Wharram Builders and Friends

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Hello Sea People!

I need some decision help here. I'm looking to start a build soon (March) if I can't find a boat willing to be owner financed. To build I would like to free up as much of my income as possible. To do this I am considering two options. 1) Move aboard Element  my Tiki 21 (I know it's drastic right!) or... 2) buy a 37' Irwin (Gasp!!! yes I know I said buy a monohull) that's here in my anchorage for cheap cheap and owner financed. Live aboard one of those build my Tiki 38 or Tangaroa MKIV (Haven't decided) then sell everything and leave. The only bonus (read potential curse... I'm staying positive) to the Irwin besides increased living space is that I'd have two boats to sell in the end and in theory more money to cruise with. 

I've posed this situation to many people (friends family and co-workers) none of whom are really qualified to give an answer. (They can't understand why someone would live on a boat) Soooo... I decided to post it here and see what my fellow Sea people would have to say. I'm all ears :)

I will add that I was contemplating this the other day as I watched a storm blow through our anchorage and while Element braved the wind and waves rather gracefully. Every mono out there looked like a washing machine with massive pitching and rolling. Not sure I'm interested in that.

Thanks for you time


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Well, if you want to "free up as much of " your income as possible the answer is straightforward, move aboard your Tiki.

Besides, can you imagine how much will you appreciate the extra space when you switch to your T38? You'll think you've moved into a palace! :-)

I like the way you think! I feel the same way about it being straight forward buy the parts of me that are addicted to comfort are struggling with the idea

Hi Brandon,

what do you mean by cheap, cheap for a 37' Irwin ? unless she is a real wreck, the price should be plywood and époxy for your new boat ? 

Surely the costs of keeping 2 boats will impact on your ability to build your dream.  I too vote for living on the Tiki 21.  Much greater motivation to get going with the Tiki 38 than having the comfort of a 37 mono.  You might get too lazy on that!!

Also, why is the 37 Irwin cheap, cheap, cheap?  Might be about to cost someone a lot of money if to be kept afloat or have any eventual resale value.

Good luck and happy building whatever you decide!

Building a large Wharram will take time, money, and effort.  At the end of a whole day of boat building, you will NEED a shower for health reasons because you will NEED to get all the wood dust and epoxy dust and fiberglass dust off of you. And your work clothes will need to be laundered in a machine to get them really dust free. 

While you are building, you will need to have income.  Maybe you will be working at a job for most of a day.  And then working on the boat in the evenings.  How about eating a healthy meal?  Where will you store and cook the meal?  Where rest at the end of the day?

Nev and I actually built a large Wharram.  We did not need to work at a job while building because we self financed and were retired.  Somehow we made it.  Physically it was exhausting and stressful.  We lived on a canal barge while building Peace IV and it was 60 feet, had a nice galley area with fridge and cooker and storage for food.  It had a double bed.  It had a 17 foot livingroom with a coal stove, couch, chairs, and a table.  I had a desk there.  At the end of each work day, my body was so tired, I nearly cried when I got in that canal barge and started supper.  After supper, after clearing up, after I got into bed, I started feeling normal again.  I cannot imagine ever finishing Peace IV without that place of comfort at the end of the day where it was easy to cook and wash and take a shower (yup, a shower on the barge) and a comfortable bed to promote healing sleep so we could get up the next day and do it all again. 

I do not know how you could do this and live on a Tiki 21.  I am realistic here.  I was on Rory's Tiki 21 at the boat show in Southampton in the UK.  I really think some of our plans need to be realistic, folks. 

Keep dreaming a little longer, friend, and eventually you will come up with a plan that will work.  I like dreams that become workable plans that are followed with discipline and COME TRUE!

All the best,  Ann and Nev

On the other hand, James and Ruth and Jutta long ago built a Wharram on the beach in the Carribean.  So if one is determined, one can do anything.  But to be practical, it is really hard to do it that way.  Making the job harder increases the chance of giving up on the dream.  Try to make it come true easier and gain the security of greater success.  Dreams that come true are so much nicer than dreams that get abandoned for poor planning. 

Ann and Nev (at anchor on Peace IV on our way to the Bahamas)

Ann and Nev thank you for your sound advice! I really look forward to meeting you in person :)

Have you got somewhere to build ? Ideally this is where you should live. Commuting is a real waster. I would look for a build site that I could at least camp on for a few days at a time perhaps in a van with  basic fit-out. I have done this.

To free up time for building your living arrangements must be simple and well organised. Living at anchor / mooring is expensive on your time. Simple grocery shopping becomes an expedition.

That mono..I have nothing against anything that gets you afloat. Is it cheap or a bargain ? If it is cheap I would run a mile. If it is a bargain I would fix it up and go sailing now.

The boat that W. built on the beach was not at all the sort of craft you see on this site. It was 2 x ply boxes, no sheathing, and had a short life. For all that if epoxy was available at that time, that boat might well be still with us !

I'm with Galway Bay, buy the mono and go sailing now. Then, come back and buy a partially finished project from someone that went with your plan A.

live where you build if you can, say a shed on a farm etc. You are a catamaran freak not a one hull wonder.I built mine on my verandah of my cottage. Where you sleep when you are building is not important, the build is all.


you were asking for advise and opinions... so here its mine:

many years ago i was in the same situation as you are now. during 4 or 5 years i designed a 60 foot catamaran , i even made a scale boat and sent it to the naval engineering  university to make the tank tests..... and by the time i was ready to start with the building process someone told me about all the work involved.

its in my nature: it takes me a great afford to finish all those large projects i have been starting in my private life . I realize that there are people who are mentally prepared for a challenge that means to make a boat, have enough discipline and a lot of perseverance.

before you start your own challenge think with cold blood and a hand in your wallet pocket: today you will get a tiki 38 in very good conditions with less money that you need to build it . looking from the practical side , it would be more cost effective if you work (have a job) to save money in a 'fast track' , saving every penny you earn than dedicating all that time under very stressing conditions ..... just look at the statistics: most DIY projects are never finished.

if you belong to the group of people that enjoy and be proud to build a boat,, even if they don't know if they really will have the opportunity to sail on it... then go on. but like as myself, if your dream is to sail and cruise..... then think with your practical side and apply the KISS philosophy , keep it simple and save the money to buy a boat instead to build it. It will have much more financial sense. you will probably save your health and your pocket.

looking forward to see what your decision will be and if you build , what your progress will be. wish you the best.


I haven't built Wharram, but I built a Lyle Hess Cutter......4000 hours of building.  Over time, over budget.....


Building a boat is no way to save money, or get you out cruising sooner.


This is my take.  If you were to find a boat that would owner finance, you wouldn't be out cruising anyway.  You would be using the boat as an apartment while you made payments.  There are always a few good used wharrams available.  Right now in Florida there is that Tangaroa "Forever Young" for around 50k +-.  You would be out cruising much sooner if you just cut your living expenses and worked at your normal job, and saved up to buy a boat with cash.  Hey if you feel the need to sand and paint, get a part time job painting houses.  Rent a room in someone's house to really get your overhead down if you have to.  Work 7 days a week like you would anyway if you were building a boat....and you will have enough to buy a used boat in no time at all. 


In the meantime while you are saving for your boat, learn about repairing watermakers, refrigeration, and engine maintenance, so when you get out cruising, you can get work and stay out as long as you want.  There are more and more rich, older cruisers out there, that need help maintaining their large boats.  If you're creative and have some varied skills, you'll never be strapped for cash.


When you get your used Wharram there will be plenty of little projects to make the boat "yours" to satisfy your boat building appetite.


Good luck,

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