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Why a Wharram Tiki 38?

About 30 years ago a friend introduced me to Wharram catamarans...

The look of them appealed and the claims of sea-worthiness made sense to me.  At the time I was building a boat called a 'Shark cat' which was a power catamaran designed by Bruce Harris on the Gold Coast of Australia.  It was used for clearing shark netting off the coast of Queensland and had phenomenal performance in suft/bar conditions.

I will pass on some more experiences about these boats at a later time.

Anyway, I was intrigued by the Wharram catamarans and thought it would be nice to own one...but, I never did anything about it because I could not reconcile myself to sitting down for hours in one place and hardly moving.

Well, times have changed and about 2 years ago I decided that I would go ahead and build a Wharram catamaran.  I have already bought most of the Wharram study plans and had some ideas what I wanted.

Initially I was keen on the Islander 55 which Wharrams had just introduced, so I bought the study plans and then decided to buy the full set of plans.  But, then I was informed that they were not for sales and that if I wanted one I would have to buy a completed boat through a boatyard appointed in Indonesia.

Having had some experience dealing in Indonesia this was not an appealing possibility...but, I did investigate it further and visited the yard in Indonesia and Andy Smith, another Wharram appointed yard in the Philippines. These will be the subject of a later post.

I then considered other Wharram options including the Pahi 52 being built by Gunther in Phuket, Thailand.  I went for a sea trial on one of these boat and came close to signing a contract for the construction of one...but, that is another story for another day.

Then, I thought maybe the Tiki 48 could be a good option.  Whilst I was investigating this I came across a blog of Creed O'Hanlon about a Tiki 38 that he is building in Thailand at a yard in Pattaya.  It looked intriguing but I had reservations.

But, I arrange to visit the yard and met Creed, an Australian along with the yard owner Raoul Bianchetti an Italian boat yard.  Quite an odd combination...an Italian boat builder in Thailand.  But...Raoul had been operating for 11 years at that time in Thailand and he had an impressive set up.

Over the following months I made repeated visits to the yard and kept in constant communication with Creed.  The bottom line is that I became convinced that I did not really need a boat larger than the Tiki 38 particularly as most of the time there would not be any more than 2 people aboard, and I would have no problem sailing her single handed.

So, I made the committment and signed a contract with Raoul and that is where the story begins. 

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Reader Comments (3)

Ever since I went off to summer boys camp as a young boy I fell in love with being on the water. All the kids would spend a certain amount of time doing various activities such as shooting on the rifle range, arts and crafts, and then my favorite, BOATING! We'd be able to go out in a rickety old powerboat, a homemade houseboat, or sunfish sailboats! The powerboat guy had two bench seats on the outsides of the boat. He'd then crank the wheel one way which would just about flip the boat which was scary as hell for little kids but at the same time a bit of fun. My most favorite times at the camp was sailing on the sunfish boats. It was exciting to me as a young boy to see how fast I could get the boat to go with only the wind, how much I pulled in the single sail, and race through the water at 7-8 mph.

I had just about all but forgot about those times but about 10 years ago I started a site for sailboats for sale and also another for boats for sale on the internet. For the past 8 years we've gotten into powerboating in a big way. We currently own a 42 foot bayliner diesel express cruiser. But, I keep thinking about my days at that boys camp where I fell in love with being on the water and sailing. I often wonder if it would be the same as my younger years but even still, I'm not at a point in my live where I could handle a sailboat all by myself. I have a wife that does nothing when we're on the boat, and 3 young kids that can't help much. So do I wait till I can afford a place on a small lake or get a 30 foot sailboat or something. If I truly waited till I got what I really wanted, it'd be a 45' sailboat. But at this point, it would have to be in addition to the current 42 foot powerboat.

Am I crazy for wanting all this? Or should I go for something in between like a catamaran sailboat with decent power in the hulls.

It's thanksgiving, and my wife is calling for some help. Gottal go. BTW, James Wharram designs are pretty cool! Looks like you can build your own from his plans or have him build one for you?! Is that about right?

November 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBranden deBuhr


First thank you for your commitment to keeping this blog active. Your experiences have been very helpful to me in getting to the place I am currently at on my own Wharram experience. It is looking like that will begin by having a boat built by a professional builder. As I want to respect all parties I will be happy to disclose the builder in a private email if that is pertinent to my ask. I was interested to learn from you if you can direct me to the part of your blog that addresses what you feel is important language to ask for in a contract. If that is not covered in the blog would you be kind enough to share with me, off line, the important aspects of a contract that you would have liked to have had in yours. I have read most of the experiences you have had leading up to the completion by the New Zealand builder. I am pretty confident after visiting my builder that I have found one like the one you worked with in New Zealand so, I am most interested in getting very clear up front expectations set that are reasonable and assure a satisfying build for both he and I. He is currently drawing up a contract so I thought I would reach out and ask for any advice you can give.

Thanks in advance

March 7, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBrad Warne

Hi Brad,

Of course I would be only too happy to give you any input that I can that may be helpful.

The key is having a clearly definted set of specifications unless you are not concerned about the cost. Because mine was so customised I spent an excessive amount on labor. In the order of NZ $850,000. However, had I really been clear what I wanted I could have done it for a fraction of the price. It was not the builders fault that it cost so much but my fault through not have a clear set of specifications...

Because I was used to power cats and sail boats were something new I had quite a learning curve myself.

Drop me a note on my business email address which is wjm@xtend-life.com

I am now in Thailand waters and you would of course be welcome to visit here and come for a sail on the boat.

March 16, 2013 | Registered CommenterWarren Matthews

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