get my hands on a trailer and motor at a reasonable cost.. something I can possibly re-use on my boat when complete.

Again.. long post.. and thank you for taking the time to read it.

I am hoping for some advice those who have gone before me on this kind of journey. Particularly on which kind of boat design might make the most sense based on how I plan to use it.

Re: Where to start...

Posted: Thu Aug 20, 2009 3:23 pm
by upspirate

A used rig may be the best way to go to get a donor motor,trailer for your project.

I'm sure you can find a clean one with few freshwater hours in your area.

I think for what you want,the Tuffy may be a little small.

the Malahini,,Rebel,Outrage,or Stiletto may work too although they would take a little bigger engine.

Outrage would probably ride best on choppy water

I don't believe the bigger designs would take much longer to build,and will take a little more materials,but would give you more room.

The biggest expense would be a bigger engine,but if you buy a donor boat/rig , and remember you pay as you go,so it won't be that much all at once.

Good luck

Re: Where to start...

Posted: Thu Aug 20, 2009 4:00 pm
by Mark45
Iggy wrote:- Engine costs... I nearly dropped the whole thing when I discovered the price of a basic outboard. I still don't get that.
Hi Iggy, I noticed you mentioned the cost of outboard engines a few times not believing how much they cost. I know they are expensive but there is a reason for this. These engines can take a beating, they don't get to rest like a car engine, in other words, boats don't coast. The engine is constantly working to push the hull through the water. Heavy duty gears, pistons and so on are all inside these motors, not to mention running in salt water if that's the case. And most times, they are sitting in the water 6 months on end. They are built much better than any car engine, can you imagine being 20 miles out on the water and your engine breaking down? They are expensive, but worth every penny in my opinion.

In any case, Good luck with your project.

Re: Where to start...

Posted: Thu Aug 20, 2009 4:25 pm
by Dave Grason
I'm with Warren. (upspirate) I personally think that the Malahini would be THE best first boat for your situation. I'm building the Zip and I've gotta say that it really is a tad on the small side. If you intend for the boat to keep up with growing kids, give you enough room to maybe entertain guests from time to time and handle the occasional rough chop, yeah, the Malahini is a scaled up version of the Zip. Yet I believe it would still be small enough to fit most any garage and not cost a whole lot to build and maintain.

If you paint the hull from the sheer down and finish the deck in mahogany, you'll have a very striking looking wooden boat that will amaze onlookers. There is more interest in mahogany speedboats now than there ever was in the "Chris Craft" heyday. If you have construction skills, you'll be fine. You'll just want to not rush and pay plenty of attention to the details that make the boat look great. Adopt what I call a "Boyd Coddington, Chip Foose car show 'eye'" for doing things right and you can have a boat that will become a family heirloom.

I bought my motor on Ebay for right at $200 US and it's in primo shape. It's true that new motors are amazingly expensive but the prices really fall off as the motor ages and yet, there are many many motors out there that have a LOT of life left in them. I wish you success with this build and I hope you stick around and become a longtime member of the forum so that we can see how your project goes.

Re: Where to start...

Posted: Thu Aug 20, 2009 4:46 pm
by Iggy
Thank you for some of the replies so far.

And I've been eyeballing the Malahini since it was first mentioned and its certainly got great potential for a long term project. I've read that boatmaking can be addictive, but for now I am going to take the approach this will be my one and only should I move forward with it, and the Malahini appears to have longer-term potential as my kids get bigger.

In regards to the cost of outboards, I've read a fair amount on it in the short time I've been obsessed with this idea and have more or less come to terms with it. I have a few family resources I will try to tap first to get the right engine at a smart price.

My intention is to get to a point where I can move ahead and get started in some way. I am not very familar with all the nautical/boat terms... so I will probably start off getting familiar with the vocabulary so I can better converse with builders when I hit a roadblock.

I just might be crazy enough to do this...

Re: Where to start...

Posted: Fri Aug 21, 2009 7:37 am
by upspirate
If you can think it,it can be done!!

