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I received a question recently from a fellow asking, “What might be the lowest cost trimaran one can build that also offers relatively decent performance?” After thinking about it for a minute, my guess would be a “kayak trimaran.”

I’m sure there are several ways to approach this subject. So if you’re reading this and have another idea then I’d love hearing it. (The idea of getting the biggest bang for one’s buck is a top priority for many would-be sailors today).

With this in mind, here is one approach a budget-minded sailor might consider:

First, order a set of building plans for a stitch and glue plywood boat from someplace like Chesapeake Light Craft. There are many other places you can get boat plans from, of course, but let’s look at a couple of designs from Chesapeake Light Craft for this example.

Below is a kayak model CLC refers to as the Shearwater 17. The plans and building manual for this boat are $99. Click here to read more about this boat at CLC’s website.

And below is a picture of a model they call the Chesapeake 17 kayak. The building plans and manual for this boat are just $69. Click here to read more about this kayak from CLC.

The next step would be to acquire building plans for a sailing kit with outriggers — ones that will fit the kayak you’ve chosen — such as the one below. CLC offers Kayak/Canoe Sail Rig plans (with manual) for just $69 … click here to read more about it.

While you can purchase a sailing kit from Chesapeake Light Craft that contains all needed materials “pre-cut,” or simply buy one fully constructed from someplace like Balogh Sail Designs, the cost for this homemade kayak trimaran would go up significantly. (To satisfy curiosity, click here to see a couple videos that show the type of performance Balogh sailing rigs offer kayak and canoe sailors).

When it comes to wood, a kayak trimaran sailboat can be constructed using some inexpensive, 1/4-inch lauan plywood — made with WATERPROOF glue. (The waterproof glue part is a must). This will probably cost anywhere from $18-$24 for a 4′ X 8′ sheet … and only a few sheets will be required for a small boat like this.

The most expensive part of a building project like this will come from the epoxy. The money spent on a few gallons to complete this job will be higher or lower, depending upon what type and supplier is used.

After constructing the main kayak hull and outriggers, you could also call somebody like Dave Grey at PolySail and get a hold of a low-cost sail making kit in order to sew together durable and relatively efficient materials for a mainsail.

The bottom line is that if a guy (or gal) has the time, and is willing to roll up their sleeves and get a little dirty, then I’m willing to bet a nice performing kayak trimaran can be put together for about $500-$700 — depending upon the extent of the penny-pinching.