Should amateurs design boats?

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

  1. Wayne Grabow
    Joined: Aug 2003
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    Wayne Grabow Senior Member

    I really don't see the conflict. I am an amateur but appreciate the advice provided by the professionals on this website. When criticism is given by one of our "pros" it is usually well deserved. When an amateur asks a really dumb question, you can bet that not only is he an amateur but he is inexperienced and in over his head. A computer program is not enough. A boat that does not function can cost a life; it would be wrong to encourage such misdirection. What kinda grates on me is when an experienced amateur presents himself as an authority. He may have one satisfactory way to accomplish something but it may not be the best way. Still, I appreciate the time that someone takes to provide advice of any type. It is up to me to decide which advice to act on. I have never had anyone tell me that I am not qualified to design a boat (finishing #8 currently) but I stick to established principles and consider the suggestions provided on this website.
  2. gonzo
    Joined: Aug 2002
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    gonzo Senior Member

    It would be an arrogant and foolish professional that doesn't accept criticism or advice. At the very least you should consider it.
  3. Petros
    Joined: Oct 2007
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    Petros Senior Member

    I have been in many "professionally" designed boats that handle like crap, and I have seen many structural failures as well. So stupidity is not the soul accomplishment of amateurs. Even good competent professionals can make mistakes, and careful amateurs can achieve excellent results.

    There are smart ways for amateurs to learn to design decent boats, it is as much a part of the pleasure of building your own boat as anything else. Learning to design a good boat is as much a challenge as actually learning to build one, and it can be just as satisfying. It would be a foolish waste of time and effort to charge into it ignorantly, if those type of amateurs will not listen and will not take advice, than there is no way to help them.

    The "amateur" who built the the fastest boat was a remarkable individual, professionally educated as an engineer, and worked for a large steel company, but grew up building boats for fun. So he had the right combination of practical experience and formal eduction that allowed him to combine both areas of talent to achieve a remarkable accomplishment. And he did eventually get full sponsorship and some professional input to modify the final design that set the speed record (the boat btw, was originally built in his back yard out of plywood!). Though I find it kind of odd that no one has been able to beat his speed record in 30 years, so it might just be a matter luck (both good and bad) and available resources.

    But also consider that some of the most celebrated boat designers had no formal education and were not even licensed!
  4. tunnels

    tunnels Previous Member

    yeah baby !

    My first boat was my own design , BUT i had built model boats for a long time while i was still going to school . i looked poured over boat books all the time i knew what i liked and i like good liiking boats then i found over seas magazines and studied them from cover to cover evey design and drew what details o could see in the pictures . then my father started to build a small kitset boat and i got a little firsthand look at how it was made and what went where and how hard it was to bend sheets of ply wood round the front in the bow sections . when i started work i bought sheets of ply and timber each week untill i had everything i needed and then scaled up one of the models that was my favorite and away i went from there . i did everything myself made all my own things because it was not possible to buy the design of rudder i wanted and vee drives were heard of but no one had ever actually used one . My father was a good engineer and i cut everything and he welded . the local engineer made and assemled the vee drive i worked in a ford garage in the parts department so ahd everything i needed gears , bearings oils seals , universals old drive shafts etc etc the propshft gland and the gland for the ruddershaft were the only two parts i had to buy . steering i worked the diameter of the pullies and the quadrent and everything else the day it went into the water i was so proud as it floated off the trailer that i had also made myself . first turn of the key and it went straight away . I had that boat for 6 years and never had to change a thingin all that time . i guess i was lucky amd always have been when it comes to boats and boating . things have changed but are still the same , some problems just some one else is making it . matterials and getting into fibreglass was a huge step into something i knew absolutly nothing about in the begining but that all changed in a very short time i two years i have people beating at my door wanting me to come work for them but i was still learning as far as i was concerned . took 4 years and i thought i was cool till i ventured outside my country and ooooh boy was i in for a shock . The learning thing started all over again right to this very day .
    There a plenty of differant ways to skin a cat thats for sure !!:D:p
    You could say we are all amatures at what we do .
    During hard times when one boat company i worked for closed its doors i was asked to go lay wooden flooriing so a simular story i learned and picked that up very quickly then was made redundant but i had seen from inside the trade an opening for a all rounder so packed my tools and changed hats and became self employed doing exclusively Parquet work . I found i had a flair for it and within months had jobs booked weeks ahead and the phone and fax never stopped . Worked 7 days a week and got to the stage where i picked the eyes out of the jobs and only did the ones that were interesting mainly in up market houses and for house owners i liked . There wasnt month went by that the floor i had laid wernt featured in the House and Home magazines!! even overseas magazines had picked up on some of the features i had done that were new and never been seen before !, i was picky and some people i would not work for at all no matter how much they wanted to payme , like all things you have a sence of feeling about some jobs and know whats good and whats not . Every job had its own little unque features and were never the same as any of the others id done before of again after . Then completely out of the blue one one night a phone call and i was back where i always wanted to be !! BOATS but this time big boats 147 foot long , 4 deck levels , 6000 hp and a 4 year job . Wow was like nothing i had ever exsperianced !!
    In the back ground still the flooring thing keep coming but Im sorry i dont do that any more .
    In all the parts of the boating industry i had worked over the years Tunnel boats were me !! thats were i was happyest at !!, it was interesting and the boats performed like nothing i had ever seen or been in before . I love speed on water any way and its something special to watch the dawn break and motor down the channel in the half light and a glassy smooth water surface and as it gets light find you are completely alone and push the lever down and tweek the trim and just watch the tacho climb to max and you are almost flying its a feeling like nothing else i have ever exsperianced ever before . A small boat with big motor is really exciting specially when its all you own ideas that you have put into into the boat and making it go so well .Set up and trim and stepped back transom etc etc i love speed on water !!
    I like making sail boats as well because its challenging and much much differant to power boats and the owners of sail boats a a whole differant breed of people , there enthusiasum is infectuous and they are so cought up in what they do . .
    If i dont have a personal liking and genuine interest on boats and boating along with my Fibreglass work i would be sitting in a old folks home sitting in my wheel chair playing scrabble and waiting my turn to die .
  5. Alik
    Joined: Jul 2003
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    Alik Senior Member

