First boat choice.


OK.  I'm thinking of building a boat and trying to choose.  there are several factors that I am considering.  

1) I am a failry big guy, slightly overweight with a bum knee.  I can sail a small boat and I wouldnt mind a rowing option either. if the wife and dog come with, we will be about 430 lbs all told.  

2) my build space is slightly cramped, a 10' x 24' one car garage that needs to get seriously clened out before I start.  I can move some stuff around and can probably get   a good clear space of about 20' x 6~8', not a ton of room, but workable. 

3) I'd like to keep the initial cost down and add to the boat as needed in the future.  

4) my inital thought was the NE Dory, but look at the very first picture of the boat in the gallery.  the sailor is crouched in the bottom of the boat with his knees in a position that, while I might be able to get into that crouch, It would be painful over time.  20 years ago, it wouldnt have been an issue.  

5) the SE dory seems a bit too big for me to build in my garage

6) the Jimmy Skiff II seems like would be a good choice, though I think I might be pushing the envelope sailing with the wife and dog along.  


Any thoughts, suggestions?  


15 replies:

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RE: First boat choice.

My thoughts, based on our first and only build (so far) of our NE Dory:

1) and 6) The NED has a max cap. of 800 lbs compared to the Jimmy Skiff which states "When sailing, payload is limited to 500 lbs". With one adult the NED bobs about like a cork. With two of us and full glamping gear it's comfy. I don't know what pushing the limit of the JS would do to its handling. Maybe you can try one at the 2021 Big Little Boat Festival.

2) and 5) Our 20x12ft garage was barely big enough when emptied. We upgraded the lighting and heating for those Canadian winter eveninings.

3) We built ours as a rowboat for the first summer and added the sailing rig during the second winter. In terms of cost, will you need to buy a trailer?

4) The low seating in the NED is an advantage for boat handling. You don't have to crouch. You can lounge. The boat is very spacious so you can stretch out your legs and change position easily. I believe the bench seats make it easier to move around the boat when sailing. When changing tack you just slide along the seat, rather than having to creep across the boat. I suppose the benches could be raised but I don't know what effect that would have on the handling or structure.

Other considerations:
* the light hull of the NED is a big advantage. It's easier to flip when building, easier to walk the trailer, "possible" to rooftop, easier to beach, etc.
* the dory looks cool. We usually spend more time at the boat ramp talking to random people who ask about it than setting it up.
* if comfort and space is a concern, for the same money the NED is longer, wider, and doesn't have the flotation taking up space.
* also about comfort and space, remember that sailing ANY dinghy is more a sport than a leisure activity. You are the ballast.
* people have apparently attached small trawling motors to the NED, as can be done with a canoe or kayak.

RE: First boat choice.

The max payload for the JSII is listed as 525 lbs, so that leaves you 95 lbs margin. With the bench seats it should be knee-friendly and the flat bottom and single hard chine makes it an easy build.

Since the boat is just over 4 feet wide, you may want to build it on a movable table. Building is a lot easier when you can walk around the boat without bumping into it. If you could pull it outdoors for work and push it back in  for safe storage it might be more pleasant than trying to get it done with only a couple of feet to spare on each side.

Have fun,



RE: First boat choice.

   There are lots of things to consider when choosing a boat, and once your done, your choice will be right for you.  And if not, you'll then build another one :)   I do think you'll appreciate the size of the NE dory on the water, even if not in the garage during the build, but I'd keep my eye on the prize and learn to make do with the space you have during the build.  As an adult (6 ft tall, 220 lbs) I once thought I'd go back to the old days and take an Optimist dinghy for a spin to see if it was still fun.  After 30 minutes I couldn't wait to get out of the boat, I felt like I had to sail while reclining in a bathtub - I'm not a "crouch" comfortable sailor either, even though I have no physical limitations.  Prefered my Finn to a Laser or Sunfish (which are fine for big folks when hiking, but not so much when there isn't so much wind).  Which is the long way  around to saying I put "side seats" in my NE Dory and enjoy them very much, including adding some extra floatation under them.  Search the forum and you'll find many ideas on side seats - sliding in to form a sleep platform, foldable, removable, etc.. - but they don't need to be any more creative than a simple board finished and laid lengthwise across the seats, lightly screwed down.  That way you can always get rid of them, if ever and when ever you want, but I leave mine permanently installed and don't find any less usable space in the boat. 

RE: First boat choice.

