December 17, 2015

Learning about boat design

MANY BOATERS eventually become interested in yacht design — but how do you learn about it? Veteran designer Ted Brewer suggests three methods in his book Understanding Boat Design (International Marine).

In the first place, he says, the hobbyist can simply read about yacht design. That sounds simple enough but it can be confusing because of conflicting theories.  Brewer says that designers “including me, may push their own concept of the perfect hull, layout, or rig. It is important to develop your own ideas based on facts and experience, rather than to accept someone else’s theories.”

In the second place, he recommends the home-study course. “The cost is moderate, but large enough to keep the student working hard at it. “The Westlawn course is good if it is done properly without taking all the easiest options. The Westlawn course requires serious commitment to time and effort, but provides a thorough grounding in small-boat design.”

In the third place is the time-honored college degree from the Webb Institute, M.I.T., Michigan, or another university offering a degree in naval architecture. This is for the serious student only, of course. “Since the emphasis of the university course is on large-ship design, it is not ideal for students of small-boat design, but it does work. Many famous yacht designers have gone that route. The Maine Maritime Academy offers a course in small-craft design that is worth serious consideration as well.”

Finally, Brewer offers this piece of advice:

“Anyone going into the yacht design business should work as a draftsman or assistant for a reputable naval architect for several years to gain practical experience. This is true for university and home-study graduates. Indeed, it is best if the budding designer works for several different architects or builders before he hangs out his shingle because he will gain invaluable experience and practical knowledge from each.”

Today’s Thought
Architects are pretty much high-class whores. We can turn down projects the way they can turn down some clients, but we’ve both got to say yes to someone if we want to stay in business.
— Philip Johnson, Esquire, Dec 80

Four-year-old Janie had been put to bed for the night when her little brother wandered along and tried to enter her room.
“You can’t come in, Jimmy,” she said, “cos Mom says little boys mustn’t see little girls in their nighties.”
Jimmy went outside, closed the door, and was puzzling about this when the door opened again. “It’s aw wight Jimmy, you can come in now,” said Janie. “I’se tooked my nightie off.”

(Drop by every Monday, Wednesday, Friday for a new Mainly about Boats column.)


Alden Smith said...

As a sailer, builder and restorer of yachts I found my knowledge greatly increased by reading that well known text 'Skenes Elements of Yacht Design' which I still refer to from time to time.

John Vigor said...

It's a wonderful book, Alden. When I first read it I fell in love with the Pipe Dream design. Still love the look of that boat.

John V.

Alden Smith said...

Absolutely, I know how you feel about the Pipe Dream design. They were produced in fiberglass a few decades back and looked great, although a wooden one would be my first choice.