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Sunrise on Cowan Creek


The Problem

You most likely don't live in an industrial area. Even if you do, chances are that there are strict regulations which cover what you can and cannot do outside of standard working hours. Unfortunately, as an amateur boatbuilder, you cannot even begin your second shift for the day (working on the boat) until you reach home sometime after 5pm. The noise and disruption will cause tension with your neighbours. While you're lost in the din of your metalworking nirvana, they're trying to get their toddler to sleep. The first few times they may even close the windows and resort to grumbling inwardly in the hope that you'll stop eventually, but they may not always be so accommodating when your project starts to drag on for months or even YEARS.

Make no mistake - it WILL take far longer to complete the boat than you ever thought possible. The (pathetic) documentation that comes with the kit will claim numbers such as "150 man-hours" or similar. What they mean is that it might take a professional boat-builder 150 man-hours to finish the hull to the stage where it's ready for fitout by someone else. They have every tool imaginable at their disposal in a large workshop, they know how to use those tools, they have built lots of boats already - perhaps even this very model - and they effectively get paid by the boat, not by the hour. Of course they will be quick about it! You and I, on the other hand, will be lucky to complete the same task within five or ten times as many man-hours!!! Have you ever considered how the steering cable is going to exit through the transom? What about the seats? They're not on the plans. How are you going to secure the seats to the floor in a way which is at least likely to cope with the forces out on the waves? What about the bimini? How many hours of measuring and sewing will it take to produce something which doesn't look like a derelict boat?

The fact is, it takes a long time - maybe even years if you're busy with "real" work and prone to bouts of wanting or needing to occasionally do something else on the weekend other than work on the boat 10h per day. There are strategies for coping though...

Getting Away With It

  • Involve the neighbours! Invite them over for milestone events such as turning the hull or mounting the engine. They will hate you just a little less and perhaps hold off on that phone call to the police.
  • Institute "no boat" days. Do all those things you've been promising the family for a month.
  • Work tirelessly and fast! It is far, far easier to do this with momentum than to drag it out.
  • Plan your work in advance. It is useful to sit down with a pen and paper and strategise. What do you want to finish tomorrow? By the end of the week? By the New Year?

Remember to have fun!

Remind yourself that you started this because you love the idea of having built your own boat. As soon as you know that the thing will probably float, put it on its trailer and go play with it on (very) still waters somewhere. Never mind the motor. Just enjoy what you've accomplished already and the fact that the end is very much in sight.

Lastly, let's look at some useful links pointing towards further information...



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