How to Build a sail boat that is much cheaper than retail ones.

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DO NOT sail if you cant swim!

Hi guys, I'm publishing yet a new instructable of something made last May (2011) Its the project i did right after the Gondorian armor you can view at This link
Its something that was born out of desire for sailing and being on water. Buying a boat would be extremely costly, so i ended up saying "How hard can it be?"

This is in a way less tedious (chainmaille) to make than the armour. However it required a totaly different level of ingenuity because of the the various problems arising from things such as sail rigidity, and water-proofing (those things can can be easily done, but can they easily be done with a lack of tools and on the cheap?) among others you may encounter yourself.
This time i moved out of my room into the garage to build this, partly because my room was too small and because it created a lot of chaos.

The amount of tools required here is surprisingly low. I had a saw, a drill and a measuring tape (as well as painting tools and protective gear and pliers etc the usual small tools) The boat was built entirely from my head (I drew stuff down of course) without any marine knowledge of any sorts when i began (google searches quickly remedied that) The only thing i knew how to do was sail a boat. The rest came as i went. 

Most boats cost in the thousands of dollars to buy, and sail boats can cost in the tens of thousands (of course depending on size and materials, you will pay more for a boat made from mahogany compared to a boat made from a cheaper wood). I am offering you an instructable that lets you make a boat that is perfectly water worthy, for under 500$ (That excludes the cost of tools if you don't have them, and DOES NOT mean 499$, it means somewhere under 500$ depending on where you live) However there is a down side to this instructable. Once again, this was done a while ago, and at that time i had little knowledge of instructables and didn't think to take photos of every step. I did go down to my garage yesterday to take as many productive photos as i could to benefit the audience here.

Speaking of going down to my garage, (this was built 1.5 years ago) when i uncovered the boat it was in the same state as it was when i initially finished it in May of 2011, so this design is pretty durable as well. 

This will not be as cheap as other stuff on instructables, however its well worth it if you live near a constant body of water (By constant i mean something that doesn't fluctuate with tide, as that will mess up your timetable, and may leave you stuck in the mud) 
You must view this instructable from a different point of view. Its Cheap for boats. Its like buying a 10$ coke can, thats way expensive for Coke cans. However, a 10c Coke can would be cheap. It all depends on perspective. 

I understand not everyone uses the metric system, so i will convert as many values as possible into the imperial system (inches, lbs feet) 

Reasons for why i made this:
  • I went sailing last summer, and missed sailing a lot, and wanted to sail in a boat whenever i wanted to, not only when i went to the beach. Buying a boat was too expensive so i just said "leme make one"
  • I Just love building stuff, and would build stuff anyways had i not made this boat. 
  • It was a new challenge, and i love taking stuff on where limits my are stretched
  • Sailing is an awesome and relaxing experience, that takes your minds of the stresses of life. 
Now enough of my blabbering, on to the fun stuff. 

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Azzurro2 years ago
As a naval architect, i say: nice work. :) I like it's simplicity, really anybody with some talent and lots of patient can do it.

However, let me encourage you to use glass fiber. It's more expensive of course than the OSB and other materials you use, but less sensitive, and a lot lighter.
But the best thing in it is that you can make your boat shape look really PRO. :)
Simple really, you make shapes like your side pontoons, cover it with wax (for removal) and then with the glass fiber + epoxy layers. It might look dificult in the begining to work with the glass fiber, but with a little practicing it's not that hard, and really worths it.
There are very important rules if you work with glass fiber:
1. ALWAYS wear a mask. you really don't want tiny glass fiber pieces in your lungs.
2. VENTILATE the room you are using epoxy in, or do it outside. (buy your neighbours some beer, coz the stuff is really smelly)
2. READ in the topic before you start, it's better to learn from others mistakes then from our own. :)

The rest is up to your creativity, good luck! :)
Thanks a lot. I wrote exactly what you wrote above in the instructable as well.
The safety is very important as well.

I have learnt a lot from this and if i decide to do this again, ill do it Pro mode.

Thanks a lot.

