I like boats. I’m not sure about sailing,
but I do like boats. With this momentous realisation out in
the open a foolhardy decision was made. I work in steel. Why
not spend my spare time building a 40 foot long displacement
motor yacht? In steel. For those of you still with me so far,
I will drop a few hints as to the underlying stupidity of this
I run a small fabrication company. I have a house
that is slowly (emphasis on slowly) being re-built. I am pretty
well penniless following an amicable, but expensive, divorce.
With my new wife I have inherited a teenage stepdaughter. Have
you seen the flaws in my plan yet? No time and no money. Still,
that didn’t stop me doing some extensive research and,
combined with a never-to-be repeated sale by Bruce Roberts,
I spent a sum of money that I haven’t got on a set of
plans and cutting lists on CD for a 41 foot long trawler yacht.
Spending days just gazing in awe at the pictures and plans filled
me with wonder. This was a thing of beauty. Being “in
the trade”, I phoned a few of my local steel suppliers
and costed up price and delivery. Still reeling from the total,
I rationalised that I could buy the plate bit-by-bit and so
spread the cost over the build programme. Looking good so far.
Then came the dark dawn of realisation. I worked
out the amount of “free time” that I had, removed
the time required for the necessities of life such as sleeping,
eating and interacting with other humans, divided the man hours
estimated for completion of said project, and divided this by
the amount of hours available. The total time to complete “the
project” suddenly loomed in front of me on the calculator.
No. That can’t be right! Re-calculate and improve matters
by removing socialisation from the equation. Nope. Still can’t
be right. How can one smallish boat take twenty years to complete?
I am 40 years old this year. I sank into the depths
of despair. No amount of loving encouragement from my spouse,
nor alcohol, could help me.
That’s not strictly true. I managed to achieve
a state of inebriation so severe that I came up with a solution
to “the problem”! Why not put “the project”
on hold and gain some experience by building a smaller boat
first? Hah! Why didn’t I do that first? So back to the
research and the door of Mr Bruce Roberts for a set of plans
for a 26 foot sailing boat. The switch to sailing came about
when I realised just how much it would cost me to re-furbish
the large Volvo Penta diesel that I had acquired (free fortunately)
for “the project”. The wind is free, after all,
I reasoned with my now very cynical wife. The plans were duly
despatched by a somewhat quizzical Bruce Roberts.
Having been deprived of starting “the project”,
I fell ravenously upon the plans when they arrived. A quick
re-calculation of time and money gave hope for success.
Until doubt paid me a visit. I may be a “metal worker”
by trade, but what do I know about boat building? If it were
easy, surely everyone would be building boats? There would be
boats being built everywhere you look. In every garage and shed
for miles around there would be activity and there would be
boats, lots of boats. Doubt is a powerful thing. I crumbled
under its relentless pressure. I was a failure. I couldn’t
possibly hope to build a boat. I was a loser.
Salvation came from a mysterious source. Whilst
in a moment of lucidity, I was idly reading Bruce Roberts excellent
book on building “metal” boats, but instead of skipping
through the chapter on Aluminium, I read it.
How did I go from this to “Duckworks” I hear you
ask? Logical progression really. Bruce describes how you can
use simple woodworking power tools to fabricate Aluminium. I
have these tools. If you remember at the beginning of these
ramblings, I said I was re-building the house? Well, being poor,
I have been doing almost all the jobs myself including all the
woodwork, flooring and roofwork. So I have a fine collection
of tools, both power and hand. Then the final piece of self-analysis
hit home. I hate steel. I work with it and I have come to loathe
Hallelujah, I am saved!
Jon Bull - Saved!
Now comes the fun bit. What shall I build? More
research revealed a huge number of beautiful boats all lovingly
built in the finest wood. Fantastic! I have, however, actually
learned from experience. Ignore the almost irresistible pull
of the 30-foot plus beauties and start small. How small? Well,
I have cut and stitched together an 8-foot dinghy that I found
for free on the pages of this very “magazine”, cutely
Tonight I’m going to tape up the inner
seams, and this weekend I’m going to do the outer. And
the best bit is I can spend not much more than a couple of hours
working on the little beauty, progress nicely, and still have
time to see my wife.
Is there a downside? You bet your life there is!
I have five nephews as well as my stepdaughter and guess what?
They all want the boat when it is finished. I am now laying
aside sheets of best ¼ inch plywood to start on 5 “mouse
boats”..or is that “Mice boat”?
Yours, from a workshop covered in sawdust and
happy as a pig in muck……