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Arafura Cadet build

Matthew Dawson

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Hi All


I am about to embark on a project to build an Arafura Cadet to encourage my kids to sail a catamaran.  I sail a Cobra with my daughter but want to encourage the other kids to sail too.  The AC is a lovely little boat.


I am not a builder, architect or engineer, so it's going to be a challenge!


How many community services team leaders does it take to build a small catamaran?  I guess we'll see!


I have purchased the plans and been allocated a sail number (1155) so I am good to go!


Now I just need to find the money to purchase materials and the time! :)


I thought I would share my progress here and I would like to invite you all to make comments and suggestions as I go.  I hope to learn from your collective wisdom.  I will ask questions as I go and will try to give you as much information as I can along the way so that you can all see what I am up to.


Thanks in advance.



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My first question is who do you recommend as a supplier of fibreglass cloth and epoxy?


Where should I go to get good quality marine ply?


I am in Geelong (VIC) but I am more than happy to order online for some supplies that are relatively easy to freight.  I am also able to travel to Melbourne easily to collect supplies.

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I will post a full materials and parts list soon.


I am interested in purchasing good quality second hand items if people have anything laying around the shed or sail box.


I will post a list of all the things I need and indicate if I have them, know where to get them or am looking for them.


Please note that I am not looking for 'freebies' - I just thought some people on the forum might have some stuff they are happy to sell for a reasonable price.

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OK, here is the 'parts list' and comments on what I have sourced so far.

Marine Ply

Supplier sourced

Fibreglass and epoxy

Suppliers sourced


Old Mosquito mast or second hand AC mast or new paper tiger section

Boom, beams, crossbar

Local aluminium supplier

Tiller extension


Rudder boxes

DIY aluminium square tube


DIY foam/glass or second hand


Second hand mosquito rudders


I would love to find some second hand sails in reasonably good condition, but I don't like my chances ... A new set of sails will be very expensive. As it is a child training boat the sails don't need to be the latest fabric etc. What is the cheapest option to discuss with sail makers?


Local boat shop and second hand

Blocks, pulleys, cleats

Hopefully some good quality second hand stuff here.


DIY from old mosquito tramp


DIY trapeze wires from dyneema

Stays from local chandlery

Beach wheels

DIY using plastic hub wheelbarrow wheels and aluminium tube. Or second hand


Wind indicator, hiking straps, etc - TBC

Hicking straps from old mosquito

* edited to update list

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I would be looking to buy a wreck and just build a new platform, otherwise, I should be able to supply all of your pulleys, cleats and hardware, 2nd hand at 1/3 cost of new, rudders complete ex Maricat $100, new tramp to your design, bolt rope front and sides $270 (Local motor trimmer), beach wheels $40 pr, a cut down rig from a 4m cat would save you heaps as would a cut down sail (New cost of those items would exceed $2k) I have some small sails when you know sizes, $100 set plus cost of modification required. Any items under 1m can be posted. Good luck with the project. Darcy 02 43591729

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Thanks for the response Darcy.  I think I met you briefly at Mannering Park in December at the Cobra/Arrow/AC nationals?


I'll make contact with you again when I am getting closer.  Yes I would be happy to consider buying a wreck, but there don't seem to be many around.  I guess an Arrow wreck could be easier to find and most of the parts off that would be transferrable. 


I can get a new mast section for about $230 so that's not too bad - it's the sails that are a problem, but a cut down sail is probably a good option.  I have an old Cobra sail - could that be re-cut?


How much (approx) would it cost to re-cut a Cobra sail to an Arafura Cadet size?  I have the battens.

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Just a thought, instead of ply how about Polycore http://www.polycore-australia.com.au/ they now supply it preglassed (with I understand low temp pre-preg epoxy glass) in .5mm, 1mm etc thickness on both sides.


I visited a guy (Dave) who is building a 45ft cat up here in Cairns and the stuff is quite remarkable.  He took a pound hammer to an offcut which made very little impact on the stuff.


My understanding is that decent marine ply is quite hard to get now, even new stuff that says it's marine ply can be full of voids.


