Wharram Builders and Friends

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Hi Members,

I am new to this forum and have no boat building experience. I did take on a old home and have been renovating it over the last couple of years. Once sold it will raise some much needed capital. The process is coming to completion and I am looking for another smaller project. I have some sailing experience in windsurfing, dingies, and crewed on a 51' tehini about 12 years ago. This consisted of some short trips along the South African coast line between Port Alfred and Knysna, then a 5000nm voyage in the Indian Ocean which lasted around 4months. Maintenance was an ongoing passtime, but consisted of small items, (scraping, lashing, painting, etc).

I am looking to build a Hitia 17' as I have limited space and I am located inland (600km from the nearest coastline) and would be sailing on inland dams. I am planning on moving down to the coast in the next year, but really want to start building before the end of this year. I also have a small vehicle so have to consider transporting it.

My intensions are to build a smaller design now with the possibility of moving on to bigger things. Unfortunately I am a graphic designer/developer in the digital space and get caught up in the details which might drive myself and everyone else around me crazy $%£&*!. If something is supposed to be straight, kinda straight is not acceptable. A smaller project will quickly reveal if I should buy something already made or embark on building something myself.

My questions are to anyone who has already built a hitia 17', obviously any other feedback is most welcome. I don't want to try and punch above my weight catagory, and seem greedy in gathering advice. My reasons for choosing the hitia 17' are from from what I have seen it cuts through the water well. If built properly looks professional, and seems to be a bit more intricate to build than the smaller wharram designs. It should quickly reveal if I have what it takes to attempt something bigger.

1. How informative are the plans, and easy to follow? My job often requires self study when adopting new technologies, but obviously I am a newbie at boat building.
2. Any specific tools that I should purchase before I begin construction?
3. Tips for trailer measurements as I would get something made for transportation.

Thankyou for taking the time to read my post, I look forward to hearing for you.

Kind regards,


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hi Craig,

Thanks a lot for your interest for the Hitia 17.

answer 1 : Plans are very easy and nice to see. It is not only technical datas but the technical building process with many details.

answer 2 : For myself I have just a saw, a jigsaw, a drill, 10 clamps, a plane, a rasp and a kitchenscale for epoxy. Unless you have more professionnal tools, you need to buy hardwood in various length already planned and squared. list is given in the study plans.

answer 3 : No trailer plans is provided, you should draw it by yourself.

Please let me give you some remarks :

- space is a very important factor for your productivity. It is very frustrating to work 15 minutes to glue a piece and wait 12 hour (the time for my epoxy system) for the next run just because I don't have more clamps or space to make the work. Without space it is very difficult to parallelize a complete day of work in some tasks.

- IMHO if you change your location in one year your boat will not see inland water at all. Time construction is given 250 hour by JWD, but building the boat in 1.5 month is unthinkable for a non-professional, 6 or 8 months will be more realistic for a part time or week-end worker. Please have a look at http://www.dilworth.org/boat/hitia.php

- It seems that we are the same "intellectual" guys. Well, for myself, trying to understand how the hitia 17 is designed, I'am now a contributor for GSL (General Scientific Library for unix-like) and the boat is not yet finished. So please be an idiot for building a Wharram, all will be ok and building time will be relaxing.

Kind Regards

A Hitia 1 is a great project to get your feet wet, so to speak. Don't go anal on it, it's just a boat and you are working with epoxy which will cover a whole church worth of sins. A jigsaw is one of your most important tools. You will need a drill. Good sand paper is a must. Power sanders can save a lot of time but most are application limited and require skill to achieve good results. I have about a hundred power sanders and I love them all, but then I have a sander fetish, just ask my wife. Other tools will be necessary but they will be obvious when you need them. One hint when sanding is to use very coarse paper to shape wood(24-40), you use finer grits to polish wood. Don't try to fair with fine paper. Should you be perplexed, email me or call and I will try to help. Press on, David

I built a Hitia 17 some 12 years ago. It's a great little catamaran. I adapted a basic boat trailer frame with wooden cradles for the hulls and quick-attach steel angle-iron extensions with rollers for assembling the boat on the trailer and launching at a ramp. It worked great. The boat is fast and can carry a bigger load than you would expect.

Like Marc said, don't expect to build it in the 250 hours estimated in the design book. Mine took 560 hours (including trailer) and I had plenty of power tools. This was over a 10-month or so period working in my spare time, when I also built a couple of kayaks and a small skiff during the same period. Like David said, a jigsaw is probably the most important. A small table saw will speed things up a lot too, especially ripping stringers, mast parts, beam parts, etc.

One thing that makes the Hitia easier to work on is you can manhandle the hulls around by yourself without any equipment, turning them over, putting them on the trailer etc. Much easier than the larger Tikis.

I'm building a Tiki 26. It is not my first boat building project and I've spent my career creating and using technical drawings. These are not like that. These are very easy to read, easy to follow step by step instructions. When all else fails, step back, read the instructions and don't overthink it. Think in simples. I've run into a couple of bolixed metric/imperial conversions so I measure in one and check with the other. In some cases one set of dimensions is easier to read than the other.
I agree with Marc and David's answers on tools. Get the tools you need when you need them. Its not a lot. Depending on where you're building you might want to consider battery powered tools. These will be good for later on also.
Scott and several others on this forum have made excellent easy to use trailers. There are pictures with the Tiki 21 and 26 plans for a trailer that will give you the concept if not the actual dimensions. If that sheet is not in the Hitia plans, perhaps you can get a look at one.
I have wingsail conversion plans if you want to build that instead of the sprit sail.

Thanks for all the feeback, the general consensus for the building time is that it will take much longer than specified in the building plans. Marc you bring up an interesting point regarding building time and my planned move to the coast. Perhaps this project won't see inland water. Transporting an unfinished project over 1200 km to a new home might not be the best idea either. This leaves me with two options, either wait until I am settled which could put this project off another year or to begin in the next month or so. The hulls would need to be complete before transporting, that includes epoxy.

Obviously the right tools make the task easier to complete, that is a lesson that I have learn't more than once from renovating a house. Hmmmm, reading that last line back to myself now I wonder how well I learnt the lesson if I had to learn it more than once??

Scott, assembling the boat on the trailer and launching is exactly what I had in mind. I was looking at some secondhand boat trailers over the weekend trying to get some ideas. So far I would like to keep the width as narrow as possible while transporting behind my car, hopefully this will reduce wind resistance as much as possible while on the road.

Russel, I have been looking at the design plans and reading online and I like the wingsail over the spirit sail. My plan is to purchase the wingsail conversion plans and make the decision later on in the process.

David I have two sanders and between them they should get the job done, my limited toolbox is in need of supplies but a. jigsaw is at the top of the replenish list right now. Thanks for the offer to email or call, I may just take you up on it once I get started.

Thanks again for all the feedback.


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