Can everybody design?

Discussion in 'Boat Design' started by ekamarine, Apr 7, 2011.

  1. kach22i
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    kach22i Architect

    1 person likes this.
  2. hoytedow
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    hoytedow Carbon Based Life Form

    The crap I build floats. :D

    I might name my next boat(the avatar) Crappie, after the fish, of course. :)
  3. viking north
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    viking north VINLAND

    Kach22i--I bet Boston would like to borrow that for his Star Trekki Weekend--Maybe he'd share the spoils-:)
  4. Gary Baigent
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    Gary Baigent Senior Member

    Although they would like to think differently most yachting people are not experimentalists and when confronted with inventive types become frightened and confused – and can only handle them by making criticism. Consistently throughout the 175 odd years before the 1980’s the leaders of controlling yacht clubs have stopped any development that encouraged high performance – it has been suggested that in the early years this was probably because of dour religious upbringings.
    “The most innovative inventions,” wrote Garry Hoyt in the US publication Yacht Racing/Cruising, “that have brought major changes in the 20th Century yachting, have come from two ex-surfers with absolutely no formal training in yacht design: Hobie Alter and Hoyle Schweitzer – who designed the breakthrough Hobie cat and the windsurfer.”
    Similarly in New Zealand autodidacts have been a major influence in changes of yacht design direction – “New Zealand’s shining light in self education is Bruce Farr,” said Jim Young, “he has done his own thing all his life, left school at 17 and has never stolen any ideas from anyone.”
  5. daiquiri
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    daiquiri Engineering and Design

    Three good examples of self-thaught and ingenious people who have explored new paths in design and achieved a deserved success.

    However their example doesn't prove that "everybody" can design a (good) boat. These guys have all had either a good knowledge about boats or a significant sailing experience, or both, prior to venturing into design of their first successful boat.

    We are not discussing Naval Architects vs. The Rest of the World here, imho. It is only a matter of competence - which is gained through practical experience, formal or informal education, or (the best option) both.
  6. daiquiri
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    daiquiri Engineering and Design

    Well, perhaps not verybody can design, but looks like this thread has caught everybody's attention here... :)
  7. hoytedow
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    hoytedow Carbon Based Life Form

    Perhaps the question should be: Can everybody design intelligently?
  8. Gary Baigent
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    Gary Baigent Senior Member

    No, not everyone can be a yacht designer ... but those who are enthusiastic, observant AND have practical sailing knowledge - can do so - and should be encouraged; well, they don't need to be encouraged because they are self motivated anyway. In the past, marine architects have been an elitist lot who kept their secrets and knowledge to themselves (and okay, fair enough, have to survive and so on) but there are brilliant enthusiasts out there - especially in New Zealand, where as already mentioned, the very best have all been/are iconoclastic autodidacts, who love to sail.
  9. Pericles
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    Pericles Senior Member

    From Glen-L.

    "Most anyone can draw a boat; designing one takes a lot more effort and ability.

    Of primary importance in designing a small boat is knowledge gained by experience. At GLEN-L we design boats, build testing prototypes, and then test the in-water performance. Most designers don't have the luxury of being able to test their final product. We do and the experience gained is invaluable for designing future craft.

    A new design is started by establishing the parameters. The length, beam, depth, and type of boat is decided on; power or sail and the material the boat is to be built from must be selected. Every boat is a compromise and practical experience dictates the inevitable give and take features that are best for the particular craft being designed.

    Designers use coefficients that provide comparative factors to determine the general shape of the midsection and other factors. The range of coefficients for a given type of boat have been gathered over the years and are given in books on boat design. But a designers experience of the performance of previous boats is used to temper the figures, as little information has been published on smaller boats.

    The basic lines of the boat are developed showing three views; plan, profile, and sections. A designer must rough out a set of lines that hopefully match the desired coefficients. The term hopefully is used because accurate coefficients cannot be determined until the lines are finalized."

    Pretty well sums it up.

