Wharram Hitia 17 hulls floating after one month build

Shortly after Thomas and I decided to register team Sea Runners for the Race to Alaska (R2AK), we decided we should honor our boat-building experience — as well as James Wharram himself — by using the Wharram Hitia 17 design as the foundation of our race boat.  Since Thomas is an architect and we both have built Wharrams (he a Tiki 26; me a Tiki 21), we hardly looked at the plans after laying out the hull sides and bulkheads.  In fact, we’ve made a lot of modifications to keep the boat light and otherwise adapted to being powered by humans and the wind, rather than a motor.  (The key rule of the R2AK = no motors!)

This post documents our 1-month build of the hulls — from plans to floating…  First we present a fun build video that my son, Liam, put together during a “Tiki Tuesday” in a matter of mere minutes.

Below you’ll find a gallery of selected stills followed by the day-by-day build log.  Enjoy!

This was a fun, fast build for us that made us feel confident that deciding to build a Wharram design with which we were familiar was a good strategy.  We didn’t clock our hours exactly, but estimate it took us about at most 250 hours (42 days x 6 hours) the build time for the Hitia 17 advertised on the Wharram web site.  (This confirms our suspicion that the build times and boat weights listed on the Wharram site are pretty ideal — maybe pie-in-the-sky.  For non-expert builders, we advise multiplication by 1.5 for a more accurate estimates…)

Here’s a calendar of the build.

Tue 10/14 Build started with the ceremony of the long tables & the death of a flagon of Pyrat (Thanks to our helpers Tim King and Erik Hvalsoe)
Wed 10/15 T drafts and cuts out bulkheads and hull side panels
Thu 10/16 T cuts out stem, stern, rudder, lashing backing plates
Fri 10/17 S cuts out butt blocks; T glues up hull sides with butt blocks
Sun 10/19 am: Thomas rips stringers, keel; late eve: Thomas staples outer scarfed stringers to hulls; S&T glue scarfed keels
Mon 10/20 Hulls zip tied and stood up with bulkheads in place.
Tue 10/21 T,S,&K align and glue hull B
Thu 10/23 T&S align and glue hull A
10/27/2014 Keel fillets, End foaming, aft storage locker and diagonals added
11/1/2014 Decks made and undersides coated. First spar mock up glued up.
11/3/2014 Glued in bunk stringers on hulls and at bulkheads
11/4/2014 Glued on cabin sides
11/5/2014 Kennewick/paper day
11/6/2014 Made bunk cross-stringers, sanded holds
11/7/2014 Fitting bunks, painting holds, filling holes and coating bunks.
11/8/2014 Glued on decks and fixed bunk boards (with Kevin after Kenmore ride/dip)
11/9/2014 Cleaned up fillets, made and fit cabin side stringers and aft coaming pieces
11/10/2014 Glued in cabin side stringers and aft coaming pieces; trimmed decks
11/11/2014 Make deck and coaming pieces. broke rear seat B loose (do we need glass tape at stress points?)
11/12/2014 Coat cabin deck pieces/sand decks/make rudder and handle doublers
11/13/2014 Glue up coaming to cabin deck
11/14/2014 Fillet underside of coaming. Later glue cabin deck to cabin
11/15/2014 Sand decks/cabins, flip to sand hulls, fair stem/stern, shape keel
11/16/2014 T&S stay up late to glass cabin ends & rudders
11/17/2014 T&S glass decks
Tue 11/18 T glasses cabin sides during day; T&S sand hulls, glass 1st side of hulls
Wed 11/19 S fills 1st side hulls and rudder weave w/epoxy coat #2
Th 11/20 T & S sand and glass 2nd side of hulls; discuss lash pads & doublers; fill 2nd side rudders
Fri 11/21 T trims hull glass; S cleans up stringer for fillet, forms doublers & pads
Sat 11/22 S buys hardware for pads; T&S glue pads, kevlar bow, carbon fiber skeg, fillet stringer, glass keel.
Sun 11/23 First assembly!
Mon 11/24 Launch, paddle/flip/right/bail. We got it wet in 42 days (42×6 hours = 252hrs!)

7 thoughts on “Wharram Hitia 17 hulls floating after one month build”

  1. Thanks for the info Scott. Do you happen to know the measurement from the bow to the crossbeam where the mast is mounted? The study plans don’t have any actual dimensions on them. Thanks again.

  2. Hi. I have been dreaming of building a Hitia 17 for a few years but don’t have the funds or the time to build right now. Instead, I’m settling for trying to build a scale model using just the study plans. I think I have the dimensions of the hulls fairly close but was curious if you could tell me the dimensions of the cross beams and where exactly they cross the hulls. Thanks for any help!

    PS- sorry if this is a duplicate post, I tried to comment a minute ago but it doesn’t look like it posted.

    1. Hi Mike, the beams are about 10′ long. We used sections of an old mast. They go immediately afore and abaft the cabins. We didnt add the third bow beam, but it goes about halfway between front of cabin and the bow, aligned with the fwd collision bulkhead.

  3. Hey. I’m commencing a Hitia build shortly. Could you comment a little more on the door skin choice? I’m thinking about substituting marine ply myself but I’m concerned about strength differences…

    1. I’d go w marine ply for any build except for a racing boat that you want to be extra-light. The door skin is impressive, but won’t last as long or be as tough.

  4. You mentioned in that post that “we’ve made a lot of modifications to keep the boat light”
    I’ve just gotten plans for a Hitia 17 and you be greatly appreciative if you could detail what type of mods you did to lighten what to my novice eye already looks pretty light:)

    1. Good luck with your build! Here are things we did to lighten (though I’d not necessarily recommend them if you want your boat to last for a long time and you intend to cruise, rather than race under human or sail power):

      1) Used door skin instead of 1/4″ marine plywood
      2) Used cedar for stringers instead of fir/spruce
      3) Used 3 oz glass for bulk of hulls and decks
      4) Used short synthetic bi-pod mast instead of designed mast & rig
      5) Used bamboo for tiller/bars

      Bon voyage!

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