Effort to build a Chester Yawl

I have a lot of woodworking experience but have never built a boat, utilized the glue and stitch method, or applied fiberglass.  How long should I anticipate occupying a bay of my 2-car garage to build a Chester Yawl?

It appears to be plenty of YouTube videos on the methods above.  If someone has other media to recommend; please do.

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RE: Effort to build a Chester Yawl

That depends almost entirely on you and how much time you can spend on it. If I remember correctly, in the CLC classes with all materials provided and an instructor to help, it takes about a week working full time to structurally put the boat together. After that the students take the boats home to sand and finish them, possibly for weeks.

For building at home you need to add time to allow for day jobs, family demands, raking leaves, etc. Since you're not working full time it takes more time to set up and put things away at the start and end of the day. If the garage isn't climate controlled you can't get that much done in real winter or summer temperatures so that limits work to fall and spring. If you have to wait for supplies like epoxy, varnish, wood, etc. to be delivered, that can add more time. So depending on your circumstances that week of concentrated effort can possibly spread out over many weeks.

The best answer I can come up with is that you're going to occupy that garage bay (and possibly a bit more) until the boat is done.

Have fun,



RE: Effort to build a Chester Yawl

   Thank you for the speedy reply Laszio.  Should have mentioned that I am retired and live in NH.  Winters are cold but my garage never falls below 44 unless we have numerous days below zero which are no longer common.

How does temperature affect fiberglassing resin and epoxy?

Would love to attend a class but not sure that is in the budget.

Maybe a late winter or early spring timeframe is my best bet.



RE: Effort to build a Chester Yawl

   I just checked the CLC page for the boat.  They estimate 120 hours; their estimates are a decent rule of thumb, but I've found them optimistic, especially for a first boat, and the fact that finishing (everything after that last coat of epoxy) takes longer than you might think.  Off the cuff, because you say you have other experience, I'd guess 180 hours might be a rough estimate to be ready for the water.

It is very easy to fool yourself into thinking "I'm half done!" just about the time you finish all the filets and you've got a nice solid looking boat in the garage.  Nope - the glassing and finishing will prove you wrong. With that said, I get very obsessed while building - the "trick" is to always do a few hours almost every day, and then add in some 10-hour marathons.  Also to plan ahead and always have a few similar/smaller parts that you can do while waiting for bigger jobs to cure/dry or whatever.  Even with a full time job my NE Dory took about 3 months, each of 2 kayaks about a month, and my Rhode Runner 4 months.  Only on the Rhode Runner did I keep a build log:  408 hours of work - that is fully finished with all hardware and motor and electrical installed, trailer bunkers adjusted, etc. ready for launch. This was my 4th build; I was certainly more efficient than my first. 

I just looked at the CLC estimate and they say 250-300 hours to build the Chester, so again, that's not a bad estimate for an experienced builder.

Some specific notes:

With you being retired, you have the luxury of time - longer work sessions result in less wasted time (less percentage of time prepping, cleaning up, turning lights on, finding tools, etc.).

If you have only a two-bay garage, you can certainly get the job done with only using one bay, but much nicer and easier to use that second bay and have a couple full size work tables set up near your build (you can get the plastic folding tables at a box store for $40 or so, and they work fine) plus a more solid work bench if you can fit it, too.  One table for all your epoxy, tools & etc.. Another for all your semi-completed parts, putting freshly clamped parts aside to set up, etc.. And the work bench for "working."

If your garage naturally stays at 44F, I'm guessing that with just a little added heat you'll be able to work all winter.  You will want several electric heaters to bring temps up to about 55 while you're working, 60 is even nicer on the fingers (and epoxy).  I would wait for warmer weather if you can't get up to at least 50F while you're working.  You get to decide if you want to let the temperature drop back down (and how far) when you're not working, but cure time (and paint/varish dry time) gets pretty long at temps below 50.


RE: Effort to build a Chester Yawl

   Near the middle of my post I meant CLC estimates 250-300 hours to build the Rhode Runner...(not Chester)

RE: Effort to build a Chester Yawl

Ditto to everything Bubblehead said, especially the part about using the whole garage if at all possible.  We built our Passagemaker in a one car garage, but it was 28' long.  Even at that, we felt a little cramped around the sides.  Having more room to set up different tables or benches for different parts of the work will allow to keep more parts in play, not having to wait for the epoxy of one group of parts to cure so you can clear the space before moving onto the next group.

Of course, if it's your bride's car which is going to be sitting out in the snow...well, be careful.  <;-)


RE: Effort to build a Chester Yawl

   Bubblehead and Michael, thanks so much for your input; it was very helpful.  And Michael, yes, my bride would not want her car covered in snow or frigidly cold when starting it up for the day!

It will be tight in just one bay.  The garage needs a major clean-out and reorg anyway.  That will be step one this Fall and Winter.


RE: Effort to build a Chester Yawl


For a first build, the Chester Yawl will likely take more than 125 hours. Mine certainly did, I stopped counting hours pretty quickly. 

I am in central NH and built mine in an insulated basement. Yes, a space heater he!ps in the winter but there are sometimes when you just have to hold off on epoxy work due to the temperature.

Having an extra set of hands helps (a neighbor helped me a t times). Also helps to brainstorm or troubleshoot. 

Recommendation - when stitching the planks, we found draping it over two ladders was the best method for getting the bow to come together.

All the best!


RE: Effort to build a Chester Yawl

Have you started yet Jeff?

Your Chester's wider by a bit than the Waterlust I started building about this time in 2019. Launched last year, late August, so that's 2-1/2 years.

I did it in my half of our two-bay garage, my wife's car easily accommodated in her accustomed spot with no issues. I'm in south west Wisconsin so winters here affect the climate in garage to a high degree so before beginning THIS endeavor I insulated and drywalled the space then installed a gas garage heater to take the winter chill off when necessary.

Too, I'm not retired in the traditional sense, in that I work 'full-time' (long days on my feet) in a local hardware store three, sometimes four days a week.

With your prior woodworking experience you're well-suited to add skills to your cv as you learn what's what about stitch'n'glue and the epoxy/fiberglass employed to both ensure durability and protect the materials underneath.

Keep us posted as to your progress. Everyone starts out knowing nothing, it's the learning that's as much fun as the eventual use of the final results. We're all here to help you accomplish your goal.

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