Boat Design Career Advice?

Discussion in 'Software' started by Jimmy N, Jul 30, 2020.

  1. Jimmy N
    Joined: Jul 2020
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    Location: Maine

    Jimmy N New Member

    Hello all! First time user on this website. Was hoping about getting some advice about dipping into boat design as a career. A bit of exposition- I went to school for 3D Digital Graphics, graduated in 2011. My initial interest was to do art for video games but it has proven to be very challenging and I do not believe my degree is marketable at this time. After a recent layoff I've been doing a bit a soul searching about what I want to do. I've recently gotten into kayaking and I've been considering- how awesome would it be to marry my interests in 3D and kayaking together! The people who design these rotomolded boats- they must start somewhere right? How does someone acquire a job as a small boat designer? What does it take?

    I've primarily used Autodesk Maya but have recently taught myself both Max and Blender. I'm a pretty quick learner. I realize these are mainly used for polygonal modeling, and I've probably have to learn more of a CAD program (I'm familiar with these, but have not used them for some time). I see a lot of different types of software listed on - what are industry standards?

    Do kayak companies typically outsource design work, or is it done in-house?

    I imagine a working knowledge of fluid dynamics/physics would be required
    (ex Is Longer Really Faster? | Guillemot Kayaks ) - is a knowledge of material composition needed too?

    How often are designers really needed? Can you make a living as a designer? How long does it take to learn? It seems like some kayak manufacturers may offer new designs every year but with small features? Otherwise the wheel has been invented- depending on what people want, maybe the ideal design already exists?

    I have all of these questions- I know the answers are probably out here, on this site and others- but honestly, I'm not even sure where to begin! I just know this is something I'm interested in doing. I'm wondering if someone can help provide some insight and point me in the right direction.

    Thanks for your time!
  2. Ad Hoc
    Joined: Oct 2008
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    Ad Hoc Naval Architect

    Hi Jimmy N

    Welcome to the forum.
    This is a long list of Qs you have posed. ...and to some extent you have already answered yourself.

    The bottom line is.. do you wish either
    1 - Just "draw" boats - using nice fancy 3D modelling software with fancy graphics etc.
    2 - Design - which means understanding the science and mechanisms behind each discipline such as: structures, materials, hydrodynamics etc etc.

    Since the 2 options/choices are poles apart.

    But does this mean that you cannot simply draw up a kayak that you like the look of?... no, it doesn't.
    Because anyone with fingers and a keyboard/mouse and software can do this. But whatever you create, whether it works or not... will be a mystery as to why, for you. You may make lots of money in the process... but you will still be in the dark as to "why".. which is what all engineers/academics seek.. the why's.

    Thus what is your real objective...?
  3. BlueBell
    Joined: May 2017
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    Location: Victoria BC Canada

    BlueBell . . . . .

    I may be a pessimist Jimmy N ( oh, and welcome to the Forum ), but you'd be better off in the marketing department than designing kayaks.
    There ain't much advancement in one of the oldest boats in the world-scheme of things.
    Especially when power is limited to about 100 watts sustained and delivered through the resistance of the blade in the water.
    hoytedow and bajansailor like this.
  4. bhnautika
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    Location: australia

    bhnautika Senior Member

    Jimmy N welcome to the forum having read your post I would suggest you look at maybe industrial design as this may tap into your existing tool set as most kayaks are manufactured product . Yes you will did CAD but mesh based modelling is moving up because of 3D printing and cnc tooling. The kayak market/business has a lot of people in it that have a lot of paddle miles under there belt so breaking into design work will take time. Observation and asking questions of the people who are doing the custom end of the market may enlighten you as to the way forward.
    bajansailor likes this.
  5. Dolfiman
    Joined: Aug 2017
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    Dolfiman Senior Member

    To my knowledge, it is the luxurious motor yachts market (L 30 m to 100 m) which employs a lot of designers , and moreover the wealthy customers being mostly English spoken, to be fluent in English is a plus. 3 examples of yards which up to now are in a continuous growth :
    Lürssen Yachts
    >>> Young designer 2019 competition supported by Lurssen : Young designers at Lürssen – Next-generation yachts
    Feadship | Royal Dutch Shipyards
    Baglietto Yachts
  6. Yobarnacle
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    Yobarnacle Senior Member holding true course

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  7. jehardiman
    Joined: Aug 2004
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    jehardiman Senior Member

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  8. Ike
    Joined: Apr 2006
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    Ike Senior Member

    Actually the roto-molded kayak industry is huge, if volume is the main criteria. Most of them are exported. but well over 200,000 are sold here. So your idea is not as strange as some might think. However, the design part is small. I suggest you start by trying to network with people in the business, and the marketing part is not a bad way to get into it. Like any business once you are in, moving to another part of the business is easier than getting hired from outside. see Number of kayaks sold in the U.S. 2001-2013 | Statista this only covers the period 2000 to 2013. If you look at the NMMA stats on powerboats sold in the US, the number of kayaks is about the same as the number of all types of powerboats. See U.S. Recreational Boating Statistical Abstract Kayaks are a big chunk of the recreational boat market from a volume aspect. However compared to the Powerboat market they do not generate nearly as much revenue. It's a matter of price and accessories. Powerboats require engines which are expensive. Kayaks only need paddles. Any way give it a shot. Why not?
  9. Will Gilmore
    Joined: Aug 2017
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    Will Gilmore Senior Member

    These reflect my own thoughts.

    There only other approach I can think of is design and produce your own boat to compete, but that seems even harder to succeed at.

    -Will (Dragonfly)
    I would suggest that with new materials and construction/manufacturing techniques
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  10. CocoonCruisers
    Joined: Dec 2015
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    CocoonCruisers Junior Member

    Probably less efficient than marketing to sneak into the industry and certainly less creative, but close to your current skillset and possibly complementary:
    CAD/Meshing for CFD is a royal pita; perhaps you can find someone who will be very happy to leave this to a quick-learning intern. You may have quite a few more clues about accurate modelling than all the engineers and visual designers who fiddle around with this part-time. Another Fine Mesh is a nice read about that. I doubt many companies can afford to do CFD for kayaks, but it is done more and more on bigger performance-oriented boats.
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