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Build Log
Origami Hull
  Paul's 65ft Origami
  Steel vs Aluminum
  Getting Steel
  Cutting Darts
  Folding the Hull
  Bow and Transom
  Junk Sails
  Background Info
  Diesel Engine
  Controllable Pitch
  Other Propellers
Pilot House
Canvas Work
Gantry and Hoist
Block & Tackle
Skeg, Rudder & Helm
Deck Crane
Sand Blasting
Hatches / Portlights
Rules of Thumb


Build Log - Page 1


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In the Beginning...

In the beginning there was man, woman.

Man looked upon the face of the earth and saw much water, and he turned to woman and said "Let us build a boat so that we may float upon the surface of the water."  And woman took a bite of a fruit and said unto man, "You're naked!" And man did come to know the woman, and their past forty days and forty nights and then they began to build the boat.

And multitudes did gather upon YouTube, FaceBook and in Yahoo Forums, and cast disparaging remarks upon the man and woman, saying unto them. Why wilt thou build a boat when so many are for sale used, and why such a big boat, don't thou knowest that ye shall surly never finish, your talents will have been squandered and your union destroyed?  You shall end up is sackcloth and ashes like Job.

But the man and woman said unto them.  Behold, we build a boat for the best reason on earth -- it pleases us. And then there arose from the darkness a following of the free and enlightened souls, kindred spirits that raised up their light, like a shinning beacon upon a hill.  And they showed the man and woman the path to completion.  And there was much rejoicing in the land.

Why Build a Boat

Building a boat is the wrong thing to do if you want to start sailing and traveling.  If that is what you want then go buy a used boat.  There are lots of great deals out there.  Building a boat is for people who want to build a boat that they can then use to sail and travel.  For us, it's learning new skills and preparing for new careers.  Kay wants to arrange tours of Mayan ruins and I want to do salvage and diving and we both like oceanography, going new places, and seeing how the rest of the world lives.  We actually think a 75 foot boat for two people is ridiculous. As Kay always reminds me, "form follows function".  We first decided what we wanted to do and then set about building a boat that could do those things.  So if sailing from one bar to the next is your idea of fun, then 36 ft is more than enough.  If charting to divers who are recovering sunken cargo is your thing, then you'll need a bit more space and equipment.

Money Money Money

You have to pay for the boat's cost; a hull, mast, sails, rigging. but as you are the builder you have lots of negotiating room with the new owner.  The new owner can easily quadruple that cost by adding all sorts of yachty crap.  So decide how much crap you want.  Building bigger does reduce the cost per square foot some, but not greatly.  You can build a 36 foot origami boat in one year for $20,000 and you will not need two cranes. We will have 400 to 500 thousand in our boat before it touches the water and we are building a work boat, not a yacht.  So you don't have 500,000 laying around?  Neither do we.  Kay is retied and can no longer work a regular job due to fibromyalgia; aka "lots of pain".  And we have never saved money.  But building a boat does not happen over night so we have time.  We simply downsized everything and devoted every dime to the boat. No vacations, fancy cars, expensive restaurants, bars, cloths, watches, jewelry, green fees, or 401K's.  We are focused on nothing other than the boat until I die or the boat is completed.  PS: Should I die before the boat is completed, Kay is one amazingly awesome woman, but you will need to get in line as she has several fans that are waiting for me to end up under a large piece of steel.  So if money means a lot to you, DO NOT BUILD A BOAT!  Just take the cruise ship. 

And yes, with dedication and focus anybody can do this. Set our priorities and start. We were once a nation of people who crossed oceans, settled new lands, build great things, explored, and pursued our dreams. The adventure starts when you decide that the balance of your checking account has nothing to do with it.

Spring 2006

Once we decided to build our own boat we set out to find a building site. Where we could live on site, be close to work, have plenty of room, and where no one would care about the noise or scenery.

What we found was a 100 x 200 ft lot with an abandoned house beside the rail road, highway, tree service yard, steel yard, and scrap yard. In the heart of Meth Lab central.  We doubled the sellers best offer and paid $1,500.   No, that's right.  1,500USD.

The really surprising thing?  We love the neighborhood.  Seriously! If we were not building a boat, we'd stay right here.   Read more here.

