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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 is Tiki 38 for sale in the Caribbean, I would think you pay less for it than building yourself and think about saving the time and the energy, for family will appreciate it as well.

Hi Josh - we have a Pahi 42 for a family of 5 (kids are now 13, 10 & 8) + 2 large dogs. Accomodation & deck space is fine for this crew, & I think Tiki 38 is maybe a bit more spacious inside..? Certainly consider buying an existing boat unless the "building" is really your thing - it is usually cheaper and of course way faster to get going. You will anyway make a lot of changes to the boat to make it "yours". Do you really want to spend all your free time for the next six years building, when you could be playing with your kids instead? Once they are teenagers they can help you build the 46!

Josh,  I've not built a Wharram, but I've built another nice cruising sailboat.  I understand the romance of building a boat and all.  I get that.  But you have a small, young family, and that boat building project is going to take so much time away from your kids, that you will never get back.  If you have a job, then you're most likely away most of the day anyway.  Now the rest of your spare time, you will be building this boat?  It's going to be much harder, longer, and more expensive then you count on.  Boat building is also not very healthy.  You think it will be a family project.....not usually for long.   You'll spend so much time out working on the boat, your family will think you joined the military and shipped out.   Your family truly may hate that boat by the time you finish it because it will be Dad's girlfriend.  Boat building is hard, sweaty, dirty, work, and alot of it is tedius and boring.  Just go and buy "touch wood" if it's still for sale.  Go have your adventure.  There's always a couple good wharrams for sale out there.


The only way I would build a wharram if I were you, is to hire and work together with 2 qualified guys like Rory, to work on your boat full time, so that you could have some family time while the boat project is moving forward every day.  If that sounds too expensive, then just go buy a used boat.  You'll save so much money, and have a better chance of staying married.  Hey I'm not against boat building, but from my experience,  I think it's better for a single guy, or a guy without young kids married to a lady who is 1 in 10 million great.


One last thing.  I didn't read if you had done any cruising with your wife.  If you haven't done any serious sailing with her, you really have no idea if you will even like it together as a couple.  The dream and the reality is really far apart, and cruising with young children is going to be a real challenge.  Spending years building a boat when you don't even really know if the cruising dream will work out, is just too risky.  If you buy a nice used boat that has already depreciated, you will be able to get in, and get out without such huge life sacrifices.


There was another family that had a blog that built a beautiful Tiki 38, and took off together.  Huge sacrifices to accomplish this dream, and it didn't last very long, and the boat went on the market.  Now someone else is enjoying this boat without the pain and suffering of building her.

Josh, like they said. Buy the 38. Building is a bastard.

With regard to what size of boat, you don't say how long you expect to be on the boat, weekend sailing for 5 in the tropics is a different world from living full time in the northern/southern lattitudes.

Screw the lot of you! ;) I thought this site was called Wharram 'Builders'.. Haha

A unanimous vote on not to build then! Way to crush my dreams guys, you don't know how long it took me to finally decide on which design to build.. I must have decided on all of them about ten times each!

But seriously, thank you all for the advice, I definitely have a somewhat romantic notion of having built my own boat as part of my life story. I do realize however, that it's always going to take longer, cost more and consume more of my life and energy than I would otherwise have available..

Time with family vs time spent building is a really valid point. I am lucky that at them moment I have most of my days free, so it wouldn't cut into my family time too much.. But it is possible, if not probable.. And that is a cost that can't be measured in dollars.

I guess it's easy to think so on this side of the build, but I really like the idea of having built my own boat, knowing every part of it inside and out, and having that confidence and satifaction in both the vessel and myself that must come with having built and sailed your own boat..

Perhaps I can build the dinghy? :)

Appreciate the reality check... Anyone else out there who can convince me otherwise?

It's the big boats that get all the glory but it's the small boats that make the sailor, or in this case the boat builder.

I never let any of my students loose on a big project, too much at stake, if they cock up it can prove expensive and time consuming to put right. With my students I have built more Pirogues than anything else, the reason being they are small take only week to build and they prove to be a great testing ground for skills and materials. Only after successfully completing the smaller projects do I allow them to move onto the bigger ones.

Josh,on the other hand.... If your heart is set on building, it will always niggle in the back of yer head. The easiest would be to buy, the heroic/romantic is to build. You are a romantic methinks, there is only one cure for that.

So after reconsideration, I would get yourself covered in saw dust,epoxy and paint. Stop jibbering and start building big fella.

good luck.

Mmmm.... I should not give an opinion here as I'm still in the planning stage. But there is the issue of the pleasure working with wood gives you. And the pleasure you get from having built a work of art/love. And the immense pride you'll get when you are in the water sailing and knowing you built this beauty out of flat pieces of wood.

And of course I understand that these pleasures will probably fade as time goes by and in the end all you'll be thinking of is finishing the bloody work.

Rods post is point on. I built a Hitia 17 starting with 3 kids on the project. It bored them pretty quickly. And its true a lot of the work is boring. So much sanding on a big boat: You must really love it. I actually had to spent all my evenings on the boat to finish it in time. A TIKI 38 is so much bigger (it is my future dream boat too). After the building experience (that I enjoyed) I will certainly buy a used one when we can get off. I do not understand that Touch Wood is still for sale. Such a nice boat at such a low price. Way cheaper than building.

you could perhaps get one built professionaly by Gunther nutt in Thailand .I went to his workshop in phucket and his prices are very reasonable for a pro build . he can customise any ideas you have for the fitout and he is an 'approved' wharram builder..

Yes, ironic that this is the Wharram builders site, but we nearly all say buy the ready built boat! Of course we're all dreamers and romantics too, otherwise we'd be sailing AWBs.... I'd really advise to build the dinghy as you say ;-) (Hitia 14...). Even though I bought my boat built, there is still more than enough "building" to do to her, and she's really becoming "ours", and the compliments we get don't get reduced in satisfaction just because someone else originally constructed her. BUT I do agree that building yourself you DO get that inner satisfaction and confidence in the build - you know the quality of materials and technique used. Good luck anyway!

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