D.I.Y boat building

The Mini Diaries, 06 JAN 2015

Do-it-yourself boatbuilding is both very satisfying and often the only way one can realize one’s dreams of having a particular boat. This series of essays/blog posts discuss the home building of my boat, a Mini Transat 650. Well it was not actually built in “a home” but largely by me in a variety of locations in New Jersey, Connecticut, Rhode Is. and Massachusetts. The boat is a pretty specialized boat, built for single-handed racing, across the Atlantic. How I got involved in that is outlined here.

This group of blog posts, The Mini Diaries, starts in October 2014 in Durham NH, at the home of a mate of mine a fellow sailor, home builder par excellence and a fantastic woodworking craftsman, Vince Todd. My Mini had been parked on his property for while and I finally got to the point where I could re-start work on the refit I started a few years ago.

"The Mini" on her trailer in Vince's Bush Boat Yard. The paint jobs will be discussed later. Emmett's (Vince's son) J-24 next to me.

“The Mini” on her trailer in Vince’s Bush Boat Yard. The paint job will be discussed later. Emmett’s (Vince’s son) J-24 is next to me.

The scene: a sunny day in Durham NH. The first item on the work list is to finish rebuilding the cockpit. Again why this is so will be addressed later on. In order to start on this decent sized fabrication Vince put the boat in a plastic hoop shed, described below, on his property. I refer to this venue as Vince’s Bush Boat Yard because he has his own family yacht, an early 1960’s Ted Hood Robin, a 37’ wooden, centerboard yawl that Vince has restored to better than new. There is his son’s J-24, an Alden motor launch Vince is doing some re-build work on, a skiff under construction in the basement of Vince’s office and various assorted ribs, small sailing boats and dinghies.

The Good Yacht Thora, largely rebuilt at Home by Vince

The Good Yacht Thora, largely rebuilt at home by Vince


Inside the hoop shed, even with the temp at 35-40 degrees outside, it is 55 plus on a sunny day. Parallel to this is my involvement with the organization of Block Island Race Week, a prominent regatta in the NE of the US. The event chairman is an old shipmate of mine, one Peter Rugg. He and I have done lots of miles together double hand on his J-105, Jaded that was destroyed and written off by the insurance co. Thus Peter is boat-less in the face of the forthcoming Race Week. In conversation one day Peter remarked that we ought to sail my mini in the DH class at Block Island. Motivation is a wonderful thing and Peter’s remarks gave mine a wonderful swing upwards.

Bushranger inside the hoop shed at Vince's Bush Boat Yard.

Bushranger inside the hoop shed at Vince’s Bush Boat Yard. Test fit of the new cockpit/deck sides

After some discussion in the entire caper with Vince and figuring on the entirety of the Caper, I/we decided it would be prudent to have the boat closer to Newport, where I live, than Durham NH, a 3-hour drive (each way). So first off we discussed the fabrication of a hoop shed to be erected on the grounds of the Newport Shipyard, in of course Newport. The Shipyard is much closer, just 2.8 miles from my house and in the center of one of the bright-stars in the world’s boat building galaxy, Newport.

Vince and I discussed the basics of the shed, sizes materials costs, time required to fabricate transportation erection for starters. A couple of days later I drafted out on square paper a sketch of the shed, took a few pictures of it with my phone and sent them to Vince as a double check and we agreed we were are basically on track.

My design of a hoop shed. Turned out to be a pretty close sketch of what was built.

My design of a hoop shed. Turned out to be a pretty close sketch of what was built.

Shortly thereafter we assembled at Vince’s Bush Boat Yard to fabricate hoops.

More to come…..Coop