12 foot Tyvek Sailboat •

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Project by tyvekboy posted 08-01-2010 10:13 PM 20286 views 29 times favorited 39 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Aug 2, 2010

Hi All -

Wanted to share latest Tyvek Homewrap boat with you.

Length = 12 feet
Beam = 50 inches
Weight of hull empty = approx.100 pounds
Mast = 16 feet
Time to build = approx. 16 months of spare time

I got tired of paddling and decided to make a sailboat. The plans are from an old magazine article on the internet at SailBoats BreezeBaby

The original design was to have plywood sides and bottom. I changed it to have Tyvek sides and bottom.

The framework (Pic #1) was fir and basically built to plan with a few modifications for the Tyvek skin. In this picture are the 8 ft. curved blade oars. The seats are walnut veneer plywood with solid walnut edging. The floorboards are cedar. Spar varnish was used on non-painted surfaces.

Once the framework was painted I added the TYVEK homewarp (3 layers) instead of plywood. Each layer was laminated to previous layer with contact cement. I was able to pull the Tyvek as tight as a drum. I then added replaceable plastic trim strips around the gunwales (Pic #2) and on the bottom of the hull (Pic #3) to protect the Tyvek.

The Centerboard (Pic #4) has about 15 pounds of lead with fiberglass reinforcement around the part that goes in the water. It was made from plywood.

The Kickup Rudder (Pic #5) (shown in it’s retracted position) is also made of plywood and has about 8 pounds of lead weight and fiberglass reinforcement around the edges. Also in that picture you can see the emergency boarding ladder in it’s deployed position.

The sailboat rowed fine and sailed fine on it’s maiden voyage (Pic #6). The 16 ft. mast and the boom were made from recycled fir from a renovation project.

There were a lot of other pieces made (i.e. carrier, kart/trailer, storage hoist, etc.) that I didn’t discuss or show here due to space. I encourage you to follow the link to see more pictures and explanations of all the other pieces made for the boat at my Picasa Web Album.

If you followed the above link, you will see how I made the sailboat sink-proof by adding foam flotation.

If you haven’t seen my other boats (canoe and kayak) made with Tyvek Homewrap, see my previously posted projects.

I hope you enjoyed the description, pictures, and link to the other related pictures. I welcome any and all comments.

-- Tyvekboy -- Marietta, GA ………….. one can never be too organized

39 comments so far

View Knothead62's profile


2600 posts in 4243 days

#1 posted 08-01-2010 10:25 PM

Just don’t name it “Titanic II.” Great idea with Tyvek. Curious- How puncture-proof is it?

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 4397 days

#2 posted 08-01-2010 10:29 PM

if it wasn´t for the first picture I wuod have thought
it was stitch and glue
it´s a very nice little 12fotter you have made
thank´s for sharing her
and I like you have added a latter to the rear of the boat
it realy raise the saftyfactor on her

take care out there (only a fuul don´t fear the sea)


Edit : have you made her sinkfree if you tip over :-)

View tyvekboy's profile


2138 posts in 4295 days

#3 posted 08-01-2010 10:36 PM

You know that I don’t have a name for it yet.

As for how puncture-proof it is … when I first started making these boats, I tested the strength of 1 layer of Tyvek. I glued it to a wood frame. I then placed a house brick on it and holding the frame, could bounce the brick on it without it failing. All my boats have 3 layers.

Have you ever tried to tear open a UPS (or USPS or FedEx) envelope? Can’t do it.

The only thing that has really damaged the Tyvek was oyster shells in the marsh off of Hilton Head Island, SC. Only 2 layers were skinned off of my canoe so I didn’t sink. Took about 5 minutes to repair it after I got back on dry land. Dried it off, applied some contact cement, and stuck it back down.

-- Tyvekboy -- Marietta, GA ………….. one can never be too organized

View Div's profile


1653 posts in 4222 days

#4 posted 08-01-2010 10:59 PM

VERY interesting post! I’ve built a lot of boats but Tyvek? Then, I’m old school! What exactly is it, obviously some kind of plastic? I don’t live in the US, so the brand name means nothing to me.

-- Div @ the bottom end of Africa. "A woodworker's sharpest tool should be his mind."

View Tony Strupulis's profile

Tony Strupulis

260 posts in 4405 days

#5 posted 08-01-2010 11:12 PM

That’s totally cool! Does the tyvek need anything for UV resistance?

