I'm preparing to launch into my next winter boatbuilding project, ordering plans, selling off kayaks and trying to figure out how I'm going to make space in the workshop. This project will definitely not be as intense as the last two, because I want to spend more time paddling. I'm planning to build a 15 ft sailboat. Of course, one of my good paddling friends says I should build something like a 24 ft sailboat, with a cabin and a head, because he knows that I'm going to want to take the whole family cruising on big trips across the ocean weeks at a time. "You think a 24 ft boat is big?" he says. Well, if I'm going to build it, yes I do!
I happened to find these graphs on the Chesepeake Marine Design website, which illustrate how the cost and time to build increases steeply as the weight of the boat goes up. The boat I'm planning to build, the Windward 15, weighs 250 pounds. The Windward 24 (24 ft long with a cabin), weighs 2800 pounds. So that's 1200 hours to build the bigger boat compared to 300 hours for the smaller one and about 4X the cost.
The issue of building time was already well thought out by Chapelle: "Most amateur builders do not care to spend more than a year in constructing a boat. The exact number of hours required to build a boat is an important consideration, particularly as the amateur builder usually works after business hours and on holidays and weekends. If a man is building a boat alone, he would work over 936 hours a year if he spent two hours every week day and eight hours every weekend on the job. Of course, very few men with this amount of time to spend in building would actually be able to do so; in practice they would probably have trouble reaching a total of much over 700 hours." That's from the second paragraph in the first chapter of Boatbuilding, 1941.
"Most people own a boat larger than they need or want... On a typical weekend between May and September only 3-5% of the boats are away from their moorings or marina berths..." That's from an article titled "Small Can Be Beautiful" on the Classic Marine website. I guy I used to work with bought a motor boat a couple years ago. He would talk about it endlessly at work, about how he had to have a carport made by the side of the hourse so he could have a place to store it, about all the parts he bought for the engine, and how he had to prepare for the winter. Mondays during the summer I would say, "It sure was a beautiful weekend. Did you get a chance to take your boat out?" He'd say he didn't for whatever reason. And he never took it out on the Sound, thinking that the saltwater would destroy the engine. Last I heard he was going to try waterskiiing.
If you've spent any time talking with boatowners I'm sure you've heard similar stories. I bet kayakers get much more enjoyment from their small boats than big boat owners. We're not dealing with trailering, engine upkeep, paying for moorage and fuel, and worrying about carbon monoxide poisoning. We go out when wind and rough water keep other small boats in. If you can roll then capsizing is not an issue. We can put in and take out just about anywhere there is a beach, paddle in close to cliffs and rocks, play in tidal races and surf, silently sneak up to waterside houses, and dart between pilings, and under docks. My favorite kayak now is my skin-on-frame, which probably cost me $250 in materials. I can wear it on my head like a hat to the beach and go out almost every day.