Thank you for your reposnes.

One thing I've been thinking about is renting a small shop space.  Ive found a few by me (well within a 45 minutr drive, at least)  ranging from $399 to $800 per month.  ($800 for 1100 SF)  $399 for 300 SF.  

My issue is that if I have do drive to get to the shop, im a lot less likely to spend the time i need in there.  On the other hand, I could clear out the garage, and build a boat.  

RE: First boat choice.

 Your choice, but renting a space would add a lot of $$ to the build.  Allegory: when I lived aboard my own sailboat for a couple of years I kept it in excellent shape - fixed every little thing just as soon as I noticed it, in the 5 minutes after dinner, etc., etc. As soon as I moved off the boat I only spent my spare time sailing it, and rarely wanted to give up that spare time maintaining the boat.   

If you are away from the build site sounds like it could end up like a gym membership.  Everyone thinks the fact of paying for a membership will cause them to work out - and it might, for the first month, but not so much after that.  I felt like a driven fanatic to work on my boat (and my wife will concur) and it was only 10 steps away in the garage.  I spent lots of after work hours out there in the evening, plus weekends.  Very nice to be able to come in and eat, or watch TV, then run back out when the filets were just the right consistency for smoothing, or whatever.  There are many build steps where timing matters - you might end up with dead time "waiting for the paint to dry" (the equivalent of waiting for the epoxy to set) that might cause you to have dead time if you decided to spend a day working at your rental space, unless you're very organized and always having some other next step or next peice to work on while waiting for glue or finish to set up on another.  Even with feeling like I spent every spare moment on the boat (apart from a full time job) I was 10 weeks building the dory (with sail rig), which I'm led to believe is much shorter than the average.  Personal opinion (but that's what you get in the forum) - I'd vote against renting space for the build unless that was the ONLY option the builder had - it sounds like you have other options.  I'll bet that I get a few "hear, hears" on this opinion.

RE: First boat choice.

Hear, hear!  Amen, as well!  Unless you are going to take a month off to go work on the boat every day like it was a job, the garage is better if at all possible.

The Passagemaker Dinghy might be something for you to consider.  Should have plenty of payload capacity.  The take-apart version is great for moving around to store in the corner of a garage.  I knocked together some "portable" side seats to bridge between the midship thwart and the sternsheets when sailing alone so I don't have to sit on the bottom of the boat to keep my weight more amidships.  She's a lively little rowboat, and an amazingly good sailer for such a "Rubenesque" (plump and curvey) lady.  The lug rig will interfere with the rowing less (vs. the gunter sloop rig), and makes switching modes much simpler.  It might be a bit less tidly than the Northeaster Dory in terms of initial stability, which your wife will appreciate.


RE: First boat choice.

Definitely work in your own garage. Bubblehead is completely correct (even on the build time for an obsessed builder).

As to the boat to buy, we all tend to prefer the boats we bought and built, which tells me that they are all great boats. I exempt Laszlo from my generalization since he is a universalist.  

RE: First boat choice.


Don't exempt me, I'm just as prejudiced about my boats as everyone else. You can't spend that much time on a labor of love and not be.



RE: First boat choice.

I'll add my two cents.  I built my NE Dory in my garage.  My setup was probably around 12 ft wide by 20 ft long.  This is similar to your proposed setup except I had the luxery of leaving everything messy throughout.  I don't have any suitable work bench, so I set up three sawhorses down the middle of the space (just the cheap 2x4's with screw-in brackets) and three 2x12x16 raw lumber planks just set across the top of the sawhorses to create a large "benchtop."  This was perfect for laying out the strips when stiching them together. 

Once the basic structure was together and glued up, I removed the 16ft planks and just set the boat across the tops of the sawhorses (I used shop rags across the top of the horses to reduce slipping and abrasion).  Then I set up one of the 16ft planks next to the work area and propped the ends up (one side through a ladder rung, the other on top of an old bookshelf, as level as I could manage).  This little plank then served as my work bench throughout.  Setting the epoxy kit, tools, the instruction manual, etc.  Space was a little tight once you started gluing and clamping up multiple components, but unless you have 100+ clamps you won't be able to glue up all those pieces at one time anyway.  I guess the bottom line is you can do a lot in a small space, but I would strongly suggest you have a clear walking path available around the the entire boat, and someplace to set up a long benchtop like I did.  You will want as much space as possible to set out all the glued/clamped pieces like seats and all the sailing components, and once you get the sailing components going you'll need a long flat space to set the mast, etc while shaping and gluing.