Don't be in too much of a hurry to buy the motor,figure out what you want,get the funds set aside,and keep a watch while you build.

The hurryed you are,the more you'll pay!!!

A rig or just the motor will show up if you let it! :wink:

Also network....once you know what you want(rig/motor) let everyone around you know you are looking....even on here.

Re: Where to start...

Posted: Fri Aug 21, 2009 10:56 am
by Iggy
I am moving more and more towards the Malanini because of its size and some of the amazing looks other builders have created. If I am going to build a wood boat, I certainly want it to look like one. Doug Hodder's photo's are inspiring.

I'd like to start fairly soon, but need to work out some practical issues as to where I am going to build it.

I have a '2 1/2' car garage.. I took a tape measure and at best I have 6"-6" space left over when I have both cars parked and remove all the storage shelves to get more space. Thats not really enough space to build I think.. and I would be concerned about it getting damaged from all the 'kid' traffic.

I could simply park one car outside.. but my pie-shapped driveway makes it difficult to have one car parked outside and get past it with the other car to get inside.. it can be done.. its just a royal pain. That.. and being in Northern Canada I have four to five months worth of snow & ice I might have to scrape off my car on a daily basis if I park outside.

So, I am trying to get inventive... what if I store my project 'above' my car when I am not working in it.. as in.. build a hoist to lift the jig/boat above my car and just park underneath it. I could then just pull out the car, lower it to the ground and work on it.. then raise it up again when done. I imagine as long as I make sure all the epoxy is set/dry and the boat is well fastened it might work. Anyone else have ideas or done something simular?

Also.. being in a very cold winter climate.. I would like to work on this project during the winter months as well. I do have a heated & insulated garage.. so its very possible to work comfortably inside. However, will all that heated dry air from my furnace potentially cause issues with the wood drying/twisting/warping? I wouldn't do much work on very cold days, and nothing that would need to keep my garage heated for extended periods (expensive). Anyone else have tips on building inside garages in my kind of environment?

Re: Where to start...

Posted: Fri Aug 21, 2009 11:07 am
by ttownshaw

Good idea with raising the building form. You might leave anchors in the floor so that when you lower it back down you consistently keep it aligned and level. This will also help when springing the chines and sheers. Just make sure you can put something over the anchors when you lift the boat so you don't puncture a tire. Maybe a baseball with a hole drilled in it.

The Malahini is a fun design and I love every minute I get to work on mine.

Glueing in the winter. You can locally heat areas that will be glued with a space heater and keep your epoxy inside to keep it from getting too cold. When it is cold use fast hardner which below 70 F will act more like slow hardner.

Re: Where to start...

Posted: Sat Aug 22, 2009 8:29 pm
by Iggy
I took a tape measure to my garage today.. and I am afraid my idea of hoisting the jig off the ground and parking below is not going to work. My garage ceiling, with insulated panels, is below 8' and the hull+jig is going to be to low to slip my car underneath.

Looks like I will have to scrape snow & ice with my car outside this winter if I want do start this project now. I have plenty of room in the garage to build a 16' boat with just 1 car inside.

I am pretty sure the Malahini is the design I want. I spend 4 hours sailing with my father in law today and it was the perfect day for it on a really nice lake a few hours out of town in the wilderness. Its been about twelve years since I sailed in that boat (15' Invitation, Single Sail, Fiberglass Hull) and I went solo for just over a hour. It was a great day, and I want more of those.

I am wondering about the Malahini seating layout. The plan description mentions the seating can be interchangeable so I can sometimes have the aft bench or use two aft-facing seats for trolling or watching the waterskiier. How does that work.. as in, if I want both? Or is it a better idea just to pick one or the other?

Re: Where to start...

Posted: Sat Aug 22, 2009 8:39 pm
by upspirate

Glad you had a great day on the water( a bad day on the water beats a good day at work!!!)

How about thinking about this:

Make the front seat either a bench,or a bench with a walk-through,short deck maybe 9" deck at the back rest.

