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 recommended 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. Read the Wharram Design Book and familiarise yourself with the various designs and their unique qualities. This book 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 Builder's Plans and become a real life member of the Wharram Boat Builder Community. You can build a Wharram with very little experience. Our Building Plans present quality instruction, guidance and advice for both novice and professional alike. A Wharram can be built in 130 hours - or you can indulge four years of your life into one.

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.

Micro Adventure Weekend – A Cornish Wharram Hui!

By Nicki John
Wharram Melanesia

Calling all (UK) Wharram Cat owners – We warmly invite you to come and join us for a weekend of Wharram Micro Adventures. 9th/10th & 11th June 2017, Cornwall.

There’s nothing better than a good old fashioned Hui!

‘What’s a Hui?’ We hear you cry! A Hui is the Polynesian word for ‘social gathering’ and they regularly take place all over the Pacific. So we felt it would be wonderful to organise our very own Cornish Hui here in Cornwall, starting from Wharram HQ, Devoran.

We have based this weekend around the full moon (high tides), to allow all Wharram Cat owners to potter up our creek at high tide and moor off our Wharram site on the first night.

To register your interest in joining us for this weekend, please either email us at wharram@wharram.com (with ‘Cornish Hui’ as the subject line), or go to our Facebook event page and click either ‘going’ or ‘interested’.

Cruising the Canary Islands on Pahi 53 Hecate

By Hanneke Boon
Distant shot of Hecate anchored at Playa Francesca
Anchored off Playa Francesca.

The Canary Islands have played an important and emotional role in James’ and my sailing history. In 1956 James, with Ruth and Jutta on little Tangaroa were several months in Las Palmas before crossing the Atlantic. They were there again in 1961 with Rongo, on a planned voyage round the world. This voyage was sadly curtailed due to the death of Jutta in Las Palmas. She is buried there.

At the end of November Matt Knight, owner of Pahi 53 Hecate, alerted us to a beautiful short video of Hecate and her exploits with big wave surfing. In the accompanying email he wrote: if you ever have any free time and want to join us aboard please don't hesitate to say”.

Matt and his film-maker friend Mikey have spent many months last year making a documentary about big wave surfing, with Hecate as the mother ship taking surfers to remote extreme surf areas that are hard to get to over land. Hecate would be in the Canaries in January, there would be a break in filming at that time. They made an earlier documentary called Beneath The Surface.

Mana 24 kit now available for orders

By Hanneke Boon

The Mana 24 kit is now available and we are taking orders. We will be handling each order individually, so if you would like to discuss ordering a Mana kit, please contact us, we will then be able to work out shipping details to your building site and supply you with a pro-forma invoice.

More details and a full price list have now been added to the Mana data sheet. If your budget is tight, it is possible to buy the kit in two stages, buying masts, sails, rigging, ropes and fittings later.

Kit price £9,925 for the complete sailing boat (excl. VAT, excl. shipping)

We will be exhibiting Mana 24 at the Beale Park Boatshow, which is held on 2nd, 3rd, 4th June near Reading on the river Thames. Here is a chance to view the Mana 24 on the water; we can take people on test sails on the lake. Mana can also be viewed at other times here in Cornwall. Contact us to make an appointment.

JWD Christmas Update - Meet the Team, New Films

By Nicki John

This year has been fairly stretched here in the world of James Wharram Designs. Hanneke has been working tirelessly on finalising both the restoration work on Spirit of Gaia & the much-awaited Mana 24 project; we have a new staff member and the excitement of being contacted by 2 film companies who are interested in producing a film & documentary (respectively) about JWD. In essence, 2017 promises to be a very exciting year ahead for the Wharram World.

The James Wharram Designs team posing for a photograph outside Wharram HQ
Left to right: Perky, Emma, James, Hanneke, Nicki

Polynesian Odyssey DVD (PAL)

Polynesian Odyssey DVD cover

The Populating of the Polynesian Islands; the Secret of the First Great Seafaring Civilisation.

This documentary was made in 2009 by ARTE France for television. We think it is one of the best documentaries about the Pacific islands’ seafaring history and the controversies over how the remote Pacific islands were populated by the Polynesians.

It features many fascinating archive clips of the French sailing hero Eric de Bisschop on his double canoe Kaimiloa (1939) and bamboo raft Tahiti Nui (1956). Eric de Bisschop is introduced by James Wharram, who was inspired by him to make his pioneering Atlantic voyages by double canoe in the 1950s. Also shown is the double canoe, Havaiki Nui, built by Francis Cowan and Greg Brightwell. This double canoe, built authentically from carved-out logs and coconut fibre lashings was sailed from Tahiti to New Zealand using only Polynesian navigation techniques in 1985. Then there is footage of James Siers and his 60ft Kiribati canoe Taratai. Further there are discussions with various other experts on archaeology and Polynesian navigation.

This video is a must for those that are inspired by Polynesian double canoes. Only available through the Wharram webshop.

Directors: Olivier Comte
Writers: Hélène Constanty, Olivier Comte

Festivals and Awards:
  • 2011: Best Film dealing with adventure and nautical sports at the "Ecrans de la mer", Dunkerque (France)
  • 2010: Selected at the festival "Etonnants Voyageurs" (Amazing Travellers), Saint Malo, France.
Price: £15.00
Wharram Shop:

Spirit of Gaia renovation (Part 8)

By Hanneke Boon

Gaia is launched! Finally after 4 years of hard work Spirit of Gaia was lifted back into her natural element.

We returned to Messolonghi on September 11th to prepare Gaia for launching and to take her on her first trial sails.

On arrival we were faced with a marina in deadlock. ALL work in the marina had come to a total standstill. Whereas in the Spring, during the so-called ban on ‘work’, the marina was still lifting and launching boats on a daily basis, this had now totally ceased. The last boat being launched the previous week had instigated a legal check into the activities of the marina while it still had not been granted its Environmental License. Lifting and launching were now also forbidden. No work could be carried out whatsoever until the License was granted.

What were we to do? We had come with a launching date planned for the 21st of September, so Glenn and Janey would be able to have a first sail on her before they had to depart on the 25th. Discussions with the marina staff became a daily routine while we waited for what was going to happen. A Frenchman, owner of another catamaran, also desperately wanted his boat launched. He needed to do many serious repairs to his boat and with the ban on work he wanted to get to another boatyard where he would be allowed to do this.

Mana 24 Launching

By Hanneke Boon

Mana has been officially launched at Devoran on 20th August.

Around 60 men, women and children came to the launch. There were people from England, Netherlands, France, Finland, Germany, Austria, Scotland, New Zealand, Australia, Israel and Kyrgyzstan.

This was not her first launching as we had taken her by trailer to the Brest and Douarnenez traditional boat festivals in July. She was not fully finished then, still in white undercoat, but she first floated in the sea off the slipway in Brest. After a couple of days of fitting windows, raising masts and rigging her, we first sailed Mana with the fleet of multihulls in the ‘night parade’ off the quays in Brest.

Lapita Voyage

The boats

The ‘Lapita Voyage’ began in the first week of November 2008, when two 38ft double canoes, designed by James Wharram Designs, based on an ancient Polynesian canoe hull-form and built in the Philippines, set out on a 4,000Nm voyage along the island chains of the Philippines, Indonesia, New Guinea and the Solomons.

Their destination was Anuta and Tikopia, two tiny, remote islands at the Eastern end of the Santa Cruz Islands, where the boats arrived in mid March 2009 and were donated to the islanders for their future inter island voyaging.

The ‘Lapita Voyage’ was a major expedition in Experimental Marine Archaeology. It was the first exploration by Ethnic sailing craft of one possible migration route into the Central Pacific. The voyage was made entirely under sail without motors, using traditional Polynesian crab claw sails and steering paddles.

This section of the website is dedicated to the memory of Klaus Hympendahl who died in February 2016. The Lapita Voyage would not have been possible without Klaus’ organisational work and efforts to raise the money to build the boats.

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