Choosing boat designer...

Discussion in 'Boat Design' started by Alik, May 11, 2020.

  1. Alik
    Joined: Jul 2003
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    Location: Thailand

    Alik Senior Member

    My new write-up, for those locked by quarantine...
    (the cartoon below is drawn by me 20+ years ago)

    Choosing boat designer (Client's manual)

    Though experience and talent are important for any boat designer, formal qualification is potential to grow and to perform complicated design tasks - is the first and easy thing to check. So, look at 'About Us' section of designer's website. Try to read and understand whom you are dealing with. Is it s team, or an individual? If it is a team, who are the members, are they staff of subcontractors? In general, we grade all boat designers into few categories:

    Level 0 - Software user

    No information about academic training on website. We explain: they guy got 3D software, and probably a cracked version of Maxsurf, and one day he decided that he can now start to design boats. Probably, they claim being 'involved in marine industry for 17 years' without giving any details. These people like to claim they are very 'innovative' and 'think out of the box' (to justify the crap they 'design'). Clearly avoid for any type of project!

    Level 1 - Amateur designer

    There are designers will not mention their training or degree, or maybe 'studied music and arts'. This is clear sign of absence of formal qualification in boat design. Instead, they likely to 'lived on boat for 20 years' or 'built his first boat with dad'. Well, at least some marine-related experience. They might also have some plywood boats built to their designs on the website. There are some talented designers in this niche, and they are good unless they jump out of their capabilities. Most of designers offering home-built designs for 200$ are in this group, this is OK for home built small boats. But if one is looking to design complicated craft, for commercial use or CE-certification, should go somewhere else.

    P.S. I always wonder - if You dream to design boats since being a kid - why don't You go study and get formal training??

    Level 2 - Boat design technician

    Some boat designers have studied Westlawn correspondence course (or similar boat building or boat design courses). Though it is quite a comprehensive hands-on course and many talented designers have grown through this school in the past. But formally this is not a degree, and alumni will be not recognized as naval architects in most of countries. The alumni might be capable to design some recreational boats, though not to CE-certification as it requires higher degree of engineering knowledge. These alumni are in no way qualified to design commercial vessels on their own, patrol boats or similar craft; however they can work as draftsmen in larger design offices.

    Level 3: - Yacht designer

    There are yacht design courses, say in UK and NZ. They award Bachelor degree, say, in product design. Not formally naval architects, the graduates are capable to design recreational craft to CE-certification. They are also involved in super yacht industry and this is OK once they work as part of design team for larger vessels.

    Level 4: Marine designer

    Degree in Marine design is related to product/transportation design. These graduates are very good at styling and functional design, and they also study basics of naval architecture. They work as part of team for both yachts and commercial boat projects. However, they don't do engineering part themselves. Today, with increasing competition and demand for innovation in marine industry, these graduates are welcome in many design offices.

    Level 5: Naval architect and marine engineer

    This is the top level in marine design industry fully qualified to work on any type of projects, including 3D modeling, drawings, calculations and specifications - from first sketch to launching. Note that not all naval architects design yachts; many will specialize on offshore drilling rigs or oil tankers. However, degree in naval architecture is the key to successful career in yacht and boat design, given proper experience.

    As a side note: boat design is not just ability to draw sleek profiles, and not the ability to satisfy the class. Boat design is about understanding of boats: their dynamics, functionality and architecture. To develop this understanding, boating experience is essential for any boat designer, as an addition to formal training. Look at boating experience as well!

    Unfortunately, yacht and small boat industry today is full of amateurs, who never learned the basics but can offer 'attractive concepts' to the client. The potential client is advised to look deeper at designer's profile, to assess his level of expertise and potential.
    Last edited: May 11, 2020
    Ilan Voyager, HJS, Ike and 3 others like this.
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