The Construction Of MOM
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Why build a new boat?
My wife, Kate, and I decided to build new rather than buy a used boat after doing considerable research and talking with people that had bought used and people who had built their own boats. The general consensus was that most everything on board a used boat had to be "rebuilt" anyway. So by building our boat we would end up with a new "new" boat rather than a new "used" boat. Also we wanted a particular cabin layout that was hard to find in a production boat. Another plus is that we would be extremely familiar with every system onboard.
Doing online researching for a boat we found a Pearson 36 Pilothouse which seemed to have many good features of what we wanted in a boat. Only trouble was they were uncommon (only about 30 of them were built) and were somewhat old (all made in the early 80's) and therefore would need a MAJOR refit to be acceptable. So the search continued on.
We researched boats in the summer of 2006 while visiting the Northwest. We looked at quite a few fiberglass pilothouse boats but only the Pacific Seacraft Pilothouse 32 seemed to fit the criteria we had for the interior layout. One problem with this boat is that they are all at least 10 years old and only about 40 of them were made making them not too common to find on the used market. There was one for sale in Bellingham and we got to check it out very carefully. It was 13 years old and looked like it might need all the rebuilding that we had been warned about (new motor, new rigging, new sails, new plumbing, etc.).
Earlier that year we found out about the boat designs from Brent Swain while doing research on the internet. What caught our interests about the design is that it is a custom pilothouse built in steel. The design can be built as either a fin keel or with twin bilge keels. Brent has developed a unique construction method that is called "origami" as the hull is "pulled" into shape. It makes very good use of the strength of steel plate that has been curved. Almost every piece of steel in the boat has some curve in it making it extremely strong.
The heart of this origami boat building is the east coast of Vancouver Island in Canada. This is where we looked at 25 different "Brent Boats" as they are called by their owners. Of the 25 boats we saw, 20 were in the water and 5 were under construction. We even got to sail with Brent on his own boat that he has lived on for 22 years!
The more we saw of these little steel boats the more we liked them. Every one was custom and had a different interior layout. What we wanted was the dinette up in the pilothouse and the galley down below. As the design is custom that would be easy to do as the boat was built. So we decided to build the Brent Swain 36 with twin bilge keels.
Our research had also led us to Evan Shaler, a boat builder that specializes in the Brent Swain design. Our boat was to be Evan's 35th hull built! As Evan would not travel to the US for construction we had to find a site for building the boat on Vancouver Island in Canada. We had met Winston & Carol Bushnell (DOVE IV) early on in doing our field research. Winston has built three "Brent Boats" of his own (DOVE II, DOVE III and DOVE IV) and had sailed the northwest passage accross the top of Canada in one (DOVE III). Winston agreed to let us use his property on Vancouver Island for the construction of our boat.