Duct tape :)
cynssc2 years ago
Great, very great job!
Thank you :)
shiftins2 years ago
Forget that guy man this is sick. Ive been watching a lot of Lost and Id like to see a bamboo version LOL. Good stuff thanks for the share.
vincent75202 years ago
very cool !…
the best way to rescue vacations near a lake from a perfect failure as facing a large spot of water without being able to be ON it leads inevitably to big depression !…

Thank you !!!…
runningbuck7211 months ago

not to say much but home built boat are great is a perfect example of this let those who buy boat say what they want they have no pride in the making and sailing something they create is the best feeling in the world to know you build something and it works for your needs

kleinjahr1 year ago
Not bad at all.A question though, by compressed cardboard do you mean hardboard? What they make pegboard out of. Which is certainly usable as hull material/planking and has been used in the past, quite successfully.Even paper has been used, re:Rushton canoes. Just keep it water proof,obviously. Personally I wouldn't use shellac for that purpose but a good spar varnish with UV protection.
For rigging and sails you could also go with a spritsail,lugsail or even cat rigged.
cnmaine1 year ago
obviously this boat was never meant to be a racing cat, but i do say for a cheap boat it is really nicely built. if i didn't get a really good deal on my 18' wooden catamaran i would have probably built one just like this. how heavy is your mast? have you looked into finding a piece of aluminum tubing to cut down on weight?
What kind of fabric did you use for the sail.

Its some window curtain fabric. Very similar to what u find on canvas. Its some thick tough material.
vega212 years ago
Диски Черепашки алмазные полировальные для шлифовки, полировки природного и искусственного камня, гранита, керамогранита, мрамора. Качество Premium. Полировка камня алмазными кругами
dacarls2 years ago
"Instant Boats" by Payson: like the one on the cover, is 10 times better than duct tape!'s. Please use discretion, and choose a design, or modify one, that has a chance of functioning like an actual, useful boat.
Dacarls, all you have been doing is posting posts that do nothing to help anyone. Please, if you have nothing good to say, dont post at all.
I agree with you, Duct Tape. These empty negative posts are not helpful.

The idea of Instructables is to have fun, make things, and share with others.

I'm an engineer, have been building things for over 60 years, and believe your boat project is great and well written. Comments by others relating to fiberglass safety (or other valid safety issues) are valid. The negative comments should be ignored.

I'm a boater also. Among my boating experiences was a small sailboat, which I "dumped" four times while learning to sail! It was great fun. And yes I used and needed my pfd each time.
dacarls2 years ago
I hate to rain on anyone's parade, but I sail actual sailboats. This one leaves much to be desired from design through materials to likely performance. If anyone wants to build a boat (I have built and repaired many), please use your efforts to give you a result that has a chance to sail properly and safely. A Optimist Pram, Sunfish, Sailfish are wooden products of long standing and good success. See the instructable for addition of leeboards, a windsurfer sail with a used mast, and a proper rudder to an inexpensive used $100 fiberglass canoe will give you something that will not fall apart, and will actually sail.
Right. How do you know that it wont sail? And how do you know its gona fall appart? You dont your just assuming.

There is nothing dangerous about sailing in a lake with a life vest on. The fish wont eat you, and due to the life vest you wont drown if you fall into the water (and if you cant swin you shouldnt be alone on a boat)

Please if you do make comments try to make them less agressive and more constructive.
Not siding with either party, just injecting that it certainly can be dangerous to be in most lakes even with a life vest. The danger is from the cold water, and the resulting hypothermia. Most lakes and rivers in the US are cold water, so it's easy to get hypothermic quickly. The colder the water, the faster the onset (obviously). But, you can get hypothermia even in 80 degree water, given enough time. ;-)
glaxona Crucio2 years ago
Yep, exactly so. A life vest has to be worn and worn properly in order to work as intended, and it cannot protect you against hypothermia, which can kill you in even the warmest waters in far less time than you might expect.
I dont know what you think hypothermia is. But in normal 22*C water if you are swimming and MOVING your body burns calories. This generates heat that can keep you at a normal body temp for at least 30 minutes or more. People swam the english channel which is much colder than some lakes and stayed there for hours MOVING this staying warm and avoiding hypothermia.

