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Considerations Before You Start
BY Albert Nazarov
Naval Architect, Ph.D., MRINA, MSNAME
'Albatross Marine Design Co., Ltd'

B
Fig. 4 - 3D image of 'SC950' party uilding a custom-made boat in South- will you use it? Where will you moor it? What
catamaran. Design by 'Albatross Marine east Asia is generally cheaper than type of hull is best for your boat? What
Design', builder 'Andaman Boatyard'. ordering one from European or material and technology is needed during
Length 9.5m, Beam 5.2m, twin 90-120hp American manufacturers. You can construction? What type of drive and engine
outboards. get a craft tailor-fitted to your needs. But, if are most practical? How to you build the
you are considering ordering a new boat, desired boat within your budget? Which
recommendations from a practicing yacht features might have to be sacrificed? Which
designer can be useful. are critical to provide safety? The answers to
these and other questions are critical in build-
Primary considerations ing a proper vessel. The variety of problems
What type of boat do you want to involved in boat design are so wide ranging
build? How do you want to use it? How often and are so interrelated [5], that it is almost
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impossible to solve them successfully without
the involvement of marine professionals. So,
it's best to consult them when purchasing or
ordering a new boat.

Owner's requirements
Some owners feel confident enough
to choose the features and equipment of their
boats, while others rely on designer's/build-
er's experience. In any case, the more detailed
the design task, the less misunderstanding
appears later. Try to answer the following
questions to clearly formulate the design task
(Table 1).
After having some understanding of
these, the perspective owner is ready to dis-
cuss with the designer the boat of their
dreams. Sometimes, owner's requests are not Fig. 1 - Design spiral
feasible and are subject to negotiation [2].

Who is the 'boat designer'?
Unless we are talking about a dinghy,
today's yacht is a rather complex object,
requiring knowledge of different areas for TABLE 1 - Owner's requirements checklist
successful engineering. Normally, boat de- Group Comment
sign today is carried out by design offices
employing 3-5 people, or a maximum of 10 Type of boat Power or sail, monohull or multihull, etc.
engineering/design staff. They are specialists Basic requirements Purpose, operation area, speed, range, passenger capacity, load to be
in naval architecture, marine engineering, carried during mission, etc.
interior design, electrical and systems engi- Specific requirements Pictures and descriptions of simnilar boats and options important to the
neering, structural engineering, etc. owners, desirable features, accommodation requirements, assigning to
each importance factor
Design technology Design constraints Limitations of budget, draught, transportability, rating rules, limitations
The goal of the design should be to deriving from parking, taxing, etc.
bring the owner's requirements into the best Construction material and builder Material and facilities limit the possible design solutions, so should be
possible aesthetic and technical solution. In specified if any
other words, the designer fits the desired
design into a seaworthy vessel with a strong
hull, taking into account design limitations.
Style and taste concerns are reasons
why a boat builder should talk directly with
the designer, avoiding "middlemen" In general, the design process involves: files, for boat construction. These plans
miscommunication. Any professional de- • Conceptual design - first sketches and are usually developed keeping in mind
signer will quickly discern a customer's tastes estimations, provided by the designer certain builders and materials, and certain
and requirements, and come back with a (Fig.2). This stage also includes a design models of equipment and machinery.
suitable proposal. study, analysis of prototype boats, • Classification plans - this is the design,
Stock designs are available from several optimization procedures, etc. It shows, if which will be assessed by a classification
design offices, but usually they never include and how, the boat desired is feasible. This society for boat certification. This usually
systems and mechanical drawings. Also, one stage can also include a 3D image of the includes drawings, calculations, checklists
is limited to adjusting the design to locally future boat. and test reports according to the
available materials, and support during boat • Basic design - this stage includes drawings certification body list, but not all of them
construction is limited. One-off designs are of general arrangements, hull shape, boat are really required for construction.
made by order to meet the requirements of a specification, the basic calculations, and The number of drawings depends on
particular customer and design task. the quantity of materials needed. After a vessel's size and the complexity of the
Commonly used presentation of de- this stage, the builder can provide an structure, its systems and machinery. The
sign process is 'design spiral' [3]. Developing estimation of building costs. designer normally will not draw every nut
new vessel, the designer passes through same • Construction plans - this includes and bolt and every detail of the structure, but
stages with increasing level of details to reach detailed plans and specifications for will to rely on builder's experience when
the target (Fig.1). construction, and also cutting, or loft possible.
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Design fees
There are different approaches on Table 2), and there are other numerous
charging a design fee: standards referring to electrical, machinery,
• Commission basis - this is most convenient fire protection, etc. Getting recognized classi-
'package job' method for the customer fication requires investment (sometimes
(but it can be inconvenient for the designer considerable) from the owner's side, but it
if customer changes the design). Normally, also increases the resale value of the boat.
the cost of the design fee is 6-10% of the
construction costs (including all
equipment, engines, etc.)
Is the new design 'proven'?
• Hourly-rate basis - this is an alternative to The answer is "yes" if it is based on
charging for engineering time, and engineering technique, a naval architect's
designers. Usually, the design of a 10m calculations, and design art and construction
boat requires about 200 human hours, experience. The knowledge of regulations
for a 15m boat, one needs 500 hours, and and market demands should also factor into
a 25m boat will require over 1,200 hours any design.
[1]. Actually, this approach is charged per
drawing based on estimation of working Designer and builder
time. A good design can save considerable
• Royalty fee basis - used for production time and stabilize customer-builder relations.
Fig. 2 - Construction of 'R38' designs for every boat constructed. Knowledge of the technology applied by the
planning powercat. Designers use this method only with builder and the skills of assembling team/
Designed by 'Albatross Marine long-term proven shipyards, charging 1- foreman allows the designer to issue draw-
Design', builder 'Merlyn Marine'. All 2% of the cost per boat sold. ings, which are readable and understandable
parts of the plug are precut by laser
In reality, design fees are smaller than by the local workers, thereby minimizing the
and assembled. Initially designed as
a rescue craft, this boat would be boat broker's fees, but designing boats re- chances for mistakes.
available in pleasure options as quires much more training, responsibility An important concern is the construc-
well. Length 11.5m, Beam 3.8m, and creative work. Most boat designers are tion support service from the designer's side.
twin 250-300hp, inboard diesels fanatics of this art. It is easy for a local designer to come down to
with jet drives. the shipyard, or even keep permanent staff on
Safety and classification site to supervise construction. It is common
In Thailand, there are still no formal practice for the design to be in the develop-
design requirements for boats to adhere to, ment/correction stage until the boat is
but it is considered good practice to follow completed.
appropriate regulations during design and
construction. This is area of professional Boat building cost considerations
naval architect's competence. Lloyd's Regis- Except when dealing with "crazy mil-
ter, German Lloyd, Bureau Veritas, the lionaires" cost is the most critical point when
American Bureau of Shipping are all recom- considering new boat construction. Some
mended. Boat designers also used to following axioms to be kept in mind:
the ISO "Small Craft" group of standards (see

