The largest ship ever built, during its lifetime, had four names: Seawise Giant, Happy Giant, Jahre Viking and Knock Nevis. Seawise Giant, built by Sumitomo Heavy Industries, took five years to build but the Greek owner who ordered the ship refused to take delivery. Each cell will measure 80 feet tall and depending on its location on the hull from 50 to 100 feet wide and 50 to 120 feet long. According to designers traditional shipbuilding methods would have been too expensive for such a large ship so they devised a way to build Freedom by assembling it at sea. The vessel will be designed so people will feel like it’s a busy city rather than a cruise line. David enjoys research and writing about cutting edge technologies that hold the promise of improving conditions for all life on planet earth. For more information, and instructions on how to order, please visit the Yacht Mollymawk website. How NOT to Build a Boat is the story of Mollymawk, the Schinas family’s current cruising yacht and their only home.
This being the case, the logical next step might have been to look around for a strong and seaworthy second-hand steel boat - but would we ever find a boat which fulfilled our ideals? Before beginning the tale of Mollymawk’s construction, Jill Schinas considers the pros and cons of different building materials. Speaking as a fairly lazy person, who prefers to paint boats with a number ten sable and watercolours, I nevertheless felt - and still feel - that the task of painting one with stinking epoxy and a 3 inch hog-hair brush is a small price to pay for the security of having 5mm of steel between little old me and the two mile drop to the ocean floor.
There was a catch, of sorts, but it had nothing to do with the state or seaworthiness of the vessel. Undaunted, the couple gathered up their belongings, their two small children, and their new baby and stepped aboard a ship bound for South Africa. Although they were happy with the design of the hull, Jill and Nick did not like the deck-layout of their new boat, and so the first thing they set out to do was change everything. Grinding out all of the old welds and rebuilding the boat added many months to the project.
The tone of the tome is light-hearted but, nevertheless, How NOT to Build a Boat contains sufficient advice, information, design tips, and technical know-how to be of real, practical use to a DIY boat builder. Construction of such things as opening ports, watertight bulkheads, cockpit drains, hatches, the rubbing strake, and the pulpit. There was nothing on the box to say that the new welder was waterproof, and nor would Nick or I have guessed that it might be.
The surface below the work - and the operators tootsies, too - must be protected from the molten metal which drips from beneath the torch. The plate itself gets so hot that it is inclined to buckle, and anything thinner than 3mm is better cut with a grinder. The plate gets quite hot enough to fry eggs, gets hot all over - not just at the place where it is being cut - and remains hurtfully hot for several minutes after the cut has become innocently dull in colour once again. Finally, do not go away thinking that this marvellous toy can be used to cut out all the bits of steel from which to build your boat. The edges which the torch leaves behind are particularly ragged if the metal it is cutting is rusty.
All this having been said, the torch is still the best thing around for cutting thick pieces of metal plate. Although they were new to boat building, Nick and Jill Schinas already had plenty of practical experience of ocean cruising - quite a bit more experience than many professional designers and boat builders have - so that even though at times they may have struggled to achieve their aim, they always knew exactly what was wanted. The decision to blast was made early on and was swiftly followed by the realisation that we could not afford to have somebody do the job for us.
Everybody wanted to have a go - but nobody wanted to have a second shot at playing sandman.
With the boat, eventually, introduced to her intended environment the Schinas family promptly moved aboard. Off we went, with a crew of trippers cluttering the deck and the occupants of the yacht club bar assembled on the balcony. The plough anchor did not hold - and this was no time to be thinking of taking a look below or making repairs. Yes, help was what we needed and since the VHF was not yet installed the mobile phone was our best link with the shore - but who should I call? The voice of one of the barmaids came wafting into my ear and, forcing myself to be cool and calm, I explained our predicament. A year after launching, the Schinas family cast off their mooring lines and set off to resume their sailing adventures.
In the two hours that it had taken us to roll down the coast the wind had risen considerably, and as soon as we put Mollymawk across the seas she was reduced to a piece of flotsam.
Given that the wind was now blowing absolute stink we should not actually have been riding along under furled genoa and the mizzen. The lack of lockers and want of anywhere to sit were, for me at any rate, a far greater hardship than the want of a fully functioning self-steering, or the leaking hatches.
How NOT to Build a Boat is copiously illustrated - and it will be ready for publication just as soon as all of the pictures and diagrams are finished.
All images and text on this website are copyright and may not be reproduced, copied, or used for any purpose whatsoever without the prior consent of Jill Dickin Schinas.
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Albatros Kit by Constructo uses laser cut wooden parts for traditional plank-on-bulkhead construction. The paint sets for these kits are historically accurate colors that have been specially formulated for model ships. AYLESBURY, UK - JUNE 6: Workers continue with the construction of the large engineering project to build a new canal boat basin on the GUC on June 6, 2013 in Aylesbury. You could build it in clinker, but with only 15" sides, you don't have to go to that much trouble.
