It has taken a lot of experience, ummmm mistakes, to get here: building a boat from plans, but modified quite heavily to achieve the goals which I have set for myself. I guess what I mean to say is that when you are short on funds, and lacking in time, one must make compromises to achieve a suitable end result. Because for me, if money were no object, I would simply go out and purchase used mid-2000's Lagoon 55 catamaran and sail over the horizon. Or, if still suitably well off and with more time on my hands, I might choose to build a larger catamaran than the 40' Wharram Narai MKIV. But alas, he we are, based on my previous mistakes/experience, funding, and the all important time factor, I have been compelled to come to an understanding with myself and this project. I will take something that is good and make it better to suit my needs, and all while on a fairly strict budget.
I had originally intended to build a Wharram Tiki 38 for myself. When those plans were made, and materials purchased, I only had a wife and two small children. Now I have two teenagers and two under age 6 plus my wife and I. The Tiki 38 is simply too small, just as the previous Wharram Tiki 30 was too small when my, now teenagers, were both under age 3. The second problem is that I have zero desire to build another Tiki 38. As beautiful as that catamaran is, it is a real pain to build; call it experience. In fact, after having built a Tiki 30 and a Tiki 38, I am not a fan of the stitch and glue method for the larger boats. I am not a fan of large fillets and fiberglass tape on the interior. Call it experience. I am not a fan of beam troughs, since a tiny mistake in building becomes compounded at the troughs. Call it experience. One hundred and twenty gallons of epoxy is quite expensive. Compound curves are aggravating. Call it experience. Curved insulated cabin tops, as lovely as they are, add more work than is necessary. Call it experience. I would rather be sailing and adventuring that building another boat.
But since I cannot afford to buy a catamaran on the open market, I am relegated to building another one. It just so happens that I know how to do that. Call it experience. However, when it comes to selection, my options are quite limited. Once I eliminated all of those things that I wanted to stay away from in a design, and found something is the size range that I was looking for, I left myself blowing in the wind. Nothing fit. Nothing gave space, size, affordability, and most importantly fell into my particular building style and experience. I love Wharram catamarans. I have owned two so far (Tangaroa MK IV and Tiki 30) and I am building a third. But I eliminated the Tiki and Pahi series for all of the reasons listed above, which left the Classic designs. And here my choices were quite limited. The Narai MK IV was the only one suitable and within my budget. Sure, I could have scooted up to the Tehini 51, and I would certainly love to own one of those. But building one would be a problem since my shop is not big enough, and coming up with the additional $15,000 in materials, plus the extra cost in rigging just does not fit our budget. As it is, we have about $12,000 wrapped up in plywood, lumber, and epoxy to build the Narai, plus another $2500 we will need in additional materials for the modifications I have planned. This still does not include the rigging, engine(s), cushions, galley equipment, electrical and plumbing systems, etc. The $15,000 it would take in extra materials just to build the Tehini hulls will be used to fully complete the Narai to cruise ready condition. We are fortunate that we have already sunk the cost of the shop and tools.
The problem with the Narai MKIV (as it is originally drawn) is that it does not have enough bunk space. Though the plans say four double bunks, this is simply not accurate. Call it experience. The honeymoon phase wears off after a couple of years, at most, and brothers and sisters will not lovingly share such a small bunk. Call it experience. We also believe that the teenagers deserve a bit of privacy as do the adults, and the design is not conducive to such privacy. The modifications required to fix these issues are in conjunction with the other modifications to eliminate the beam troughs, give standing headroom in all cabins, have separate head/shower area with standing headroom, have an equipment room, and add an enclosed bridge deck among other changes.
So far, only the shape of the hulls will remain original. Every other aspect of the design will be modified. Every bulkhead is different than the plans - the original design had only two full bulkheads per hull, and now there are four. The port hull will carry a 40" wide single berth in the bow and another in the stern and a queen size guest cabin midships (where the galley should reside.) The starboard hull will carry a 40" single berth forward, and queen master midships, and a full head and shower aft with an equipment room in the stern. The 100% original bridge deck will contain the galley and large settee with a steering station attached to the aft side. The beam overall will be increased from 19' to 23.5', which has necessitated designing and building new beams.
My ultimate goal with this boat is to blend the best of various Wharram designs with which I am familiar, and eliminate the time consuming, tedious, and other elements I simply do not like, all while sticking to a strict budget under $30,000 for a complete, cruise ready catamaran that will fit my family. Only time will tell if my past "experiences" will culminate in a successful and rewarding build, or if I will simply be compensated with more "experience."