  10. BATAAN
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    BATAAN Senior Member

    When posting the picture of the birch bark canoes I made no mention of native Americans as some lost ideal of perfection who could do no wrong and lived on sunlight and butterflies, but tried to point out that you don't have to know how to read to be able to design and build beautiful functional boats. Nor do you have to be a specialist boat designer, but must merely be experienced in the necessities of water travel and reasonably crafty with your mind and hands. Plans, pencil, words, books are not required.
    In the case of the very widely used north American bark canoe, most fur-trade-area tribes used this vessel exclusively as it was the only way to travel in much of the area. This, plus the fact that they wore out in about 3 years, meant that the ability to build a standard, good canoe, was widespread where good bark was available, and families usually did it as a group and made the item in a pretty standard way for each locally evolved type and gave a pretty consistent result of nice workmanship and great beauty, sized for the job by a set of rules as to length, depth and breadth.
    Same with the Inuit kayak. Learning to build and use one to support a family was considered part of becoming a man, and did not rely on specialist designers or builders. The kayak especially is made to a set of passed down rules which govern proportion as a function of the body size of the user, giving a perfectly sized and proportioned craft for him alone.
    Northwest coast cedar seagoing dugouts were a different matter and artisanal builders were the norm, and highly paid in these materialistic, wealth gathering coastal societies like the Tlingit, Haida, and others, so they were the NAs of their time and place. Haida especially exported their canoes to the mainland as a business and they were seen as far south as Port Townsend regularly. The 3rd and 4th shots are of this type at PT and Seattle.

    Attached Files:

  11. ancient kayaker
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    ancient kayaker aka Terry Haines

    Edmond Bruce, who invented the Bruce foil, was a radio pioneer and antenna designer. He co-authored the book "Design for fast Sailing". He was an early user of the polar diagram for showing the performance of a sailboat on all points of the wind - I wonder if he was the first to ue it in a sail context since it is identical in appearance to the polar diagrams used for displaying directional antenna performance.

    It would be nice to hear about other pioneers of important sailing developments who were not formally trained in boat design . . .
  12. daiquiri
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    daiquiri Engineering and Design

    Traditional boats have been built through centuries all over the world with no use of plans, pencil and books. However, words are required - or else how could the traditional craftsmanship be transmitted through generations?
    Perhaps I didn't get your point the way you've intended it, but you are reinforcing what has been said before - that the experience and knowledge is necessary to design a boat. In the case of traditional boatbuilders, the knowledge has been gathered through centuries of trial and error and transmitted through words and practical examples. In case of modern designers and builders, it is being gathered through scientific methods and transmitted through books or other forms of education (as PAR has also noted in the post #9).
    But the concept of knowledge has kept the same importance in both cases, traditional and modern.

    So not everyone but a knowledgeable (through experience or through education) designer is required to get a good boat by more than a mere chance. And by that I'm not implying that a formally trained Na or YD is necessary. Just a knowledgeable person (which NAs and YD's mostly, though not always, are).
  13. bntii
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    bntii Senior Member

    I would add that the information contained in those books and method is the product of those generations of human endeavor which has led to our understanding of this or any other field.

    It comes up occasionally here that the formally educated are somehow isolated from the traditional knowledge base accumulated over the centuries.
    I see this as far from the actual case. A formal engineering, design or scientific education has its foundation in all that has been learned over time.
  14. daiquiri
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    daiquiri Engineering and Design

    That's correct and imho understated. There is not a moment in time when the "traditional knowledge" has ceased to be valid and the "scientific knowledge" has suddenly popped up out of nowhere. It is a long and continuous process of succession and morphing, with it's bright and dark moments.

    One example: sails. How many reliable wind-tunnel test data are available today, in 21st century, and how many designers use them, compared to those who still prefer the traditional, statistical sail-area ratios? :)

  15. upchurchmr
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    upchurchmr Senior Member

    Don't let anybody stop you if you want to design a boat.
    Why would you tell anybody who wants to design a boat to stop?

    Speaking as an engineer, many of the best new ideas do not come from education. However, once the idea is there, an engineer can often make it better.

    I would try to stop someone who is going to hurt themselves or someone else, but we are all adults. You have the right to go to xxx in your own way.

    Naval architets, etc., can take care of themselves - or they won't stay in business.

    Lets play. Who cares about decals?
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