How to Build a Dory Boat Structure, Part 2

Learn how to build a houseboat, including how to finish your live-on boat.

| March/April 1976

The oh-so-proper yachting press would have you believe that you must spend at least $2,000 to own a twenty-foot cruising sailboat. Hogwash! My lady and I built and outfitted Hina for less than $300 — and $90 of that was spent on a suit of used sails alone!

The result: a crisply performing vessel that far surpassed our highest hopes. Hina sails beautifully! On a 2 1/2-month, 400-mile cruise around upper Lake Michigan — under all kinds of conditions — she kept us safe, dry, and reasonably comfortable. In heavy weather, she took five- and six-foot waves easily and her classic lines drew admirers at every port.

Once we'd constructed the hull of our 21-foot cruising sailboat (How to Build a Dory Boat Structure, Part 1), we were ready to tackle the job of outfitting it.

Since a builder's personal fancies can be brought most strongly into play on a sailing vessel's interior, you probably won't want to finish off the inside of your boat exactly as we did ours. Whatever you do, however, the basic steps should still closely parallel our own. As much for suggestion as for certain use, then, here are some of the finishing touches we added to Hina:  

HULL FINISH: Instead of using paint, varnish, or fiberglass, we impregnated Hina's hull with a mixture of copper naphthenate wood preservative. The finish permits the wood to breathe, and requires no sanding or scraping.

NUTS AND BOLTS: As you can see from looking at these diagrams, outfitting Hina required many bolts — almost all 1/4 inch in diameter. We found we could save money by purchasing 1/4-inch threaded steel rods and large quantities of washers and nuts and then cutting our "bolts" as we needed them. (See Diagram 1.) ( Click on the "Image Gallery" to view any diagrams discussed in this article.)

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