Captain Kidd's Boatyard



     I've always had a hankering to build with my hands. After I took up sailing, this easily morphed into a desire to build a boat. That desire has turned into three different "builds". 
     My first build was a self-designed 7'6" sailing dinghy that I named Pixie in memory of our first cat. The name was especially suited since the boat was so small. 
     Always trying to save a buck, I decided to design the boat myself instead of paying for someone else's plans. This ended up being pretty foolish since I could have bought them for only $20. There was some fun and satisfaction in the process however. Some of the old-timers used to design boats by carving half-models. I did mine by trial and error with card stock. I kept tinkering with the shapes of the panels until I got a shape I liked and then I enlarged the dimensions. In the end I really liked the lines of my little dinghy.
     I used a building method known as "stitch & glue" which refers to the stitching of panels together with some kind of stitches, whether of wire or in my case zip ties, and then sealing up the seams with fillets of thickened epoxy and wetted out fiberglass "tape". Once this is done, the boat has to be faired and sanded before being painted. There is quite a lot that goes into the process. I wound up having about 150 hours of labor in the project not counting the many hours of "think time" as well as about $600. It was pretty startling how fast money can go when building a boat - even trying to do it on the "cheap". 
     The dinghy turned out pretty well; and over all, I was satisfied with the build. It wasn't perfect, but I learned a lot. I built Pixie in 2006.

A Selway-Fisher Canoe

     After building Pixie, I thought it would be nice to build a canoe that I could take the lake lot on Watts Bar.  My thinking was that it would be easy-enough to handle and I could take it down the hill and launch it from my dock and not have to travel to a ramp. 

     I spent some time looking at different plans and elected to go with a simple stitch & glue design from Selway-Fisher. The 15'10" Wren looked about right, so I ordered the plans which actually came with four sets of measurements: two plans with slightly different beams and both in metric and imperial. Well, I got confused and didn't realize that there were two differents beams and I built the narrower version which made for a very tender canoe (not that all canoes aren't a bit tender). 

     I didn't take quite the pains in building that I did with Pixie but she turned out quite nice anyway. I was able to build her in about 50 hours. She was a pretty little vessel. I only took her out for one excursion up on Lake Ocoee in Tennessee. You can see three pictures in the slideshow below from that trip. If you'll notice, I have a bucket and water container in the bow of the canoe which gave me about 75 pounds of extra weight. This stabilized the canoe significantly and kept to bow in the water.

     My wife and I held a yard sale one day, and I decided to put her out to see if anyone would be interesed. Lo and behold, but an outdoorsie lookin' feller came along and gave me $100 for her. I sure hope he enjoyed her as he seemed quite taken by her good looks. 

Little Bit

       I have enjoyed Pixie, but… … she is just a bit too small. With my builder’s “itch” acting up, I decided to build a little bit bigger dinghy. This one would be big enough to stretch my legs and big enough for one crew member, possibly two (if they happened to be grandchildren).

       When you figure you are going to spend 200 plus hours on a project and then hours and hours of time hopefully enjoying the fruits of your labors, you want to build the right boat. I spent many hours looking at plans, considering building methods, and thinking about what I really wanted to do. If you’ve ever built a boat, you’ve been through this process. 

       I finally decided on another S&G build, the Bateau Semi Dory 11. Here is what I posted on the TSBB forum when I was about to start, “This will not be my ‘dream’ build - just a quick, simple build. My nutshell dinghy at 7'6" is just too small.” Little did I realize that this “quick, simple build” would take 2½ years (including a 20 month pause) and would include roughly 250 hours of build time plus countless hours of “think” time along the way. What my “dream” build will be is still undecided. I just knew this was not going to be it. At this point, I just wanted something to get me out on the water with some comfort and that would not take an hour to set up and another to take down like the pocket cruisers did.

       As of this writing, I have been sailing Little Bit  almost 3 years. I have even begun short overnight cruises. I'm looking forward to some more fun on this "little bit bigger dinghy".