Bluewater Dreaming: Could You Build Your Own Tinnie?

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Being able to build your own boat exactly the way you’d like sounds like a dream for many boat lovers. How hard (or not) is it? We look at what’s involved.

The detail’s in the design

Before you decide whether it’s possible to build your own tinnie, sit yourself down and write out three lists:

  1. The first will contain the elements you absolutely need (hull, motor, steering, seating).
  2. Next, your dreams. List all the things you’d really like on your boat.
  3. Finally, nominate what you can do yourself and which parts you will need to hand over to a professional (such as welding).

What shape and how long will it be? This will depend largely on where you want to take it (up the river, on the estuaries, out to sea) and how many other people you will take with you.

Last of all, work out your budget. Cost everything, so that you know what you can afford to do now, and what might have to wait until next year.


The number one benefit of building your own tinnie is that you can design into it all the features you want, rather than having to make do with functionality someone else thinks is important.

The next best thing is you get to go fishing or boating in your very own handmade craft.

You might save money, though that will depend very much on what you’re building and the resources you have to hand.


  • Metal sheeting can be expensive and difficult to work with unless you know what you’re doing.
  • Are you a welder? If so, not a problem, but if you’re not you’ll need to engage a professional to work with you on some sections of the construction.
  • Your ability to design the technical features of your boat will be crucial, otherwise you could end up with a flat-bottomed punt.

In your favour, however, there are websites that offer blueprints for you to follow. Even more helpful are Australian-based websites such as Plate Alloy that offer designs, kits and courses and will even fabricate custom components according to your design.

Repair and upgrade instead?

If you do want to build your own boat, there are ways around the need to be a sheet metalworker.

An easy alternative might be to buy a bare hull or even an old tinnie that needs repairing. That way you have the basic shape in place and can begin making it your own with all the mods you want or can afford. Tinnie hulls of all sizes and shapes can be found online, starting at $500; you might even get a trailer thrown in that you can also upgrade to suit your newly reconditioned boat.

Building your own boat might not be inexpensive and will certainly present you with some challenges. But who knows, your boat might end up so impressive that others will commission you to build theirs and you can give up your day job altogether!

Just to whet your appetite, here are some juicy accessories you might like to add to your boat.


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