Researching Plans for a Homemade Trimaran Sailboat?

Published: 04th November 2008
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If you're researching plans for a homemade trimaran, then there is good news. Many good plans are available. And a good number were created by very reputable multihull designers/builders.

But before buying any of them, you need to know the answers to some important questions: Exactly what kind of boat do you want trimaran boat plans for? Are you positive you need a plywood tri? Do you have any experience with trimaran building in the past? Are there "study" trimaran plans for sale you can purchase before paying a lot for the full set of plans?

Let's look at each issue brought up by these questions ...

Set your sights on the exact boat you want. If you're going to build a wooden trimaran sailboat then go for the boat you really want. You can build a great trimaran and save a lot of money over the cost of many new production trimarans, especially if building a comparable boat. If you'd love having a small trimaran that is on the bigger side (one that could accommodate a crew of 4, for example) then don't settle for less by ordering sailboat plans for a smaller tri (one that only seats 2 sailors) just because doing so would save even more money.

For sure, you're going to want to correctly estimate monetary costs up front ... but don't settle for your second (or third) choice boat over a few thousand dollars of building costs. Get a second job, or work some overtime if you have to. But buy plans for your #1 choice.

When looking at plans for wood trimarans, don't think that just because the plans call for "plywood" that it means building the boat is going be "easier" than if a wood is specified ... like "cedar," for example. I know one trimaran designer who says building boats with cedar strip plank is far easier and faster than using plywood with stitch and glue construction. For his particular tri designs, it happens to be true.

Boat designers generally have a specific building method in mind when they draw up their plans. You're going to want to learn about that method before building your boat, including any time-saving techniques that can keep your project moving along.

Are you experienced? It's one thing to never have built a boat before ... but the challenge is going to be greater if you don't have any woodworking experience whatsoever. That is a bigger mountain to move.

Did you know that just 1 out of 10 boat building projects is ever completed? This is what one boat builder recently revealed to me. When it comes to the thousands of boat plans sold each year, only a handful are ever finished. This means conducting the research upfront, and then making a commitment to the project in order to see things through so you're in the 10% category.

If you're pretty certain you want a particular boat, and there are "study plans" available for it, then get those before buying the full set of plans. Speak to the designer about any questions you have.

Ask about any books, or other resource materials, you should acquire before building. Self-education is probably the best investment you'll ever make. And it will be the very first step towards building your own small tri sailboat.


Joe Farinaccio "the small tri guy" blogs about these unique sailboats at He offers info, free downloads and other resources. For example, to see pictures of one famous small tri Joe recently blogged about visit

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