WP Stephens classic Canoe and Boat Building (Dover Press reprint of the 1898 original) has the proportions and construction details for a shapely punt with a longitudinal, batten-seam bottom in its flat-bottomed boat section very similar to your jonboat. I'd bet you could have a simple jon (flat panel designs) designed for a very reasonable price and with this type of boat, you would use minimal materials for lots of strength.
You can dislike plywood as much as you like but it's engineering characteristics say you can build far lighter with ply than you ever could with lumber. Plywood, being more dimensionally stable and much stiffer in relation to it's thickness can be assembled with glass and epoxy resin.
Greg C - this is not meant as an attack on you personally, but we get a LOT of requests for recommendations for boats that can carry multiple people, sail and motor, and be cartopped. I'm just about ready to assign a number to the new-builder posts that include cartopping as a requirement, #127 perhaps. As someone who owns (and has owned) a number of small boats and trailers, I clearly understand that boat trailers can be expensive, a hassle to register and store, and not fun to maintain. If cartopping is an absolute and unavoidable requirement for this jonboat build, then plywood or thin-strip-built will be the only way to keep the weight manageable.

I've cartopped canoes on a lot of different vehicles for several thousand miles, VW poptop campers being the majority, and have no problem with either the concept or the work involved. I'm sure you've already figured this out Greg, but whether the boat weighs 120lbs or 190lbs is kind of moot, as you aren't gonna put either boat on a car rack either single-handed or easily.
Small trailers OTOH, are cheap, can be pulled by the smallest car, and the boat is easily launched and retrieved single-handed.
It was an Ultra Large Crude Carrier (ULCC) and had a displacement of 657,019 tons, a draft of 81 feet (24.6 m) and was considered the largest self-propelled man-made object ever built.
After a lengthy legal battle the vessel was sold to a Hong Kong company that added container carrying capacity to the vessel. These steel cells, each about 300 x 400′ long, will be floated out to sea and joined to form the complete ship. Freedom will be big enough to accommodate residents, plus 15,000 employees and 20,000 daily guests and have four times as much roaming space in square feet per person than most modern cruise lines. The wealthiest residents will live in 15 x 80′ ocean view apartments and be able to board private Jets on the roof top airport or yachts tethered to the ship for local excursions.
The waves which rolled Maamari - tens of tons of water tumbling inexorably in their cycle - were sufficient to split three-quarter inch teak hatch coamings; sufficient to fracture three-quarter inch marine plywood hatchboards, as if by a karate chop, and sufficient to buckle the aluminium track in which they sat.
Over the years Nick and I had accumulated a wealth of ideas about every aspect of yacht design - about everything from the installation of the engine and the design of the rigging tangs, to the position of the cooker and the perfect height for fiddles.
It explains why and how things were done, and describes what worked well and what didn’t.
There followed two years of welding, grinding, blasting, painting, and uphill struggle as they learnt, the hard way, about DIY construction. If the welds holding the bulwark together failed when it hit the grass, how would the hull fare when it hit a rock?
Is that the only way?” If the thought of all that welding was daunting, the idea of grinding out every seam was absolutely devastating.
The work of cutting out steel plates and assembling them from the ground up surely cannot be more time consuming and arduous than was the labour of grinding out every inch of welding and re-building the entire boat. It also added many lessons - and, naturally - these are all contained in Jill’s book.
Although it was capable of producing perfectly good welds this little machine very soon showed itself to be inadequate for the job of building a boat.
That tub of water, intimately embracing the machine, would soon have become hot enough to make tea. It certainly looks that way, and it is one aspect of steel boat building that I would certainly have liked to try, had I not been left holding the baby.
In the course of removing Mollymawk’s bowsprit Nick killed an olive tree which was innocently minding its own business below. I mention this for the benefit of any adults who may be reading this book; children under the age of ten seem to be eminently sensible about this sort of thing - our three and their friends all kept their distance, and none of them was ever hurt during our boat building endeavour - but several adults forgot the rules and burnt their fingers fingering freshly cut plates.
For that matter, do not use it in the immediate vicinity of anything containing fertiliser or other explosive materials.
Rust is ferrous oxide- the very thing that one is seeking to create, on the instant, by adding oxygen to the hot metal!
Cutting through 5mm steel plate with a grinder is a long, slow, painfully noisy process and an expensive one; the grinding disks disappear fast. They dream of the day when their boat will be built, and some of them talk vaguely of cruising, but their real pleasure is in creating. At the age of thirty Frank had started building a Nicholson 36 in the corner of an aircraft hangar. It is a job which might suit a Tuareg, I suppose, although I doubt whether even a Saharan sandstorm could be as vicious as the one kicked up by the sandblasting kit.
