I want to build a boat…..

This boat actually….

flying saucer boat designed by Glen L and built by james johnson

The Flying Saucer from Glen L Marine

“But you don’t know anything about building boats” I hear you say. Well, no and maybe you are right, but I am going to do it anyway!

There is just way too much pretty water here, not to get out on it and I don’t much like the look of the second hand boats that are in our price range (a tiny bit above bugger all!).

Taking my lead from John Wray, the Kiwi author of ‘South Sea Vagabonds’, who built his own yacht in the 1930’s from timber found floating around in the South Pacific, the scavenge is on to start collecting materials to build my very own fine craft.

It doesn’t look too tricky(!) and I have to confess to taking a shortcut by getting a copy of some classic plans from the well respected Naval Architects ‘Glen L Marine‘ in the USA.

I will also be getting a little help from amazon, as they have a great selection of books on boat building to help me with some of the more nautical woodwork skills.

It will be a little bit like ‘painting by numbers’……………

After all, the plans are designed with first time builders in mind and I am a craftsman after all, so cutting plywood, shaping timber and using woodworking tools is not new to me.

Reading the literature and looking at the photos, the boat looks a lot like a dinosaur skeleton at the framing stage. Lots of interesting techniques are used too, like wrapping timber spars with towels and then pouring boiling water on them to help then around the curves. I love the low tech approach!

Then its lots of planing and sanding to ‘fair’ (see I know all the nautical boat building terms!) the frame, making sure that the plywood skin sits tight against the frame. I will probably cover the outside of the boat up to the deck with fibreglass but this is not essential.

line drawing of flying saucer

Line Drawing of the Flying Saucer

The Flying Saucer is a small boat (12′ 3″) and only weighs in at a couple of hundred pounds dry, meaning that a 25hp engine will provide plenty of fun. You can leave a comment below if you hear about any rumours of engines for sale on the cheap!

Then of course I will have to think about actually driving the thing. Rules of the err….sea. Amazon to the rescue again for books on seamanship.

You will have forgive the rather quaint name, (by today’s standards), I think that the boat was designed in the late 1950’s you see.

I can’t wait to get started and now that we have a house with a notional workshop, there is no excuses, although I am not rating my chances of getting into the water this summer……

Stay well

About Ian

Handyman, humanitarian, inventor, blogger and finally a house husband looking after Cecilia, Julia, William near Hvalstrand in Asker, Norway.
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7 Responses to I want to build a boat…..

  1. Ian says:

    Wow! Lucky you, I would love to be home and potter about with a boat as a full time “occupation” 😉
    Wished you lived in Norway, as I fancy a restoring an old motor too. I think that any motor newer than the 70’s is going to look out of place on an ‘old’ woodie. Will the Mercury be too heavy? I was thinking of a 25hp for mine, thinking that it would be all she could take……
    I am going to stretch mine to 13′ aswell just because I can! I almost wish that I had gone for a bigger boat sometimes but then I realise how light and easy the flying saucer will be to trailer to friends up and down the Norwegian coast and think no, made the right choice.

    I am going to make up my frames etc over the winter and then jump up to the ‘summer’ workshop (read the garage!) once the snow clears, who knows, might be in the water in the late summer, even if it is not finished.

    Stay well and look forward to seeing the photos!

  2. Randy Wright says:

    The bug is biting me too! It’s bitten a dozen times over the years but right now there’s no homebuilt in my back yard, so it’s time.

    I like full frame boats with the classic look so the Flying Saucer stretched to 13′ is where I’m going with this one. It’ll be dolled up to the max and stressed to carry a restored Mercury Mark 55.

    My wife and I have 4 kids and their families living 1,000 miles away so we only need the boat to fit the 2 of us and a picnic basket. Therefore, I’m going to set it up as a single cockpit rig with a very long front deck. It’ll have a 2 piece Chriscraft type windshield. The rear deck will have a hatch big enough to cover battery, tank, and necessary tools. It’ll be hinged. The decks will be mahogany planks over 5 mm underlayment plywood.

    I’m a retired outboard mechanic. As I got older, my taste in outboard motors also became older. Now I work e-bay selling parts and restore a few old motors a year for favored old customers. ‘Bout time I do one for myself. I’ve put everything I need to build a Mark 55. It won’t be exactly stock because I’m going with a Merc 500 powerhead (fits fine!) to supply the punch this little rear loaded boat will require to come out of the hole smartly. I’ve also pulled all of my Mark 55 style props out of my e-bay store. I’ve got a half a dozen from moderate 3 bladers to aggressive 2 blade props to play with.

    I’ll keep a good photo record. Both of these projects are for this winter–should get rolling by mid-October. It’s great to be retired!


  3. Ian says:

    Hey Cap!
    Yes, I was looking at the weight too, I wanted a lightweight boat so that I could get it out of my daft workshop and up the slope to the roadside! I wonder what is a ‘sensible’ weight limit for the flying saucer? I see that it is a ‘four’ seater but that must depend on the weight of the person, for example my wife weighs 50KGs!

    I am going to put the wheel in the front area too as I think that the weight distribution will be better with more weigh on the ‘nose’ so to speak. I’ll keep an eye out for your project and I hope that I can do a reasonable documentary here for mine. On a separate page maybe.

    Good luck and stay well

  4. CapN Greybeard says:

    Weird. I’m about to build the same boat for the same reasons. I ran across your post while seeking other photographs the Flying Saucer. Gail… I spent a long time considering the Zip, the TNT, the Dyno-mite and the Bullet… all great looking. In the end I settled on the Flying Saucer because the ZIP is almost 2 times the weight. Since the boat will have to share space in my one stall garage while I work on it, weight and length where big factors in my choice. Also my son and I are both over 6′ and 230 lbs… since this is going to be a father son project I wanted a boat with the broadest beam. So anyway Ian, I’ll have to blog my progress along with you.

  5. Ian says:

    Thanks Gayle,
    I am wondering if I have time to document the build too and post it on the blog, although we move house too at the end of the month and something might have to give!
    It’s nice to see you guys keeping your ‘finger on the pulse’ of your boat designs, great for spotting potential problems!
    Thanks again for making the time Gayle,
    Stay well

  6. Great to hear you’re planning to build the Flying Saucer–that one and the Zip are a couple of our most popular designs. Enjoy the process!

  7. Gunhild says:

    That is one beautiful boat, Ian! You build that boat, and then invite friends onboard? Have a great summer! 🙂

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