The polycore can come in any length, I think it goes down to 6mm but really why bother, get 12 or 20 if the weight is ok and have a more robust platform that'll take a few knocks.  I think weight wise it's the same or lighter than ply.


Dave also showed me what he uses to glue the poly together.  He uses a router to remove the core leaving two 'tabs' of glass then uses a gunk made up of epoxy and a couple of ingredients to make a bog (think microballoons and some powder substance, I can get the exact mix) you then mix it up in a plastic ziplock and then cut off the end and squeeze it out.  That's all he did, no extra glass tape etc.  For the exposed edges he routed them then pushed the gunk in and then taped on a strip of the outer glass layer (from an offcut).  This came off and leaves a really smooth edge.


Dave's 'blog' is here: http://diy-yachts.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=23&t=1021&start=30

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Thanks Jimbo


I have been checking out different hull construction techniques.  I think there are lots of options and the newer materials are becoming cheaper and more versatile all the time.  I have some ideas ...


I'll have a chat to Polycore.


I think the mast section will be pretty good - Bob Keely knows his stuff.

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Fantastic to see you building a boat with your kids, I'm a huge fan of Vinyl Ester as it goes off every time, you can buy it in 4kg tins, in summer I can repair my carbon tiller and use it in an hour, I will pm you a name and number that's got some of your gear. Electrical conduit is perfect for a tiller

Nuplex composites has everything you need for the glass work http://www.nuplex.com/composites/

regards Jeff

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There's a fibreglass joint in Torquay, cant think of the name but they sell online and on eBay aswell....


I get my resin from eBay, specifically this seller, http://www.ebay.com.au/usr/trojanfibreglass?_trksid=p3984.m1439.l2754

His prices are acceptable in my opinion and the product is excellent, he also is a glasser so has a wealth of experience. Prior to using this guy I got my West Systems glass from Sykes in Geelong but prices went through the roof for no apparent reason, one lot would be $105 and the next would be $185 then back to $144 and all for the same product and freight.....


As for cloth....... Sykes again were good but they now carry mainly carbon mat and often have to order in the mat you may require, as a result I now get my mat form the states, its quick and an easy process..... the seller is .... http://www.ebay.com.au/usr/buzzle049?_trksid=p3984.m1439.l2754



As for the materials you'll use don't go "overboard", I spent some time researching plywood and its properties and the prices.....

'Marine ply' is way over rated for your needs, but you need a reasonable quality product so the cheap and nasty stuff wont cut it in either finish or strength.


the main difference is the 'lay-up' of the veneers and the quality of glue that they use to adhere the veneers together..... a neat fitting layer of veneer and a quality glue equals "marine ply"....

a similar lay-up but with a lesser quality glue means it wont be marine ply.... a bad lay-up with gaps or overlaps in the veneers and a cheap glue means its a throw away ply, good for packers etc....

I source my ply from a very local supplier and his costs and my costs are very fair,

EG: one 8'x4' sheet of 3mm 3ply ~$25 & one 8'x4' sheet of 4mm ply (main deck) ~$35, he also supplies me the cedar stringers I require and will cut to size as and when needed..... I can message you his details if you need his advice or want to use him as your supplier, he'd be a hour and a bit drive from you.....


Plenty of tips out there about the process so don't hesitate to ask, I'm sure others will chime in as needed



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Yes I found Polycore. I have sent them a request for info and advice. I will post here when I hear from them.

I have also sent Nuplex a message.

I think the fibreglass supplier in Torquay Pirate mentioned is Stonker. http://www.stonker.com.au

They are nice guys. I dropped in and had a chat with them recently. We discussed the possibility of building AC hulls the way they build surfboards. Because the shape is so simple it can be cut using templates and a hot wire cutter. You then split it down the middle and add a stringer. Then you add strength where you need it and glass the lot. For simple, small hulls it seems like an option.

What does everyone think?