As the boat slowly took shape and was transformed from a hulk to a shapely hull, the Schinas children also grew. Just under the turn of the bilge, just for’ard of the bump where the cradle had been attached, there was a scar about three inches (8 cm) long, and at the deepest end of the scar there was what seemed to be a tiny fracture.
He dodged round the trippers, who were still chattering merrily, reached the bow and with a wild kick sent the anchor plunging overboard.
Later he explained all: as he put the helm down the pressure had gone off the wheel and it had spun freely in his hands. The lifeboat station was but 500 yards away, adjacent to the yacht club, but the lifeboat men themselves were certainly not there - and, anyway, I did not know their number.
Thirty seconds after that - and two boat-lengths from the grim wall - the boat stopped drifting as the hook bit and held. A visit from Nick’s brother and his family had given me the necessary leverage to force the builder to forsake his deck work, for a couple of days, and put down some floorboards in the saloon.
Jill’s description of these travels provides a clear portrait of the cruising life, but her account also serves as a backdrop for the continuing saga of the boat-building adventure. No, that is unfair; she was not actually flotsam - the mizzen and the reefed genoa still dragged the boat along, across the waves, at about eight knots. We should have dowsed the genoa and rigged the storm jib, and we should have reefed or taken down the mizzen. We were staggering along, battered by the waves and brutally hammered by the storm force wind when, all of a sudden, we were at the centre of a company of heavisides dolphins. My unhappiness with our living conditions was such that by now I was becoming almost suicidally depressed; I was absolutely desperate - more desperate than I could ever say - for the boat to be made habitable.
Whether Mollymawk will ever be finished is another matter, but despite the fact that the boat is still a work in progress the Schinas family have now set off on another mad adventure. It comes with the same easy assemble instructions and it is custom designed to suit your needs. Fully portable, modular, changeable, the Jet Dock boat lift will work in deep water or shallow water, salt water or fresh, tides, current and even waves. The Lifetime Limited Warranty means that as long as you own the dock, we guarantee the Jet Dock module.
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Deck and hull planking, applied one strip at a time, duplicates original building techniques.
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With lumber the scantlings have to be about double and the glue and screw method of assembly is what is called for. She was sunk during the Iran-Iraq war but was salvaged and restored into service and was sold to India for scrap metal in 2009. However, when they reached the Southern Ocean they discovered that their boat was not up to scratch. The odds of our finding something which embodied all our idiosyncratic notions were slender, to say the least. Pretty much everything aboard this vessel was designed and built by Nick - he designed and built the masts, from steel; he designed and built the transmission system, the main steering system, the self-steering system, and the toilet system. During this time Nick and Jill Schinas both kept diaries - he, of the technical details involved in building hatches, opening ports, stainless steel water tanks, etc, etc, and she, of the family’s day to day life. It was during the course of these modifications that they made a terrible discovery: pretty though they might be, the welds which joined the hull plates were not sound. A couple of years previously we had inspected the remains of a friend’s steel yacht which had been carried ashore onto a boulder-strewn coast. The trick was to keep the bath fed with a continuous supply of cooling water, and to this end the tap was turned on and the hose was left dangling in the bath.

Any rusted metal immediately adjoining the cutting line will therefore automatically be dissolved, even before the oxygen is added to the recipe.
During their adventure Jill and Nick met a number of other brave souls who were heading the same way but whose boats contained all sorts of silly in-built errors. These are the men who take 15 years to build a boat and then sell it, very often without even bothering to launch. By the time we met him the hangar was long abandoned and the roof was falling in, but the Nicholson still stood in the corner and every weekend, and at odd moments during the week, her builder arrived for work. After a session of blasting Nick’s socks would be full of sand, and he once frosted a pair of glasses which were inside their metal case, inside the back pocket of his jeans, inside his boiler suit. The older ones learnt about cows and ostriches, and also learnt about chipping welding slag. But one man, with one woman and three young children under his feet is like a hobbled sheep. Prudence suggested that we wait until the following morning - but Nick has never met Prudence.
And in the same moment, a grey patrol boat appeared from the dockyard and came storming towards us. Later, I had managed to nag him into constructing a king size double bed in the aft cabin - just the one bed where we all could crash out - and my father-in-law, when he came to stay (in a hotel, of course) had bought us a cooker. Besides describing the perils of welding from the rubber dinghy and the difficulty of building a dinette while the kids are clambering about the cabin, she also reconsiders each element of Mollymawk’s design and construction.
