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Nidaplast and carbon Spindrift N11 build


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Hello everyone,


I last posted on here a few years ago.  It's taken me sometime to convince my wife to give up the living room to an N11.


My Spindrift N11 project is called South Queensferry Electron - in recognition of Donald Crowhurst's Teignmouth Electron - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donald_Crowhurst


Following the usual 'messing-about' convention, here is my progress right up to when I found the courage to saw her in half - earlier today!


Nidaplast is very flexible and I epoxied and peel plied each piece of the hull before assembly.  Bulkheads are carbon fibre and Nidaplast, three layups of biaxial cloth.  A diamond cutting wheel on a Dremmel made short work of trimming excess from the bulkheads and transom.


The hull still needs finishing, as do the bulwarks.  Knees still to fit as well, that's the next job.


So I realise that 6mm ply would have been the best route to go down.  However, prior to this build I had not worked with West Systems or carbon fibre before.  The SQE is a 'learning by doing' project in preparation for the retirement boat.


I will update with more photos as work progresses.  I live in Scotland, the weather is getting colder and less conducive to epoxy use and, of course, I have to give the living room up for Christmas.  Progress might be slow!  However, with the hull complete I can cut out the rest of the Nidaplast components and get the sailing rig ready.


Happy boat building to you all!






Nidaplast cross section and ACD.jpg

Lofted and cut.jpg

Butterfly compete and cable tied.jpg

Glued and taped.jpg

Sawing complete - it fits.jpg

She nests perfectly.jpg

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And I should have added, a great deal of thanks to William, a regular poster on this forum - https://messing-about.com/forums/profile/2082-william/ - who provided helpful advice regarding the use of Nidaplast.  His posts are very detailed and interesting.


My own build is less scientific and certainly a lot less weight saving!  I have gone for over engineered strength to hopefully provide a long lasting serviceable tender.

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  • 4 months later...

Quick update - 


My Spindrift N11 is still under construction.  Since the last photos I have laid up carbon fibre cloth in both bow and stern interiors. I have added the knees, breast hook and the gunwhale/inwhale.  I still need to lay up carbon fibre cloth on the outside of both the bow and stern and I need to prep it all first. As I am building in the living room I need to get the major sanding done outside which is a bit weather dependent.


I am keeping busy by making cardboard templates for the stern buoyancy tanks, the dagger board case, foredeck and keel. I will get these fabricated over the next few months. 


Once I have given everything a quick sand and she is a bit more tidy I will post a few more photos.


I think building in plywood would have probably been quicker and certainly cheaper, but I wanted a test bed for learning epoxy and cloth laying up skills. As a result I will have a very robust and hopefully very rigid alternative.


As I'm building the sailing version I must admit to wimping out with building every component from scratch. My N11 has a Laser radial rig, dagger board and rudder/tiller.  She will be a workhorse and I thought it would be easier to replace these items (hopefully not) using second hand Laser bits rather than have to build bespoke ones from plywood again. The rudder might be a bit short as the N11 transom height looks a little higher than a Laser but I'll wait and see if that's an issue.


This build is taking a while as I work full time and have a few other commitments. Luckily I have a patient wife who is still understanding about the living room's change of use!


I will keep everyone posted again in the near future. 

Successful boat building in 2020! Cheers, Jim 


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I chose to use my Laser rig as well. It's a full sail, though, since I don't have a Radial lower section. In a breeze the full Laser rig is tough handling by myself- I capsized after struggling with it for a while and the nesting version just doesn't have enough side flotation in the bow to keep the hull far enough out of the water to prevent it from scooping in a ton of water and pretty much fully swamping the boat. Of course I was probably taking risks on a very windy day that most wouldn't go out in- I assumed I'd just sail it like my old Laser. I plan on building in permanent forward benches/flotation chambers to keep the bow up in a capsize. That will replace the removable benches I designed but will still allow it to nest just fine.


Using a Laser rig saves a lot of time and lets you get it on the water sooner. I pretty much rigged it just like a current Laser with the outhaul and cunningham brought down to the base of the mast, through two blocks, and cleated close to the daggerboard. I also have the mainsheet pretty close to where it would be on a Laser- though I did add a cleat on the main block more like my J/24. I have a tiller extension and hiking straps in the cockpit too. I've sat up on the gunwale plenty of times to hike out but it's not the most comfortable thing to do.


I've since sold my Laser and while I had extra spars for the mast I didn't have an extra boom, so I may make one from spruce for fun. Or just dig around the scrap pile at the yacht club and see if there's an extra Laser boom in there. That's probably pretty likely.