On the back side of the backrest/deck have a bench that can hinge up or down with snap-on backrest and bottom cushions, and against the rear deck in front of the motor well another hinged fold down base that you could snap the same cushions to.

This way you can seat looking backwards for skiing/wakeboard observing, and forward for normal riding, or leave them both folded up for more room for fishing or whatever.

most people pick one or the other,but no reason you couldn't have both.

A friend had a Chris-Craft fiberglass I/O that had removable single jump seats on either side of the motor box.He could put them in the boat for riding,or leave them home for fishing.

This could be an option also.

Re: Where to start...

Posted: Mon Aug 24, 2009 9:20 am
by Iggy
I ordered the Malahini plans & building with plywood book just a few short minutes ago.

It was my daughers 10th birthday yesterday and I got to talk with my father & step-father about how I was contemplating building a wood boat. As it turns out I am not the first in my family to do so.. my grand-father built three boats in his time and both my father and step-father have done small hull boats (canoe & catamaran) as well.

I will be building this project in my car-spot.. but scraping a bit of ice & snow off the car this winter will be a small price to pay for a heated work-space with a level concrete floor and all my tools handy.

I am hoping to get started assembling the materials in a few weeks after I get the plans and source out some of the materials.

Its an exciting first step.. and I am looking forward to making my first cut on this project.

Re: Where to start...

Posted: Tue Aug 25, 2009 3:21 pm
by Iggy
As I am waiting for my Malahini plans & boatmaking book to arrive, I am keeping myself busy researching prospective suppliers in my area, looking at a few hundred project photo's to familiarize myself with the general process, and try to narrow down the look I want to achieve in the end (deck pattern, etc).

I've also spend a few days trying to get my head wrapped around the terminology so I can have a better mental image of what some of you are describing in your project update notes.

I have some of the basics... aft.. bow.. stern.. transom.. chime.. keel... but I am still missing a few and want to have it nailed down.

Is there anywhere on the Internel I can go to that shows illustrative examples of what part is which? Glen-L boat Speak ( breaks it down verbally.. but often one part refers to another part in location.. and its not too hard to lose yourself between verbal descriptions.

If anyone has a suggestion (or link).. or should I just wait a bit longer till my plans/book arrives and be patient ;)

Re: Where to start...

Posted: Tue Aug 25, 2009 5:52 pm
by shaned
Nice to see another Edmontonian on the site. I think your pick is a great choice, the Malahini is a good looking boat. I have just finished the Zip and the boat exceeded all my expectations, Glen-l plans were excellent to use. If I can offer any help along the way or If you just need someone to go boating with when you are done let me know.

Re: Where to start...

Posted: Wed Aug 26, 2009 7:46 am
by ttownshaw

You can pick up a lot of the terminology from the "Build it yourself the Glen-L Way" pictorial (I included the link below). You will get a copy of this with your plans. The Boatbuilding with Plywood book and the Builder's Notebook (both available on the Glen-L site) also have a lot of descriptions and listing of many of the terms. Learning all this lingo is part of the fun. In a few weeks you might even give driving directions referencing port/starboard and fore/aft. All of the parts are detailed on the plans with their name (breasthook, chine block, gusset...

Again, don't hesitate to ask any and all questions. Pictures too!

Re: Where to start...

Posted: Thu Aug 27, 2009 3:14 pm
by Iggy
I found it a nice picture & description I was looking for.. right here on

I can tell you.. I have not cut a single piece of frame or even have the plans in my hands yet and this project is already consuming most of my mind. I've been busy scouring this website from head to toe.. visually building this project in my head. I have to say that this site and forum generates a lot of excitement and an 'I can do it' feeling.

Even the dauntless thought of hours and hours of sanding (I am not particularly fond of sanding) is not holding sway on my excitement to get going.

Plans are on the way... now if my family will not shoot me from talking about it all the time before they get here... I think I have pretty good odds of posting some pictures soon.