Plans and resources.

Project SQD”” explained.

Blog time : it’s early April 2020 and i’m just about ready to start the journey to become an amateur backyard boatbuilder except that in my case it’s going to be on the front drive because that’s the only place with enough space.  The ideal situation and set up would be to have a warm and dry workshop big enough for the project, a whole bevy of specialist woodworking tools and at the top of the list a decent level of woodworking skill : well, i can admit to a cold and damp workshop that isn’t big enough for the job in hand, some tools but not the right ones……but skill ?…..none except a basic education in woodwork more than 50 years ago !.   What i did have was just enough sense to chose a designer and design that is intended for backyard , would-be boatbuilders like me who have little in the way of skills and resources but enough enthusiasm and willpower to have at it.  In a way this week kind-of represents the first week of the actual project so i thought i would just pause for a moment and talk about the design and designer, the resources i do have and my set up so far.

The design and the designer.

If it’s less than clear what design and by which designer i chose then that’s my fault because i did spend a lot of blog time talking about different potential avenues for this next (and maybe last) boat.  Not only have i been calling it different things, from my Challenge 65 boat to ‘the bushcraft boat’ but i have looked at many of the different ways of getting there , from converting an old racing dinghy or dayboat right through to a full build from the keel up.    So….the design i eventually chose and for which i now have a full set of plans is Kiwi John Welsford’s ‘Pathfinder’ design which, at 17 feet and small change, is at the larger end of cruising dinghy’s and almost a miniature yacht.    I did have a panic just after i’d ordered the plans when i was following a discussion on John’s Facebook group page because 2 other boats from the same designer might be a better choice some of the time but i hope that Pathfinder will be the better and more capable boat for more of what i want to do. There were also some outliers, i still hanker to build an Angus boats rowcruiser (sail version) because that would be a veritable pocket-rocket but living aboard for any time would only ever be a marginal experience so….roads not taken and all that.

A big part of this is that there are already lots of Pathfinders, Navigators, SCAMP’s , all JW’s designs and all on the water and most of them built by blokes in sheds even if it takes them a long time to do it.  A couple of years i had the pleasure of talking to Navigator builder and owner, and sailing blogger, Steve Parke, about his build. I don’t intend to steal Steve’s thunder here but he said very much the same kind of thing ; never built a boat before, didn’t have much space or tools and he only had a minimal allocation of time to give to the project.  Well, i could be doing this full time just by walking all of a hundred feet down my front drive and ‘clocking on’ every day but i don’t think i’m going to do that, rather i intend to take my time and enjoy the process of learning and i suspect making lots of mistakes.

The second side of that , and it’s very much part of the resource side is that John Welsford does run an active Facebook page for builders and owners to discuss the designs and builds : iv’e already taken part in that mainly by just asking really stupid questions which , so far, have only been met with helpful comments, answers and some degree of amusement.  For the often toxic world of social media that’s quite extraordinary but then it does seem to be mainly a group of polite and enthusiastic ‘men in sheds’…..long may that last !

The blog of the build.

I feel i should say something about the blog side of the build because it does represent a major change in direction for me and alongside that that i also want to record the build in writing and photographs but also in video form…..and iv’e never succeeded with video in the past.  I think that the way for me to work and record the project is to only write quite short posts which summarize what’s going this week for example and then to show the actual build process in a series of short video clips , perhaps that it’s far easier to understand what’s going on by seeing it, even all of my inevitable mistakes rather than getting what might just look like an extended Ikea furniture instruction page.

The other thing i’d like to say about the blog of the build is that i intend to call the whole series my ‘Project SQD”” build rather than the eventual name that the boat will carry…..assuming that i finish it one day.  There’s some personal reasons there that i’ll explain during the build and one for right now is that i did intend to refer to the project by it’s plans number or sail/hull number except that i don’t have one because the plans don’t have a unique number….some of JW’s designs do (SCAMP’s for example) but not Pathfinder.  My intention and plan for the whole project is to have it finished to floating and sailing stage for my 65th birthday which will be in or around March 2023.   Just to say at this stage that because principal construction has to happen outside although under a solid shelter that the main work can only happen during warm and dry spells although i can do most of the parts construction in the workshop and starting any time now.


In this post i did intend to talk about my resources, the workshop, tool set-up and my reference material for ply-epoxy construction….and then my early estimates of the first round of buying materials : this is going to be a relatively long and for me expensive project and even now i can see that the main costs will have to be spread over 2 years and that doesn’t even account for the really expensive stuff such as a trailer and a motor….they will just have to wait and i think it best just to show and tell the materials as i buy them and use them.

This is what i’m aiming at , this is ‘Anenome’ as built by a professional boatbuilder for himself (Gavin Print photograph)


Video 1, talking about the plans.

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