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Continuing the boat building dream #12…

A client called today who had just received a set of plans and patterns for the Barrelback. He said, “I’m looking at these plans and I’m confused . . . is there more information about how to do this? I have experience with wood working and I’m not stupid – I’m a surgeon – but I feel overwhelmed.”

Our Glen-L website, advertising and literature describe boatbuilding as something that is within the skills of a first time builder. “Any amateur can build a boat, any ‘Jane’ or ‘Joe,’ anyone . . . ”

So, is this true? Is building a boat really something “anyone” can do?

Yes, it is, but certain things do come easier to some people than others . . . and since boatbuilding is a new pursuit for the “first time” builder, you really won’t know how easy or difficult building your first boat will be until you start.

We have a little ten foot runabout call the Squirt that is one of our most popular designs. This boat has been built by high school students and younger. Still, there are a few who call and say that they have never seen such a difficult project and insist that “no one” could build a boat using these plans and instructions.

A multitude of clients have told us that our plans are the most complete and detailed they have ever seen . . . here’s a recent comment from a satisfied client:

“I am an architect and woodworker, so I think your plans are excellent. Many years ago I built an 18′ daysailer from your plans and later the TNT. Two years ago we built the TNT again since we liked it so much. This boat is in your picture gallery. Since we now have moved to a waterfront house on the Chesapeake Bay, we plan to build the Outrage 16′ ski boat and sell the TNT. The TNT with a new 25hp Merc will do almost 35 mph, but it does not like the chop on the bay. We are hoping that the deep-vee on the Outrage will give us a better ride. We still believe your plans are the BEST! Thanks”, John C. Wilmot – Edgewater, MD

So, what is the answer to whether or not you can build a boat? Consider what I shared with the nice client who called to express his confusion about the Barrelback …

“When you began school it was probably confusing and you didn’t understand a lot of things. Building a boat is far easier than school but it’s a brand new skill to learn . . . there are new terms, a new language to become familiar with. Just like anything you haven’t experienced before, you just need to get your feet wet and discover some new talents you didn’t know you had.”

One way to get your feet wet is to read books that are specific to the type of construction used for the boat you plan on building. The Barrelback is built using “Cold Molded” construction, so get “The New Cold-Molded Boatbuilding” and “Boatbuilding with Plywood” books. They’re easy to read. Visualize the process as you read about it – let yourself dream a little about the satisfaction you’ll feel as you see the parts of your boat come together in your own hands and how much you’ll enjoy cruising in and showing off your completed boat.

Next study the plans for your boat. Don’t just “look” at them … study each page. It helps me to focus on about a 6″x 6″ square of the plans at a time and just pore over everything in that square. Then move on to the next square. Sometimes it can be a little overwhelming to try to take in the whole sheet at once, so take it one piece at a time. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time!

The Barrelback or similar designs are more difficult boats than some of our other plywood designs. If you’ve ever built a piece of fine furniture you’ll have a leg up on the classic mahogany boats, but that said, most who build even these designs have never built a boat before. If your heart is set on taking on a project like the Barrelback or other cold-molded classic mahogany runabout, check out the photos on our website. Most of these boats were built by people just like you. The results are remarkable, but not surprising to us, because quality begins with the design experience reflected in the plans you choose.

If you can handle ordinary woodworking tools and stick with a project through to completion, it’s quite likely that one day you too will be posting pictures on our website of your new boat.

After finishing the conversation with our Barrelback builder, he said he was encouraged. He was either going to find something a little smaller to start with, or just dig in and learn more so that he could build the Barrelback. He described how amazing it would feel to have a beautiful mahogany Barrelback boat that he built out on the water. He was already imagining the pride he would feel from having created that beautiful boat with his own two hands …

I think he’ll build the Barrelback because it’s what he really wants … until next time…

Happy Boatbuilding,
Gayle Brantuk

PS The client described above asked if he could return the Barrelback plans if he decided on something else and I told him he certainly could. Our plans are guaranteed, so if you decide you chose the wrong boat or one that’s too difficult, you are welcome to return them or exchange them for something else. By the way, I don’t know of any other boat plan company that does this–most do not accept returns on plans… FYI.

PPS The books mentioned above can be found in our online store. Also, you will find details on the Barrelback online as well.

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Your Thoughts?


4 Responses to Build Your Dream Boat #12

  1. raymond j hartman says:

    i didn,t get that issue as my computer was down i,would like to print it so to have a full series.

  2. raymond j hartman says:

    please send build your dream boat #12 in the build your dream boat series.

  3. […] while back in the Build Your Dream Boat series #12 email, I talked about a man who was confused about the Barrelback design. If you’ll recall, he had just […]

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