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Buehler's Backyard Boatbuilding Paperback – December 15, 1990
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``A rowdy, detailed, informative, sometimes profane and immensely practical compendium of boatbuilding techniques, comments and philosophy. Buehler's thumbnail descriptions. . .are as clear and concise as you will get. But best of all, Buehler believes you can have as much fun building your boat as you intend to have sailing it.'' (Sailing)
``How to build wodden boats the Buehler way; which is to say, inexpensively, yet like the proverbial brick outhouse.'' (WoodenBoat)
``With an eye to economy and ease, Buehler has modernized wooden boatbuilding processes just enough to allow even the unskilled (and underfunded) to succeed.'' (Boatbuilder)
``George Buehler is a throwback to an earlier, more self-reliant time. His theme is that it isn't necessary to build `approved' style yachts in an `approved' fashion, it is more important to get on with building and using boats!'' (American Sailor)
About the Author
George Buehler was born in Oregon in 1948, and has been messing around with boats ever since his Sainted Mother gave him a copy of Scuppers the Sailor Dog. Buehler resides with his wife and two dogs on Whidbey Island, Washington, where he is known for the sterling qualities of his friends, his kindness to stray dogs and abandoned boats, and his collection of bad habits. He's a fair shot with a pistol, and a Croquet Ace.
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Another reviewer mentioned that it is getting a bit dated, and I agree.
The author is very keen on using affordable materials to build these boats, but it's unlikely the materials can be cheaply sourced anymore if you are building the boat anywhere in the developed world.
If you are building boats from this book overseas where timber is still cheaply available, you should be able to produce a very strong boat that will last a long time.
But there are other considerations. Firstly, you have to want the sort of boat George likes, which is one based on the great British workboats - massive construction, long keels, heavy displacement, solid timber masts, usually even gaff rig. Lost you yet? That's what George likes, and if you're looking for a racer/cruiser to take you on a Jimmy Cornell rally to compete with all the Jeanneau 42's, you can forget it. It ain't happenin'. But, come a blow, you can heave your heavy, long keeled gaffer to and sleep the night away while the rest of the fleet white-knuckles it all night. You have to make choices in life - you're at the fork in the road.
The second consideration is resale. Now, I know you're *never* going to sell your boat, you're going to be buried at sea in it like a Viking. Right. At some point you're going to want to sell your boat, or at least be rid of it. The downside of George's boats is that they aren't "yacht quality", and you are going to have a hard time selling them. With their 2X4 lumber yard ribs and plywood interior and houses, they look very home made. If you are a talented craftsman, and want to spend a lot of money (and I thought we were trying to save money, right?) on teak and brass, you can make one look right shippy, but it's still going to be painfully obvious that this is a boat you built in your back yard. It doesn't matter that your boat is as tough as nails - things like steel and concrete ballast and iron fastenings in the hull just terrify people (not without some reason, let's be honest) and will dampen the market. Don't hold your breath waiting on the phone to ring come time to sell. It's something to think about.
For the flip side to this sort of boat building, check out Larry Pardey's masterwork on classic hull construction. His idea of a backyard boat is one that would make the cover of every magazine in print, and sell for $100,000 after years of cruising. But it takes years of work and LOTS of money and tools and equipment and skill to pull that off. Maybe you don't have all that. Maybe you don't WANT all that. Maybe you just want to take a year, build a tough little boat, and spend a few years in the Caribbean. In that case, let George Buehler take you there.
George details on the techniques of building heavy workman's boats. These are solid, robust vessels. While they are a far cry of the varnished pieces of art one usually thinks of as a 'wooden boat' I personally like them very much.
George explains a lot of the trade-offs in the designs of these vessels. I agree with most of them.
The book as a manual is very good and thorough. It also comes with some plans that are buildable out of the book. I would suggest one would buy plans though!
This book will not teach you how to build a wooden varnished dinghy. If you're going to build one of his designs, you will want another book to build that piece of art tender.