Why do Classic Wooden Sailboats have a low freeboard design?

Discussion in 'Boat Design' started by Alson An, Jul 16, 2018.

  1. TANSL
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    TANSL Senior Member

    My deep conviction is that no, if we talk about the part that makes the boat float and that allows to comply with its SOR while obtaining the necessary safety of the floating object. The technical advances, or the regulations in force at each moment, have influenced a lot. Saying something similar to the shape of the hull is a consequence of fashion, it seems totally ... I do not know how to describe it. But it is not true. Again I say that I speak of the hull, the element that makes it float and navigate the ship, not of its ornaments.
  2. fallguy
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    fallguy Senior Member

    @TANSL Plenty of people blindly follow other designs without understanding purpose. This happens and it is a sad thing.

    Just look at how people blindly follow leaders as a matter of trendiness or fashion. Oftentimes, they do so as well, without any attention to reason. I digress.

    But to suggest fashion is the reason for a design element is also missing the original intent. Hydrofoils aren't simply a fashion trend, for example. But the next guy who wants a faster ride might follow in that fashion!
  3. TANSL
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    TANSL Senior Member

    @fallguy, I have always thought that boat designers were serious people and good technicians. I think this is still true.
    What happens is that technical advances can allow at certain times that technological advances reach the general public. Then everyone wants, for example, to navigate in foilers, they become fashionable. But the foilers, dozens of years ago that exist and were the result of the application of some theories that are also quite old. The cheapening of costs, for example, can make something known from old, available to the general public.
    I keep repeating that the forms of the submerged hull do not depend on any fashion. And I repeat that whoever says that, in my opinion, knows very little about boat design.
    As always it is convenient to specify: this is only my opinion
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  4. Alik
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    Alik Senior Member

    The considerations for low freeboard are:
    - reduction of weight of structure
    - reduction of windage
    - hull draft is significant, so high freeboard not required for accommodations
    - yacht measurement rules
    - styling
    There was a great paper on the subject covering classic yachts - Henry G.R., Miller R.T. Sailing Yacht Design - An Appreciation of a Fine Art. SNAME, 1963
  5. BlueBell
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    BlueBell Ahhhhh...

    Thanks Alik, good read.

    Sectional buoyancy is greatest amidship so free board can be less accordingly.
    The way the wave forms on the hull at speed may compliment her lines.
    It's dynamically multifaceted for sure.

    I see it more as an evolution vs tradition, style, fashion or trendiness.
    I concur with Fallguy's digression.
    Designing from a prioritized, and perhaps even flow-charted, SOR is brilliant.
    Essentially making new boxes for others to think in, or outside of...
    Last edited: Jul 26, 2018
  6. allman
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    allman Junior Member

    Also in general boats are wider today and heights are the same due to the ergonomics. So drafts become lesser.
  7. MikeJohns
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    MikeJohns Senior Member

    I agree with the immersed part sure. But topside height varied a lot for classic timber boats. Even from the same designer often the client could choose a higher freeboard flush decked yacht or a lower freeboard with coach- house depending on the style you wanted.

    Then later fashion tried horrible sheer lines. Totally off topic but there are some great Art-Deco wooden power boats around from the early 30's.
  8. TANSL
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    TANSL Senior Member

    We agree but I do not think that any designer risks taking less freeboard than necessary because the owner liked it better. Well, he may have done it, but if that is the case, it would seem unprofessional to me. On the contrary, increasing the freeboard has other problems but does not endanger the safety of the ship.
  9. gonzo
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    gonzo Senior Member

    Art-Deco boats are a good example of fashion driven design.
  10. fallguy
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    fallguy Senior Member

    Fashion is a vital bit in boating.

    If you look at the duk boat tragedy; it would be a perfect example of fashion and cost driving horrible decision making about craft design, modification, and final use. I'll avoid the details, but no good designer would ever build a passenger vessel the way they are built. Yet, people ride them every day in the countries where they were not banned.

    The trouble with these debates is people are all generally bringing good points to the discussion and right or wrong is nary needed.

    If TANSL were fully correct; things would be much better in the boating world and those lost souls in Branson would have been fewer. I wish he were.
  11. JamesG123
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    JamesG123 Senior Member

    So you decided to "fix" that by bringing your DUKW rant into this thread?
  12. sharpii2
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    sharpii2 Senior Member

    Another practical reason for low freeboard is lower rig placement. This reduces the heeling moment of any given rig, as it puts its Vertical Center of Area lower. I know because I have tried to design a boat with higher freeboard for its Beam and ended up with excessive heeling moment headeaches. The Boom ended up having to be so close to the deck that the sails had to be worked from below decks.
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  13. Squidly-Diddly
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    Squidly-Diddly Senior Member

    1989 Toyota pickup (lowest, shallowest bed height): just about right.

    Any new full size pickup (styled to look massive, I guess): awkward and nearly unusable even for big tall guys, anyone else needs a ladder to access from side.

    Maybe "pleasure" boats were designed to "bring the water closer" for bigger thrills in safer waters.
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  14. TANSL
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    TANSL Senior Member

    The main dimensions of a ship are never a whim of the designer, and still less of the owner. They are, always, a compromise between diverse factors. To say otherwise, without giving an explanation of the particular case that is being talked about, is to ignore what is the design of boats. Even fishing vessels can not reduce the freeboard at the will of the shipowner or the crew.
    But I want to clarify once again that, once achieved the minimum freeboard desirable or necessary for the boat, above that level you can do what you want, even what fashion dictates in each season. And it is a fallacy to say that a loaded ship has a low freeboard (although never lower than the regulations). Naturally, the opposite would be a miracle.

  15. DCockey
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    DCockey Senior Member

    What determines "the minimum freeboard desirable or necessary for the boat" on a boat which is not subject to regulations or class rules which affect freeboard?
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