Nearly 70 years ago Build-A-Boat started as a modest but varied collection of boat designs, aiming to preserve this important historical Australian resource and provide interesting magazine content for the boating enthusiast and boat builders. For those who enjoyed the articles and embraced the dream, actual boat plans quickly became available.

Since then, Build-A-Boat has grown to be a comprehensive collection of plans for vessels of nearly every type and size, mostly suitable for construction by the amateur as well as the professional boat builder. Appropriate plans can be found for almost every imaginable use and a plan can be found for all levels of skill from beginner to expert.

Your ideal boat is very likely to be here, and if it’s only almost perfect we can offer professional advice or design modification by our resident Naval Architect, who is in possession of over 40 years practical experience.

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NORM HUDSON and the beginnings of BUILD-A-BOAT plans

This collection of plans was begun by Norm Hudson, who started collecting boat plans soon after the end of WW2. He became a serious enthusiast of sailing and anything to do with the sea after crewing with Captain John Illingworth RN aboard "RANI" which sailed to Victory in the first Sydney to Hobart yacht race in 1945. He later sailed with Illingworth in international races, aboard the famous Myth of Malham.

It was a natural progression for Norm to explore the idea of publication and to start a new magazine called SEACRAFT in 1946. The segment of the magazine called the "Design Bureau " was launched with just a handfull of designs but proved popular. In early post-World War II years, SEACRAFT was the Australian yachties’ major source of news, technical advice and latest designs, and was strongly supported by marine advertising. It was a time when the yachting scene was rapidly expanding, with the inaugural Sydney Hobart in 1945, participation at the Olympics in 1946 and international one-design championships. Of course even then there were moves afoot to challenge for the America's Cup.

SEACRAFT Aquatic Magazine - "Covering the Australasian Waterfront - Encouraging and Recording Progress of Yachting - Both Power and Sail." Issues of Seacraft included some fascinating articles about early Sydney Hobart races, Round the World cruises, the beginning of Australia's push into Olympic class sailing, and wonderful 'boy's own' stories by that famous adventurer, author and square rigger captain, Alan Villiers. The Assistant Editor was Jules Feldmam. Jules later went on to found Modem Motor and Modern Boating magazines with the late Colin Ryrie. Colin was also back then a keen contributor of news about skiff racing on Sydney Harbour.

Seacraft and other early Australian boating magazines such as Motor Boat & Yachting have long since published their final editions, but the publications Offshore Yachting and Sails are still going strong and, like Seacraft, are still encouraging and recording the progress of yachting in Australia and internationally.

Norm's legacy lives on through the well known Magazine WHEELS, and now also, through this magnificent recently released, publicly accessible collection of boat designs and plans.

Read more on Jules Feldman

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