……..Or get off the pot !

 Decision time : time to ‘shit or get off the pot’ !….as we sailors say.

Title photograph John Welsford designed ‘Pathfinder’, photographer not known.

Blog time : It’s March 2021 and as this post goes live , only a few days and it will be my 63rd birthday , it will also be well into spring here with a huge mass of color in the garden but crucially for my project it’s crunch moment and decision time : crunching numbers that is and deciding which boat to build.      To be honest i feel like i’m going around in ever decreasing circles with my non decision making and we all know where that ends up : only a few days ago and i had absolutely convinced myself…..absolutely and finally….that i was going to build SCAMP, except maybe a stretched version and then another member of the same Farcebook (oops) group said something like ‘a Houdini’ would be nice so round-y round it went all over again.  I know that this will sound strange but i kind-of attribute my poor focus and lack of decision making to the still ongoing lockdown, despite having all of the time in the world i just haven’t been able to concentrate in the way that i need to for this project except for when iv’e been able to spend long periods working outside and given the incessant rain here mostly what i have done is spend hours and hours just uselessly surfing the net and getting more and more pissed off with the behaviour of big-tech like FB.

So….today then, today, in real time i spent all of the day outside working at a hard physical project and this evening i feel a whole lot better for having done that as not only was it good to be actually doing something that i can point at and say ‘that’s what i did today’ even if it was only moving and mixing a whole heap of soil to pot up my next round of containers for the garden.  What days like today do though is get me outside and today that was outside in the sun and even sitting out on our garden bench , having a coffee out there and taking just a bit of time to enjoy the hard work that i put in during the autumn ; any day now we’ll have a huge burst of colour here and what iv’e done today goes towards improving the place for the summer.    If there is a personal lesson there it is that i’m much happier when i’m doing something useful and practical with my hands rather than just sitting at the keyboard for hours and hours and staring at the screen…..to be honest if you asked me what i have just been watching then most of the time i wouldn’t be able to tell you.


Build a boat then.

So i think i’m going to build a boat, i certainly want to build a boat because that would then be the best reason to get out of bed in the morning and ‘go to work’ say 5 days a week just down the drive either in or outside the workshop…actually a combination of both but i’ll come back to that.    Most of my readers and visitors will want to cut to the car chase and s*x scene now….ie which design am i actually going to build ? , well, my answer this week and right up until the moment i order the full set of plans is that it’s most likely to be John Welsford’s ‘Pathfinder’ design.  Why that one you might ask when a smaller boat might work better in many regards….again, more of the final decision making process later but just to say that as with similar boat choices that iv’e made in the past that this time i want to build the boat that i most want to turn up in and that has the highest potential capacity for each part of my requirements and not just knocking about in the local rivers.

No low sweat solution.

I think that the biggest mistake iv’e been making in all of this project so far is in looking for a quick and cheap solution to getting back on the water and to coin a phrase from ex US Navy seal Jocko Willink there really isn’t a quick , cheap and ‘no sweat’ solution without making too large a compromise.  One thing i have been thinking about a lot is converting an ex racing dinghy and i did find one that would fit the bill, not, by the way the ubiquitous dinghy cruising sailors ‘Wayfarer’, capable as they are but rather the National 18 design which is a much bigger and more powerful hull.  I even went looking for one seriously enough to consider a trip over to Cork in the Irish republic but when i costed out the total project of buy and then convert the boat i found that it would be only slightly more expensive to build what i actually want and completely from the keel up.  Neither i think is there any value here in trying to cut another corner which is to temporarily extend the workshop front and instead the long term solution is to build a complete add-on shelter to both build under and to store the boat under once built.  Obviously that extends both the build time and the project costs and it means that i almost certainly can’t fit the boat out in the same year as i build the hull, foils and spars….the really expensive stuff, which is primarily a trailer , sails and motor, will all have to wait until the following year.  That still brings me up inside my plan of being on the water with my own built boat for Challenge 65 ….my 65th birthday in 2023.

To work then.

I can’t start actual construction until i can work outside but underneath a shelter which i haven’t built yet ! and in fact i don’t intend to start the actual build until the summer this year but at which point i want to build the hull quite fast during a warm and dry spell (assuming that we get one).  What i can do, starting in a even as little as a few weeks though is start making many of the boat’s components because the one i’m intending to build doesn’t go together like a conventional boatbuilding job but rather is built around a set of bulkheads that can all be pre-made.  Thinking about it now and starting to do the practical planning i could also build the centerboard, rudder and spars in the workshop space that i already have and that would hugely reduce the build time later in the summer.

The whole project then breaks down into several main stages and at this point to 2 main job ‘lines’ , that is to say to build the work shelter and start making actual boat components.  Of course each of those main lines breaks down further into sub-routines and iv’e already started on those….this week for instance part of my outside work is to clear the space where the build shelter is going to go and in preparing the workshop.  I can also add a further component in that i can today start to work out a schedule for ordering parts and materials for both the boat itself and the build shelter….all of those i’ll have to order online and have delivered except perhaps the alloy roof sheets which we’ll have to collect.  The final component of the build project is the ‘prepare me’ stage and that’s the mental transition to doing something that iv’e never done before ; in for the first stage of that i think is to ‘start the book’ on the project and make time to read through and slowly absorb all of the reference material that i already have….the Gougeon brothers manual for a start.

Ok then….as you asked so nicely, here’s what i want to build. I don’t know who took this photograph but some time i owe you a beer or three.



  1. G’day,
    interesting read. I recon you are on the right track.
    I’ve sailed all my life, dinghy’s, skiffs, keel yachts. A lot of long distance solo ocean racing in the last 10 years.
    A couple of seasons ago I retired from racing and concentrated on cruising. My partner says “ I’ve finally realised I like sailing and given up racing…”
    Initially I cruised in my racing yacht, which was enjoyable but limiting with a 8’ draft.
    Then I built a 15’ cruising dinghy and never looked back.
    The yacht has been sold and I have just completed building a Core Sound 17 dinghy which will allow longer coastal cruising as well.
    My observations are;
    Dinghy’s are more fun.
    The maintenance is more convenient and less costly.
    Dinghy’s open up way more cruising grounds.
    Dinghy’s can do most things a big boat can do and many things a big boat can’t do.
    I was surprised at how much more work and expense there was in building the 17’er compared with the 15’er. (Twice as much)
    I really enjoyed the build process.
    I would always go for the largest dinghy you can afford and handle. Generally It gives more load carrying capacity and longer legs (speed) which increases cruising distance and duration.
    Good luck & enjoy.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks John. I guess my progression through boats is a bit like yours….from racing big boats around the world to smaller and smaller cruising boats. This project is the logical progression on that and i think i came to the same conclusions that something dinghy sized would be a lot more fun but also that the largest one i could build and keep here would be the most capable.

      Liked by 1 person

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