    Yes amateurs should design boats, but small ones where cost of mistake is not high. And yes, only boats for their own use.

    Unfortunately we see too many amateurs jumping in the industry without proper education and/or experience and understanding of responsibility. They make unsupported claims, design/build it... and then it fails complain that no professional wants to get involved it to make it work :)
  6. tunnels

    tunnels Previous Member

    Yes i agree whole heartedly agree with what you say , but there are also proffessional designers that step outside the field of familiarity and expertise fall flat on there faces as well . oh dear can they stuff up .
    A boat designer is just a person !! he has his pet projects and subjects and comfort zone so dont just think he is a total expert with everything because they arent and when they stuff up it can be big time!! oh boy !! :eek::confused:
  7. Alik
    Joined: Jul 2003
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    Alik Senior Member

    Agree, this is also a feature of good professional to know his limitations. And well, sometimes we have all to step out of expertise when working on something new, but some do it by small steps and with educated/experiences background, others jump into it without clew and make big by useless waves.

    It is also often a feature of many amateurs to claim they are so innovative and thinking 'out of box'; I would say that 90% of them are not innovative but ignorant and sitting inside a box of their limited knowledge :)
    1 person likes this.
  8. Submarine Tom

    Submarine Tom Previous Member

    Of course amateurs should besign boats but only for there own use and only if they are willing to learn from thier mistakes which will be plenty!
  9. Ad Hoc
    Joined: Oct 2008
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    Ad Hoc Naval Architect

    I detest this term "thinking out of the box"...what box, whose box, why a box and who said you're inside a box and unable to see beyond it anyway? Why not a hole..or a car...or a house....even a bubble!!

    Utter rubbish.

    This is typical management speak. Which translates into:

    " not technical, so does 'that' work..."...wooahh..that's amazing.
    Subtext...i can't understand technical stuff, so when someone suggests something that is beyond my understanding and solves the must be amazing, because i think so..which means it is "out of my box" so it must be out of everyone's box!!

    Goes the same for "blue sky thinking"..or "over the horizon"...ugh.

    Why must mangers tar everyone with their brush of lacking comprehension by their standards and when a solution is required they default to.""lets think out of the box"!..."

    Yeah right! :eek:

    It is an insult to those that perform this task everyday in their work, yet do not covet pats on the back as insecure mangers often do.
  10. tunnels

    tunnels Previous Member

    For a number of years i have been able to have my feet in many places Factory manager , project nmanager and technical adviser and i have pissed off a few surposed exsperts and proved they dont really understand fully what the hell they talking about by pushing a pen and paper under there noses and asking for details how to do some thing .Many times the paper stayed blank and faces turn pink in a lot of cases .
    I have alway maintained that a manager should never be in that possition if he cant do any and every job in the workshop and should have a intermite detail of every thing . I used to spend one day a week on the floor in overalls and doing any crap job going , i always stuck up for the guys under my control if they had a genuine grip about anything . If anything new was going to be implimented we all sat and discused and talked out everything no mater what it was .I new who could do what and who was good at what they were doing . if some guy had been doing one particular job for a while he would be shifted and let some one else take a turn . versatile all round workers that have a wide range of skills are the best workers and when they want to find another job its in there best interest as well to have a broader work skill base to offer the company where he wants to go !!
  11. philSweet
    Joined: May 2008
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    philSweet Senior Member

    In the end, Mother Nature doesn't much care if you are an amateur or a pro, or who "gets it" or not. And neither do the vast majority of folks here. But respecting the effort that a pro takes out of their day to help us amateurs is expected.

