Now in my late fifties, and a 12 year veteran of the U.S. Navy, I picked up sailing at base marinas and also learned to windsurf, even in gale force winds. I also got to sail Hobie cats and various small dinghies.
Being currently employed as a computer professional, I've seen the internet make a huge amount of info available, so I've read many many articles and reviewed a LOT of designs.
In my hunt for a good sailboat to build, I've recognized that although I'm not as athletic or daring as I once was, I still want a performance craft … though now, I'd like to sail a bit drier than before! I especially do not want a monohull as I want to feel like I'm going places when there is a breeze; not just coasting around slowly while being rocked to bits.
I also like working with my hands and as a hobbyist, found a few monohull designs that look good, but multihulls are certainly a faster class of craft and I have the personal experience to confirm that. I've figured that the only way I'll be able to have a comfortable performance boat that I can afford is to have a trailerable design that I can build myself.
But I learnt something from an uncle once, after he bought an airplane kit he had to sell immediately on completion, as it was just too costly to own and maintain.
As I don't want to find myself in that situation, near the top of my shopping criteria, is a smaller/affordable boat that will carry me and perhaps one or two others on occasion.
Add to this: a trailerable multihull (no marina fees for me); some comfort and dryness plus good single-handed performance and ease of setup and I'd be happy.
I know I won't go sailing much if it takes me half a day to setup and breakdown.
The W17 has all these things well covered, and the boat also seems well designed re safety margins as well. An equally comfortable cat would need to be bigger and heavier, and take longer to set up plus also require assistance to do so. Sure I'd like to have Mike's W22 design, but I don't have those kinds of funds and besides, I think the W17 will be more practical for single handing.
Early on in my searching I became aware of the true costs of boat building and ownership. The hull and floating parts are not so expensive, but the rest of the parts to turn it into a sailboat can get very expensive very fast. Bigger equates to a much greater financial commitment, so beware.
So overall, I find Mike's W17 design is very much a winner, as it is affordable, buildable without special tools or skills and has a fast setup and breakdown. She'll also be fast on the water when you want, yet drier than most and very comfortable to sail. The key to having fun sailing is enjoying ourselves on the water. I don't really want to have to wait four or five years to build some ‘super boat' but have to divorce family and friends while I do so. I want to ‘get out and go' and just that, is super by itself!
I plan to add some small personal features to Mike's design, like an integrated ice chest and most likely a removable compass mount. I'll also make sure I have space to stow a small tent and sleeping bag so I can camp out for a weekend, but I'll still try to build it light anyway. Why buy plans for a fast boat and then hang on so many extras you ruin its speed?
Can't wait to get this done and get on the water again.