Auklet V

The following is part of a collaborative project by Richard Myers, Ethan Love, Zachary Guenther, and Matthew Grotzke. Each section is authored by a separate person covering a different aspect of the build. We all contributed equally in our own way to make this project a success.

Whisky Plank!

Thoughts On Process and Improvement

By Rick, Ethan, Matt, and Zach


The Auklet is a Clinker Plywood build. Ian Oughtred has published a book dedicated solely to these builds called Clinker Plywood Boatbuilding Manual. A builder can get by building with just the plans if they have an understanding of epoxy and some rudimentary understanding of how a boat goes together. Ian Oughtred’s plans are outstanding, very detailed and drafted for you.


Our process was very easy from the start. We began by making molds and a strongback. Then, we leveled those off to the ground. This was all completed in the first day. The feeling all around is that we worked extremely well together.  We easily split tasks and knew what each of us had to accomplish individually to move along quickly.  Even during the first day, we began the backbone of the boat.

Finished setting up the strong back in 1 Day!

The stem is made of laminated Alaskan Yellow Cedar (AYC) and the transom is plywood over top of Sapele. To bridge the two, the HOG was made out of two pieces of AYC laminated together. By the end of the first weekend, all of this had been put together using West Systems 205 epoxy and 105 hardener. We were on to shaping garboard planks by the 21st of January.


At this point life got in the way for all of us. One of the main challenges to this build was balancing busy school, work and private lives with a demanding project.  By this point we all had at least 20 hours into the build some of us had more

It wasn’t until February 17th that worked convened in a serious manor. We planked with vigor for a whole four day weekend; alternating who was able to show up and giving up on the idea that we would somehow be able to balance four busy schedules.

At this time we were all focused on the building and not as much of the business or tracking that we intended to do in the beginning. Much of the later build was spent problem solving. Some of the problems included;


  • Trying to figure out how to heat the garage.
  • Creating lapstrake clamps on a small or nonexistent budget.
  • Locating where the dagger board will go through the haul.
  • Shaping the skeg and the outer stem.


By the end of all our collaboration for this quarter and before we sat down and wrote this and our other reports we were able to get the Auklet to the completion level you see in the picture bellow. Nearly ready to coat with epoxy and flip over.

Getting closer

After writing our own drafts for different parts of the build we put together ideas that we thought might make this a quicker, easier, and possibly less expensive build.


  • Better communication and an outlined process or flow chart of tasks would eliminate down time. Although there was very little sitting around without something to do.
  • Using time cards to track hours and activity on a daily basis would be able to supply a concise idea of how long task take on this type of build.
  • Budgeting and accounting software could have been used to track expenses.


Of course if this was our full time job we would have had a much easier time of showing up and getting much more accomplished.

Our next major focus would be profitability of our job so far as of today the total amount for consumables that have been paid for during this build total to $458.27.  With a quick look on craigslist and shopping on google it seems that the market could bear between $2000 and $3500 for a sailing dinghy of this type. Maybe as much as $4500 if marketed correctly.


Currently there are 4 of us that have a total of 168 hours into the build.  If we were to pay ourselves $15 per hour that would put us at $2500 in labor cost already. The boat is not yet finished. So that would leave no room for profit, much less all the other important stuff like paying employer portion of taxes, or renting a place to build the boat.


This serves as an example of how tight margin is in the small boat market is if building a boat like this. So how could one make a profit?

Some of our thoughts on improving are little steps towards profitability but not a clear answer. To make the Auklet a profitable build for a business it would have to be a boat that you would produce multiple of. If this were the case it would be important to develop tools that would allow for a fast build.


  • A CNC mold with perfect registration marks.
  • Ribands to hold plank shape without having need for extra fasteners.
  • Patterned planks that could be cut to shape in multiples or CNC cut.
  • A type of fastener that could easily be plotted out and be finished over to eliminate the need for filling.
  • Full size patterns for nearly everything in the boat.

This would be a start of things that could make this build less expensive in labor and supplies. Other concerns that are not related to tools that would make the boat cheaper include.


  • Marketing the boats correctly could add to their elure and price tag.
  • Holding accounts with suppliers to get special pricing.
  • Having a sales tax license to avoid additional cost of sales tax.

With all that said a boat like this would have to sell consistently at $3000 and cost only $1500 in labor and supplies. At that point why not just whip off a couple hundred fiberglass dinghies?

Because they are not that cool that’s why!

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