Got Wind? Got an Hour? Make a Sailboat!




Introduction: Got Wind? Got an Hour? Make a Sailboat!

One day, while I was visiting my grandma on a river, it was a really windy day. We got an idea to make a sailboat out of items that we had around the house and bamboo that grew next to us. After we were done we went sailing all along the river. We had so much fun with it that I wanted to share it with all of you. Hope you have fun with it also!

Step 1: Materials

- 1 Aluminum Boat

- 1 Hand Saw

- Rope (quantity depends on size of sail and boat)

- Duct Tape (packaging tape works also)

- 1 Pair of Scissors

- 1 Cinder Block

- 1 Trolling Motor (or something similar that can attach and swivel on the back of the boat)

- 1 Drill

- 2 Boards

- 1 C Clamp

- 1 Eye Hook

- 1 Carabineer Style Clip (optional)

- Plastic Sheeting

- Bamboo (you can also use wooden dowels, curtail rods or 2" x2" wood poles)

Step 2: Building the Mast

To build the mast of the sailboat we used bamboo that was growing near our house. If you don't have access to bamboo or you want to use something else to build the mast with, wooden dowels or curtain rods would work fine. Depending on the size of your boat and the speed of the wind, cut the rod to the appropriate size (we cut ours at about 12 feet). Then cut another rod that will fit horizontally across the mast (ours was about 8 feet). (See picture 3) Make sure the rod goes past the mast a little. Tie the two rods together securely with rope. (make sure there is about 1 foot of rope left hanging out)

Step 3: Making the Sail

Lay the plastic sheet under the mast dividing the plastic approximately in half. With the extra plastic hanging out, fold it over to the mast evenly. Cut a hole in the plastic for the part of the horizontal rod that is extending past the main mast. With the extra rope that you tied the two poles together, punch a hole in the plastic and feed the extra rope through. Using the rope, tie the plastic to the cross section of the two poles. Then, on the horizontal pole, fold over the plastic sheet and tape it. Cut the plastic from the end of the horizontal pole to the top of the mast. Make sure you don't cut too close as you need to leave some excess plastic to fold and tape. (See picture 10) Tape the the plastic sheet to the top of the mast to secure it. Then, on the side you cut, fold over the plastic sheet and secure it with tape. Lastly, tape the end of the horizontal poll to the plastic sheet.

Step 4: Finishing Up the Sail

Slide a smaller bamboo piece into the top of the mast and if the bamboo cracks, secure it with tape. This is to make sure that when you tie ropes to the top of the mast, they won't slide down. If you are using something other than bamboo for the mast you just need to secure something to it so the ropes you will be timing do not slide down. Get a long rope (approx. 25 feet) fold it in half to find the middle and then tie it to the top of the mast. I will refer to this rope as the white rope and it will be used to secure the mast to the boat on either side towards the back. Make sure that the 2 ends of the white rope are the same length once you tie it. Then tie another single rope to the top of the mast. I will refer to this rope as the yellow rope which will be used to secure the mast to the front of the boat. If you want to, you can make a flag out of the extra plastic sheet and tape it to the top of the mast.

Step 5: Securing the Sail to the Boat

Put the cinder block into the boat and measure how long a piece of bamboo or piece of wood has to be to keep it from sliding forward. Cut the rod and jam it in between the cinder block and the edge of the boat. Then put the sail into the cinder block and jam a rock next to it to keep it from falling over. (see picture 4) Now with a helper holding the sail up take both ends of the white rope and tie them tightly on either side of the sail at least a foot towards the rear of the boat (see picture 5). Then tie the yellow rope tightly to the front of the boat. The mast and sail should now be centered in the boat.

Step 6: Making the Rudder

To make the rudder, you are going to tie a board to a trolling motor (or another object you feel will clamp to the back of the boat and move side to side). Set the board onto the trolling motor to see where you are going to drill holes. Make sure the board goes past the end of the trolling motor. Then drill the holes in the board. Now tie the ropes to secure the board to the trolling motor. Clamp the trolling motor to the back of the boat.

Step 7: Finishing Touches

To finish up the sailboat, poke a hole through the plastic sail at the end of the horizontal pole and feed a rope through. I will refer to this rope as the green rope. Tie the green rope to the end of the horizontal pole. Then under the trolling motor screw in the eye hook and attach a carabineer style clip. Feed the green rope through the clip. This rope is used to control how far away from or close to the boat you need the sail to catch the wind properly. We made a makeshift keel (a keel helps a sailboat go straight through the water instead of sliding across the water as the wind pushes it) out of a plank of wood and a clamp. All you need to do is attach the wood to the side of the boat around the middle using the clamp. When you go start sailing, make sure you adjust the keel so it is in the water.

Step 8: Have Fun Sailing!

Hope you have fun! To steer just move the trolling motor and to move the sail just pull the green rope. Thanks for reading my instructable and don't forget to vote for me!

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    15 Discussions

    How does she sail? Is the rowboat tippy or she sails just fine?

    Very great post .... beautiful place ... a sweet girl ... simple and fun project .... warm congratulations to you

    Thanks for voting and glad you liked it! Thanks for the recombination below.

    Nice one! Well explained 'ible, you have my vote.

    Perhaps you should use a more traditional sail in your rig than a bermuda sail. Bermuda sails have distinct advantages if they are taylored aerodynamically correct and have a profile for a better pull - something you obviously cannot do with a plastic sheed. I'd recommend a lugsail which is easy to make and easy to work with an improvised boat like yours.

    No problem. Glad you liked it!

    Love these low budget ideas! This looks like a lot of fun and not much resources were needed, thanks for sharing.

    Thanks everyone, I will definitely take the advise in consideration.

    Nicely done. Be aware that in some states, like Idaho, there are different licensing requirements when a boat goes from paddle power to sail. It would be a shame to have your day of sailing ruined with a ticket from the authorities.

    You show a leeboard in your pictures but you didn't call it out. Was it too short to be effective and that's why it's omitted? Just a mistake? I also don't see you mentioning a downhaul for the boom and that's important to keep the sail's shape.

    Neat idea that's a good way to get you going in the right direction (Messing about in boats, that is). Just enough to wet your whistle and let you know if you want to build or buy a sailboat that will take you faster. It is amazing how much better a hull designed to go under sail will go than one that is planeing.

    I love it.So simple.Only just started sailing, I still capsize a lot.May be not ideal for me .But later on definitely.Will start to grow Bamboo.

    Thank you! It was definitely loads of fun! Hope you liked it.

    This looks like it was loads of fun for a quick afternoon project. Good work!