I. Prologue to Boat-Building

Building the Core Sound 20

Well, the Spring is almost here again in Georgia and the weather has already turned sunny and warm. For me, this time of year always reawakens my love of boats. Once again, I find myself bitten by the boat-building bug, and this time, my heart has settled on building the Core Sound 20 designed by Graham Byrnes of B & B Yacht Designs.

I first stumbled across Graham's designs back in 2004, when I proposed to my wife and decided to spend the year before our wedding building a sailboat together. At the time, we had very limited building space, so we had to find a boat that would accommodate our garage as well as our budget. We settled on the 14' Stevenson Pocket Cruiser which, with it's tiny live-aboard cabin, turned out to be the ideal cozy boat for a couple of newlyweds. We motor-sailed her 250 miles down the Mississippi river for five days and had a blast, but over time, we began to crave a bigger boat.

Sailboats with cabins appeal to the adventurous-minded like myself because they evoke charming images of late-night discussions snug and warm inside a dimly lit cabin while the wind and waves pound outside. My wife and I had a few charming moments like that on our honeymoon, but we quickly found that on a day-to-day basis, the cabin wasted space that would have been more enjoyable if it were open and able to accommodate friends. The Pocket Cruiser was too small for more than two adults unless you squeezed the extra guests into the cabin, where they couldn't enjoy the sunshine or the view.

Of course, the kayaker in me also has a strong affinity for open boats because they are lighter and simpler than their cabined counterparts. (I firmly believe that the enjoyability and "magic" of a boat increase in direct proportion to its simplicity and ease of use.) Open boats also make you feel more connected to the water because your view isn't hampered by the bulky silhouette of the cabin. And, of course, with their large open cockpits, they accommodate more friends aboard. I knew from my experience with the Pocket Cruiser that I wanted to stay with an unballasted, shallow draught, Sharpie-inspired design, but I also wanted to find something with a bit more "V" to the bottom to reduce the pounding that often occurred with our extremely flat-bottomed Pocket Cruiser.

The B&B Core Sound 20 fit the bill perfectly, and so it was still in my mind when we sold our Pocket Cruiser (to defray the costs of moving cross-country from Iowa to Georgia) and started looking for more "seaworthy" designs suitable for the Georgian coast. Now, after pouring over the plans and researching dozens of comparable designs, my heart has come back to the simple, practical, and (to my eye) beautiful lines of this attractive yet utilitarian design. I have finally decided to build it, and I am awaiting a shipment of epoxy, fiberglassing supplies, and marine plywood as we speak.

Many people ask, "Where do you build a 20' boat?" Well, in our case, the answer is: "In the back yard!" Our house has a garage, but in order to keep the building debris off my tools (and to improve ventilation while building), I erected a simple 14' x 24' canopy on the back of our house using 2x4s and some heavy duty tarps. Total cost was about $120, and now we have a very comfortable, dry space for building. We'll be much happier working outdoors (rather than the stuffy garage) when the really hot Georgia weather arrives.

Yes, I know this is a kayaking website and I'm rambling on about a boat that is not a kayak. But sailing and kayaking capture the imagination in surprisingly similar ways, and I trust that many of the readers of this site are united by a love of boats that transcends the simple distinction between paddling and sailing. In that spirit, I've decided to post my building log here so that others can follow along and watch our progress. Perhaps some of you will be inspired to build boats of your own. (I hope so!)

In the weeks and months to come, keep returning to the Table of Contents. This article will continue to grow as we construct our boat. As for naming our boat, which is usually the most difficult step in the boat-building process, we've already named this one! Since this is our second sailboat, as well as our second chance at building and enjoying adventures together, we've decided to name it "Second Wind."

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© 2008, Wesley Kisting


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