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I have built several boats from Marine Grade Aluminum I very much like the Pahi 42 desine .    I do not like the idea of dagger boards,  I prefer the small keel on the Tiki desines .I was hopeing to recieves some of your thoughts on this idea . Also I have only found very little information on building a James  Wharram desine in aluminum,   just a few photos of one vessel on the internet any more info  information would be very help full.    I just purchased a new miller welder for wellding aluminum Wow it makes welding aluminum so much easyer than in the past ,   the auto settings are great .   I love building in Aluminum very fast. so light. easey to work can be cut with woodworking tools .   no painting sanding , only need to paint the interior ,   very good tensile strength many of my friends build aluminum river boats one hit a larg rock at 25 mph crumpled the bow but it did not leak he just cut out the first 4 feet and welded a new bow , I was amazed.    Some grades of aluminum are close in strength to mild steel , thank you for your interest on  this subject .

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Aluminum is a great material, in all its various alloys, including maritime applications. However, I suspect if you build a Wharram out of aluminum, you'll end up with a boat that looks like a Wharram, but doesn't act like one.

I've met James, heard him speak, and read a lot of what he's written. I get the impression he's not a great fan of people taking his designs and making them into something they weren't intended to be. The idea of an aluminum boat is pretty much anathema to people interested in the idea of home building a boat. This would require a level of skill a magnitude beyond what most people are capable of.

Thank you Jeremy yes well there are lots of aluminum canoes out there and much sot after made by Grumman corporation after world war  2  because they did not have enough planes to build anymore . My dad was in the British Navy for 6 years during WW2 most of his time on motor torpedo boats they were built of Plywood with Rolls Royce engines same ones used in the Spitfires he told many stories about being chased by the otherside they would bypass the engine governors to gain more speed,he often sustained injuries being hit by flying fish . Thank you for your comment many people do not believe you can build a aluminum sailboat under 40 ft  I can understand this thinking for steel but aluminum is 40 % the weight of steel. One of the most insane type of boating is in Thailand Long Tail Races . they basically  sit in a boat made from a single sheet of plywood with a motor of up to 400 HP strapped to it and they race up and down canals at over 90 mph

I believe I read something about James Wharram writing about aluminum could be used to build his boats. yes I understand there may be some reluctance to try something new . I have worked in both materials much more so in Wood  but once I built in aluminum I was drawn over to the shining side . I was amazed the first time I cut into a sheet of aluminum with a circular saw carbide blades are best , no nails no glue no epoxy no sanding no screws no fiberglass  what percentage of time does all that take in building a boat it was light strong clean cut easily welded fast  and if you make a mistake you can weld it back together and start over no waist. Just look up for yourself aluminum boat building and then tell me it is not a useful material for building boats of any size.   I have a person I know in China.who imports and exports illegal exotic woods around the world he has been doing it for a long time.he explained how it is done mostly by paying of border officials the Chinese do not care about following the trade laws except in the news.it is a shame but money and greed motivates many


Alfred, I have to agree with your thoughts about building in ally alloy. Especially since my life has been adversely effected by kidney failure brought on by working with solvents.

Cutting and welding non ferrous metal would have been a pleasure compared to all the hours exposed to chemicals. However, it was the spraypainting that really topped the damage off on my kidneys, so the same would apply to painting metal boats.

A few days ago on my 23 ft outrigger canoe, it dawned on me that the ama should rather hav been built in welded ally plating instead of moulded composites.

Laminated wood was avoided because there are separate watertight comartments, where the insides are impossible to maintain……… what better material to use than aluminium.

Plywood plank on frame,if not stitch and glue Wharram ethos/design philosophy, might not suit welded plate boatbuilding, although there must be a design path which does.I think It needs to be develped as an endeavour in it’s own right, rather than just follow convention, as in bridgedeck power catamaran engineering and architecture.

With a wishfull new lease on life (like winning the lottery) I would be tempted to get the welding equipment and make a couple of 30 ft hulls in my workshop. This would definitely be a continuation of the extended canoe concept.

As you mention, canoes have been successfully produced in ally, so no reason why not just continue to do so.

All It  requires, is innovative design, along with proven technology, to build upon and connect two aluminium canoes.


Hello and thank you Jeremy sorry to hear of your heath concerns now that I am 62 I have a few of my own I have worked around Lead and now glue solvents in the plumbing industry  I was born 50 meters from the sea In Newfoundland . I played on boats from the age of 2 my uncle a fisherman would carry me home to my family saying keep this one at home before he drowns. My uncle like many fishermen could not swim this always amazed me.I am also hoping to win the lottery to build my future Aluminum Catamaran.I  will purchase some Wharram plans  but I realize they will be of little use in building in aluminum so I study every design I can find in this metal . I love Dory and Canoes designs and when I first saw Wharram plans I was aw-struck I realized I have found designs that were simple and practical to build all I need to is to extrapolate these designs into aluminum. I was looking at prices for aluminum structural material in  extruded aluminum pipe and square tubing 10.750in   OD  3/8 in wall pipe 21 ft long  is about 1500 dollars Canadain so a compleat aluminum 40 ft wharram design will cast roughly 45,000 Canadain dollars basic boat in material only .

