Should amateurs design boats?

Discussion in 'Boat Design' started by river runner, Sep 9, 2012.

  1. river runner
    Joined: Jul 2011
    Posts: 172
    Likes: 6, Points: 0, Legacy Rep: 91
    Location: Colorado

    river runner baker

    I haven't visited this site for a while. I've been riding my bike and repairing the Hyde drift boat that I bought last year. But I'm seeing a lot of the same sort of thing that I complained about before and led to me probably being one of the most reviled posters in years. That is, NAs responding to simple questions, by amateur designers, with a Who's on first type of response, with the apparent goal of making boat design seem so complicated and dangerous that the inquirerer will get so discouraged that he will give up his idea of designing a boat. And often discouraging anyone with a new idea.
    I don't think many of you get it, or don't want to. We don't want a boat that someone else designed. We'd rather build a boat and watch it sink than buy a boat that someone else designed. I'd venture a guess that far more successful boats have been designed by amateurs than by NAs. I was watching the History Channel the other day and there was a program on speed records. Apparently the speed record on water is held by some guy in Australia that designed and built (in his back yard) the boat himself and the record has stood for a surprisingly long time. No naval architect or marine engineer has been able to design a boat that can beat the record.
    It takes a fresh view to come up with an inovative design, a game changer, and sometimes being educated (indoctrinated) in that field prevents you from taking a truly fresh look. Don't discourage us. Encourage us with simple straightforward answers.
    Regarding the Hyde: I've had a chance to study the nuances of it's design and construction. There are some subtle design features that I'm truly impressed by. A lot of thought has gone into this design. But the more I work on it, the more I'm convinced that it can be done better. For one thing, it is so big and heavy that I don't know what you would do if you got it firmly stuck on a rock or sand bar. I think you'd have to wait for a good rain to raise the water level. Another thing, the bottom has been worn through in places. This shouldn't happen and it should be far easier to repair if it does. When I'm done with it, the bottom should be a lot more durable and easier to repair.
  2. hoytedow
    Joined: Sep 2009
    Posts: 5,857
    Likes: 400, Points: 93, Legacy Rep: 2489
    Location: Control Group

    hoytedow Carbon Based Life Form

    Amateurs should design boats. Do the research and follow the guidelines to meet the safety requirements. If you want, for instance, to escape from a tyrannical island nation, and all the NA's are party members, you would have to depend on your own devices. Many amateurs escaped this way. Many also drowned. Those who made it were lucky and also did their research.
  3. Ad Hoc
    Joined: Oct 2008
    Posts: 7,698
    Likes: 1,570, Points: 113, Legacy Rep: 2488
    Location: Japan

    Ad Hoc Naval Architect

    Unfortunately you would be wrong, since you only read about the successes. Never the failures. There are plenty of them all out of reach of the publicity they seek if successful. A single rose doesn't make a summer!

    I’m all for that. The only problem I, and I suppose many other professional naval architects have (by that I mean we make out living this way), is when the amateur “believes” and “feels” their way will work without a shred of evidence. Yet plenty of evidence to the contrary.

    It strikes me as odd if an amateur is seeking the guidance/advice of a professional, yet ignores the advice given if it does not sit well with the person posing the question. Why is it then suddenly the "pro's" fault?? Being selective does not make one a better designer, just ignorant!

    I whole heartily encourage anyone to have a go. But if you are willing to fail, don’t shot the messenger in the process. You’ll get far more favourable replies that way. Ignoring free professional advice simply because it runs contrary to your aspirations, requires a back step and cold light of day review, before shooting the messenger and assuming “we” have it in for you. That is what being a professional is all about….looking at facts not emotions.

    Would you question your doctor when you visit him/her with an ailment saying you disagree and know better because you “believe” in your own diagnoses more??
  4. rwatson
    Joined: Aug 2007
    Posts: 6,134
    Likes: 477, Points: 83, Legacy Rep: 1749
    Location: Tasmania,Australia

    rwatson Senior Member

    Hoyt has a good point. Amateurs have been designing boats for thousands of years, and by far the biggest number of boats launched each year are by un-qualified builders and designers - all around the world.

    Even 'qualified professionals' get it wrong,

    where apparently he ignored regulations and common sense. and that Italian liner etc etc

    But quite often, the caustic advice to enthusiastic 'amateurs' is just to save them time, money and disappointment. Its hard to transfer one persons experience to another persons mind.

    However, every expert, professionally trained person on the planet started as a complete amateur with a determined attitude.
  5. gonzo
    Joined: Aug 2002
    Posts: 16,652
    Likes: 1,615, Points: 123, Legacy Rep: 2031
    Location: Milwaukee, WI

    gonzo Senior Member

    Not really. Boats have been built for thousands of years without design but with experience. To start with, most boatbuilders of the past had experience in the type of craft they were building. Many amateurs nowadays get a computer program that makes pretty drawings and they believe they are designing a boat.
  6. frank smith
    Joined: Oct 2009
    Posts: 980
    Likes: 14, Points: 28, Legacy Rep: 185
    Location: usa

    frank smith Senior Member

    No. amateurs should do nothing, all amateurs endeavors should be stopped.

