Building Your Own Sailboat

Overseas Radio Network – Building a Sailboat

catamaran building with a shipyard is one option for getting the boat yo uwantTopics in Overseas Radio Network Show 10, Segment 1:

  • Why we built our boat
  • Things to consider when building a boat

GARY FRETZ: Ahoy, mates! You’ve tuned into “Yachts: The Perfect Escape Vehicle”. This Gary Fretz and I have my co-hosts here today, Stephen and Estelle Cockcroft. You might be wondering why yachts makes the best escape solution. Well, it is because you can find live aboard yachts for $15,000, $15-million, and everywhere in between. They serve as your home and they provide inexpensive transportation around the world.

For a transcript of this podcast, click “read more” below. (Also, check out our Catamaran Buying Guide.)

Yes, it’s possible to sail around the world for next to nothing using windpower. And if you would like to know how to do that just stayed tuned.

Why We Built Our Own Boat

ESTELLE COCKCROFT: Hi, guys, today we are going to talk about new boats, used boats, building your own boat, and building your boat in a shipyard. We all know that we can’t find a perfect boat, but you can get it as close as possible when you do build your own boat or when you have it built by shipyards.

Stephen, you and I built our own boat, or you mostly, I suppose. But do you want to talk a little about what you experienced when you built your own boat?

STEPHEN COCKCROFT: Sure, you know in South Africa when we were getting…when we were putting our boat together, there wasn’t really the opportunity to go down to the local market dealer and buy a boat. Because in South Africa, the trend was for people to build their own boat in the backyard and so we followed the trend.

The percentage of people that finished their boats in the backyard is about 2% of everyone that starts them so you would drive around and see all these boats in the backyards and you would know that hey 2% of everyone is going to hit the water for various reasons.

GARY: Wait, why is that? That’s incredible.

STEPHEN: Well, you know, financial…a lot of guys will buy a boat. They’d buy maybe a hull and deck and bulkheads, and then they’d think, OK, well as I make money, I will put it together. The average time for someone to do one of these projects is actually 10 years. We were very lucky, you know, we had the financial ability to build constantly. And so we from start to finished build ours in 2 years.

You know, they are very custom boats and so you actually have to go and get a lot of input. What I used to do is drive around to the different brokers and tell them I was interested in buying a boat and specifically and I give them my brand of hull I had. And then I would go and say, “Well, this is great,” and take photographs like crazy. So I had about 1000 photographs of sister ships and that’s how we decided what to do inside the boat. There were no plans because we had to invent the whole thing from scratch.

What You Need to Build Your Own Boat

So building a boat, you need some pretty good technical ability. I wasn’t that good when we started but, believe me, after 2 years of hanging upside down in that boat every single spare minute I ever had you know I pretty much knew my boat and I pretty much knew how to fix it and how to build a boat.

The problem is the time and the time you dedicate to the boat. Sometimes I use to sit and wonder why I just didn’t buy a new boat. Also, there’s a lot of skill you can’t develop in the time that you need have to build the boat such as woodworking. So I had some experts and some cabinet makers and some really good carpenters that came in to assist with build of the boat. The end result was a beautiful monohull, 45-foot long. We launched her in Cape Town, you know. We sailed her up the eastern seaboard of Africa. We stopped in Madagascar, Kenya, Tanzania…we went around the Horn of Africa, dodged them pirates, up the Gulf Aden into the Suez, up the Red Sea, first into through the Suez in the Meds, across the Med, out of the Med into the Gibraltar, across the Caribbean, and ended up into the US.

GARY: Wait, I am just curious. But not counting the hours you put into the boat, did you make money when you resold Royal Salute or what?

STEPHEN: Well, we were pretty lucky. We ran a sailing school in St. Martin and taught a lot of people how to sail. And the boat was our teaching aid. So the boat almost earned as much money as she cost us to build. And then if you took the exchange rate at day, we sold her for essentially what she cost us in rent in South Africa. So that was a particularly good boat because we made the asset work for us.

ESTELLE: We found that a big problem with home-built boats is that it sometimes looked home-built and that detracts from the value of the boat. We were lucky enough, like Stephen said, we had good cabinet makers and who really did a fantastic job in our boat. And so she looked like she was built in a shipyard, professional shipyard. Also, our systems…we had a friend of ours work with us on our systems and, you know, it was near perfect by the time he were done with us.

So we had those advantages, it’s difficult to do it yourself but if you have perseverance and money you can do it.

GARY: But, don’t you think there is a hell of a lot more that goes into a boat than you anticipated?

STEPHEN: That’s an understatement. If I’d known how much we needed to do to that boat, I would have just sucked it up and paid for it and let someone else build it, you know. It was a huge amount of work, but I had a lot of help from a lot of vendors, you know. It was a fun project and it stood us in good, you know. Thereafter, for sure, as far as running our boat, we did 34,000 miles with our boat. It gave us very little trouble.

ESTELLE: Yes, I have to agree we loved the boat and if we hadn’t done it ourselves we probably would have ended up with a lot more trouble. However, unless you are absolutely devoted to this project, don’t even start it. Because it is, like Stephen says, very, very few people ever finish it and you very seldom get your money out of it once you started the project, you know. So even if you sold the hull and deck, whatever project or however far you came with the project. So be sure that’s what you want to do.

STEPHEN: Estelle was quite fine letting me start the boat because she never thought I wouldn’t finish it. She thought that would be something to keep him busy. When the day came, I said, “We are getting ready. We are going to get trucks. We are going to get all sorts of things we are to launch the boat.” She was quite shocked that, you know, this had all come to pass. But. you know, would I did it again? I don’t think I would do it again. I am not that passionate about manual labor.

GARY: Well, thank you for those valuable tips. We are going to be right back after this short break. And you are listening to “Yachts: The Perfect Escape Vehicle” only on the Overseas Radio Network. And this is Gary Fretz, Stephen Cockcroft, and Estelle Cockcroft. We will be right back.


Join Our Community!

Get the latest on catamaran news, sailing events, buying and selling tips, community happenings, webinars & seminars, and much more!

2 thoughts on “Building Your Own Sailboat”

    1. Estelle Cockcroft

      Patrica, thank you. I hope this will help people understand what is involved before taking on a big project like building a boat.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

On Key

Recent Posts