Question about hiring a N.A.

Discussion in 'Boat Design' started by Red Dwarf, Oct 15, 2012.

  1. Red Dwarf
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    Red Dwarf Senior Member

    I often see posts like" I am building a ---- and need help and drawings etc. This seems very vague and it seems to me the person has a general concept but no real clue as to how to proceed.

    So here is my entry. In a nutshell I want to build a smaller version of the Planet Solar catamaran but make it diesel powered. I am a career aerospace engineer, soon to retire, and I am very experienced in CAD, composite design and managing large programs. I know I the fact that I am an engineer probably makes any N.A cringe but don't worry, I learned a long time ago to hire people smarter than I am.

    So lets say I have a detailed 3d model of the boat I want to make with basic structural analysis complete. I also have designed all the tooling and know exactly how I will manufacture the boat. I want to hire a N.A. to review the design for seaworthiness, safety, adherence to normal rules and practices, verify all the important parameters like CG and buoyancy etc.

    I have no idea what to budget for a design review by the N.A. Do they charge by the hour? What is a reasonable hourly charge? I know what I would charge for my engineering services, would it be on par with hiring an experienced engineer? Does a design review take a day, a week, a month?

    I know many of these questions are too general but I am just looking for an order of magnitude number for my budget.
     
  2. daiquiri
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    daiquiri Engineering and Design

    How big is the vessel?
     
  3. Red Dwarf
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    Red Dwarf Senior Member

    70 ft. I chose that length for efficiency, high hull speed. It also seems to be about as big as you can go and stay in the small recreational boat category.

    I left that out because I didn't want people to focus on the size and instantly say impossible. I am not concerned as I have designed and built numerous composite structures far larger than that.
     
  4. daiquiri
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    daiquiri Engineering and Design

    Will send you a P.M. with my suggestions. Cheers!
     
  5. PAR
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    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    The general issue with "help with my designs" approaches, regardless of the would-be designer's back ground, is the professional going over the supplied drawing, has no choice but to consider them all suspect and work through the design from the ground up. This essentially means they're working up a new, full custom design, with a much more complete "napkin" sketch then usual. Even if the drawings are well detailed and prepared, everything has to be assumed flawed and each aspect checked and rechecked, as the design spiral revolves. There's little to no savings in this approach, in fact it's typically longer and more costly, because the professional is forced into a predetermined bucket, rather then developing the design decisions themselves, as best suited for the SOR.
     
  6. Red Dwarf
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    Red Dwarf Senior Member

    I was afraid of something like that. So how does one get insurance if the design is from an amateur?

    And second, can you ballpark the fee if I walk in and say "hey lets build something like this picture but smaller, 70 ft long"? $10,000, $50,000, $100,000, more?
     
  7. gonzo
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    gonzo Senior Member

    I think that if you are flexible and let the NA know you can accept changes, the process can go smoothly. At least you will understand the structural part of it after it is finished. What degree of detail do you need? Does the interior need to be laid out?
     
  8. PAR
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    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    I don't ball park figures publicly, though a common rule of thumb could be a percentage of the yacht's value upon completion. The percentage can range from just a few percent to quite a bit, but a 70' yacht is a significant investment, so dropping 20k to 50k (or more) on the design wouldn't be unreasonable. Most looking for "design help" are also looking for a cheap set of plans, which in most cases is self defeating. Plans prices can be just a few hundred for substantial craft. The 55' steel Loadstar, from Glen-L is about $750 bucks. You're just not going to touch this as a custom or semi custom design which will be a minimum of 10 times this amount, from a starving designer. A well known or accredited designer will be in the 20k to 30k range for a vessel of similar scale. Of course 30k for a potentially multi-million dollar yachts isn't a significant cost in the big picture and only 3% (30k) on a one million dollar project. The George Buehler approach would have you think a 55' Loadstar like yacht can be built for 30k, which I'll suggest as absurd, but even assuming it could be (and you find a $500 diesel to power it) the plans for one of his 50' Ducks will be 4k - 5k, which is 13% - 16%.
     
  9. Red Dwarf
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    Red Dwarf Senior Member

    Thanks that is very helpful. I have purchased study plans for a couple Malcolm Tennant designs. He has a couple that are similar to what I want. There are a couple websites by people that have built large powercats from his plans and they have been very helpful in seeing the scale of the project. The problem is Tennant Design is on the other side of the planet.

    Can anyone comment on how to go about insuring an amateur designed/built boat? I imagine insuring an amateur built boat even from plans is hard enough.
     
  10. Skyak
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    Skyak Senior Member

    I am not a NA but I have studied it, and I worked as a CAD engineer for more than a decade. It just amazes me how NAs use formulas to estimate things that are basic geometric properties of a model.

    PAR (or any interested NA) don't be so quick to assume that this will take as long as a new custom design. Are the CAD models parametric? Does the CAD program output models that can be used in simulation? What CAD program is it? Did you ask the CAD company for names of NAs that use their software?

    I think the real question is why would you design a boat like one optimized for solar collectors and then run it on diesel? The difference in mass alone is huge. The database of similar designs is zero, and I suspect that NA's are just giving you the high price of tarnishing their reputation. You are either a genius or a fool, and based on your project description, NAs are all betting on the latter.

    NAs charge about $200/hr and normally quotes are free, but I think you should find the one you want to work with -compatible with your files and capability and spend and hour or two on a consultation/quote, on your dime. Your best bet is a moonlighting professional that knows how to handle your CAD.
     
  11. Skyak
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    Skyak Senior Member

    One more thought; it would cost you less to become a NA than it would to pay one to do this job. If you are retiring, why not get the degree and certifications yourself?

    Side question, I was in a similar profession to you, how is it that you have 7 figures to spare on a custom boat, and I need all of mine for retirement?
     
  12. daiquiri
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    daiquiri Engineering and Design

    Perhaps would cost less in terms of money, but how about the time? What thing has more value for a retired person, time or money?
     
  13. Skyak
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    Skyak Senior Member

    Maybe I am twisted. I was a CAD engineer and I studied NA for fun. It likely would not take much for him to get a degree. Westlawn had a program just for engineers last time I looked.
     
  14. daiquiri
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    daiquiri Engineering and Design

    And would you choose to make a 70' yacht as your first ever boat design, and then dare to invest your money (possibly a couple of million $$s) into building it? ;)
     

  15. Red Dwarf
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    Red Dwarf Senior Member

    There is nothing special about the Solar Planet vessel. I'm sure there are hundreds of similar boats around the world. Check out this thread. http://www.boatdesign.net/forums/boat-design/examples-wave-piercing-hulls-please-44789.html

    This company has a bunch of similar designs http://www.lomocean.com/projects/pleasure

    The solar aspect of Solar Planet is just a lame publicity stunt. Take all that crap off (including the ridiculous props) and put in 2 John Deere 4045T's and the boat will be literally many tons lighter, more efficient and much faster.

    I have no interest in becoming a NA. I just want the boat that suits my dreams.

    As far as work I guess I was in the right place at the right time. I went to college in Southern California where there has always been a lot of leading edge technical development. An engineer can easily make $150k a year and double that with enough experience and successes.
     
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