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Thread: Kelsall designs & KSS system

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    Default Kelsall designs & KSS system

    As you know I am not to enamoured with what is available as mass production cats and am looking (when I have the money) at a fast cruiser, so what are peoples opinions of Kelsall designs and hiss KSS system.

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    Default Re: Kelsall designs & KSS system

    I've learned a lot from his website. His designs seem quite middle of the road, (not an insult - that's a safe place to be,) and he is a master innovator in construction techniques. He is refreshingly unbiased about rig design. He also has a yahoo group at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/KSSBoat/ . Things don't always go as smoothly with a Kelsall build as you might think from reading his website. See: http://www.voyageurs.co.uk/index-page15.html .
    Currently concentrating on http://earthnurture.com .

  3. #3

    Default Neat. Add up the costs, if you have a good job, and buying a cat is cheaper!

    Quote Originally Posted by BigCat View Post
    I've learned a lot from his website. His designs seem quite middle of the road, (not an insult - that's a safe place to be,) and he is a master innovator in construction techniques. He is refreshingly unbiased about rig design. He also has a yahoo group at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/KSSBoat/ . Things don't always go as smoothly with a Kelsall build as you might think from reading his website. See: http://www.voyageurs.co.uk/index-page15.html .
    Depending on exchangerates and how you value your time, he is about $600,000 into it and has a good way to go. I hope you have a job you enjoy - I enjoy working at my job about as much as working on a boat. Both are a mix of good and bad. The only good reason to build is if you are sure you are better at boat building than the profesionals. Yes, shops take shortcuts, but I can't imagine that I wouldn't too, in a 5-year project!

    I have alway felt working on a young to middle-aged boat with a sound structure was the best use of resources. A modern design and still some things to play around with. My last boat was a Stiletto; I defy a home-builder to come up with better, lighter, hulls for the money. I feel the same way about my current second-hand boat.
    "When I was a boy, what was so was so, what was not was not. Now I am a man, things have changed a lot. Some things nearly so, some things nearly not. Is a puzzlement."

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    Default Re: Neat. Add up the costs, if you have a good job, and buying a cat is cheaper!

    Quote Originally Posted by thinwater View Post
    Depending on exchangerates and how you value your time, he is about $600,000 into it and has a good way to go. I hope you have a job you enjoy - I enjoy working at my job about as much as working on a boat. Both are a mix of good and bad. The only good reason to build is if you are sure you are better at boat building than the profesionals. Yes, shops take shortcuts, but I can't imagine that I wouldn't too, in a 5-year project!

    I have alway felt working on a young to middle-aged boat with a sound structure was the best use of resources. A modern design and still some things to play around with. My last boat was a Stiletto; I defy a home-builder to come up with better, lighter, hulls for the money. I feel the same way about my current second-hand boat.
    Actually, the lack of various taxes such as income taxes and regulation compliance make your home building time much more effective than your theory suggests. Taxation and regulation compliance eat up half of every dollar spent on professionally built boats. You'll usually get a better looking boat from a professional, but whether the underlying quality matches the looks depends on the priorities of the builder - the marketplace puts a much higher value on looks than underlying quality, IMHO.
    Currently concentrating on http://earthnurture.com .

  5. #5

    Default Re: Neat. Add up the costs, if you have a good job, and buying a cat is cheaper!

    Quote Originally Posted by thinwater View Post

    The only good reason to build is if you are sure you are better at boat building than the profesionals. Yes, shops take shortcuts, but I can't imagine that I wouldn't too, in a 5-year project!

    I have alway felt working on a young to middle-aged boat with a sound structure was the best use of resources. A modern design and still some things to play around with. My last boat was a Stiletto; I defy a home-builder to come up with better, lighter, hulls for the money. I feel the same way about my current second-hand boat.
    You can save money building your own boat. But you do need to choose the right boat to build, and you need an inexpensive place to build it.

    ie. Building a steel monohull, you're unlikely to save money over buying a second-hand one. But building a composite cat, you can save plenty.

    It's strange to me how many people say you can't save by building. (Nearly always people who haven't actually done it BTW.)

    Professionals can pay wages, taxes, rent etc, and still make a profit, so it seems illogical to me to suggest someone not paying wages, taxes, rent or needing a profit margin, couldn't do it cheaper.

    Lots of boats are built as a spare-time hobby. Instead of sitting in front of a TV having their intelligence insulted for several hours a day, some people choose to do something constructive and rewarding.

    My build time is around 5500 hours to date, with not a huge amount to go. I had a recent visitor who insisted I must have spent much longer - up to 15,000 hours! I started 3 years ago, so I would have had to work nearly 14 hours per day, 7 days a week! I'm sure I would have noticed!