I love the idea of using the Nidaplast and CF for the hull, plus a little wood for fair measure. You'll have to post some photos carrying around each half of the hull in each hand showing off how light it is. Good luck with the build.spindrift.thumb.jpg.4ed8040e1f10c8efe067e098b98320e4.jpg



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Hi Starboard,

Thanks for your message and for the photo showing your rig set up.  She looks great. I like the side seats and that's something I'll now have a look at fitting. The full Laser rig would be a handful indeed!  I take on board what you said about the comfort of hiking out. I added a 10mm inwhale to bring up the total rail thickness to 30mm. Still not massive but I could always add a bit more for comfort once we have sailed her. 

I don't think my nidaplast build will be much different in weight to the plywood equivalent, perhaps a few pounds lighter.  I always have a tendency to build things bomb proof. I will try and get a spring balance to investigate how much she weighs! 

Hopefully if nothing else gets in the way we will get out on the water this summer.

Cheers, Jim

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  • 3 months later...


Just a quick progress update. The bow section is now sheathed in carbon and post curing in the sunshine. The stern section is next. All the buoyancy tanks have been fabricated from Nidaplast and carbon ready for fitting. Just the centreboard case and mast step left. 




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  • 2 weeks later...

Thanks Thrillsbe. My build will be no where near as flyweight as William's on here. He is the Nidaplast lightweight specialist!

I hadn't used epoxy or laid up laminate cloth before so this was a project to get some practical experience.

I think that I will be slightly over a plywood build weight - I got on the scales with the bow section the other day and it weighed in at 18kgs/just under 40lbs. I'll be another few pounds for the foredeck and centreboard case.

I added a hardwood bulwark inside and out to make her a bit easier to handle and that was more weight. We are building her as a cruising tender and thought that robustness and rigidity would be a better quality than being a fragile skinny thing. She will be launched/recovered with a halyard and handy Billy, so a kilo or two won't make that much difference.

When I checked online an 11ft rib was weighing in at 45kg as opposed to my girl's two 20kg sections. 

Overall, I would say that using Nidaplast, carbon and epoxy has been expensive, messy and a lot of fun, just like....... (insert own metaphor here!). 

It would be interesting to see a plywood build to compare weight and rigidity. One day, in a Caribbean anchorage, there will be N11 racing! 

I have got carbon matting on the stern section now (lockdown is good for progress). But still a 100 little fiddly jobs left to complete but then sea trials will begin.

I put in an extra set of rowlock sockets in the bow section so she can be rowed from the bow seat (I thought that would help with trim when I'm being rowed by my wife!). Now I think they might make sockets for a small spray hood or a canopy. 

I'll post more photos as things progress and try my hand at a YouTube video.

Then it'll be onwards to a Globe 5.80 - 




I'll need a bigger living room. 

Stay safe! 

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Thanks for the updates.

I'm so tempted by composite but I think I will probably stick with a ply, and minimal sheathing. I figure that since I've never built a boat before, I might as well knock up something with minimal difficulty/expense. Sacrifice longevity for low weight and cost, and then when I need to replace it I might know what I'm doing!

I'm planning on building mine next winter so maybe see you for a wee match race :)

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I agree with you, I would probably opt for the plywood option if I had to do it all again. Or at least not make absolutely everything out of Nidaplast. But when the great grandchildren inherit the N11 they'll be delighted that she is still maintenance free.

You could try a plywood build sheathed with a layer of kevlar mat? Traditional yet indestructible... 

Arisaig for the match race? ?

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On 5/14/2020 at 4:00 PM, ForthBridge said:

Arisaig for the match race? ?


Sounds like a plan! I think you said you're likely to use your Laser sail,  I might end up using a Radial sail myself so I'm going to get in my excuses ahead of time in case you beat me :D :D 

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On 5/14/2020 at 11:00 AM, ForthBridge said:

I agree with you, I would probably opt for the plywood option if I had to do it all again. Or at least not make absolutely everything out of Nidaplast. But when the great grandchildren inherit the N11 they'll be delighted that she is still maintenance free.

You could try a plywood build sheathed with a layer of kevlar mat? Traditional yet indestructible... 

Arisaig for the match race? ?


I will add my 2 cents worth for plywood versus composite materials. 


