Enjoying Boatbuilding – at Home, Club or School

Dads, mums, grandads, teenagers, schools - it's fun and everyone is having a go! All you need is basic skills, basic tools and a space suitable as a temporary workshop. Some people who have only ever built a bookcase before have completed the Firebug successfully.

Tools and the Home Workshop

A good set of tools is preferable but it is always surprising what can be achieved with just the basics. It is good to have a proper workshop but not essential...

In the Dining Room!

I know of one boat built in a hallway and one in the dining room. The dining room builder said "You should have seen the look on their faces when I started to move the table and chairs out!"

In the Hallway!

The person who built in the hallway said that it was the least used area in the house. He made the assembly jig low so it could be leaned against the wall when not being worked on. He claimed that his wife only ever complained once and that was about the funny smell from the timber leaning against the wall in the bedroom! (One complaint too many? - three years later they're separated.)

In the living room!

Koos Winnips of Enschede in the Netherlands launched his new FireBug 'Tuk' recently after building it in the living room! Koos, a sailor but not experienced at building boats, made a 1/5 scale model before attempting the real one. He made up the components in the bicycle shed downstairs then cleared out the living room of his 4th floor apartment to put it all together.

Getting it about

One of the joys of small boats is ease of storage and transportation. Firebugs can be trailered either on their own, on top of a bigger boat (laser or catamaran etc) or in the case of club boats or a family fleet, in a stack. They also travel easily on a roof rack.

Learning sailing terms

Sailing language can be very confusing. The Firebug building instructions contains a 'Glossary' which explains the meaning of boatbuilding terms.

Sailing Clubs

There have also been several very successful club building schemes. In New Zealand many sailing clubs are suffering declining popularity. The Pleasant Point Yacht Club in Christchurch was, a few seasons ago, concerned with falling membership. It now has a new fleet of 35 new boats together with 35 new family memberships. Almost all of the boats being built in club building schemes. One family has enjoyed the experience so much that they are doing a third boat this winter.

The Firebugs at the club have resulted in considerable publicity which has led to some interesting spin off eg; a local high school has built a fleet of four boats. Club members provided guidance during construction and are assisting the school with boat storage, learn-to-sail classes etc. The keener kids will join the club, further boosting membership.

Unitec School of Boatbuilding

New Zealand's largest school of boatbuilding, Unitec's Marine Technology Department in Auckland are enthusiastic about the Firebug - "It's a real boat with all the bits: bulkheads, a central girder, stringers and deck etc. Just right for teaching boatbuilding." All of their students take part in Firebug building during their first year.

Build a Boat at School

Am I hearing right? At last some fun learning in the classroom! Several schools in New Zealand are involved in classroom building where the project attracts special funding and successful students receive credits into tertiary courses. The kids love it - there have been reports of children actually working on after school hours on 'their' boats!

Good Support

The Firebug enjoys friendly support from the following companies and organisations:

Steve Ashley's The Rigging Shop, Fosters Shipchandlers, Plytech, Doyle Sails New Zealand Ltd, Sealine Marine, International Epiglass Paints and Epoxies, Mico Metals, Now Parcels, RWO Yacht Fittings, Unitec Marine Technology Department, Boatcraft Pacific, EPG Shop, Boating NZ, Australian Amateur Boat Builder Magazine,Wooden Boat Magazine, Go Cyber Limited.

And the following individuals: Steve Ashley, Ray and Nola O'Brien, Rod McCulloch, Gordon Caley, Chris Tait, Jamie Tait, Peter Marlow, Roger Hall, Rob Mulder, John Brady, Brett Elliott, Ross McClew, Ross Venner, Chris Spooner, Nikki Barrett, Ian Phillips, Koos Winnips, Joachim Rhode, Tom Arthur, Simon Rutherford, Richard Lozell, Hugh Blank, Geoff Entrican.

It is noteworthy that to date there has been no support from any type of funding organisation, sports or otherwise.

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  Ray O'Briens workshopChrisPPYCBoys enjoying schoolUnitec School of BoatbuildingBoatbuilding in the Dining RoomChrisRon built his in the hallBug build outback style

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