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3 Tips for Choosing the Right Boat Plans

By Morten Olesen © 2011, All Rights Reserved

Oftentimes, the hardest part of building a boat is choosing the right boat plans. Unless you have a longtime dream of setting sail on a particular craft, you'll want to take several things into consideration before purchasing boat plans. This way, you can ensure you'll have a goal you can accomplish without abandoning it halfway through due to lack of time, money or experience.

Tip #1 - Decide what type of boat you want to build.

If you've never built a boat before, it only makes sense that you'd choose boat plans with a simple design. However, if you've got a little experience under your belt, you may be ready to step up to something more detailed and complex.

One of the most crucial tips for choosing the right boat plans is deciding on the type of boat. Your experience level, how much you have allotted to spend on materials and the amount of time you can allocate to the project are important considerations.

You’ll also need to think about where you’ll build your boat. Do you have space in a garage or workshop – or can you create a temporary spot - to devote to boat building for (possibly) an extended period of time?

Tip #2 - Understand what's required to make it happen.

More simplistic boat plans such as canoes, dinghies and row boats could feasibly be built in just a few weekends. The cost for a canoe, depending on where in the world you are located, would be reasonably low: around $300US on average. For a row boat; about $450US.

On the opposite end of the scale, it might take around $800 and several months to build a 19-foot pram or $15,000 to construction a 40-foot tug boat. Of course, the amount of time increases considerably with the scope and scale of the project.

With that information in mind, you should do a few calculations. For instance, let's say you can only devote time to boat building on the weekends. If you put in 8 hours on Saturday and Sunday, that gives you 16 hours per week. If it takes 45-60 hours (on average) to build a canoe, you can estimate your launch date as X number of weeks away from the start of your project.

Something else to ask yourself is with regard to expenses. Can you pay for all the materials at once or will you need to build your boat in phases? Listing all the necessary materials and the cost associated with them is a good idea regardless of how you'll finance the project.

If you do need to build in phases, check the boat plans to see which items you'll need at which points along the way. Then you can design your budget accordingly.

Tip #3 - Look for complete, detailed boat plans with 3-D computer models.

You might think all boat plans are created equally. Nothing could be further from the truth. There are no regulations with regard to boat plans so practically anyone who chose to could draw them up and sell them. You want to be careful to choose boat plans that were created by a professional and that will give you all the help and guidance you need.

Look for boat plans drafted by master boat builders and, when possible, opt for plans from Naval Architects to ensure quality and ease of use. You also would be wise to select boat plans that come with computer-generated, 3-D models. Imagine how much added help you’ll get from being able to rotate the model, zoom in, pan, view cross sections and more.

With a few calculations and considerations, you’ll be able to choose just the right boat plans for your experience level, time and money. The results? A vessel you can be proud to sail for years to come.

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Morten Olesen, Naval Architect/Owner - Hyldvej 1A - DK-4540 Farevejle - Denmark

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