Health issues could come in to play with welding aluminium –I have a friend who has spent a lifetime working with metal, and he did suffer from metal poisoning, but which did improve with some expensive treatment. So, Less exposure to any toxin is obviously the best choice, and which means that going back to the very old way of tying everything together with cordage is probablly the best option re heath hazards.…..or you could think of rivetting ally plates (like is done on the Grunman canoes mentioned earlier).

My own health problems could possibly be taken care of by paying others to do work…….assuming financing is no issue, if  for instance a lottery win pays for everything, and in which case choice of aluminium would be a saving; concerning worry and headaches about  build quality……. Tht is If a  trustworthy builder is found.There is little that the naked eye doesn’t see with welded alloy. Electrolysis may be a problem at some point after the build and flaws won’t be blamed on the builder if the correct grade electrode is specified.




I remember my early days of working without safety gear it was not comfortable or made available by employers safety was often secondary. in my last few years safety meetings had become mundane we were given information sheets told to read them no discussion off to work . I remember we had a training session given by a very young graduate of some university that and this she truly believed, there are locations in  all areas of this work site with numerous places for us to attach our safety harnesses I politely informed her this building was 40 years old and there is not one such devices. she though I was being the Devils advocate . The worst part was there were many young tradesmen who believed her so I asked her to find one for us so we would be familiarize ourselves with them . Well she did not think we had the time for this but she had the time to tell my supervisor who informed her I was speaking the truth she was flabbergasted. Here she was giving bad dangerous information I do not think she spent a week in a construction site in her entire life .   

Omar M. Rashash said:

Aluminum is a great material, in all its various alloys, including maritime applications. However, I suspect if you build a Wharram out of aluminum, you'll end up with a boat that looks like a Wharram, but doesn't act like one.

I've met James, heard him speak, and read a lot of what he's written. I get the impression he's not a great fan of people taking his designs and making them into something they weren't intended to be. The idea of an aluminum boat is pretty much anathema to people interested in the idea of home building a boat. This would require a level of skill a magnitude beyond what most people are capable of.

Well I know that James wharram has written that he believed that his boats could be built in aluminum on his desine page  and I am certain having built in both wood and aluminum that aluminum wins hands down in time and effort . There are boats built in aluminum including sailboats  that have been built from 12 ft to over  onehundred of feet . I have read and seen boats  early as 1939 tested by the us navy this 1939 boat is for sail online in great condition all of the problems first encoutered with aluminum have been overcome by the newer alloys that are stronger lighter and easeyer to weld  hell airplanes are mostly made of aluminum think of the stress they encounter through hundreds of thousands of flights landings and take offs. look up jet boats online youtube you will be amased then think of how wood would stand up to this abuse . thank you so much for your coments 

Jeremy Walker said:

Well sure. a 12ft ballasted keelboat was built by Serge Testa, which made a record circumnavigation.

This was a monohull though,for very good reason,since aluminium was the construction material.

An outrigger canoe or even a proa might be an equally good option to build in ally.

Thank you for your comment Jeramy  I am seeing catamarans on youtube built in aluminum but these are multi million dollar  examples I will be happy to have something more reasonable in price and I believe this to be very possible .

I am amazed at the views of this page over 1000 views perhaps its time to build wharrams in Aluminum ?

Hi guys....I came across this thread and wanted to encourage anyone to explore aluminum use. It doesn't take any special skills beyond being able to cut a decent line and and handle power tools. The welding is easy if you have a decent setup for the job and are not fighting the machine. You'll figure it out. Compound curves are not hard to make with a homemade roller or English wheel. I kept reading someone talking about 6000 series for the sheet/plate. I think you mean 5000 like 5083. The 6061T6 is used for extrusions - your flat bar, t-bar, round, etc. 5183 filler wire welds cleaner and a bit stronger compared to 5356. It does cost a little more, but not much. If you have a decent push pull gun the fact 5183 is softer is a non issue. If I hadn't to guess for hull thickness I'd go for 4mm and a combination of 4mm and 3mm for the deck and any pilot house. Depends on how one does the compression areas for the mast base. Also using 3mm or even thinner can take care of lots of interior finishing/furniture. Insualation can be blown in, stick on or simply cut and fitted block foams. In the tropics being an an alum yacht is no different then glass. It's easy to paint if you keep or have clean stock. Mill finish areas only dull overtime and I've never noticed black stuff rubbing off. If you have clean, bright factory tubing it'll polish up by hand and you'd swear it was SS. For rails, biminis and such. For the budget minded with a little fore-thought you can finish off the interior using 2-3mm rigid pvc panels. Nice thing is they are removable is you need to get to something. Corrosion is a non issue if you mount anodes correctly and make sure the composition is correct and of good quality. You can keep a floating ground if one is anal about isolating current carrying equipment. Google Mumby and Easton cats for ideas. Aluminum is really amazing stuff for boating and I think a person would be hard pressed to favor wood or glass after working and cruising with it.

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