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I just bought a set of tiki 21 plans with the intention of building it as a prelude to building a bigger boat a little later on, but have since been convinced to forgo the smaller and jump straight into the larger project.

Im pretty settled on the Tiki 38, but have moments when I trick myself into thinking that the 46 would be do-able.. But im pretty sure I dont want to spend the extra time or money going that large.

I have a wife and 2 kids (aged 4 and 1 month) and am hoping to have the build complete within 6 years which by then would be 10 and 5 years of age.

I would love to hear from anyone who has had experience cruising with the Tiki 38 with 2 young children of a similar age and how you found the size, space, sleeping arrangements, stability, seaworthiness, dryness or wetness of the boat and how it worked or didnt work out for you..

Any opinions or advice would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks, Josh :)

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There are definite benefits to building a smaller boat as your first project.  We can tell you things like "Epoxy is much easier to remove when it's still wet" or "You'll spend less time sanding, if you don't create the problem you're trying to fix by sanding in the first place", but some things have to be experienced to be appreciated.  The sooner you get your learning curve out of the way, the better off you'll be.


You may discover, that while you can build a boat, you're better off paying someone else to do it.  While I may have the skill to build a house from the foundation up, when I built my home, I hired a contractor.  I did substantial work on the house, but I wasn't responsible for doing everything, nor was I responsible for the overall project or the completion date.

If money is no problem, buy one old big, work a few months for make your modifictions, and brand new paint. Will satisfy your ego builder, no much long time without childrens, and sailling soon.

The time without childrens is one point that I not preview and I lost too much with this, the construction became a race to finish and pleasure goes all to waste. 

I really appreciate all the replies, even though they make my head spin.. I thought I was so sure!

Neil, I have been following your build for years and I am really grateful for your reply, it's definitely the one post that is pulling at my heart, while the rest are making sense in my head...

I know that it will be easier and cheaper to buy, but there is that part inside saying, 'but what about the dream of building and sailing your own boat that you built with your own two hands?'...

I think there is something in that, something that money can't buy.. Something that has been lost in our fast pace, instant gratification, throw away society... And I do want a piece of that...

But that brings me back to my first place of having the tiki 21 plans.. Maybe giving it a test, see if I really want to build a big one, to fulfill that building dream somewhat, and have something small to play around in with the kids while I acquire the funds to buy the ready made one or build the bigger one..

Think I'm gonna have to jump on the meditation cushion for a while!

Hi i

have had a Pahi 42 off the shelf in 2004 , it was 2 years old when we bought it in Southern Spain , my wife and four children lived on her with plenty of room in the  mediterranean for 2 years sailing mostly France, Spain and the Balearics. But we sold her because we wanted to Live in England on the boat and we knew we would have to do massive modifications to join the 2 hulls together so we bought a project Pahi 42, i.e. needed completely re-building. My now wharram is a pahi 42 that we have converted ourselves to a large bridge deck accommodation so that it fits and sleeps 8 plus galley saloon and dining room on deck, plus it is junk rig with a mast in each hull,  for my money all  wharrams are very safe and strong seaboats, the Pahi range are better for children as they are more chunky, not such speedy sailboats but very steady in a seaway. But like everything in this world you makes your choices and you pays your money. I agree with the majority on here, better to buy an old Wharram and do it up. It's so much more do-able; we managed to do this one in 2 years, and that was complete including building our own masts, making our own sails and electric toilet and shower as my wife and daughter said no more pumping. There are plenty of my pictures on this site if you want to use them for inspiration. Regards, Julie and David

Why not to buy a cat ( wharram) to enjoy sialing and make other, to enjoy work with wood, may be a smaller one.

Josh, how about building the Tiki 21.....this will take you no where near as long as the larger 38 and will still give you a taste of boat building and the effect it has on your time and family life...... ending in a result that satisfies the building desire and a small cruiser to see how the family enjoys it. 

Once you have ticked all the boxes then you could look at purchasing a larger boat. 

If you build, your children will be grown, your dream will still be a dream and you will be older and frustrated and no closer to sailing. If you buy, you will see the finished product at the outset and can still make any modifications you want. Unless you  buy junk because you can't really afford your dream in the first place there will be enough ship building/repair for anyone except guy who would rather build than sail. If you spend enough time in boatyards you'll come away an understanding over the years that these old boats whether wood, composite, metal, or fiberglass are a perpetual reconstruction project. They say each flight hour in a helicopter requires two hours of maintenance. Boats aren't that bad but the concept is the same.