I built my first Catspaw stitch and glue in the late Sixties. We could get thick epoxy for gluing but the the only resin available to me was polyester. She was used for full time cruising which meant that she was in the water if we were not under way. By the end of 1970 the glass tape was de-bonding from the ply even though I used isothalic no wax laminating resin which bonds better that orthothalic resins. I cross hatched the bonding area with a piece of saw blade and primed the wood before laminating. She even got marine borers and had to row with our feet over the borer holes or we would have a tiny fountain.


I did the obvious thing and built a masonite female mold and laid up a fiberglass hull.  I stiffened the bottom and gunwales with foam. She was a bit shorter to save weight but she came out heavier. It solved the problem with water but it was not as tough as her wood predecessor. While the glass boat was better against sharp objects, she could not take hard use and abuse as well as the wood version like getting crushed at the dock etc.. 


By 1980 she getting tired and looked like a patchwork quilt from repairs so I decided to build a new 4mm okume plywood Catspaw but with epoxy this time. She was much better than her fiberglass sister and served me well, became the boatyard work dinghy after I quit full time cruising. Around 2005 a friend borrowed her and lost her in a hurricane. She was no great loss as the ply was getting soft. She was not sheathed and spent all of her life in the weather.


Don't get me wrong, I love composites and will use them in a flash if I think that it will be better. I like to see experimenting. Plywood has the advantage that it is cheap, user friendly, light and tough. I sincerely hope that you can hand your carbon Spindrift down through generations but only time will tell.


Here is a picture of a Spindrift 9 nesting, working hard for her owners. They are about two thirds of their way around the world and I suspect that after they finish, their Spindrift will be ready for another lap with a just a modest refresh.




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Thanks for your comments! If I was to build another Spindrift (though I'm doubtful my wife would give up the living room again) I would go with plywood. You are right with everything you say. 

My comments here are sometimes a little tongue in cheek, but essentially I wanted to gain experience with West Systems epoxy, laying up cloth and bonding composites. I am very pleased with how my N11 is shaping up. She is by no means a work of craftsmanship that is so regularly seen on this site. But she should be a stiff, strong and reliable tender. 

I subscribe to Sailing Florence Around the World and love it when The Machine (their N9) is centre stage. My dreams will come true if I get to take my Spindrift on similar adventures!

I will keep posting my progress, worts and all, and hope to get out on the water this summer - or at least out of the living room ?

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I have no problem with a few worts. I would rather them than than have nothing. It is the beginning of the learning curve.


I also subscribed to their channel because I love to see their Spindrift living and doing what I intended.


I have sailed those waters and it is a lot of fun to see what has happened with the yacthing explosion. In 1975 I cleared into Pukhet in the commercial harbor. The chief of police strongly recommended that I not stay in the harbor as thievery was a problem and told me about a good anchorage, there were no marina's. I was the only sailboat in the area.

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So, slightly off topic of Nidaplast and epoxy... Whilst playing with the buoyancy tanks and centreboard case, I wondered if an aluminium build would be possible. We had two weeks boating in the Netherlands last year and my word they are skilled metal workers. Has anyone put together an aluminium B and B design? What do you think Graham? It could be the best of both worlds - lightweight and robust. 

Unfortunately, for me tig welding in the living room is out of the question! I would have to wait for a windfall and get one commissioned.

Just curious to hear what others think ?

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This subject keeps coming back.  There are many ways to measure strength and one of plywoods greats properties is that being a low density material it's stiffness to tensile strength to weight ratio is close to ideal.  For instance, if we were building an aluminium Spindrift and trying to keep it from being too heavy, we could look at 16 gauge which is a cigarette paper thicker than 1/16" or 1.651 mm for our mathematically challenged European friends.


Now if we compare it's weight to 6mm okume, it comes out at about twice the weight per square foot or meter. That already is a pound or kilo too far for me to cross already, not to mention that the bottom would probably need stiffening with a couple of stringers, compounding the build by a lot of extra welding. We do not even need to factor in that aluminium does not float.


The Gougeon Brothers used to have great display at boat shows.They had every material that you could build a boat out of. Each piece was cantilevered 12" past the edge of the table and was exactly 1" wide and weighed the same. They varied the thickness of each piece so that the weights would be exactly the same. When the same weight was placed on the end of each piece, people were amazed to see how much stiffer wood was compared to the other materials and compared to steel, which we all know is very strong.


The only way to beat wood is to lower the density further and that means to use a core material. As we have seen that can work but a little more resin here and there and we have lost the weight battle. A little extra weight is not a big deal in a work boat but in a tender that has to be manhandled a lot in often awkward conditions, it is a big deal.

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