    Being conservative, I estimate my boat will be worth around $350,000 to $400,000 (Aus). I'm talking fire sale prices here, I really doubt you could buy a similar boat for that, and remember, it's BRAND NEW. The materials will have cost me less than $175,000, for the complete boat, with rig, sails, motors, fridge, freezer, solar array, batteries, electronics, hot water, etc etc etc, ready to go.

    And 3 years of work.

    It could be argued you could earn $175,000 - $225,000 in 3 years with a reasonably paid job.

    But could you SAVE that much? Could you actually put around $200,000 in the bank (on top of the $175k) in 3 years to enable you to buy?

    I couldn't. But I could build the boat.

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    Default Re: Neat. Add up the costs, if you have a good job, and buying a cat is cheaper!

    Quote Originally Posted by 44C View Post
    You can save money building your own boat. But you do need to choose the right boat to build, and you need an inexpensive place to build it.

    ie. Building a steel monohull, you're unlikely to save money over buying a second-hand one. But building a composite cat, you can save plenty.

    It's strange to me how many people say you can't save by building. (Nearly always people who haven't actually done it BTW.)

    Professionals can pay wages, taxes, rent etc, and still make a profit, so it seems illogical to me to suggest someone not paying wages, taxes, rent or needing a profit margin, couldn't do it cheaper.

    Lots of boats are built as a spare-time hobby. Instead of sitting in front of a TV having their intelligence insulted for several hours a day, some people choose to do something constructive and rewarding.

    My build time is around 5500 hours to date, with not a huge amount to go. I had a recent visitor who insisted I must have spent much longer - up to 15,000 hours! I started 3 years ago, so I would have had to work nearly 14 hours per day, 7 days a week! I'm sure I would have noticed!

    Being conservative, I estimate my boat will be worth around $350,000 to $400,000 (Aus). I'm talking fire sale prices here, I really doubt you could buy a similar boat for that, and remember, it's BRAND NEW. The materials will have cost me less than $175,000, for the complete boat, with rig, sails, motors, fridge, freezer, solar array, batteries, electronics, hot water, etc etc etc, ready to go.

    And 3 years of work.

    It could be argued you could earn $175,000 - $225,000 in 3 years with a reasonably paid job.

    But could you SAVE that much? Could you actually put around $200,000 in the bank (on top of the $175k) in 3 years to enable you to buy?

    I couldn't. But I could build the boat.
    Well said!
    Currently concentrating on http://earthnurture.com .

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    Default Re: Neat. Add up the costs, if you have a good job, and buying a cat is cheaper!

    Quote Originally Posted by 44C View Post
    It could be argued you could earn $175,000 - $225,000 in 3 years with a reasonably paid job.
    But could you SAVE that much? Could you actually put around $200,000 in the bank (on top of the $175k) in 3 years to enable you to buy?
    I am sure you recognise that you have skewed your statistics here. You also need to look at the financial requirements to live during that period, and factor that into both sets of numbers.

    At the end of the day, on a strictly financial basis, you have to compare earning capacity versus savings. For me, I know that I can earn more than I can save by a self build, thus it is an easy decision.
    Insanity is continuing to do the same thing and expecting different results

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    Default Re: Neat. Add up the costs, if you have a good job, and buying a cat is cheaper!

    Quote Originally Posted by Talbot View Post
    I am sure you recognise that you have skewed your statistics here. You also need to look at the financial requirements to live during that period, and factor that into both sets of numbers.

    At the end of the day, on a strictly financial basis, you have to compare earning capacity versus savings. For me, I know that I can earn more than I can save by a self build, thus it is an easy decision.
    Yes, well, you have to look at your pay and calculate your earnings and savings potential. I don't think Bill Gates would come out ahead building his own boat. There is something to be said, however, for knowing your boat very intimately, however. It means that you really understand all of the systems and how to repair them. It also means that you can build to a very much higher safety standard than usual, if that is a priority for you, and you have studied safety at sea sufficiently.

    Custom boats are also quite expensive, so if your requirements are unusual, that is an additional factor. My personal requirements are unique.
    Currently concentrating on http://earthnurture.com .

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    Default Re: Neat. Add up the costs, if you have a good job, and buying a cat is cheaper!

    Quote Originally Posted by BigCat View Post
    There is something to be said, however, for knowing your boat very intimately, however. It means that you really understand all of the systems and how to repair them. It also means that you can build to a very much higher safety standard than usual, if that is a priority for you, and you have studied safety at sea sufficiently.
    No argument, but this is not the same argument as claiming cheaper.
    Insanity is continuing to do the same thing and expecting different results

  10. #10

    Default Re: Neat. Add up the costs, if you have a good job, and buying a cat is cheaper!