I do however apreciate your concern for the human health.
Hence the lake. In summer you can swim yo the edge before anything happens. Of course if your in alaska you shouldnt swim in a lake made from glacial melt. But im not gonna sit here and write common sense instructions. If you cant judge simple safety on your own you shouldnt be looking at this instructible.
glaxona dacarls2 years ago
PreCISEly correct.
axefield2 years ago
So, I thought this was cool and did a little research.
Whoa dude. That is real cool. Thanks.
andersonhdj2 years ago
Fibreglass is not a paint on situation, be it epoxy or polyester, rather the resin is stippled into the glass mat to achieve saturation, that said, the strongest lay-up is also the driest lay-up. That does not mean that one should be so sparing as to have dry exposed sections of mat but rather a minimal coating that is soaked right through.
Mat comes in woven cloth or chopped strand , usually specified by the weight of the weave, 4oz/8oz/16oz.
Also useful , epoxy does'nt smell nearly as bad as polyester, but polyester is usually considerable cheaper.
Epoxy is much nicer to work with.
When trimming or cutting, water to minimise the dust and therefore the itch is very effective.
Aye. I know i wrote that fiberglass is like a cloth. I dont know much about it and hence stated that you should look it up since im just giving you the idea of doing it.

Its that mineral epoxy that you sorta paint on im not exactly sure.

Thanks for the advice. If i make another boat (or improve this one) ill concider what you said.
Either way, nice instructable, there are many ways to do things and it's always nice to have some inspiration!

Also good in that a fair # of younger people actually get to do things with some guidance.

The old ways are becoming lost and it's up to us to try and keep the knowledge alive!

Just another word of caution, 2 pack epoxies contain some carcinogenic ingredients , therefore a good respirator is always a good idea!
Dandie2 years ago
I think the structural links are too weak. It is not advisable to navigate on a so fragile boat.
The images are the best i can provide. The links are awesome tho, its one thing to see them in a photo and one thing to touch them IRL. Ive been sailing with this boat for over a year now and its holding up perfectly.

neil17012 years ago
Quite right,i made a home-made boat with a windowframe-plastic frame and visqeen/polythene sheeting.Took me a week to make and cost about 10 bucks and i dare say if its sturdy enough it will last longer than a cheap 20 bucks inflatable.Breaking it up now,as they say in maritime parlour but i will be recycling some of the materials from it to make other DIY Creations.
Gryzio2 years ago
allen is correct there are a large number of cheap, easy to build boat plans. From Canoes to Sailboats and Motorboats. I know because I have many of those plans and have built some of them as a hobby with friends and their children.
But, we would not have those plans had the designers never given them out. I have plans both Free and Bought from John & William Atkin, Phil Bolger, Harold Payson (some of which are Bolger's ideas), Hartley and some I would have to dig out to know, including a cool Tug Boat! Boat building is a passion, not matter how many plans there are. Each plan and design is a contribution to the boat building passion and something may be learned from each! Now, I have "When in doubt, duct tape" in my cornucopia of boat plans. Speaking of "duct tape" we built a cool stern-wheeler using cardboard boxes with some children and used duct tape instead of fibreglass resin and cloth! Coated it with some waterproofing and it lasted a fairly long time! Was defiantly cheap, LOL!
rammuk Gryzio2 years ago
Were they your own children? .. :-)
bethmwl Gryzio2 years ago
Sounds awesome, especially the stern-wheeler....Pictures please?
Your boat is prettier and looks more stable. Good for you.
The best boat is the one you actually build and use.

As for sailing, the yard where I worked did a refit job on an older sailboat for a gentleman who commented "People ask me how I can stand sailing--it takes so long to get anywhere." His reply to that was "the moment I leave the dock I'm there."
Internet high-five.jpg
bamboo422 years ago
This looks great. I think though that I will learn to sail before building one myself. No amount of design or material will hold up to me careering into cross channel ferries. Great ible.
chuckyd2 years ago
You talk about strength of joints and all that, but you have used weak materials in all your construction. The joints are not designed and failure is assured. The gypsum board has no strength on its own, and will also fail, especially when it gets wet. And it will get wet because the paint will crack.

Oak and ash are great woods, when compared to strength versus weight.

Plywood up to 3/8" thick will do great for the hull, because it is so strong and weighs less per cube than does the gypsum board.

Joinery in wood is what makes it strong, especially when compared to wood screws. Nothing is better than flat surfaces mated against flat surfaces, and some waterproof glue.

Good luck on the next one.

I would like once again to enforce the idea that this instruct able is for fun, and not for professional use.

You wrote that i used gypsum board when it clearly stated compressed cardboard (and fiberglass as an option), and paint will not crack if kept covered when you don't use the boat. Oak is strong wood, but it is also incredibly heavy as it is one of the densest woods out there.

I still sail this boat today, and it has not changed since i produced it in 2011
You may think that i sail it very rarely, but i take it out numerous times a month.

I appreciate the constructive criticism and i hope that you have fun on instructables.

Duct tape.
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