Building Tokyo Express

Tokyo Express


Tokyo Express (TE)

is a 40ft (12m) sailing catamaran I built, starting in late 1994 and launched on the 15th August 1997.

She is a Grainger design which I made some changes to creating, among other things, a new bridge deck cabin I could stand up in.

With a standing headroom of 2 metres and wrap-around windows giving all-around visibility, she has an airy feel inside.

Tokyo Express (TE), has one large daggerboard of my design, replacing the original boards. The hull construction is strip-plank western red cedar.

A cedar core with fibreglass inside and out, laminated with epoxy resin. The interior floors and bulkheads are all marine plywood. The external finish is 2 pack Polyurethane paint with acrylic windows bonded to the hull.

The rig is fractional, with a fully battened mainsail. Engines are two (2) 9.9hp 4-stroke Yamaha outboards. One of which doubles as a 120 amp alternator.

Speed under motor is 9 knots with 2 motors (7 knots with 1 motor). Speed under sail was excellent as this boat was light. She is an easily driven boat and after fitting the single, very large daggerboard, goes up-wind like no other cat.

The beginning

I built the original shed many years before. My plan back then was to build a 21 foot keel yacht.

My first step to prepare for building a cat was to  lengthen the shed…

The launching

This was the day I’d been dreaming of—for a long time. I learnt what it meant to be patient! But it was more than worth the wait. Everything came together beautifully in the days leading up to the launch.

The videos on YouTube do it better justice than words. Launching something you’ve spent all that time creating is a special event. I was in for a pleasant surprise, how the boat performed and the total change of lifestyle, now I was living on the water.

The build

I built the cat in the bush in South East Queensland. Living in a caravan next to my shed, I spent nearly everyday building.

It was an amazing time, but some days I thought it would never end, the day after day building. After nearly 3 years, I was ready to launch my work.


After 2 weeks anchored in the Noosa River, commissioning different things. Preparing charts, testing the sails, testing everything up and down the river, I was ready to venture out to sea.

For the next 5 years, my life was waterborne and took me to many places. What a difference it was to living in a house on the land. I wouldn’t have missed this for anything:)

Life aboard TE

TE was home for nearly 5 years. I sailed her many times up and down the east coast of Australia, from Sydney to Lizard Island at the northern tip of the Great barrier reef, then later into the Pacific as far east as New Caledonia and Vanuatu.

Following the sun and the seasons, living at anchor. Noosa Heads was my home port in those early days. I used to cross the bar and anchor up the river, opposite the sailing club, whenever I was passing through.

Like a migratory bird, moving with the seasons. There is something magical about being free to move as you wish, and take your home with you.

The book has the complete story

The building of Tokyo Express was a nearly 3 year journey with many twists and turns before I finally got started.

On the website here are photos and a brief description, but in the book you’ll learn the full story of those 3 busy years in the shed.

Join in on the adventure! There is a lot of practical information too about how I built this boat and a look into life in the bush in Australia, on the Sunshine Coast – Queensland.

Book: Building TE - 3D

Download the Guide – it’s free!

Free boat building guide

Tim Weston Boats