    Quote Originally Posted by Talbot View Post
    I am sure you recognise that you have skewed your statistics here. You also need to look at the financial requirements to live during that period, and factor that into both sets of numbers.

    At the end of the day, on a strictly financial basis, you have to compare earning capacity versus savings. For me, I know that I can earn more than I can save by a self build, thus it is an easy decision.
    Well, yes, you do still need to eat. But that applies whether you are building a boat or not. I didn't starve.

    I guess what it comes down to is - after around 3 years building I will own outright a boat which I could not have afforded if I had just kept working and saving.

    As Tim mentioned, that wouldn't apply to Bill Gates.

    Plus I'll have the satisfaction, and the added safety of knowing every millimeter of the boat intimately.

    But as I said before, you don't neccessarily have to give up work to build a boat. Some keep up their full-time jobs, and build the boat part-time as a hobby. In their case you really can't count the labour as an expense.

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    Default Re: Neat. Add up the costs, if you have a good job, and buying a cat is cheaper!

    Quote Originally Posted by 44C View Post
    Well, yes, you do still need to eat. But that applies whether you are building a boat or not. I didn't starve.

    I guess what it comes down to is - after around 3 years building I will own outright a boat which I could not have afforded if I had just kept working and saving.

    As Tim mentioned, that wouldn't apply to Bill Gates.

    Plus I'll have the satisfaction, and the added safety of knowing every millimeter of the boat intimately.

    But as I said before, you don't neccessarily have to give up work to build a boat. Some keep up their full-time jobs, and build the boat part-time as a hobby. In their case you really can't count the labour as an expense.
    There is also an additional option - you can hire a helper or two and supervise them, if you know enough about boat building. A business will usually have very much higher overheads than an individual.
    Currently concentrating on http://earthnurture.com .

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    Default Re: Kelsall designs & KSS system

    Quote Originally Posted by BigCat View Post
    I've learned a lot from his website. His designs seem quite middle of the road, (not an insult - that's a safe place to be,) and he is a master innovator in construction techniques. He is refreshingly unbiased about rig design. He also has a yahoo group at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/KSSBoat/ . Things don't always go as smoothly with a Kelsall build as you might think from reading his website. See: http://www.voyageurs.co.uk/index-page15.html .
    I used to own a Kelsall K28 trimaran, though home-built by someone else (not in the KSS method but in airex) it turned out to be a good and safe family cruiser. Tend to agree with BigCat about the middle of the road statement, I very much like the looks of some of his designs like the Kelsall 38. He also designed a 56 ft (I think) bi-rig cruising cat now chartering.

    Regarding the KSS building method, I have no personal experience. Can only comment that Rob Denney, of Harryproa fame, was a starch opponent of this system until he attented a workshop Derek conducted where they built a largish Harryproa hull in a weekend. Rob's now a supporter of the KSS build method!
    Roger

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    I look to the future, because that's where I am going to spend the rest of my life - George Burns

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    Default Re: Kelsall designs & KSS system

    I think the real issues here are as follows: what are the priorities of the buyer/builder and what is his level of skill in everything from reading plans, to lofting, carpentry, fiberglass layup, faring, painting, plumbing, rigging, mechanical and electrical work. I, for one, believe that it is inappropriate to put no value on your time - especially since a great deal will be involved and a great deal of that will be, in fairness, grunt work. And certainly, anyone with the skills to construct a large catamaran from scratch to anything approaching production standards would be able to earn a great deal in those thousands of hours of 'spare' time.

    It should also be noted that building a large catamaran from scratch will frequently involve the labour of more than one person. Quite apart from from major construction and handling large panels, engines, etc., even installation of the deck hardward will require someone below as well as above deck. Are we to include their not inconsiderable hours for free as well?

    It is also trite to say that production builders are invariably getting their raw materials, as well as hardware, engines, electronics, rigging, upholstery and sails at much lower cost than the one-off builder. Or hasn't anyone heard of the efficiencies of mass production? This is to say nothing of the necessary tool inventory, as well as specialized safety equipment required for working with toxic materials. Understand that all of these can be amortized by the production builder over a large number of vessels. Understand too that many of the interior modules are now produced with computer controlled cutting equipment, saving considerable time while making for less waste in materials and more accurate cuts. Furthermore, keep in mind that the ability to perform any task improves with experience. And finally, understand that the resale value of a home-built boat will invariably be less than for a comparable production model.

