Wharram Builders and Friends

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Hi everyone, this is my first topic, although I've been following along for some time and just recently bought a set of tiki 21 plans off of a nice gentleman in the forum (thanks!!!). 

   I wanted to ask you folks how you finally decided on what boat you were going to build?  I bought the tiki 21 plans mostly because they were a great deal and I don't see myself going cruising in the near future so I would really like something that doesn't need to stay in a marina, but at the same time I like the thought of only building once, affordably, and if I decided to bug out I could do so in relative comfort. 

    Originally, I planned on building the tiki 38, then I decided on the Tangaroa, then I thought to myself that the tiki 30 would be much easier of a project and still manageable...or maybe even a tiki 26!!!  Even though it has been done and people are out doing it now, I don't see myself travelling very far in a Tiki 21. 

    So.... should I build the 21 to gain experience, then eventually build a bigger boat as time goes by or should I just jump into the big project and slowly but surely chisel away at it.  Just so we're on the same page, I want to pay for such a project as I progress rather than all at once, with a small budget of $200-$400 a month.  Building would be a part time hobby rather than something I'm willing to throw my lifes savings into. 


Any thought or insight?

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Hi Jonathan,
Well done on the T21 set of plans!
I'm not a builder, but have restored a Tangaroa and most of a T21 before, and own a very well-built T21 at the moment. Having done the odd jobs on the few boats I have owned, I can honestly say that I have no intention of ever building my own boat from scratch, but admire those that do, and complete what I consider to be works of art!
However, if I were in your shoes right now, I would ask myself a few questions...
1. previous boat-building experience?
2. Space to build (you don't want to do it in the open)
3. Time allowed to build - that's a small budget to work on each month - it will take a very long time if building the bigger models.
4. Once complete, what do you really want to do with it?
5. Who will sail with you?

My Tiki 21 suits me fine as mostly I sail alone. Saying that, after a few days of living aboard (which might happen twice a year), my back starts aching and my knees hurt, it's a wet ride at the best of times, but it gets me around fine. At the end of the season I put it on a trailer and take it home if I wish (or leave it in a boatyard like this year). We always want bigger boats, but I cannot justify the additional expense at this stage- not so much the cost to buy, but rather the cost of maintaining and keeping.
A T26 would be a great boat. A bit bigger than the 21, more comfort, and I'd have more confidence on a T26 than a T21 if I decided to sail further than my current cruising grounds. The 30 is a nice boat, but does not fill the gap between the T26 and T38 for me. My choice would thus be the Tiki 26. I might even get my girlfriend to sail with me!
Whatever you decide to build, they're great cruising boats to sail. Good luck with that.
Hi Jonathan:
There is a huge difference between a 21, 26, 30 or 31 foot boat, even if the numbers misgide you. The effort, time and money it takes grows geometrically with those 5, 9 or 10 feet. That's why most people say: "Build the smallest boat that suits your needs".
I'm building a (non-Wharram) 27 foot catamaran. Sometimes (when sanding) I find it enormous. When sitting inside and thinking on cruising with a family of 6 crewmembers, it looks too small. That's when I fantasize about building something bigger.
I like the T38 very much, but I find it too expensive and time consuming to build. The Tiki 31 isn't that much bigger than my actual cat, but I love that design. The T 26 is too small for my needs.
Recently I started considering the Tangaroa Mk IV, because of it's size, headroom, 1.5 tons loading capacity and seaworthiness. It's not as time consuming as a T38 and seems simpler to build.
At present, the 2 main candidates, if I should think of "what next" are the T31 and the Tangaroa.
I'm posting a comparison in size between these two.

I would like to hear more opinions from the forum members about these designs.

In your case, I would start with the T 21 and if, as you sail it, you find it small, you can try building a T26 or changing for a used Wharram. If you know for sure you will be sailing in good company, you might go directly to the T 26.
Gentlemen, you both seem to be thinking similar thoughts to what I have been... My boatbuilding experience is limited to a dinghy, however I have homebuilding experience and I'm fairly handy. My thought was originally to dip my toes in the water by building small, and hopefully entice my wife into the enjoyment of sailing, but I keep getting this nagging feeling that I might be overshooting the smallness factor. I am confident I would be comfortable a' la Rory McDougal but I'm pretty sure being wet and cramped would get old really quickly for her :) The last thing I want is for her to be driven away from sailing by having too many projects then once that is done not having enough comfort.
Eventually I would like to take a sebatical and use my savings to travel with, hence my logic of paying as I go. I don't see the point of buying a 55 gallon drum of epoxy to have it take up space for 2 years. With my proposed budget of $400/month, progress would be slow but my lifestyle wouldn't really be affected.
How much of a difference is the quality of life in daysailing mode between the tiki 21 and tiki 26? Is it enough to justify the extra 300hrs of work to completion? I'm still thinking that the minimum cruising boat size would be the tiki 30, and like you Hector, I keep going back to the Tangaroa as a perfect compromise between the T30 and T38. I like the idea of using more timber and less toxic epoxy in the build as well. Of course with a bigger build my budget would have to be adjusted somewhat, but I think after an initial investment I could progress within a reasonable budget.
All of the answers above point to the reasons there are so many models available. Making the decision on which boat to build/buy should not be assisted by studing the choices others have made, but by studying the process that led them to that choice. Even then there will be some that seem to defy logic. In deciding which boat to build, I probably considered 40 or 50 over the last year or so. Cat's, half cat clorox bottles, and boats with training wheels. Wharrams and non-Wharrams. I finally settled on the factors that were important to me. Foremost was aesthetics, if the boat wasn't pleasing to look at, IMHO, it was discarded immediatly. Other factors were: Transportability, Cruising range, How easy it was to get on and off the boat, Ease of finding a berth or mooring (I've had large multihulls before and have the scars from this one), Comfort in the cockpit, Availability of used boats, Cost vs. Value, Time to build, Equipment, Suitable to teaching children and grandchildren how to sail, Can I find a partner and do I have to have one, Resale value.

