Unfinished, imperfect….WABI ””

In fact, not even started yet.

WABI”” build project, first post.

Nothing is perfect, nothing is finished & nothing is permanent (WABI)

It’s mid March 2021 , iv’e just had my birthday and of course it rained hard all day not that we could have done anything as wildly party-animal as going out for a coffee somewhere but anyway – for my birthday i bought myself a full set of plans for John Welsford’s ‘Pathfinder‘ design : basically a big dinghy/dayboat that can either be a true open boat or as i am planning with a little cuddy/cabin up front.    At this stage i’m thinking of the boat as WABI”” (you have to count the dashes but basically WABI 1V or 4, however you like your numerals) …..because she is intended as a logical next step from the previous 3 : and yes they have got progressively smaller from 26 feet with the first 2, 22 feet last time and 17′ and 4″ this time.   The big difference with this one and the previous 3 is that iv’e got to build this one which means that iv’e got to stop being a total bodge artist and at least try and become a sort-of boatbuilder : designer John Welsford says that this design, like many of his boats, is intended for somebody who has never built a boat before and who possibly has very marginal woodworking skills….that’ll be me then.

Panic stations.

This week iv’e been very close to changing my mind at the last moment and dropping down the size a bit by either going for a Navigator design or perhaps even Pilgrim….which is possibly a slightly closer fit with what i have in mind : later on during this series of posts which will be all about the project i’ll explain how and why i will probably not be building a standard boat but that WABI”” will have features from several other designs.     My slight panic this week came when i marked out the approximate size and shape of the boat outside my workshop where i will do the main build….and yes, one of the first main tasks before the actual build is the construction of a hard shelter to build under.    What i have in mind is something that will look just like a car port and iv’e even talked to my next door neighbour about it…..he seems happy about it and as i say, from the road it will look just like a car port.

Week 1 of the pre-build.

It’s been a heavy-heavy week outside because iv’e been preparing the build space outside the workshop, which included giving that end of the drive a complete garden-esque makeover and then ruthlessly clearing out one side of the shop itself . If you’re wondering why i’m not building inside the workshop itself well mainly it’s because the working space is neither long enough or wide enough for the full build but is big enough once cleared out to work with a single full sheet of plywood, also it’s a cold and usually damp space because of the way it was built.   I suspect that i will be doing a lot of the marking up and cutting out of the main plywood parts outside the workshop anyway either using my big garden bench or on saw-horses and then i’ll most likely store the flat parts inside the house where they will stay dry.    This week i really noticed again that both the workshop and my outside build space have their own ‘wabi‘ in that nothing is level and nothing is square…..normal for Cornwall then !     That will become important when i get to the strongback/ building frame stage because that has to be both level and square – which reminds me of a story so :

The not square ‘square’.

Many posts back Matt the plumber, his son Dan and with me ‘helping’ we built a complete new bathroom and so got rid of one the last remaining major problems of our much messed about Cornish miners cottage.  This place, by the way, is some 160 years old and built as a part of 4 to house some of the workers at the mine of which all remains is the back wall of the workshop and a capped off shaft on the green just beyond our boundary.  It looks as though most of it was built by eye except that the brain behind the eye must have been high on rough scrumpy or mine-damp as the cottage also has it’s own wabi : nothing is level and nothing is square here either.

So…building an actually square structure inside a non square (or level) space was quite interesting especially as i got the job of boarding out the new room with 12mm ply, only Matt the plumber was frowning at my cut panels which didn’t fit the newly square space that he’d created.  Each of my panels was off square by about 12 mm and our man Matt was convinced that i wasn’t cutting to the line although i was making straight cuts…..he disappeared outside to take a look at my next marked out panel and came back to tell me that although i was making nice straight cuts all of my marking-out was ‘out’ because my long drywall square was really ‘out’….in fact so badly out that it was off-square by about 12mm at it’s far end.

So….week 2 : will be all about sorting out the workshop and my tools for the project.



  1. I’m very excited to share in your adventure building the
    Pathfinder. Your blog is very interesting because of the alternating nutritional information combined with your interest in boat building/sailing. I am 79, a woman, and am building a Scamp (very little experience building anything). I could benefit from good nutritional info (I have metabolic syndrome and need to get my health in order) and can share my sailing and boat histories if there is interest. I first saw you on my Facebook site, and then somehow traced you back to this blog. I know Lonnie Black and Howard Rice quite well. I took a Scamp building workshop with Howard and loved every minute of it. Howard is a rare guy-very honorable and an empathetic thinker. Lonnie builds boat after boat . . ., a fun guy. Because of my age I think a Pathfinder build could exceed my expiration date-although I have been very tempted. She is a beautiful boat. But, the next boat I’m thinking of building might be CROW, designed by Roy Shreyer, kind of an ugly boat but looks very functional. His boats Diane’s Rose and CROW are on You Tube. Anyway, enough for now. Hope this gets to you and will be thrilled if you can respond back. My name is Peggy.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am delighted to hear from you and very pleased that you have found the blog and taken the time to comment. If anything it is the responses and conversations that i get in response to some of my posts that are the reward for the work. CROW is an interesting boat and only one of many that iv’e never covered because that kind of boat just doesn’t seem to get built in the UK. SCAMP i think sounds like an excellent project and i almost did that myself but i kept coming back to wanting a boat with more space, more seagoing capability for the exposed coast i live on and ‘longer legs’. Best wishes….steve

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi DWD
    Interesting project, i also have a boat and am forever tinkering etc. This week i have just installed a replacement wind charger and batteries. Rutland 913 out, 9141 in. I changed out the batteries at the same time, i am going to have a go at setting up the old batts and charger in the garden and see if i can run a strawberry hydroponic system in the greenhouses. Will look in on you and see how your project progresses, may even bump into you if you are about in the estuary.


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