    There are some canonical approaches to issues such as stability that amateurs don't know; and this is bound to drive the pros crazy because the language and prerequisites are just not in place to properly answer the question. If they answer in standard fashion, they are encouraging the asker to figure out both the method, the rational, and the answer. But that seems to be "not getting it" to the OP. The pro is supposed to invent some nonstandard analogy that will find the mark with each new member.

    I suggest that it is the newbie's job to 'get with it'. Sorry if the path is not as straight a line as you were expecting. It's still 100% your boat if you build it.

    Learning to enjoy and appreciate the work of others is something I'm watching my dad struggle with. He's 90 and has done everything for himself all his life. Independence and self-sufficiency are certainly valuable assets, but so is the ability to let others contribute where they may and to feel real satisfaction from what their efforts produced. Why on earth the OP thinks the rest of us need to "get it" is beyond me. He should ask his questions in a way that doesn't require this sort of empathy. If he happens to find someone that does get it- that's always a pleasant bonus.:)
  12. Ike
    Joined: Apr 2006
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    Ike Senior Member

    I think it's ok if an amateur wants to design and build his own boat. But I also believe one hard and fast rule. The first person to test it should be the one who designed and built it (and that goes for professionals too).

    My foster dad worked at Boeing in quality assurance. He firmly believed that the first person to fly a new plane should be the person who designed it. I agree and that should apply to boats as well.

    I also take exception to people who ask a professional for advice and then reject it. "Don't confuse me with the facts, my mind is made up". If you are not willing to accept the pros advice then don't ask!

    Yes even the pros don't know everything. I have a lot of education, training and experience. But no way do I know everything there is to know about boats, because there are as many kinds of boats as there are grains of sand on the beach. I have asked other pros for advice when i felt my knowledge was lacking.

    So you can rail on about the pros and their advice or lack of it, but if you ask you should be willing to listen and try it before you reject it. You may find out they were right after all. Just because someone gave you some guidance doesn't make the design not yours. If you designed it and built it it's yours. Using the accumulate knowledge of others whether from pros or books doesn't make it not yours.

    If you really want to make it yours, start building models of your design and testing them. Make changes and test again until it works the way you want it to. Then build the full size prototype based on what you have learned.

    Oh... I forgot, that's what the pros do.... sorry.
  13. PAR
    Joined: Nov 2003
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    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    There's a huge difference between a novice attempting self design a "monstrosity" on pontoons or a ocean crossing, fully solar cat, capable of 30 knots or a 55 gallon drum houseboat and a serious student of design that's trying to learn the concepts and principles.

    Greg is the perfect example of this. It wasn't long ago he was not the brightest bulb in the dining room lamp in this regard, but he took it on the nose occasionally, continued to read, study and ask questions. He's now still an amateur designer, but doing pretty good work. He's had some successes and is building on them, which is the process we all go through.

    This is the difference RiverRunner, he's accepted that there might be more to it then how hard could it be and in the last few years has grown tremendously. I remember his first few design posts. I spanked him pretty good as did a few others, but also in the process he read about why a chine might need to be someplace else or to rearrange the volume distribution to better suit an SOR. His designs have evolved as has he and his understanding of the concepts.

    Most of it is about attitude. You either have one that can tolerate being batted about like a ping pong ball for a while, as you stumble through, or you take offense and lock up. If you lock up, you're not going to learn and you're stuck where you are. Most industries are like this. We beat up the new kid, until he's tough enough to take it. If he can, he'll become one of the gang eventually.

    LP, welcome to the gang . . .
  14. bntii
    Joined: Jun 2006
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    bntii Senior Member

  15. ldigas
    Joined: Feb 2011
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    ldigas Senior Member

    Never needed a reason for watching that movie over and over again :D
    'nuff said

    But this scene reminded me of an old Terry Pratchett quotes, which might be appropriate

    “Something Vimes had learned as a young guard drifted up from memory. If you have to look along the shaft of an arrow from the wrong end, if a man has you entirely at his mercy, then hope like hell that man is an evil man. Because the evil like power, power over people, and they want to see you in fear. They want you to know you're going to die. So they'll talk. They'll gloat.

    They'll watch you squirm. They'll put off the moment of murder like another man will put off a good cigar.

    So hope like hell your captor is an evil man. A good man will kill you with hardly a word.”

    ― Terry Pratchett, Men at Arms
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