...then if fixed it up a bit.  And set about figuring just what kind of boat we wanted to build.

Paul Liebenberg's 65ft origami steel junk, under construction

Monica and Jack Carson who is our designer.

Jack and Monica's Bella Via

"Nuthin Wong", a 53 ft origami steel junk in Cow Bay, BC. 
Warning: DO NOT SAIL ON THE "Nuthin Wong" without reading this!

Concept plans arrive. July 2008

August 2007

We visited Paul Liebenberg to see his 65ft origami steel, twin keel, junk design drawn up by Jack Carson who is also a local for part of the year. See "Paul's 65ft Origami" for details and photos.

Paul's boat is a perfect example of what Kay and I had been looking for.  And Jack Carson and Monica live part of the year on Bella Via so they understood what we needed.  Jack also proved to be flexible and open to discussing ideas.  That's unfortunately hard to find among most boat designers, and boat builders for that matter. There is a lot of entrenched thinking out there.

So our plans called for junk design with a cargo hull for a shop and a full pilot house.  Jack's job was to get the hull shape with the required space.  No more that that.  The interior of the hull would be divided into forward cabin, cargo hold, engine room, aft cabin and a big pilot house would ride on top. 

Originally we were planning to build in 3/8 inch aluminum, but that switched to 1/4 inch steel. You can debate aluminum or steel for days, but  the bottom line is that for a work boat, each have their good side.   At Jacks suggestion we also dropped plans for a center lifting keel in exchange for twin bilge keels.  The draft will be about 5 1/2 ft, but it is a simpler hull to build and and maintain.

To create our plans, Jack started with a piece of paper that had the 64ft hull drawn on it in 1" to 1' scale. He then made some changes, transferred the drawing to sign board, cut it out, folded it up, glued the seams, took measurements, ran some calculations, adjusted the original drawing and did it again. Three models latter he was done. No CAD, no CAM, no Computer, "very caveman" as he said.

You can read more about Jack and Monica in a Latitude38 article: www.latitude38.com/changes/Changes05-05.html





Vancouver Island is the Meca of origami boats and Jack is very failure with Brent Swain's origami work. Brent Swain drew the lines for the "Nuthin Wong" to replicate a Hangchow bay trader.

The "Nuthin Wong" is still sailing about, and Kay took an very short trip aboard the "Nuthin Wong", and while it was a short trip it taught her a lot of lessons.  Read more here: "Adventure Gone Wong"







August 2008

Kay and I visited Vancouver Island again in 2008 and picked up the plans for the hull as well as a 1/12 scale model Jack built.








Having the plans for the hull and especially the model  was exhilarating.  But getting the 74 inch long model home from Canada was a challenge.  So Kay moved to the back seat and the model just barely fit into the front seat of our rental car with it layer all the way back.  We were constantly reminded we were in origami boat building country.  The border guards gathered around and started discussing origami boats, and the manager at the pack and ship store had a paper model of an origami boat on his desk.




July 2008

"the best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry"

As China's economy boomed the price of steel steadily rose, so even though we did not plan on starting for at least 2 more years, we borrowed money and purchased steel at close to 61 cents a pound, right before the markets crashed. 


Learning to move big steel sheets.  Each of these weigh about 2,500 lbs.








Nov 2008 -- Pilot House Windows

When an opportunity came up to buy a school bus for $500 we took it. We now have the windows for the pilot house. Read more here: Hatches and Portlights


May 2009 -- Deck Crane

Standing in the rain with a cold and fever paid off as we were able to get our deck crane for $2,450.  Less what ever we can get for the truck that it is sitting on. Read more here:  Deck Crane







July 2011

Preparing the building pad. Now were starting to get serious.  The obstacle tell now had been a submarine, also named "Seeker" that we started building 10 years earlier.  We finally got that sub into the water and I could easily see another two years of work to be done.  So we sold it for cost and moved to the live-aboard  sailboat dream that had cunningly replaced the submarine.  Actually it started with visitor who wanted to talk welding. He planted the idea of building a sailboat and taking it down the river system.  Then we drove along the Florida coast were we wanted to move with our submarine, and after setting in grid lock for hours, a boat started to look ideal.



Aug 2011

Learning how to butt weld 1/4" steel plate with my minion.









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