On Building a Woods’ Strike 16 Trimaran
Carlos has previous building experience. So I asked him if he’d share a bit about this project. And his wonderfully detailed responses provide us with some great insight into why he chose this particular model, along with the mindset of what it takes to begin and finish a project such as this.
[The images below, with the exception of the first one, have been taken from Carlos' blog and are used with his permission] Many thanks for sharing your info with us here Carlos. We look forward to your finished creation :-)
On Building a Woods’ Strike 16 Trimaran
by Carlos Solanilla
Even though I love building boats, I must confess that I am not the neatest builder out there and always looking ways to get the building done faster so I can go on sailing. So the finished product will be robust but most likely will not pass the inspection of a wood craftsman.
Although I grew up with both powerboats and sailboats (Sunfish, 420, 470, Bluewaters), I have always gravitated to sailing. When I moved to Florida I quickly discovered how easy is to buy a derelict boat for very little and fix it – that is how I learn to work with epoxy and glass.
I was lucky enough to rebuild and later sell a Lancer28, Charlie Morgan32, and currently have a Cal39. In between I built small sailboats, dinghies, nested dinghies, and once (and never again) I built the floats for an inflatable British 16-foot catamaran called the Catapult – a great concept that may be just right to bring it back.
Why build a boat instead of buy?
I guess my upbringing has something to do with it. My father was an immigrant from Spain (into Venezuela) and he believed in self-reliance and taught all of us that. He was an architect and believed in the “apprentice” model.
I remember my first participation on a woodie project was the construction of our floating weekend home for the Tucacas/Morrocoy Cayos or island keys (atolls) – similar to the Florida Keys, but with sand instead of rocks. If you look at a map of Venezuela, it is 100 miles east of where you see the peninsula that looks like a head, basically 75 miles west of Bonaire. Anyways, the floating home was made of bead and cove wood, four massive floats and had three bedrooms, two balconies, kitchen, storage, etc.
Why a small trimaran?
This is where the wife comes in. I really enjoy beach sailboats more than my big Cal39 – even though it has “shallow” draft – 6 ft is a problem in South Florida and we always end up anchored very far away from the beaches due to the terrain on the Florida Bay or Florida keys. The upside is that you have all the comforts of a hotel and the CAL is fast for a monohull – Bill Lapworth was a genius.
A solution to the shallow draft issue … and to experiment with pacific boats … was to build a pacific proa – great boat, fast and great tracking. The downside is a wet ride and the set up is about 1/2 hour to 45 minutes depending of how many times you get interrupted by people.
Since I already had the portable inflatable catamaran (Catapult) and knowing my wife did not appreciate getting spray; I started to search for a vessel that could keep up with the Catapult, and seat two adults and one kid – the other two kids would be in the Catapult.
Once I saw Richard Woods site, I liked the Strike 18, but thought the 16 would be a lighter choice. It still has the cabin of the 18 and my plan is to make the cabin removable, via quick disconnect, so I can lay the boat sideways on the side of my house (land is a premium in Miami so we have very small yards). My trailer is foldable, so when not in use, I can store the amas, vaka, and trailer in about 4-ft wide space by 20 long against the wood fence.
[The following image has been taken from Richard Woods' Strike 16 study plans (in pdf), which can be downloaded for free at his website www.sailingcatamarans.com]
Preference for the Strike 16 Trimaran
I have participated in two Everglades Challenge (EC) races from the Water Tribe – have not finished yet – the first with the proa, and later converting the proa to a Philippine Paraw. If you look up the site and read the course (300 Miles) it becomes apparent that a shallow draft boat is one of the keys to finish the race.
The proa, having a V hull drafted 1.5-ft, so a concern when going thru the bay near Flamingo where is full of mud banks and oyster bars. So again, the Woods Strike 16 seems like a good option.
I just bought a used Prindle Beach Cat in decent condition – I am able to use parts of it for the Strike 16, including the rig. After I paid for it – I noticed at least another 10 beach cats in the same beach where just getting the phone number of the owners from the city would have probably yielded similar prices or cheaper.
The mast of the Prindle 15 is light enough to be demounted at the first Check Point where you must go under a bridge. I will add the runners option under the hull and will coat the bottom with graphite/epoxy.
I think the cabin design will protect me from weather – it is very cold in March in Florida due to the cold fronts, and I think I can build a flexible retractable bimini for sleeping or further protection – TBD. Another appeal is that you can use all the parts on a beach catamaran and have an extra rudder.
Concerns about the Strike 16
In my opinion, the Strike is boxy looking, and lacks a centerboard trunk so it might be questionable on pointing ability. I am hoping that since I am using Prindle hulls and they are asymmetrical, they will act like a proa hull providing enough lateral resistance to reduce leeway.
If needed, then I can always build a trunk later on. The other concern I have is water ingression. In shallow bays, when the winds kick up, you get very square looking waves that have a tendency to kick water over the cockpit. The Strike 16 tri has a large well but no exit for the water trapped. I may have to fit one of those British self-bailers, or retrofit a pipe to the transom – not sure which way.
Building Materials Chosen
Richard’s design calls for BS1088 OKUME plywood of basically 4mm on the external vertical surfaces and 6mm on the horizontal surfaces and bulkheads. The main reason is weight savings. Knowing that I will be beaching the boat in tough bottom, I preferred to use Meranti BS1088 for the surfaces in direct contact with water – as well as the bulkheads – Meranti in my experience is more forgiving to humidity and water ingression than Okume.
I will use Okume only at the top surfaces. I do realize a weight penalty of about 10-lbs per 4×8, but is offset by the cost savings. I purchased the ply and fiberglass cloth from Noah’s Marine and so far I am happy with what I have in terms of pricing and quality.
As for the epoxy on this project, I wanted to try a cheaper alternative to the West or MAS epoxies, and took a chance on AeroMarine Products epoxy. A 3-gallon total mix kit cost $140 – far less than any other product out there – and is engineered for the humid conditions of South Florida. So far I am very happy with it and the pumps.
I will have to give you man-hours with regards to how long it will take to build this boat – my guess is about 200 man-hours, maybe less. How that translates in calendar days is another question. If we stay home for the holidays then I would be able to speed things up where I can have it in the water by the end of March.
As for the performance of this boat, a lot of that will depend upon the final weight of the craft and the water conditions. I think this is a fair-weather trimaran; being fairly flat, I am assuming performance will drop on a choppy sea.
I will compare it to a Sailbird trimaran – http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Sailbirds/ – I hope to get 60% of the performance of a Sailbird – I will be happy with that. Ultimately I want the trimaran to be rugged for the Everglades Challenge competition that I hope to enter in 2012.
To see Carlos’ updates on the building progress of this sailboat, you are invited to periodically visit his blog at http://miamitrimaran.blogspot.com