On a whim last summer, I decided to build a land yacht. What I thought would take me a weekend has turned into a multi-month megaproject.
When I tell people I’m building a land yacht, people tend to get one of two mental images:
Here’s what I actually built:
Sailing it at El Mirage Dry Lake:
I used these awesome “Lake Lefroy Mini” instructions from the seabreeze.com.au land yacht forums as a starting point, and made some small tweaks of my own along the way.
I did the major welding and woodwork at Tech Shop SF:
Free windsurfing gear from craigslist
Fabricating the rear axel assembly
Main frame, v1
Frame with mast step and steering
Mast and sail
During the initial test sail with a friend in Mountain View, prior to having a real seat to sit on, we managed to open the spine like a can opener due to the lateral force of the wind (and some likely dubious welds).
I replaced the spine with much heavier stock, which while probably overkill in terms of weight, will never fail.
I added a seat, and took it down to El Mirage dry lake bed in Souther California for a true first sail. El Mirage is like the worlds largest parking lot – flat, hard, and windy. I estimate it got up to 20-25 mph, though the commercially built yachts were blowing by me at 40+ mph like I was standing still.
Most recently, I brought it into Noisebridge for some rerigging, including recutting a windsurfing sail according to these instructions from the sea breeze forums, so that it’s flatter and hopefully faster. What I thought was going to be an afternoon project ate up the better part of a week or two, though I learned a ton about sailmaking in the process.
Layers, so many layers
Finished recut sail
Rerigged all sexy like and ready to sail!