Long Steps Build

I guess it’s official, I’m starting a new build! In 2019 I launched my Ross Lillistone First Mate and I’ve put a bit over 600 miles on her. It’s a great boat, especially single handing or for a pair who know how to sail but lately I think my use case has changed and I want something different. After a ton of research I settled on John Welsford’s Long Steps and in December 2022 I bought the plans. It was a little unnerving since I could only find one or two that had been launched, but I figured if this is what John was designing for himself to circumnavigate the north island of New Zealand it should be good enough for what I have in mind.

Here’s the size difference between my 15′ First Mate and the 19′ Long Steps. I really want to do more camping and Long Steps will be a lot easier to get set up. The open cockpit will be simpler to sleep in and I’m excited to try out the benefits of the mizzen. Last summer I motored out to a sandbar quite a bit with my wife and son and some more room would be nice.

Unloading 21 sheets of Hydrotek plywood. Of course it had to come right as we were getting ready to fiberglass up an old through hull on a boat, hence the gloves. My plan is to build this thing on my lunch hour.

Over the last year I’ve been slowly converting the hand drawn plans to CAD. I then ran the drawings through nesting software and let my computer crunch on it for half a day. It got me a little closer, but it was still better in the end to do it by eye. There’s just so many pieces and I found it easier to use the software on the big ones and then squeeze in everything else. If all goes well I hope to save 1.5 sheets of 3/8″ ply!

A benefit to 3d modeling everything is that I can add the stiffeners to the bulkheads and get a good idea of how things are supposed to fit together. Better to get this figured out digitally than to try figuring it out with a cup of epoxy in hand.

I started with the easiest sheet first and plotted out all the points with a T square made from the shipping crate (the rest will become the strongback). I later sharpied lines every 100mm on the blade to help me gauge where to put the mark. This is my first project in metric and there’s been a bit of a learning curve since I have no feel for how long anything is.

Eventually I got six parts jigsawed out and planed down to the line. I knew meranti was supposed to be pretty splintery and it certainly is with the jigsaw set in orbit mode. Changing to a straight cut helped, but I eventually found cutting downhill to the grain worked the best. Sometimes I plunge cut in the middle of a part to get a more favorable angle.