Ok, you have already started, but if not..

I wrote this up a couple of months back when trying out different formats for this website.

While it is now definitely NOT a build thing I’ll leave the mention of that in, regardless.


Probably aimed more at the potential builder, of one, or both.


Greg and I have combined to produce a matched pair of this model sloop so we could actually race them against one another.

Step by step building our two Emma boats.

The notes that accompany the Emma plans are very comprehensive, much more so than for Irene which is going to make the Emma builds ever so much easier. As well, Emma is an uncomplicated design (in comparison to Irene)  and should take only a fraction of the time to complete.

Even so, if you haven’t done anything like this before you can expect to find some value (we hope) in following our progress.

It goes without saying that what has worked for us might not be how you will do it and if so, please tell us about it so we can include your methods here along with our own.

Where we are doing it exactly as Gary has outlined in the Emma instructions we will just refer to it.

My only qualification is that I have completed an Irene, very slowly and painstakingly, with periods of uncertainty, taken over a few months and finally now sailing her to the acclaim of those watching. In hindsight it would have been a lot easier if I had tackled Emma first as practically everything you do in an Emma is present in an Irene. The hull construction is comparable but with a few lesser requirements but overall generally the same tasks. Because of this you will find a lot of useful info on the RCG thread for Irene but you will need to patient as there is a lot of it. Most of what is here will not be on RCG.

So, where do you start?

1: Go to bearospace and see what Gary has to offer. Of late he is now offering both sets for $25, a saving of $5 but more importantly, you have both projects to cross reference to.  And who knows, you might finish up making both.  I am.

Which one to build, the Irene or the Emma?

Consider this (my impressions)

Features Size Hull Bulkheads Sails Keel ballast Winch Rigging Difficulty 0/5 Portability Cost
Emma Smaller 4 piece 4 2 7 lb Arm Basic 3 Easy Low
Irene Larger 6 piece 5 3 13lb Drum Complex 5 Difficult Low

It stands to reason that the Emma can be built in less time than the Irene, but the actual time for the Irene will be considerably less if it is built AFTER the Emma.

2: OK, it’s an Emma

Even if you are not interested in the Emma it will be beneficial to read this article, since much of the Irene is the same or very similar to the Emma and there is no point duplicating  information.

3: I’m going to build the Emma, where do I start.?

If you haven’t already done so, purchase a copy of the Emma plans and have a quick look through it. Don’t spend too much time trying to take it all in, Gary leads you step by step through the whole process so you only need to read each section carefully, not the whole project.

The Irene section will give you a lot of compatible info right up to where you have the bulkheads in and the hull sections joined together. Even then quite a few sections are virtually the same so as you proceed, check for additional info in the Irene section. I should add,  also the RCG threads which is a goldmine of personal experience, a few failures and many triumphs.

4: Follow the proven  plot,

Don’t try rewriting the book, Gary has it down pat.  It is important, particularly with the Emma project, that you follow Gary’s step by step method rather than somewhat ad-hoc like I mostly do. Why do I? Impatience, mostly.and a lack of planning diligence. Save yourself some mild grief.

5: Emma specifics

Other than the fact she has less main ply sections, she also has two “pointy” ends.  This simplifies things a bit but I can tell you know, mark the bow with some coloured tape so you are always getting  the necessary alignment of parts correct. Not likely to catch you out? Early days yet..I can admit it caught me not once but three times.. finding the rudder up front  or the door way to the cabin facing forward (into the gale) is going to ruin some build sessions.  I’ll add a very important hint right here and now.

HINT.. Postpone the gluing in of anything until you are absolutely sure it is correct, or that you might not want to try fit it out first.


5 comments on “Ok, you have already started, but if not..

  1. Really good read but I think some of the specifications are wrong.
    Emma is the smaller boat surely and has fewer bulkheads and hull sections.

    • Thanks Geoff, I find proofreading my own work a bit iffy. I’ve corrected the sizes but also the number of sails that were wrong.

  2. Good summary, and so true. I bought both the Emma and Irene plans from Gary. it’s cheaper to buy the combo package that way. Plus, even if you only ever intend to build one of them, there are a few tidbits of info appearing exclusively in either plan which do apply equally to both models. So it’s definitely worth reading through both of them.

  3. Great job Mal, your enthusiasm to continually provide information on this website astounds me. The posting of detail like this must be a bonus to anyone interested in model plywood boats. Keep up the good work.
    Cheers Crossbones.

    • Thanks Greg, I was beginning to think this site was going nowhere, but closer look at site stats show a growing, if modest, visitation. I’ll start adding more and see how it goes. Should get back into the latest build today, holiday well and truly over. 🙂 Might be a good thing to do a build on your Schooner here?

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