How I weighted those factors doesn't matter. You will have other factors to consider and weights to apply. Best of luck with your decision and I hope to meet you on the water or at the next gathering.

BTW, If I'd joined this forum two days earlier, I'd own that set of Tiki 21 plans! But such is life.

HI All,


I'm leaning towards the Pahi 42 or the Tiki 38.  I'm not really sure what the differences in construction are.  The Wharram website implies that the Pahis are easiest to build.  So, what's the general opinion?  Which is easiest?  If the Pahi 42 is easier is it so much easier that it makes up for the extra length over the Tiki?


Thanks for the help,

John B.

I don't know what advice to give you, but I will say that before Nev and I got Wharrams to come up with the Tiki 46 plans for us, we had the study plans for the Tahini, Pahi 42, and Tiki 38.   We stuck one plan up on the wall and then another for over a year while we thought about it.  In hindsight, probably we should have built the Tiki 38 because it certainly would have been big enough for us, however, I am glad we went ahead and built Peace - all 46 feet of her.  She is so comfortable and easy to live aboard and share and she takes stormy anchorages and weather so easily... that helps with our old bodies which now have old age aches and pains even in flat water calms. 


Building does take time, energy, money, and some days it seems to go on and on forever.  However, the satisfaction is tremendous when you sail your home built boat out of the harbor and heads turn from that moment on wherever you sail.  These are pretty boats for sure.


I believe no one can really give you advice on these matters.  Boat selection is a lot like spouse selection.  Some kind of magic needs to be involved.  Be sure that all the folks on this kindly net will offer an opinion and assistance to the best of their ability.  Take it all in and make your decision. 


At least you will always know that the carefully built Wharram will be safe, affordable, and lovely.


Ann and Nev

Like most others who post I went through the same process of bouncing backwards and forwards between designs before finally deciding to build my 36 ft Wharram classic.

Too big,.. Too small,..Too expensive,.. Too difficult,.. Too much time,.Too many study plans!,...etc,. etc,...........

Eventually after scouring the various Wharram forums and asking many questions, particularly of those who had , or were currently building a wharram I worked out what I really needed (more so than what I  wanted)..

I learnt that for me the most important things to consider were,


A) What am I really going to do with it ?

B) How much can I realistically handle, (cost, time, energy, skill)?


I remembered that I'd heard somewhere that "form must follow function" not the other way around. That helped me become a bit more realistic about things.


My (not so) short list became clearer.

* safe in all conditions, very strong and as collision resistant as possible for long distance sailing,

( I'd heard of wharram classics riding out huge cyclones at sea, also of riding up and over semi- submerged objects  on their massively timbered keels with minimal damage.

* able to go to windward in tough conditions if needed. This meant very low windage.

(All Wharrams meet this criterea. The Classics can also have the B'warks built lower if desired)

* enough waterline lenght to warrant small cabins with a minimal area of standing headroom. Again for reduced windage.

 ( Midsized classic designs have small standing headroom areas midships only).

* enough volume to carry supplies. Lots of storage space in separate hulls compartments for all sorts of 'live aboard' gear.

* able to be sailed short handed

* Building method that I can live with. Relatively simple to construct, also a method that gives the lowest chance of developing epoxy allergy. Some builders had posted that they get it so bad that they cant go near the stuff any more.( I felt I was more of a chance of finishing with glue and screw over fillet making and sanding).

* able to be repaired by myself in remote places.

* able to be built and paid for over 3 to 4 years max..


If then I was to build a mid sized wharram classic a list also grew of what I couldn't have .


* double bunks for myself and my guests

* a shower and head in the main cabin

* bridgedeck accomodation

* high tech systems that I can't look after myself.


The end result for me was to buy the Tangaraoa plans and to rework them to my purposes. ( There are some progress pics now posted). I promise you it isn't the boat I would have chosen for weekend  sailing though!.

I think everybody comes at building a Wharram from there own perspective.

I certainly wouldn't want to impose my criterea on anyone else. I just hope it helps to know something of the thinking of others.





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