  7. viking north
    Joined: Dec 2010
    Posts: 1,868
    Likes: 92, Points: 48, Legacy Rep: 1146
    Location: Newfoundland & Nova Scotia

    viking north VINLAND

    Why not have the best of both worlds -- as an amateur have a go at the design -- then hire a professional to fine tune it. If the design is reasonable he /she will provide input, if not do a little more study and have another go at it. This is a two way street, often from the mouths of Babes an idea is born. As an amateur in design but an experienced builder my observation is "While we see trees the professional observes the forest". I.E. The overall product.
  8. philSweet
    Joined: May 2008
    Posts: 2,635
    Likes: 397, Points: 83, Legacy Rep: 1082
    Location: Beaufort, SC and H'ville, NC

    philSweet Senior Member

    I, for one, will continue to discourage people from designing boats that they can watch sink. The usual reasons newbies are discouraged are-

    1. They think they can save money and build an otherwise comparable boat to a mass produced one.

    2. An unwillingness to build the first small boat from kit or plans just to get the hang of it.

    3. An unwillingness to accept a certain level of complication, such as making a complete parts list, pricing it, calculating it's weight, and considering the time required to go about the build.

    4. People think they are asking a simple question when they aren't. Sometimes there aren't simple answers, at least not responsible ones.

    5. It is one heck of a lot easier to build and operate a boat designed by someone that knew what they were doing.

    For what it's worth, I designed a skiff as a kid and eventually built it and sailed it for nearly thirty years and got immense pleasure out of it. But I also had been sailing since I was five, and basically enlarged a boat I was already very familiar with. I didn't know anything about boatbuilding, I didn't even own a saw when the wood was delivered- I had to ride my bike to the store and buy one. However, I did design that boat. I knew what it would weigh and how many of each screw I needed to build it. Every piece of wood had a layout before I ordered anything. Having said all that, I had never heard the word scantling and had no books on the subject and it took me ten times too long to build. I also decided the deck beam under the mast should be 3" x 10" nothern white oak. It was a 350 pound boat. :D

    It is also sometimes very frustrating when a newbie sets their sights a bit too high. Trying, for instance, to design a record beater where the record has been contested among elite designers for years. Some of this may rub off when the next poor guy posts his modest proposal, and yes, that is a damned shame.

    The Boatbuilding sub forum and Materials subforum tend to be more, um, patient and encouraging.

    edit - wow, I got cross posted by six other folks, that is a record, I think.
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2012
  9. rwatson
    Joined: Aug 2007
    Posts: 6,134
    Likes: 477, Points: 83, Legacy Rep: 1749
    Location: Tasmania,Australia

    rwatson Senior Member

    Its important not to confuse the term amateur with inexperience and ignorance.

    There are amateur and professionals. Professionals are paid to have a career in one specialist area.

    Amateurs will build a boat every now and then. In terms of sheer numbers, I bet, all the amateurs from the Amazon to the Vietnamese deltas, the backyards of suburban 1st world countries to the icy cold Arctic, the Mississippi and the Volga - more 'amateurs' build boats than 'professionals'.

    My grandfather out on the remote farm built his one and only boat that still gets shown around as a fine example of craftsmanship. He had watched his father, and other farmers over the years, been out in boats, read books. Plenty of experience and knowledge, but by no means a professional.
  10. frank smith
    Joined: Oct 2009
    Posts: 980
    Likes: 14, Points: 28, Legacy Rep: 185
    Location: usa

    frank smith Senior Member

    Just imagine the audacity of the man that designed this [​IMG]
  11. frank smith
    Joined: Oct 2009
    Posts: 980
    Likes: 14, Points: 28, Legacy Rep: 185
    Location: usa

    frank smith Senior Member

  12. frank smith
    Joined: Oct 2009
    Posts: 980
    Likes: 14, Points: 28, Legacy Rep: 185
    Location: usa

    frank smith Senior Member

    how about this ,[​IMG]

    Thomas Harrison Butler (19 March 1871 - 29 January 1945) was a British ophthalmologist and amateur boat designer. He published various designs of small, traditionally built yacht and was particularly concerned with the boat's handling under sail.

    Harrison Butler was "a strong believer in the 'metacentric shelf formula' to achieve good balance and handling under sail. The theory held that as a yacht heels under sail, its balance will depend on the immersed form of the hull, with different sections exerting varying degrees of buoyancy and aft sections possibly being more buoyant than forward sections. Metacentric shelf analysis plots the shifts in the varying buoyancies as a net value to windward or leeward and serves as a guide to achieving equal buoyancy in the dissimilar ends of a design. The work can now be done by computer, but when it was applied by the brain, hand and eye of Dr. Harrison Butler it produced famously sweet-handling boats, in the age of heavy weather helm."[1]

    In the days before computers, Harrison Butler was known to cut out paper cross sections of his hulls in order to calculate lines of symmetry and centres of mass. Boats built to his designs are noted for their sleek looks as well as their pleasant handling.
  13. upchurchmr
    Joined: Feb 2011
    Posts: 3,287
    Likes: 258, Points: 83, Legacy Rep: 579
    Location: Ft. Worth, Tx, USA

    upchurchmr Senior Member

    Talks cheap. Everyones, however there are some who are trying to help. Please go ahead and then show us. Show both the good and the other.
    I have made this statement multiple times and have never seen a result, even when I know the boat was launched

  14. LP
    Joined: Jul 2005
    Posts: 1,418
    Likes: 58, Points: 58, Legacy Rep: 584
    Location: 26 36.9 N, 82 07.3 W

    LP Flying Boatman

    Absolutely!!! Guess I'll go watch TV.


    Er, I mean, "KNOT!"

  15. sorenfdk
    Joined: Feb 2002
    Posts: 511
    Likes: 27, Points: 28, Legacy Rep: 394
    Location: Denmark

    sorenfdk Yacht Designer

    And if that home-designed and home-built boat sank in the middle of the ocean with your loved ones on board...?
Forum posts represent the experience, opinion, and view of individual users. Boat Design Net does not necessarily endorse nor share the view of each individual post.
When making potentially dangerous or financial decisions, always employ and consult appropriate professionals. Your circumstances or experience may be different.