I think 10ft x 20ft will be enough to do this without too much trouble, but 6-8 ft wide would be a nightmare, imo.  there are so many points in the build where you need to immediately walk around the boat repeatedly.  You'll lay out the glass for instance, and you'll have to be laying and flattening from all angles as fast as possible before the epoxy cures.  Even the initial gluing of the bulkheads and stitched planks will be a lot easier with lots of space around the entire boat.  You'll lay a bead of epoxy along the sides and you'll want to bend/crouch/look from all angles to notice drips and overages to wipe off.

Lastly, I strongly recommend doing all of your sanding outside if possible.  I just had my son or wife help carry it onto our driveway onto the sawhorses for sanding sessions.  

In the end it was worth every drop of sweat.

RE: First boat choice.

I forgot to add, I'm 6'4" and about 300lbs.  My wife is 5'10", and our 3rd passenger can be any of our kids, up to our 6'2" teenage son.  The NE Dory has posed no problems for me from a comfort standpoint while rowing or sailing.  Being so tall I'm used to crouching and minimal legroom in cars and such.  The NE Dory has been more spacious and comfortable for me than any typical 4-door sedan would be.  The only issue sailing is whoever sits up front will need to be on their toes when tacking while sailing.  I just call it out and my wife ducks until it's passed over.  To me that's all part of the charm of a small boat.  

I also take my sons fishing in the NE Dory.  I row us around and we have lots of fun.  Very similar setup for fishing as a little jon boat with bench seats.

RE: First boat choice.

 I plan on bulding the NED in my 18 x 12 ft garage.  I built a Ches. 17 in a similar sized garage many years ago.  I am not concerned about the space.  The boat will be built on an angle.  Yes the Ches 17 is 1/2 the beam as the NED.  If I do find that I need more space, there is always sliding it out the door some. 

RE: First boat choice.

Excellent choice!   As to the earlier compalint about the sailor crouched uncomfortably on the bottom of the boat . . . I tried that once or twice, but find I'm more comfortable -- and the boat sails better--  if I sit on the rear thwart. If the bow of the boat points too far aloft, one can just add a bit of ballast.

RE: First boat choice.

" I plan on bulding the NED in my 18 x 12 ft garage."

Coming back to this.  I have completed my build (will post pics soon) of my NED in the above garage.  It became a fair weather build, as I had to essentially empty the garage (bikes, snowblower, etc) almost every time I worked on the boat.  This added some time to my build, as it has been a very wet year.  Also, in order to get full access to the boat, I had to move it in and out slightly on many occasions.  This was easy when the boat was light, but after glassing, epoxy, in-wales, out wales, it became rather difficult to move on my own and help was not always available.  I would pick up one end, and push fwd a few inches, the saw horse would go up on 2 legs, then I would walk around to the other end, pick the boat up, the saw horse would fall back and then I would repeat this multiple times.  Crazy!  Looking back at it now.  I should have built it on a roller table, instead of saw horses (live and learn.  However, I was able to do it and it and I am glad I did.  A year ago I was contemplating between a Skerry and NED, but I really wanted the NED.  

Now I just need to figure out long term storage.  I don't think hanging it will work in my garage and I really don't want to keep it outside year round (tho, my Ches 17 was outside for ~10 years with no issues.  So I am thinking of putting it on some dollies (or one of the PWC rollers) just so I can easily move it in the garage as I go to get stuff and make it easier to get onto the trailer.   

RE: First boat choice.

   For less money and effort than you would  think i put a track in the ceiling with an electric winch and cradles up high  on the wall. I winch it up and slideit over into the cradles I've got 2 kayaks a paddle board and a dory in a one car garage with all my garage stuff and the car 

RE: First boat choice.

  I can't provide too much input on which boat to get, though it sounds like you are on the right track, but I did want to relay a few things about workspace.

I am just finishing a skerry (shorter and slightly narrower than a dory) in a 10x20' carport dedicated to the build, with a seperate shop to store tools and do any work requiring larger tools like a drill press and bandsaw, and the build area still often feels crowded. 

It sounds like you have the resources to rent some space, have you consitered renting a storage unit and clearing out your garage? That way you get the incentive for a speedy build since it is costing you some money while underway, accessability, and a comfortable as possible build area.

Just a thought from reading the thread. Best of luck and fair seas. 

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