|Boatbuilding (and presumably design) in present day Vietnam. Photo courtesy Bill Bradley|
Once again in general terms, small craft design lagged behind when it came to plans drawn on paper as the first step in producing a boat. Well into the twentieth centuary, and in fact right up until today, small boats have been designed and built by eye and intuition, coming together and evolving on the builder's strongback.
I've got plenty of boat designs in my own portfolio, but I've only published a few. When I say designs, what I really mean is that I have a large number of lines drawings and finished computer models (even some carved half-models, of which the current computer models are a modern equivalent). Although the modelling of a hull, calculation of the hydrodynamics, and the drawing of the lines represents a large part of the creative side of boat design, the really time-consuming part is the detailed drafting of the building plans. Much modern design software deals with the detailed structural drafting semi-automatically, but I do my drawing manually, line-by-line in a simple 2D CAD program. Effectively, it is simply drawing in a conventional manner, but using an electronic drawing board - at least it makes erasure much cleaner!
|This photo shows me making the lines drawing of Phoenix III. These days I do it electronically.|
In the last couple of weeks, I have been approached by a customer who had bought a set of plans for my Phoenix III design, asking whether the boat could be built using the glued-strip plank method.
|The very first Phoenix III on launching day. Photo Rhonda Lillistone|
|Phoenix III has several different rig options - this is the balance lug, which sets on exactly the same mast as the sprit rig. Photo Paul Hernes|
Because I designed Phoenix III for five wide planks per side, I drew the bulkheads and molds with a number of flats to take the individual planks. This makes it much easier for an inexperienced builder to determine the lay of the planks and makes spiling (the determination of the plank shape on the flat) much simpler. The problem is that it would not allow the customer to build the boat using the glued-strip-plank method. I was tempted to tell him to use a spline to simply draw a curve through the points of the flats on all of the sections, but I wasn't convinced that the resulting shape would be fair.
|A half-section through the hull, showing how the wide planks lay against flats on the bulkheads and molds.|
|Phoenix III perspective|
|Phoenix III perspective|
|Phoenix III lines plan|
I have since carried out a similar modification to my Periwinkle design, which was drawn in the same way as Phoenix III.
|Periwinkle on launching day. Photo Paul Hernes|
So, here is an example of improving (hopefully) existing designs with small, incremental alterations carried out where experience indicates they may be beneficial.
Having said all of this, I encourage anybody who feels the urge to have a go at designing their own boat. Experience begins at the beginning!