But when the gigantic, bullying swells picked up the boat and pushed her sideways, then Molly behaved like a frightened horse. Likewise, if you are interested in a light-hearted tale of determination, folly, and extremely alternative living, this is essential reading. Fittings include hardwood deadeyes and blocks, cast metal anchor, brass eyebolts and chain, several diameters of rigging line and sailcloth. And I have almost no experience with power tools, having done all my woodworking with hand tools alone.
When she was rolled, by massive waves, her masts were snapped and her hatches were torn off. The inner forestay was pulled out, taking with it a triangle of fibreglass-sheathed plywood decking with sides 18 inches long. He didn’t design or build the Mercedes engine, it is true, but he did re-build it, under a tree, and he designed and mixed our antifouling, and designed and put together our rig, starting with a pot of epoxy of the kind used by lift manufacturers and some coils of wire left over from a circus tent.
By now the boat had been moved from her earlier, insalubrious quarters to a farm in the Cape mountains.
Come to that, a finished product could just as easily be faulty; it could have been sailing about, riddled with worm holes, for years, and no one would be any the wiser until it hit the rocks.
He was innocent by name and by nature also, but he was not very bright and I, personally, would not have trusted him to know how to turn on an electric kettle. The welder stayed relatively cool and nobody was electrocuted, but I should like to make it absolutely clear that I am not recommending that anybody else put their welder under water.
Apart from anything else, you get to wear a really natty pair of goggles which make the wearer look like some sort of cross between Biggles and a Soviet spy. Without the air-fed helmet it would be impossible for the operator to breathe, let alone see or think, and even with it Nick still got sand in his hair and in his ears.
The baby became a toddler and learnt to climb out of her playpen, set up in the shadow of the boat.
All 20 tons of our pride and joy descended, in a split second, to land on one jagged spike - the sawn off tip of one of the cradle arms. The bimbo behind the bar may have been none the wiser but her customers knew well that the club launch, with its puny outboard, could never have towed us into a force six.
In effect, the slow and devious passage from South Africa to Spain was a gigantic shake-down cruise. The mizzen being somewhat larger than the patch of sail which we flew at the bow, the boat was less than well-balanced. If we turned into the wind now, the sails would certainly be damaged, and as the sails flogged the rig would also take more of a shaking than might be good for it.
The children did not share my enthusiasm - but, then again, the children steadfastly refused even to glance at the dolphins.
Thin teak planks glued on top of the fibreglass in imitation of a laid deck were simply sucked off. Thus, the boat builders were able to live right alongside their project, in a small caravan. However, one large plate, which formed the turn of the bilge amidships, had been knocked right out of the boat. On making this discovery Nick promptly invested in a bigger, more rugged, oil-cooled welding machine, but even this was regarded by the professionals who later encountered it as no more than a toy - and it is worth noting that this oil-cooled machine would have served the purpose little better than its predecessor had it not been waterproof. As for this latest idea - stick an electric transformer, pulsing with enough current to light up the whole farm, into a bath of water - what a ridiculous notion!
Her engine was in, her mast and sails were at the ready - but somehow Frank could not get the galley to go right. In some ways the family’s situation was idyllic, but Jill and Nick were nevertheless desperate to be back on the water.
So it was that Mollymawk went hurtling onwards, like a white dove torn from a tree and bowled helplessly along on the tempest. The colors contained in each paint set are based on the colors shown in the picture of the model. But, as it was, almost a year slipped by before we were even ready for our first trial sail. The halyards and sheets were rigged, and the winches were fitted - but there were no cleats anywhere on the boat.
It was all that I could do to hold her on course, and the strain on the rudder must have been tremendous. They came surging down towards us, inside the glassy wave, in tight ranks of four, five, or six.
Now and then, I would even hear a sob escape from the little knot of colourful oilskins, but on no account would any of the three raise their heads or respond to my conversation. When I returned to the paddock that afternoon I found the welding machine sitting up to its neck in a tub of water.
The mooring lines which had held us for the past year had been passed through the scuppers and doubled back onto themselves, and the halyards were fastened likewise. They swept on under our starboard quarter; they emerged, moments later, on the port bow, and there they leapt for joy. Although most of the waves were content to pass under the boat, and shove us around, a great many preferred to take a short cut over the top. When he started building the boat it had been with the idea of doing some ocean racing, and so she had been furnished in a manner suitable for the accommodation of six gung-ho lads.
No doubt a scientist would accuse me of anthropomorphism, but there is really no room for doubt: these cetaceans were having a whale of a time (sorry about that) and they were jumping for joy.
In taking this route the waves invariably dumped about a ton of icy cold water over the cockpit and the crew - but, in spite of this, the kids still resolutely refused to go below on their own.
Like children playing in the park, they kept on repeating their performance just for the fun of it.
And there was certainly no possibility that either one of their parents might be free to accompany them; Nick was obliged to give his entire attention to the navigation, and I had my hands full in managing the boat.

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