One of the great attractions of building your own boat is that you are the boss. It's your project, your boat, and you're the captain from the word go. So a lot of people get fun out of customising their projects. Sometimes this is good, and sometimes not so good. If we explain a little more about the weekender's design, maybe we can answer some general questions about modifications before they have to be asked.
The Weekender is the result of a half-dozen experimental boats
we built and tried, gleaning some good ideas from all, and dumping
some brainstorms that just didn't work. It's a pretty carefully
developed design, but that doesn't mean it can't be improved (or
at least customised, without hurting its performance). We've gotten
some good modification ideas from Weekender builders, and we've
come up with a few up-grades ourselves after years of sailing
The key concept here is that these modifications came from the reality of actual use; -modifications that were tried as tests before being incorporated in the final design. The problem that many boaters get into is over-thinking, (and it's evil twin, -over-talking).
After many decades of designing experimental machinery, we try to limit our conceptualising and verbalising to a minimum, while expanding the actual in-use tests to a maximum. This is how fast racing cars, hot fighter-jets, and money-making Broadway plays get created. The creators will not like to admit it, but much trial and error goes into any, supposedly genius-designed success. Those off-Broadway try-outs in Paducah, and those quiet track tests are where the real successes are born. Everybody would like to claim their on-paper genius at conceptualising is the source, but it's almost always trial-and-terror that answers the questions definitively.
The basic hull shape and structure of the Weekender is a very simplified box that makes use of stressed skins and box-section to create enormous rigidity for the weight. We came across this phenomenon at a time when we were knocking out a great many experimental models. The concept worked better than we dreamed it would, and therein lies the key to this discussion: reality contains many surprises, some bad, some good. If we stay loose during the experimenting and ready to follow the lead of reality, we can end up with some nice-performing new machines.
GENERAL MODIFICATION THOUGHTS:
Try to move your judgment of whether the idea is good or not into the in-action tests as soon as possible. Too much thinking or talking about it often does one of two things: talks you out of trying what might be a terrific idea; or talks you into carrying on with a bad idea too long before dumping it. The less time and money you invest in a trial, the more clearly you'll judge the outcome.
We've tried boats that weren't even painted, boats that we cobbled-up out of other boat parts, boats that could only last for one day on the water; -just to get a reading on a certain concept IN ACTION, rather than on paper. All the figures, math, computers, and track records are just a starting point for reality. And nobody's reputation will make a boat steer better downwind if something in its design won't let it. Boats are more than a scientific sum of the parts, and science is a great starting point, but nothing else.
Great surfboards and the boomerang have been developed by following tests to beyond the concepts of what science could describe from analysing prior performers. It takes more than fuzzy logic; it takes fuzzy genius, following performance leads instinctively into new realms of performance.
One of the most creative professionals we know has a couple of thoughts about the creative process worth passing on:
1. There's no such thing as an expert.
2. You're only as good as your last success. Progress happens so fast that the discoverer of yesterday's breakthroughs is often old-hat before he even gets to ride the wave of guruism.
SPECIFIC MODIFICATION THOUGHTS:
The Weekender depends on its monocoque box-section. Any changes of this box must be done so they retain this box structure. The cabin roof can be easily raised without affecting the box. But removing bulkheads or side decks will change the structure too much.
The thing to remember when thinking about changing things is that if you changed the size of one part, -all the parts around this part will usually also have to be changed. And all the parts around THOSE parts may also have to be changed. Trying to figure what will be affected by changing one single part can be tricky.
The other thing to remember when thinking about changes is that all boats are compromises. You don't get anything for free, -which means that when you gain here, you'll be losing there. All boats are too small. When you've lived around them long, you'll see a lot of guys steadily upscaling their boats until they get to the point where they can't pay the dock rent or find enough crew to run the thing. Then this All-boats-are-too-small concept will dawn on them, and they'll usually scale back to something that's really convenient to use, and work around the fact that you're going to feel cramped at one time or another on any boat in the world. Small boats have many soul-soothing, wallet-fattening advantages. It's easier to learn how to sleep in a fetal position than trying to find friends who'll crew when you need them to.
The truth is that boats (or any confined area that you roam around in for any length of time) tend to grow with use. After you learn when to duck and where to step, many boats turn out to seem larger than they did at first, especially on the water. You'd think that out on the briney you'd feel smaller, but boats tend to swell in water and become a whole world to you. When the crew of the Kon-Tiki finally paddled out from their raft in mid ocean for a look, they were flabbergasted at what a small craft they were living on. It felt a lot bigger from on board. Personally speaking, we've had a 25-footer and a couple of 36-footers, -and have grown to prefer under 20' for a hobby boat.
Here are the elements of the Weekender that we think could be modified, according to personal taste:
TO EVERYBODY CONTEMPLATING CHANGING THE WEEKENDER BEFORE EVEN GIVING THE BOAT A FAIR TRY:
Here's what we're pretty sure you won't want to change once you learn how to get the most out of the boat:
Here's what you shouldn't omit from the boat: