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.

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.

Spirit of Gaia renovation (Part 7)

By Hanneke Boon
Gaia with masts raised ready for her launching in the Autumn Gaia with masts raised ready for her launching in the Autumn

2016 is the year in which Gaia has finally been relaunched after 4 years of renovation work. Two months work this Springtime, sandwiched between hard work to build the new Mana 24 in Cornwall, gave us insufficient time to launch, so we returned for this in the Autumn. Part 8 will report on the launching and first sails soon.

Spring 2016 saw us back aboard in Messolonghi, this time Paul, our trusted helper from America, had flown out to Cornwall to help us with the building of Mana. After 4 weeks of intensive work in our workshop Paul, James and I flew out to Greece. Paul had been looking forward to driving with us through Europe, which had been the original plan, but this takes a lot of time and money and we were short of both, so it was Easyjet once again.

We arrived mid April and were joined a few days later by a lovely couple, also from America, Bryce and Jen. Bryce had been writing to us for several years hoping to come to help, but every time things did not work out. Bryce is an experienced rigger and has captained square-riggers and other big ships, including tugs in Alaska. This was the best year for him to join us, as we were now ready for some serious rope work.

This season’s job list was: get the beams lashed on, rig the masts and raise them, finish all the paintwork on the hulls, renovate the bowwalk, slatted walkways and centre platform.

Lapita Voyage

This new 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.

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.

Lapita Anuta and Lapita Tikopia

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.

HUI Wharram 2016 - Event Report

By Thom DelForge
Hui Wharram

Well now that the dust has settled a bit from our big move from fabulous Islamorada to Downtown Fort Myers it's time to reflect. Dan's legacy in the Keys is a very hard act to follow. The venue in Ft. Myers did turn out to work pretty well according to most attending. Our weather turned out to be as perfect as we hoped (always hope in SWFL), but it was. Most of the time we had plenty of wind, and of course sun. There was a little tide issue for a spell, a few of the larger boats had to wait for the Caloosahatchee to set us free. Shallow draft be dammed, we still need a little water. Sailing was great, most boats were out most of the time for nearly all of the three days and even into Tuesday. That may be a first! There was lots of sailor community and opportunity to share and make plans for future adventures.

Hanneke Boon at Pecha Kucha in Amsterdam

By Hanneke Boon

We have had a long friendship with Carl Cramer, publisher for 25 years of the American ‘Wooden Boat’ and ‘Professional Boatbuilder’ magazines. Last year Carl retired as publisher, but is continuing with other boat related enterprises. Last month he organized a Symposium on yachting in Amsterdam, called ‘Boatbuilding Live’ held on 17th November, the day before the opening of ‘Mets’, the European marine trade show.

James and Hanneke were invited to speak at ‘Boatbuilding Live’ in a 90 minute time slot, so got to work on writing a paper with the title ‘Integrating Philosophy with Boat design’. Unfortunately the symposium was cancelled, but instead Carl asked them to speak at a Pecha Kucha event, also in Amsterdam. This is a new lecture concept originating in Japan where every speaker can show 20 slides to which he/she can talk for 20 seconds each, i.e. a total of 6 minutes 40 seconds presentation.

We had to make a fresh start, for writing for a Pecha Kucha is more like writing poetry than a lecture. From a wordy concept to the minimum, so we saw the time slot of 6 minutes as an illustrated poem of Hanneke, from a young girl sailing with her father, ending up as a boatbuilder, ocean sailor and designer.

Storm Tactics on Wharram Catamarans

By Hanneke Boon
Wharram Cat on stormy seas

Wharram catamarans are well known for their seaworthiness and hundreds have been cruising the oceans of the World for nearly 50 years. As can be expected, many encountered storms during their voyaging, some were unlucky enough to encounter very severe ones and even cyclones and hurricanes.

Don Brazier, Wharram agent in New Zealand and owner/builder of a beautiful 41 foot Narai Mk IV, has been collecting accounts from many Wharram sailors who have experienced severe weather at sea. He himself has made a number of voyages in the Pacific and encountered severe weather, in which he deployed drogue and parachute.

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