Fig. 3 - 'CatFish610' designed by the TABLE 2 - Most important ISO standards applied for boats
author and built by 'AusThai Marine'. Item Standards applied
Length 5.7/6.2m , Beam 2.2m, twin Deck safety ISO 15085 Small craft - Man-overboard prevention and recovery
70-90hp outboards.
Structural strength, materials ISO 12215 Small craft - Hull construction and scantlings
and fabrication process
Freeboard, stability, emergency ISO 12217 Small craft - Stability and buoyancy assessment and
flotation categorization
Openings in hull, deck, ISO 12216 Small craft - Windows, portlights, hatches, deadlights and
and superstructure doors - Strength and tightness requirements
Cockpits ISO 11812 Small craft - Watertight cockpits and quick-draining cockpits
Fuel system ISO 10088 Small craft - Permanently installed fuel systems and fixed
fuel tanks
Bilge pumping system ISO 15083 Small craft - Bilge pumping system
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• The boat cost is almost linear in proportion
to displacement: by increasing the boat
length 10%, costs increase about 30%.
• Boat building range from US$8-10 per Style and taste concerns are reasons why a boat builder
1kg for the cheapest production fiberglass,
to about US$15 USD per 1 kg for quality should talk directly with the designer, avoiding "middlemen"
wooden laminate or marine plywood, miscommunication. Any professional designer will quickly discern
and about US$10-12 for 1 kg of steel.
• But, hull structure is only 20-50% of the a customer's tastes and requirements, and come
total boat cost. It is quite common to stop back with a suitable proposal.
construction at the completed hull stage,
when an owner runs out of money. The
right approach to design will avoid the
overuse of materials, minimize labour
and the risk of mistakes when using laser
cutting for boats or moulded parts. Good
planning also avoids expensive 'rush'
purchases.

Conclusion
Boatbuilding itself is a low profit
enterprise with a long-term turnover. Build-
ers tend to require overheads to cover
unexpected expenses, re-work, risks, the mis-
calculation of small parts, etc. So, the more
detailed and carefully prepared the design,
the less overhead will be needed, saving
money for the customer. Relying only on a
craftsmen's whimsy is too risky, and the result
can lead to real disappointment.

Acknowledgments
The author would like to express his
gratitude for Ray Ringuet (AusThai Marine),
Luigi Innamorati (Andaman Boatyard) and
Richard Jonsson (Merlin Marine) for their
cooperation and sharing valuable experience.

References
1. Edmunds A. Designing Power and Sail.
Bristol Fashion Publications, 1998.
2. Hatch G.N., Troup K.D. Creative Naval
Architecture. Thomas Reed Publications
Ltd., London, 1971.
3. Larsson L., Eliasson R.E. Principles of
Yacht Design. International Marine 2000.
4. Nazarov A., Dolinski D., Ajishev I.
Experimental Research of Sailing Craft Added
Masses for Hull-Keel Combinations by
Acceleration Tank Tests. High Performance
Yacht Design Conference. Auckland, New
Zeeland, 2006. Proceedings p.68-73.
5. Sorensen E.W. Sorensen's Guide to
Powerboats. International Marine, 2002.

Fig. 5 - New 'CatFish610' option designed by
'Albatross Marine Design' for 'AusThai Marine'.
Length 6.2m, Beam 2.2m, twin 90 hp outboards.