Seaworthy. Simple. Affordable.

Building your own boat with Wharram Designs is the easiest and most cost effective way to fulfil your sailing dreams. Wharram Self-build boat plans start from only £100.

We recommend you follow the tried and trusted Wharram process to ensure the boat you build is both the right type of boat for your needs and also one that will match your building skills and expenditure.

  1. Study our Self Build Boats page to familiarise yourself with our range of designs and their unique qualities. For more detailed information read the Wharram Design Book which reviews each self-build boat model and offers a detailed introduction and understanding of the world of self-build catamarans.
  2. Order one or more sets of our Boat Building Study Plans and immerse yourself into the boat builder's mindset; evaluate the costs; the amount of time required to build your boat; where you will build it and where you will eventually launch it.
  3. Once you have decided on the boat that is right for YOU to build, order the Boat Building Plans and become a member of the Wharram World of builders and sailors. You can build a Wharram with very little experience. All Wharram building plans are drawn for the first time builder, so anyone with a modicum of practical ability can build one of our designs. Our Building Plans present quality instruction, guidance and advice for both novice and professional alike. They are all based on decades of actual building experience and thousands of ocean miles sailed, so you know the design will work.

About James Wharram

In the mid 50's, based on his research into ancient Polynesian boat design, James Wharram built the first off-shore Catamaran in Britain and sailed it out into the Atlantic. While the world's yachting community were still dismissing such a design as a worthy sea-going vessel, James was landing his 23'6" 'Double Hulled Canoe' called TANGAROA in the West Indies.

There he built a second 40' Polynesian style Catamaran, RONGO, and sailed it up to New York and back to the UK accompanied by two German women - being the first to sail a catamaran West-to-East across the North Atlantic.

These amazing Trans-Atlantic crossings and the follow up book "Two Girls, Two Catamarans" have etched the name 'James Wharram' into the annals of yachting history.

The quality of the Wharram self-build catamarans is reflected in their popularity, excellence of craftmanship and 'sound sailing qualities'. More than 50 years on - with over 10,000 sets of plans sold and thousands turned into proud vessels - Wharram 'Cats' can be seen in harbours across the world, maintaining the highest reputation for surviving wind and wave.

Limited Edition Rongo Box Set (Building Plans)

Wharram Shop:
Presentation box contents:
  • Rongo self-build boat plans
  • Photo history book
  • Signed copy of 'Two Girls, Two Catamarans'

To celebrate the first epic Atlantic crossing of Rongo we are reprinting the original Building Plans of this design, beautifully drawn by Jutta in 1960. These come in a presentation box-set including a photo book of the history of Rongo, and the story of her further Atlantic voyages in 1960-61, plus a signed copy of James’ book about his pioneering voyages 'Two Girls Two Catamarans'.

These Building Plans can be used to build a model or a full size replica of this famous design. The presentation pack comes in numbered editions, maximum 60, for each of the 60 years since her first West-to-East Atlantic voyage.

60th Anniversary Of The First West-to-East North Atlantic Crossing By Catamaran

By Hanneke Boon
Rongo sailing
Rongo during trial sail in Trinidad

On 30th September 1959, 60 years ago, the 40ft catamaran Rongo sailed into the Conway River in North Wales after crossing the North Atlantic from New York.

Rongo was the first catamaran to have made this difficult voyage, sailed by the now world famous catamaran designer James Wharram and his two German women companions, Ruth Merseburger and Jutta Schultze-Rohnhoff.

Spirit of Gaia Renovation (Part 12)

By Hanneke Boon
Spirit of Gaia with all sails up, rolling mountains in the background

Gaia work 2019 started on May 1st. My previous blogs and Facebook posts had again attracted new volunteers that wanted to experience spending time with James and myself whilst working and sailing on Gaia.

First to join us were Paul and Amanda. Three years ago they had given up work and left home with their dog Oscar to travel the length and breadth of Europe in a neat and compact campervan. They came to Lefkas from spending the winter in Crete and could stay as long as they liked.

The same day Udo arrived from Germany. Udo came for two weeks, he was a lawyer who had built a 23ft Hinemoa many years ago, which due to family problems got abandoned for years in some woods. Recently he restored the boat, making it look very pretty, bright yellow with a nice deck shelter adapted from a commercially made tent. This showed he had the skills for restoration work and soon set to work on repairing a deck leak over the starboard bow centreboard case.

Deganwy - Now And Then

By Hanneke Boon

A Visit Into The History Of Wharram

In April James and Hanneke traveled to North Wales and visited the site where Rongo, the first multihull to cross the Atlantic from West to East, was moored on the beach in Deganwy (1964-1969) and Tehini was built on the end of Deganwy pier (1968-69).

This is where Hanneke first met James and Ruth in 1967 at the age of 13 on a visit with her family. What happened after, is history.

Philosophy behind the Ethnic Approach

By James Wharram
James and Hanneke in design studio with Amatasi model
James and hanneke with a finished model of the Amatasi. These models let us design and study details at a small scale.

Inspired by the French sailor Eric de Bisschop, I became a pioneer of catamaran design. Like Eric de Bisschop my early voyages in the 1950s were driven by a wish to prove that the Pacific double canoe was a seaworthy vessel, capable of crossing oceans. My first catamaran designs were based on studies in museums and libraries, making me one of the early experimental marine archaeologists.

Watercraft is one of Man’s earliest artefacts. Early Man migrated to the far reaches of the world via the coasts and rivers. Man first reached Australia more than 50,000 years ago. He must have done so by watercraft because there was always a substantial water gap between what is now Indonesia and Australia, a gap no other mammal managed to cross.

Watercraft and living on and by the sea is therefore part of our genetic make-up, or in Jungian psychology, it is one of the ‘arch-types of our sub-conscious’. It explains modern Man’s attraction to the sea, swimming and sailing.

James Wharram Receives Classic Boat 'Lifetime Achievement' Award

By Hanneke Boon
Rob Peake, Hanneke Boon, James Wharram
CB editor Rob Peake, Hanneke Boon and James Wharram (Photo by Classic Boat)

On 3rd April James Wharram and Hanneke Boon attended the 2018 Classic Boat Awards ceremony at the Royal Thames Yacht Club in London. Awards were given for various categories of building and restoring Classic Boats. However, this year there was a special extra award presented to James Wharram for a 'Lifetime Achievement' as Pioneer catamaran builder - sailor and multihull designer.

Mana 24 - Self-Assembly 'Cat-Kit'

CNC cut self-build Cat Kit, for a trailable family camping boat. Keep it at home and sail throughout Europe.

Assorted Mana photos

MANA - Polynesian word for ‘spirit’ given to an object by its maker or the person that uses it.

Due to the present period of financial austerity and increasingly high marina costs, a large number of would-be sailors are having a hard time financing the dream of sailing their own boat. However, there is an economical way to enjoy sailing, by building your own small lightweight boat, keeping it at home and trailing it to the waters you want to sail in, chasing the good weather. This gives the opportunity to explore many more sailing areas than if based on a permanent mooring and at a much lower cost.

In designing the MANA, we explored this idea and looked sideways into the world of camping and have combined the innovative CNC cut “flat pack” boat-building concept with the philosophy of outdoor living to create the unique MANA camper-sailer, specifically designed for trailer sailing. The MANA kit is sold with all the plywood cut out by CNC cutter and pre-coated with epoxy, so building the boat at home will be a bit like assembling a flat-pack. All the parts slot together perfectly so a hull can take shape in a day.

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