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Launching: Feb/Mar 2013?

My W17 Building Experience —by Don Blackstone (C45)

So why did I select to build the W17? First, a little background of who I am.

Mike, I have had an adventurous life. [originally from the USA] Skiing, scuba diving, sky diving, sprint and midget race car builder, plus becoming a nationally known driver in the US. Also a pilot and builder of two small airplanes plus builder of a Farrier F41 catamaran and making extensive Pacific Ocean offshore trips with it. I have delivered yachts between Thailand and Singapore and had a real hairy delivery two years ago, going from Thailand to the Philippines with just the owner and I on board a 58 ft monohull race boat. We lost the engine, were alternately becalmed or beset by dangerous squalls while crossing the South China Sea, and then, sideswiped by a freighter at night. We managed to save the mast with a jury rig and after 28 days, made a small Malaysian port, north of Brunei. My adventures have earned me a lot of thrills as well as 24 broken bones.

About 4 years ago, cancer nearly got me and I lost one kidney and had a serious brain operation. However, I AM a survivor and after 3 years I am clean, and feel fit and active for my age. The people here think I am in my mid 50s, but I will be 78 in January!

So — why the W17? Well, it seemed like an interesting boat to build, one that I could both afford and keep at home on a trailer. Thailand is not too "yacht friendly" and as there is considerable theft here, a boat I could store at home would make sense. I also liked the potential "go fast" possibility and the shape of the amas, as I thought the underwater shape and camber would provide a balanced lift as well as some resistance when forces were to leeward.

After all I have been through, I wanted to see if I could still build a boat. So after building a house for my family, I built a big 20' x 30' carport to build boats under. Because of the climate, I can work year round in shorts and sandals. With all the resin flying, it's a good day when I do not glue my feet to my shoes.

So what will I do with it? Well I live in a small Thai farming village about 3 hours north east of Bangkok. There is a very large, but shallow lake nearby for my testing where I will be the only sailboat on the lake. Then I plan to sail (and motor) down the Chao Phraya river from Ayutthaya to Bangkok, a distance of 375 kilometers, under 16 plus bridges, passing numerous temples and historical sites. This is a winding river with many tributaries, much like the Mississippi, and was the lifeblood for early exploration and development.

Next will be trailer trips to the West side of the Gulf of Thailand with a trip to Ko Samui island, trailer to Phuket and a trip across that isthmus to the exotic beaches of Ko Phi Phi Don and Krabi.


And why do I now live full time in Thailand? My Thai wife and I have birthdays two days apart but she will soon be 41 and I will be 78. But after 6+ years together she has proved to be a real consistent sweetheart and has nursed me thru some really rough times. We have a good Thai family. Although my cost of living is much less here than in the US, there are many challenges with finding materials, tools, communication and the culture. My boat is largely 5 mil teak waterproof plywood. I have tried to build to spec and keep it as light as possible, but no avoiding it—teak is hard and heavy.

My personal motto is: "never give up".

Fair Winds and Following Seas,

Don Blackstone, Chonburi, Thailand


Bench all ready for the wing mast


Don Blackstone

Since sending this in, Don reports that he first sprayed the boat with 2 coats of epoxy and will follow this with 2 coats of 2-part polyurethane after he completes the forward beam fairing. He's hoping for a launch date around Feb/March of 2013 but finding materials in Thailand is a challenge. Well done Don!


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