    Can someone actually save money producing their own boat? Undoubtedly, although I suspect that the savings would be virtually non-existant if one were to assess even a modest amount of money per hour for not only the actual construction, but also the time spent in locating your suppliers and arranging for delivery in your spare hours (assuming, as has been suggested, that you keep your day-time job). The cost of space appropriate for such a large project, to say nothing of heat (in many climates), utilities and insurance could also become a killer if the project extends on for three or more years. This, of course, assumes that you are able to ensure occupancy for the full period that you will require the space (and without a fixed term lease, you will always be at risk of being forced to move your unfinished project and/or pay potentially exorbitant rent increases by a landlord who knows that he has you over the proverbial barrell). Keep in mind that this is a commercial tenancy and, as such, has virtually none of the benefits that apply to residential tenancies in most jursidictions.

    Really, it strikes me that the risks inherent in such a project are huge for the average DIY person. Indeed, even the process of estimating your costs will be risky, unless you are able to purchase and store everything you need at the start of the project (the only time there will be cost certainty). Of course, in that case one needs to include as a cost the interest that could have been earned on that money over the length of the project through investing. Otherwise, one must remember that these are difficult times economically and, that there is some reason to believe that our current recesssion will be followed by significant inflation - especially as regards petrochemical products, or products whose production requires significant amounts of energy (and most boat materials from resins, to aluminum, to dacron etc. fall into one, or both of those categories).

    Conversely, the market for crusing cats at present is quite soft and interest rates are also quite low - making it a particularly good time to consider the purchase of either a new, or used catamaran. No, you won't know your boat as intimately (although you would need much less time getting familiar with it on the water than it would take to build one). No, you won't have the pride of accomplishment that can be felt with a particularly beautiful, and personal one-off (although you can, as aforementioned, take some solace in better resale). No you won't be able to occupy your otherwise valueless spare time with thousands of hours of hard labour - you will have to spend them on the water enjoying your new cat and the places she can take you. Will you have to pay a slight premium for buying a production boat? Maybe. Will it be as much of an individual expression, even if modified to your own tastes, as a one-off? No. But I would suggest that your assessment include not only cost projections, but also a risk-benefit analysis, particularly if your are not an incredibly skilled tradesman with considerable time on your hands.

    Brad

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    Default Re: Kelsall designs & KSS system

    I suspect that building a boat, like many decisions around boats, is very individual. I have thought about this for years, but realism tells me that I lack the skills, stamina, and ability to build my own cat. It happens I'm allergic to many of the raw materials used. Once they are in a completed boat, I'm OK around them, but resin and unwetted fiberglass tend to mess up my asthma. I'd love to be able to build a boat. However, I will just have to wait until I can sell my houses and buy one! :-(

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    Default Re: Kelsall designs & KSS system

    Brad, you seem to not imagine that some people's requirements might be different than the typical. I consider the typical to be of questionable safety and ease of handling-based on tens of thousands of sea miles under sail. Good luck finding a self tacking, self reefing rig that isn't dependent on scores of stress corrosion prone little bits of s.s., many sizable waterproof compartments, fire retardant construction, construction to a recognized engineering standard for scantlings, etc., in a stock boat. This is not an exhaustive list, merely a brief list indicative of the kinds of things a reasonable sailor might want in a blue water boat.

    The recent thread on this about a Yapluka catamaran that was a write off due to one hole in one hull is an example of why my requirements aren't over the top. The average mid sized cruising catamaran was designed for chartering in the BVI by six to eight people mooring to a buoy every night. I am referring here to much more than the number of berths and heads here - I am saying that every aspect of the design of the typical catamaran is designed for the majority use - short vacations spent in sight of land. This is not a criticism is this is your intended use, of course.
    Currently concentrating on http://earthnurture.com .

  16. #16

    Default Re: Kelsall designs & KSS system

    Quote Originally Posted by Southern Star View Post


    It should also be noted that building a large catamaran from scratch will frequently involve the labour of more than one person. Quite apart from from major construction and handling large panels, engines, etc., even installation of the deck hardward will require someone below as well as above deck. Are we to include their not inconsiderable hours for free as well?
    Incorrect. In total I've had around 10 hours of help from other people, including about 5 hours sanding my brother volunteered.

    That includes turning the hulls.

    Fitting deck hardware single handed is simple. I didn't need any help at all.


    Quote Originally Posted by Southern Star View Post

    It is also trite to say that production builders are invariably getting their raw materials, as well as hardware, engines, electronics, rigging, upholstery and sails at much lower cost than the one-off builder. Or hasn't anyone heard of the efficiencies of mass production?
    The vast majority of material suppiers will sell at the same price to a one-off builder as to a professional. I always get "OEM" pricing.

