Intro: DIY Styrofoam Catamaran
This is a Styrofoam catamaran i built. I had been wanting to build this for a while, then in the last few days of summer i decided to build it. This only took 2 full days to build and one day to test. The catamaran costed me around 200 dollars (sail not included) and this is comparable to a store bought catamaran which would cost 2000 dollars
In this instructable i have included a few schematics (located on the last page), a materials list, and various pictures and descriptions for all steps.
Step 1: Materials
The materials i needed for this project were:
2"x4"x8' pieces of wood - 2
2"x3"x8' pieces of wood - 1
2"x2"x8'pieces of wood - 6
1”x2’x8’ Styrofoam sheet - 5
1.5”x14”x4’ Styrofoam sheet - 5
½’’x2’x4’ piece of plywood - 2
½’’x4’x6’ piece of plywood - 1
Sail and mast - 1
hinge - 1
Epoxy (dollar store epoxy is cheapest and works well) - 7
Step 2: Assembling a Pontoon
The catamaran will be composed of 2 pontoons. These pontoons will have a frame filled with the white, less durable Styrofoam in the center; then we will later add the pink Styrofoam to the outside.
To start off i lay out two 2x2 pieces of wood with the white Styrofoam pieces in the center. This will be the inside of the pontoon. Next i add a front triangle onto the pontoon. As you can see in the third picture i added 2 struts near either end of the pontoon. Once that is finished i fill the pontoon with white Styrofoam and cut it to fit in the gaps.
Step 3: Finishing the Pontoon
to finish off the pontoons we must first cut 4 pieces of Styrofoam to size (2 for each pontoon). To cut them all at once i clam them together and use a reciprocating saw to cut the height from 2 feet to 17 inches (the height of the pontoon).
After that i use 1 - 1.5 tubes of epoxy as adhesive. I spread the epoxy on the wooden frame and then lay the Styrofoam down onto the wooden frame and add weight to it so the Styrofoam stays tight to the frame as the epoxy hardens. After that i use the saw to taper the bottom edge. I also add Styrofoam to the front triangle and taper that as well. Once complete you should go ahead and do that for both pontoons.
Note: The strut layout in the second pic is different then the layout of the of the struts in the previous page. The layout in the previous page showed the correct positioning of the struts.
Step 4: Completing the Pontoons
Now you can see both pontoons side by side. To complete them i add a wooden triangle positioned at the top, and lined up with each strut, this will be used for mounting the frame. To add some more buoyancy i also cut a full 2' x 8' piece of Styrofoam in half lengthwise (giving us two 1' x 8' pieces). I use epoxy to mount those onto the inside of the pontoons.
Now both pontoons combined give a buoyancy of 460 lbs when fully submerged. This seems like a lot but when you consider you wouldn't want more then 60 percent of the pontoon submerged (then you would be uncomfortably close to the water) and you might also have you weight towards one side of the pontoon then it seems this 460 lbs is just enough for one person to float comfortably. (i fit 2 full size people on but it sits very low). If you wish to be able to make this a 2 person boat you can add more Styrofoam sheets to the outside. Each 1"x 2' x 8' sheet once cut to a height of 17" provides 62 lbs of buoyancy when fully submerged.
These calculations are fairly simple to do on your own. First calculate the volume of the object (length in meters x width in meters x height in meters), this will give you volume in meters cubed. Then multiply the value you get by the density of water (1000 kg/m cubed) this will give you how many KG the object can float when fully submerged.
Step 5: Making the Frame
To make the frame i cut my 2x4 s to 4.75 feet long and attached them to the pontoons using screws. I chose that width because it was just small enough that i would be able to fit the frame (when separated from pontoons) in the back of my van. Next i add the 2x3 piece down the middle of the boat. This is both for structure and to mount other parts off of.
Step 6: Adding the Keel
Now i cut out the keel out of a piece of plywood. Using the plywood, i also glue a slot so that the keel can be slid in and will be able to slide up and down within the slot.
The keel is an essential part of the sailboat and helps to turn the force provided by the wind into thrust in the forward direction. This is also the pivot point when you turn your boat
Step 7: Adding the Rudder
The rudder will need to rotate so i decide to mount it off of a hinge. I add a hinge to the back of the boat and then cut the rudder out of the piece of plywood. The rudder should be fastened in place with 2 bolts and the bolts should have a washer in between the nut and the wood of the rudder. The bottom bolt will have to be taken while the boat is out of the water so that the rudder can pivot upwards when it is on dry land.
To finish off i add a handle made of plywood. The handle is to only have one bolt through it so that it can pivot up and down.
Step 8: Finishing Touches
To finish up i cut a piece of plywood to size and fit it on top of the catamaran to use as a seat.
After that we need to make somewhere to mount the mast of the sail. To do this i obtain a small piece of pvc pipe and heat the bottom of it so i can squeeze it down and make it thin. Once that is done i simply mount a few screws in it to attach it to the frame of the boat.
Step 9: Setting Up the Sail
Now i use a mast and sail that i had laying around and slide it into the pvc pipe. I secure the mast with metal cables that attach to various points on the boat. Once the mast is in place i rig up the main sail and the jib and it is now ready to sail
Step 10: Testing Out the Boat
Now that the boat is complete you can go ahead and take it out on the water and test it out. Be sure to wear a lifejacket and bring a paddle just in case you have a hard time getting it in using the wind.
To see the test you can also check out the video
Step 11: Schematics
Here are a few schematics of the boat, they are not to scale. Beside the schematic picture i also attached a real picture of the boat
In order we have a top view of the boat, a front view, a side view, and a picture of the rudder and keel. All measurements of the schematics are done in meters.