Long term small craft design plans

Discussion in 'Education' started by Takson, Jun 11, 2014.

  1. Takson
    Joined: Jun 2014
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    Location: UK

    Takson New Member


    I've just joined the forum to start building my knowledge on boat design. I am a pretty avid sailor having been into everything water based since I could crawl. Windsurfing, dingy sailing, yacht sailing and motor/power boating.

    I work in the software industry earning a reasonable crust, meaning a career change is not realistic to maintain income and provide for the war department and what seems like the 500 children (3 really). I have always had more than a passing interest in small craft design and build (a couple of windsurf boards, a mirror dingy and helped on a home made Gemini RIB) and would like to expand it into understanding the true design process to create my own.

    Currently the plan is to design and eventually build or have built the retirement boat to take around the world. I have about 20 - 25 years before it happens I recon, but I would like to design a few along the way as a way to hopefully get it right.

    Given the nature of my job and the fact I am not necessarily looking to have a career change I am looking at distance learning courses over 2 - 4 years, rather than full time courses.

    Would the courses available (Westlawn for example) provide me with the foundation I am looking to achieve, or is there work I need to do before to make sure I get the benefit from the teaching available?
  2. PAR
    Joined: Nov 2003
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    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    Welcome to the forum.

    Westlawn would be ideal for your goals.
  3. CDBarry
    Joined: Nov 2002
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    Location: Maryland

    CDBarry Senior Member

    You can also self-teach. Although a lot of yacht designers did various course, many are completely self-taught, for example Bob Perry. There is also a lot of material on this site and a number of good books are available on yacht design. Your first step in any case would probably be to go to Foyles, pick up a copy of Principles of Yacht Design by Lars Larsson, Rolf E Eliasson & Michal Orych and look around on the shelf next to it

    Since you are in the UK, look into the Amateur Yacht Research Society (they may have a booth at the big boat show).

    You may also want drop by RINA and ask around a bit - they are right by Charing Cross station 8 - 9 Northumberland Street, London, WC2N 5DA, UK. http://www.rina.org.uk/

    There are also symposia that might be fun to attend, not only for the papers, but for the contacts. The next one is HISWA http://www.hiswasymposium.com/symposium_papers.asp in November, in Amsterdam - it's just a short jaunt.

    If you want a big family vacation, the next big yacht design event is HPYD, in Auckland next year.
  4. Takson
    Joined: Jun 2014
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    Takson New Member

    Thank you for the replies and the advice, I'll look into those.
  5. Petros
    Joined: Oct 2007
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    Petros Senior Member

    Welcome to the forum,

    I offer you something to consider. I am in a similar circumstance; an engineer by training and profession (over 30 years) and make a comfortable living with my own consulting firm. I love boats and boat design, I have built or rebuilt some 20 something small boats, mostly of my own design (all muscle or sail powered), and own a large library of Navel Architecture texts books and reference manuals. There is more money in staying with my current career, even though I do have the skills to switch to marine engineering and yacht design, but I want to stay steadily employed. I enjoy the learning and design process, but I would never consider designing my own yacht: 1) there are too many details or areas to learn about and there is not enough of time to learn it all, 2) is it too big an investment not to have an experienced professional do the detailed design work and specifications. 3) not only will it likely save money on the build (by avoiding costly mistakes) by using a marine professional, it also will make the yacht much more valuable on the resale market when it comes time for me (or my heirs) to sell it due to age or declining health. This alone BTW justifies the small extra cost of using a design professional.

    If I ever get to the point of wanting to have a deep water cruiser custom built I would hire a professional and work out together exactly what I want to accomplish. There will be many areas where I am perfectly qualified to do the design work on it, but not the whole boat, so I would participate in the designing process. But a design done this way can be completed in several months, vs. years to develop all the knowledge it takes to do it all yourself. So it is far more efficient to hire the expriance you need rather than learn it all, and I am as qualified to do all of the design work myself already. But I would not.

    By either self education or taking correspondence courses out of self interest, you will be much more familiar than most yacht owners with the design process and can select the various features or design trade offs that are more to your desires, but it would be I think foolish and very costly, both in terms of potential errors and time, and resale value, to try and do it all yourself.

    The most important thing for you, I think, is to get some time on other peoples yachts, volunteer to crew at the local yacht club for weekend races. You will learn a lot more about the design if you have hands on experience to go with your self education. You may find there are excellent designs out there that would be cheaper to buy on the used market, and than you can refurbish it and alter it to make it suited to yourself, and save a bundle of money in the process, over building new from scratch.

    good luck.

  6. Takson
    Joined: Jun 2014
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    Takson New Member

    Thank you Petros,

    That is an interesting alternative. One of the reasons I was considering design from scratch is because I enjoy the aesthetics of some of the older boats, but want to bring some modern techniques for layout and strength etc.

    An example is one of my favorite shapes is the Frans Maas designed Standfast 40. I think it has a more attractive rear end and shape than Beyonce, but the interior and some of the cockpit layout could be improved for family sailing and longer term live aboard.

    Gaining the knowledge to have significant input rather than designing completely from scratch would be significantly faster and have advantages in both safety and performance of design.

    I'll add it as a thought into the mix, I'm in no rush right now!
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