Div – Tyvek is a plastic sheeting material used on houses instead of tar paper. They also use it to make larger mailing envelopes. It’s a very tough material.

-- Tony -

View mafe's profile


13404 posts in 4371 days

#6 posted 08-01-2010 11:15 PM

Thats really facinating, I’m really impressed.
Thank you for sharing this with us.
I will read your posts closer later.

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect.

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


22803 posts in 4958 days

#7 posted 08-01-2010 11:20 PM

Nice boat. I have always wanted to try sailing. Maybe I could outfit my old 12’ Starcraft with a sail and tiller :-))

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View tyvekboy's profile


2138 posts in 4295 days

#8 posted 08-01-2010 11:30 PM

DIV—Tyvek is an olefin (plastic) made by DuPont. It is used to wrap homes here in the US to make them more “waterproof”. Olefin is also used to make carpets. Get your hands on a USP or FedEx envelope and you’ll know what I’m talking about. So a Google search on the internet for more info on it.

AuroraWoodworks—As far as UV resistance … I just don’t leave mine boats out when not in use. Manufacturer says it will last several months outside exposed to sunlight before breaking down. I have an experiment going on right now. I made a grill cover out of it and so far it has been out for over a year. If it does break down, I’ll just make another one. It’s cheap.

The thing I like about Tyvek is it requires no fiberglass. Patching it is easy. With three layers and contact cement between them, it’s waterproof. Above all, it is LIGHT … I’m old and light is good.

I suppose you could coat it with spar varnish but why bother.

You do have to be careful with it and not abuse it. You can’t go dragging one of these boats across a parking lot like owners of the plastic canoes/kayaks do. If it does get worn out (fuzzes up) in places with a lot of ware, just slap a fresh piece of tyvek over that spot.

-- Tyvekboy -- Marietta, GA ………….. one can never be too organized

View 8iowa's profile


1591 posts in 5043 days

#9 posted 08-01-2010 11:46 PM

Just for general information, this is “cat” rigged sailboat, a rather common design for small sailboats. Sometimes they can be a little troublesome when trying to “come about” when heading into a stiff breeze.

-- "Heaven is North of the Bridge"

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


22803 posts in 4958 days

#10 posted 08-01-2010 11:57 PM

Maybe that is why there are oars? :-))

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View Kerry's profile


162 posts in 5072 days

#11 posted 08-02-2010 12:02 AM

Now that’s cool! Other than building wrap, the only other thing I’ve ever seen Tyvek used for is archery targets (they last forever). So with 3 layers, do you attach one to the other or just lie one on top of the other with nothing inbetween? If there’s nothing between I wondered if water would get in there through scratches etc?

Thanks for showing.

-- Alberta, Canada

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


22803 posts in 4958 days

#12 posted 08-02-2010 12:13 AM

We use it for hipower rifle targets, The rain here in Water World; aka: Western WA, doesn’t hurt it. We have to use contact cement to get the first target face to stick instead of wallpaper paste we use on canvas and repair centers.

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View tyvekboy's profile


2138 posts in 4295 days

#13 posted 08-02-2010 12:30 AM

KERRY – The 1st layer of Tyvek with the “printing” facing out is stuck to the frame with contact cement. The 2nd and 3rd layers are also stuck on to the previous layer with contact cement with the “printing” facing in or towards the previous layer. I guess I’m going to have to post the other things that I’ve made with Tyvek.

-- Tyvekboy -- Marietta, GA ………….. one can never be too organized

View brunob's profile


2277 posts in 5452 days

#14 posted 08-02-2010 12:40 AM

I’ve built a couple of strip boats, but that is really cool!

-- Bruce from Central New, if you'll pardon me, I have some sawdust to make.

View Sailor's profile


544 posts in 4547 days

#15 posted 08-02-2010 04:22 AM

Looks great, better than my stitch glue sailing dingy. I bet it is so much cheaper using tyvek than a ton of epoxy. How do you stretch it so tight?

Couldn’t help but notice your sail didn’t have a very efficient shape to it. If your interested you can get a kit and sew the sail yourself with your wife’s machine. All the parts come precursors and the sail will be great, and much more efficient. You can check them out at Sailrite, I would guess you could get one for under $500 easy with a couple of reef points. I built one for my dingy and it was great.

Fair Winds,

-- Dothan, Alabama Check out my woodworking blog! Also my Youtube Channel's Facebook page

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