    Quote Originally Posted by Southern Star View Post
    This is to say nothing of the necessary tool inventory, as well as specialized safety equipment required for working with toxic materials. Understand that all of these can be amortized by the production builder over a large number of vessels. Understand too that many of the interior modules are now produced with computer controlled cutting equipment, saving considerable time while making for less waste in materials and more accurate cuts. Furthermore, keep in mind that the ability to perform any task improves with experience. And finally, understand that the resale value of a home-built boat will invariably be less than for a comparable production model.
    Neccessary tool inventory is just a little more than an average home handyman would have. In fact my neighbour has a far more extensive and expensive tool inventory sitting in his shed doing nothing.

    Rubber gloves, overalls, and a respirator - specialized safety equipment?


    As for a "comparable boat" I actually haven't seen a comparable production boat. Most of them are fat heavy pigs that don't sail. Which is in fact the entire reason this thread was started.

    Production boats that actually can sail are invariably ridiculously expensive.

    Seriously, this is an excellent example of a statement about how difficult/expensive it is to build a boat, by someone who has never actually built a boat.

    And it really amazes me how often you see this, someone who hasn't done it, claiming to know more about it than someone who has.
    Last edited by 44C; 27th October 2009 at 10:06 PM.

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Kelsall designs & KSS system

    Just 2 pennies on build/not build a boat.

    Baring going live aboard on a budget. If you want to sail buy - if you love to work with tools and materials or tinker with design build

    I'll repeat it for those not listening (I personally I wish someone shout at me)

    If you want to go SAILING BUY

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Kelsall designs & KSS system

    Building your own boat is definitely viable if you choose one of the more viable build methods, like KSS or from flat panels like Duflex.

    Going for a kit boat using pre-cut panels or even certain types of strip planking are also fast, and there are plenty of great looking well built boats out there.

    44C's is right at the top of the pile when it comes to finish -well done.

    For those of us living in tax plagued Scandinavia, where you end up paying around 50% income tax, and 25% VAT, you need to have a really good salary to make 200k$ in 3 years nett!!

    In certain markets,like Australia and NZ, where there aren't as many high volume cat manufacturers, home built boats probably keep their value better than in Europe or the US/Caribbean. Also you don't have the constant flow of old charter boats defining market prices for a given model.

    So YES, building using KSS or some of the other fast build systems is viable, more so in some areas than others.

    The defining issue is the builders ability to persevere, if the cash flow side of things is sorted....

    When you see a boat like the one 44C has built, I'd rather buy that than most standard production boats. I take my hat off to him - well done!

    Back to the OP's question:

    Kelsalls designs vary from the ugly to the elegant, but always functional IMO, with sound engineering and design principles always at the top of the list.
    KSS is probably the fastest way to build hulls and decks, so you can see progress fast.

    Using panels of plywood or foam/balsa can be nearly as fast. You can make your own panels if you want to save money - so all options can be used.

    There is a forum member building a Kohler design using KSS, maybe he can chime in here...

    Alan

    Alan

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    Default Re: Kelsall designs & KSS system

    Anybody who thinks that most catamarans are made through 'mass production' doesn't know anything at all about boat building. I'd say there are 5 yacht building companies in the world making sailing yachts of any kind over 30' long using something even remotely resembling 'mass production.'

    There is a big problem with female molds in catmaran production - you can't get a good, light cored boat with a female mold that reliably gives even 90% adhesion between the outer layer and the core, unless so much bonding putty is used that it might as well not be a cored boat at all due to the added weight. Male molds do nothing to help with the finish - and so are not used in making stock boats.

    I agree that building a boat is a really big project, but Brad, you seem so keen to put people off of something which you know nothing about that you make me wonder if you have a commercial interest in selling used boats!
    Currently concentrating on http://earthnurture.com .

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    Default Re: Kelsall designs & KSS system

    Yes, but, Terry, you are making it very difficult for yourself by iving in Norway and building in darkest Cornwall , England where they only get a bus once a week. and in some towns they have 2 heads, ever seen the film 'Deliverance'

    But I still agree with you, if you want to sail BUY when you can afford it.

    Quote Originally Posted by 3Psuite View Post
    Just 2 pennies on build/not build a boat.

    Baring going live aboard on a budget. If you want to sail buy - if you love to work with tools and materials or tinker with design build

    I'll repeat it for those not listening (I personally I wish someone shout at me)

    If you want to go SAILING BUY

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