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Building a Boat from Free Plans

Building a Boat from Free Plans

Posted by Scott Jones on Apr 21st 2022

Ever wonder whether anyone actually builds a boat from the free plans we offer here at Duckworks? Here's a success story from builder Mic Dales, who completed his Drifter 16 trimaran from free plans in only 3.5 months! 

The Drifter 16 Trimaran plans are among the many great boat plans offered for free at Duckworks.com

Here is what Mic had to say about the 108-day build:

"During the summer my son, who lives right next to me, got his girls interested in sailing. First on a Sunfish, then on a Hobie Cat 16. They moved near us in Florida in the winter. When they got here they took sailing lessons on a Catalina 31. When I got back to Florida I felt the girls needed a boat they could sail here. I did some research and decided the drifter 16 would be right for them, and I was confident in my ability to build it. I was delighted when I discovered your free download, which turned out to be very well detailed. I built it in about 3 1/2 months and encountered no problems."


Mic does have previous experience boatbuilding and woodwoorking, which definitely helps! 

"I am 81 years old, and have done a lot of wood working for the last 20 years, and construction work the previous 40 years. In the summer I live on a lake in New Hampshire, and winter on Florida's west coast. I have built a couple of canoes and a small skiff in the past, and last summer embarked on a much larger boat project—I built a Redwing 18 launch with an electric outboard. I got up to the point of painting it when I put it to bed for the winter. Next summer I will paint it and want to put an awning on it with solar panels."

Marine ply is hard to get in lengths over 8' these days so for this project a scarf joint was necessary in each plank. This router with the attached base and a simple jig to maintain the correct angle, generally 1:8 in plywood and 1:12 in solid wood, is how Mic cut his scarfs. 

Mic's router with jig.

You can never have too many clamps!

Heeling pretty far to port! ;)


Great job on the build, Mic! I'm sure your granddaughters will have many good adventures. Hope that your success building from free plans inspires others to give it a shot, too! See Drifter 16 Trimaran Plans, browse all Free Plans, or shop Boat Building Supplies now!