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All good Mathew, I've replied to your PM with Bruce's contact details and a backup plan option.....  :D



I cant for the life of me see any problems with a home-built Arafura, even for a complete novice :p

they are a simple as hull design and really wouldn't require much tech stuff to do, unlike an Impara cadets curved hull design... remember my only wood working tool prior to my jumping off the deep end were a couple of pro chainsaws



You wont need to spend a fortune on exotic tools either,


A couple of good wood chisels 10mm and a 16mm would cover 99% of the work


I bought a 2nd-hand $40 GMC band saw that has done countless hours of service for all my fiddly stuff and I prefer it to a jigsaw ...


A number 4 Stanley hand plane (2inch blade and a 9inch long body), these aint cheap but garage sales and yard sales can  turn up a good one for the right price so keep your eyes open ;)


A hand sanding block...... these are at bunnings etc for around the $10 mark !!!

Tenon saw specifically for cutting your framing timbers and for the ply in some areas, a fine tooth saw is the best. 

Staple gun and staples for "nailing down" the ply, I use hay-band  as you've probably seen as part of the staple removal.




As for the glass work ..... don't waste $$$$$ on specialists tools, .......

mixing cups from Woolworths => the big plastic party cups for $2 for a pack of 20 !!!

cheap brushes from the $2 shop come in at around 30cents each !!! (ask ya missus to show you a pastry brush ;))

Stiring sticks are made from you ply offcuts and a quick swipe with the hand sanding block makes them sweet :D

As for spreading the resin over large areas, a squeegee is simple and easy to make tool, mine is cut from a wheelie-bin and has the hand plane put over it to get a nice clean straight edge, this also is an excellent tool for laying the glass mat onto ply-wood.

A visit to your nearest Vet clinic & a bit of a chat explaining what your doing should see you walk out with a fist full of big syringes, these are ideal for resin coating frames for ply covering...... much like a mini silicone gun :)..... these are also re-usable as the resin doesn't stick to the plastic, being in the country I get "horse syringes"... glad I'm not a horse cause they'd hurt like hell !!!! :p


I was going to make one of those rollers for glass work and had a plan of using different sized washers on a bit of rod, the facts are I have never come to a point where I think I needed one or where one might be handy........ I've since used the washers for other jobs !! 



rubber gloves are a definite MUST HAVE.... again the supermarket is the cheapest place, the disposiable jobs cost $10 a box of a hundred.





well...... don't just sit there, get shopping... :p


and we want PICS



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Hi Matthew,


Great to see someone building an AC. I last sailed one in 1970. I assume you got your plans from the SA association and they would be good to check for second hand sails as they were the last state to have a good fleet of AC's. So may be some available.


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Matthew, ring me in regards to your AC bits. 0417672023.

                                                                          Gary. ( NSW Arrows ).

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So things are changing a bit. After some assistance from others on the forum I have found a source for a second hand boat in SA. I am going to go down that path for now. I still hope to build a new AC one day.

I will still be able to use parts from the mozzy.

I still need to sort out the sails. I am interested in the idea of using old sails and cutting them down to fit the AC. Is there anyone in VIC I could discuss this with? Darcy is a bit far away ...

I have two old Dacron Mosquito main sails, one Dacron Cobra main sail and one Pentax(?) Cobra main sail. I have one Dacron Cobra jib.

I haven't been able to find a jib for the AC so it looks like I am going to have to get a new one anyway. I would like to get a square top main even though it won't be class legal. I figure a square top looks a bit more modern (not really a big issue) and it allows for a smaller boom (less dangerous when banged on little heads).

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Hi Matthew,

Great to see a new AC being built. My son sails one (Mini Me)and we have another one in our club at Grafton. I think you are in good hands with Pirates help. Might be worth remembering that the motion was passed at Mannering Park to allow square top mains for the AC the same as the Arrows. It would be a shame to build or buy a pinhead now and wish you had a square top later. If the AC behaves like the Arrrow with the introduction of the square top then it will also be an easier rig to sail ( especially for a learner). We are planning on getting a new square top from Adrian Fawcett (arrow Clockwork Orange) soon. He has a design ready to build the first one.

Good luck with the building!

Keep us updated

Tony R

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