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Launching: 2013

My W17 Building Experience —by Gary Bailey (C54)

My wife and I owned a Catalina 34 for about 10 years, and we used it to cruise a lot around Southern California, and eventually took a year long trip with it from California, down through Panama, and up to Florida. We sold that boat, had some kids, and moved to Virginia. I started thinking about trailer sailing, and how that would allow me to explore different areas. I like building things, and have a small garage, so I got some plans off the internet for a 12 foot cedar strip dinghy sailboat. It was fun to build and pretty, but with a round bottom it was not very stable when the wind picked up, so I experimented with adding some outriggers. That dramatically improved stability, but it was still not very fast. But I started to think more about multi-hulls at that point, and spent some time surfing the net to see what was out there.

My criteria was that it be something I could build myself at a reasonable cost, be easily trailerable, and be fast, fun, comfortable, and hopefully dry. Also it had to look good, not clunky. And ideally I wanted a new design, something a little unique that hopefully capitalized on experience from older designs.

So when I read the design criteria for the W17, I was immediately struck that Mike's design goals closely matched my own desires. As far as aesthetics, I really liked the look of the curved arms (akas). That was a big selling point for me. The fact that Mike throws in plans for a wing mast was also a big plus. I didn't see that option with other designs.

My plans for the boat are primarily day sailing with friends and family. I want to trailer it when we go on vacations to add to the fun. Right now I'm thinking a lot about the coast of Maine, as well as the Chesapeake Bay area where I now live, with some trips down to North Carolina's outer banks. I'm also starting to think more about some overnight adventure trips. With some planning, I think this could be a lot of fun.

I grew up less than 10 miles from Damariscotta, Maine, so that is still our usual destination when we head north in the summer. When I recently saw the web site for the island trail association ( that really got me thinking what a great area to explore in a W17.

Right now, Mike is helping me find the fittings I need and I will soon be adding the steel latches and getting the main beams mounted, ready for the exciting part of attaching the amas, when one can really appreciate the size of this boat.

I hope to be able to add more to this write-up later once the boat is afloat.

Gary Bailey, Virginia, USA

September 3, 2013

Hi Mike, here's an update:

The main hull and beams are complete and I have all the bulkheads, sides, decks, bottoms and stringers built for my two akas. The first one is setup on my build table, and last night I tried positioning each of the sides against the bulkheads to see how things line up.

I have to say, you did a great job in laying out this design. They fit beautifully, and will need only a small amount of trimming. Very nice :)

Hope we will see sailing pictures of your boat pretty soon :)

best regards
Gary Bailey

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