Projects: Constructing a 40ft catamaran with WEST SYSTEM epoxy
Work doesn’t necessarily slow down after retirement, as engineer Martin Ellison proved when he left his teaching post at the age of 59 and set about building his first boat. What started as some prompting from his wife to find a meaningful project evolved into the idea of building a 40ft catamaran. Martin tells epoxycraft how it all came about.
I have always loved being on or near the water and wanted to have a boat of my own. As someone who has renovated a few houses in the past, I wasn’t daunted by the idea of building a wooden boat from a set of plans, although I’m not sure it was the scale of project my wife had in mind!
I chose to build a catamaran because I wanted the space and stability; preferring a power cat, I searched online for some designs and went for the Skoota 36 (Woods Designs). This is a relatively simple timber and plywood design sheathed in fibreglass, although I have slightly modified the design to increase the length to 40ft so that I could enlarge the accommodation space in the hulls.
When I began in earnest in September 2014 I didn’t even have a boat shed, so that was the first project. It was ready for action by March 2015 and I have been steadily working on the boat for the past nine months.
I’ve used WEST SYSTEM epoxy all over… and found its strength and versatility to be ideal.
For the build I’ve used WEST SYSTEM® epoxy all over – jointing, filleting, waterproofing and sheathing and have found its strength and versatility to be ideal for this project.
I’ve mainly used WEST SYSTEM 105 Epoxy Resin® with WEST SYSTEM 205 Fast Hardener®. In addition, I’ve combined the epoxy mix with WEST SYSTEM 403 Microfibres and WEST SYSTEM 409 Microsphere Blend® to ensure all the gaps have been thoroughly filled. When it came to sheathing, I used 300g and 600g Episize™ Biaxial Fabric and 300g woven WEST SYSTEM 787 Aramid Fabric® to provide extra protection below the waterline.
The boat build so far has taken just over 1100 hours. It’s a big boat and there’s a lot of work – mainly woodwork – involved in completing each stage. I’m enjoying it though, it’s very rewarding and most of the build has gone pretty smoothly.
As luck would have it there is another Skoota 36 being built in Canada which is about one year ahead of me and the owner has very kindly shared his build photos, which has been a great help. People say it looks very difficult but in practice it isn’t – it’s simply a case of following the plans and having the confidence to get on with it.
There’s still a bit of a way to go but I’m really looking forward to turning over so we can finalise the internal layout and then getting her in the water and cruising in her.
Our thanks to Martin Ellison for sharing his story. We wish him well and will be following him closely as he completes his build.
If you would like more information about this project you can follow the build on https://my-new-cat.weebly.com