From amateur to professional builder in Romania
Three years ago I bought first boat plans for the V12 dinghy from bateau.com. I was looking to build something with my own hands in my garage. This is the kind of leasure which many men have or should have for themselves and which gives much satisfaction. It's great to say "look at this, I built it myself, isn't it wonderful?". This is a creative attitude.
Materials for my first boat I bought from boatbuildercentral.com Europe, an affiliate of www.bateau.com. Sincerly, I paid more for shipping than the materials cost me, especially because of the plywoods large size, 1220 x 2440 mm, but I wanted for this first boat to use the materials recommended by the designer. I built this dinghy with my fathers help and we had a great time which became later a passion for boatbuilding. When the V 12 was ready, I knew that I had to build another boat, but here in Romania a problem was we don't have a marine plywood supplier. There is now in Brasov a company called Holver which imports many kinds of plywood among which I found one named Tebogarant suited for boatbuilding. But here you cannot buy retail, you must order large quantities, which is not so convenient for amateurs.
This is why I had to change my orientation to other materials such as FRP (fiberglass reinforced polyester) for my boatbuilding. FRP boats are better known in our area and they sound stronger and safer than when you say "this boat is made from plywood", even though I know this isn't true, it is hard to change these opinions and I can't spend time doing that. The next two boats I built from FRP in two molds I borrowed from a friend just to see how it works. At this time I said to myself, why don't I try to build boats for sale. Start a business and so I started a small boat yard called Signum Delta. Then followed the moldmaking for a new model, a traditional boat named Lotca prefered by fishermen. I have built and sold 8 such boats.
Next came a canoe and looking to build a larger boat I found on www.boatdesign.net information about CAD software used in boat design. I got Rhinoceros software and I saw it is so intuitive and easy to design 3D models, even boats. The idea to design my own boat grew in my mind. I started to collect information about what kind of boat people would like to have in my area and to design to their tastes. This boat had to have shallow draft, 6 to 8 pers. capacity, engine power between 15-30HP, and I add to have pleasant lines and good hydrodynamics to help it plane easily. I drew it with Rhino's help. Between designing on the computer and the physical model it took one month. I built the plug from plywood planked on frames, the topsides are lapestrakes glued with epoxy glue. The model was faired with polyester putty and coated with acrylic primer sprayed on in layers. The primer was sanded with 180 and 360 sandpaper and then with 600 and 1000 finaly. Once the plug was ready, the mold lamination could start. The master model was waxed and then a release agent applied to help demoulding. I used a gelcoat for molds pigmented in red, a first layer of 225g/sq.m of mat and another 4 layers of 450g/sq.m until I reach the thickness of almost 6 mm. I recommend as a guide for those who want to design and build a boat "The Elements of Boat Strength" by Dave Gerr (get it here), it's very useful. When the mold has been demoulded from the plug you should wait two weeks for complete cure of the FRP. I didn't, and my first boat has light red stains from the mold gelcoat...
When the first Delta 500 came from the mold I had a huge satisfaction to see the surfaces I designed. You can imagine that I lost my patience waiting to see it on the water. And I still had to work on the seats and sheer which must be joined together in a superstructure mold.
It's a great feeling to see your work, ...working. It planes very easily thanks to the bottom shape. It is a flat bottom but with some strakes which help to get on a plane. The draught is 0,15 m empty, very useful for the Danube Delta where boat owners want to navigate in shallow waters, in channels or lakes during these hot summers we have had the last two years. I have used a Suzuki 15 HP long shaft and with 4 persons it planed very well. For those who want more speed a 25 HP will be optimum, and those who want to fly over the water a 30 HP will do it with succes. I need to test it with 25 and 30 HP in the coming weeks. The capacity is 6 persons but it could bear 8 pers. with no problem. The length is 5,00 m, width is 1,70 m, depth is 0,70 m. The weigth is around 130 kg. Instead of plywood, the bulkheads are made with Nidaplast core coated in fiberglass-polyester resin to reduce weight.
Victor Dragoi, Romania, October 2007