If you want a boat that you cannot buy - because there is none such available or because you cannot afford to lay out the cash, then building is a way forward in life. I started building on a minimum budget.........not a Wharram, but a cat would have been no more of a financial burden, and in fact may have cost even less in the end. Anyway, there was only a partnership with no children when the build started, until one showed up. He was brought up around a boatyard where there was more space to play than in an inner city rented apartment, and learned much more than he would have watching TV. He grew up with an affinity for boats and is now the owner of his own Wahrram tiki. So yeah, kids and boatbuilding can mix. There is of course the risk that it may not work out, but you won't know without trying.

Having said that, I agree with the other guys that you will do well to just buy a complete or partly complete boat if you can of ford it............Wharrams are not that unique that you have to build your very own.

I think you need to try and work out what's actually driving you.  Is it the idea of being a boat builder, or of going sailing?  It's hard to look objectively deep inside your own head and answer a question like that, and maybe you should find someone you trust who has no view either way to help you talk it through.  Bear in mind the way you look at it is likely to change over the next few years, especially with growing children.  Don't assume they'll be interested in building or in sailing.  If they are it's a huge bonus, but they might not have the slightest interest in either activity, or even hate it.  I think generally kids are much more likely to have fun with a smaller boat, that they're more in contact with and can do more with.  If you've got a Tiki 21 they can take it out themselves as soon as they've got the experience and are responsible enough, probably in their early teens.  They can't do that with a 38 or 46.  My personal rule of thumb is that for maximum fun you should be able to lean over the side and trail your hand in the water!!

An absolutely critical factor to consider before you take on a big build - What does your partner think about it?  They need to be at least as sure as you are.  If they're at all unsure now, it will get much worse as the years go by and they see less and less of you.  It's a recipe for a personal disaster, especially if you've got young kids.

One final caution about a long build.  If you change your mind, partly completed boats sell for next to nothing.  If you give up half way through, the project could be very difficult to get rid of and you almost certainly won't even get back the cost of the materials.  Consider whatever you spend as sunk money until it's finished.

I'm not saying "don't build".  Many people do finish their projects and get a hell of a lot of satisfaction and well-earned "bragging rights" from it.  What I am saying is go into it with your eyes wide open, and most importantly consider your partner.

My background, so you can see where I'm coming from with this, is that I enjoy building at least as much as sailing.  My wife has no particular interest in either.  I've built several boats over the years, from a small speedboat up to a cruising yacht that I sailed to the Caribbean and back.  When my boys were small we built an outrigger canoe together.  It was on their scale and they could see it right through without losing interest.  On sheltered water they could play with it on their own and they both grew up with a love of the sea.  A few years ago I considered building a big Wharram, but decided against it because I knew I would have changed and circumstances would have changed by the time it was finished.  Instead I bought an old Tiki 26 in tatty condition, and I can spend as much time as I want modifying it and making it as good as new, or maybe even better!

Good luck whichever way you go!

For Godness sake build the biggest boat yo can afford.

The Wharram building system is so simple that a big boat is just as easy to build as a smaller one. 

Go for a Tehini if you have that big family.

We, (that is 4 people), built a Tehini in 4 weeks. It will take you longer, but not much more, with planned use of your time.

Liveaboard is serious stuff. Believe me, you don't only need the room, you need some privacy too.

The Tehini is a great boat, because you can compartmentize it very effectively. just my own experience.

You built a Tehini in 4 weeks? Now that is a story I would like to hear!
Patrick John McGrath said:

We, (that is 4 people), built a Tehini in 4 weeks. It will take you longer, but not much more, with planned use of your time.

Peace IV is a Tiki 46 for sale.  You could not even buy the materials for the price of this completed boat that is all ready to go.  We lived on Peace for 12 years and had many visitors and she is ready to go -  only needs fresh paint.  Everything else seems to be just fine.  We must change down to a smaller boat that I can easily single hand at my age because Nev's balance is off and it is just not safe for him to be on deck underway.  See my post about the sale on this page.


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