Q. Many of your plans are in English feet and inches and others are in metric. I have never used metric and do not understand this type of measurement. Can I convert the plans or will you do it for me?

A. About 8 years ago, I converted to metric because so many of my vessels were being built in other countries. It was not easy on the first design as I was trying to relate everything to feet and inches, but the time required for drawings and calculations was reduced about 20% on the first set of plans. Today, the time saved is about 40% which can be passed on to the client and, if the vessel is to be built overseas, there is a direct savings in the cost of construction because the builder can use the plans without translating measurements. When the vessel is to be built in the US, then I have a conversion table for the material sizes, since most of our suppliers can’t even spell metric. In reality it matters little whether feet and inches, millimeters, or thumbs are used for the basic measurements. For example in lofting, say the midship section is laid down from the offsets and faired. The faired offsets are transferred to the plan view and the profile via a “story stick,” which is absolute; whereas, using a tape, the actual measurement might be 1754.5 mm or 5’ 9 5/64” approximately or almost. Almost is a spot on the sheet. In boat and ship building it is as exact as possible. In converting from English to metric or vice versa, errors crop in and impossible measurements result. With standard tapes it is possible to read to the nearest 1/2mm and on the beginning end of an imperial (English) tape to read to 1/64”, but in most shops the lighting is not that good so reading and splitting marks on a tape are error prone; therefore, the stick is the answer. Available in the US at most hardware stores and builders supply houses are tapes that read in English measure on one edge and metric on the other. Once one starts using metric measurements, changing back is seldom thought of and, in measuring distances on the hull, will use metric rather than English.

Q. Your designs have less horsepower than most other designers have. Who is correct?

A. We all are correct. I pick engines that are suited to their required service, thus an auxiliary sailing vessel designed for long ocean passages requires less power than one that is used coastwise. I also choose only engines that are or can be derated for continuous shaft horsepower or those which are designed only for continuous horsepower. Most of my long distance passagemaking motor vessels do not have auxiliary machinery belted to them other than an alternator, and are used just for propulsion. Others have clients that must also run hydraulics, refrigeration, air conditioning, freezers, and other items either directly or indirectly. Some have higher horsepower because of a good buy, the builder’s commitment, or there was no intermediate horsepower available which would have been just right. When the auxiliary machinery exceeds 10% or so of the total SHP, it is time to consider an auxiliary generator which is much less expensive to operate than a larger engine.

Q. I like boats W, X, Y, & Z but cannot make up my mind which to choose.

A. The selections you have made range from 12m (39’) to 21m (69’) and there is not a simple way to make a comparison other than by similitude. If one vessel is twice as large in all dimensions, the length, beam, and draft will double. The displacement will be 8 times that of the smaller vessel and the larger one will have 16 times the stability and 4 times the sail area. The large vessel, among other things, is under-canvased and has too much stability. The proper method of determining the correct vessel is to make a list of what you need in descending order of importance, but only after you have decided on the purpose of the vessel. A good passagemaker, a good coastwise cruiser, and a good weekender are three different boats. I would add here that it is rather foolish to choose an ocean passagemaker with its restrictions if an ocean passage will never be made.

Q. What do you consider to be the important requirements in an ocean voyaging power vessel?

A. A seaworthy hull is first and foremost. The shape of the hull should be one that is sea kindly when encountering seas from any direction, that steers well, and has a good sweep to the sheer to assist in dry decks when punching into a head sea. A proper marine engine with controllable pitch propeller should be installed. It should have a low silhouette, thereby keeping windage to a minimum, a pilothouse with 360 degree visibility, moderate to high bulwarks, a well-ventilated engine room, decks wide enough to walk from bow to stern without having to hang on for balance, well thought-out mooring and anchor handling, proper gear for handling and stowing the dinghy, a day tank with 12 to 16 hours of fuel, hydraulic or mechanical steering, and the best auto pilot I could afford.

Q. Which sailing rig is the best for ocean voyaging?

A. Having been dismasted on several occasions I learned to dislike sloops and cutters because of the labor required to jury rig them; therefore, I prefer multi-masted rigs. I have owned and voyaged in ketches and schooners. Under extreme conditions when I have had to heave-to, I prefer to do so in a schooner. In other conditions when deep reefs are required, the loss of luff on a ketch mainsail is substantial and results in about the same sail area as a full foresail on a schooner. I prefer a gaff rig to the jib-headed rig since more sail area can be set on shorter masts, and the addition of light sails is straightforward, not requiring any changes to the working sails. I have also found the junk rig to be very handy. It cannot be hove-to, and a good deal of running rigging is associated with each sail; however, the ease of handling the rig offsets this.

Q. Why do so many of your designs have a bowsprit?

A. A bowsprit is an inexpensive method of spreading out a rig. This is often done because of the shoal draft of many of my designs, and it permits greater useable sail area. If the height of the rig is increased and the sail area remains constant, then the need to reef will be in a much lesser wind force. In an extreme case, this might occur in Force 3 winds. On some of my designs, I have used what is called a knockabout bow, thus eliminating the bowsprit. This will add several thousands of dollars to the hull cost versus a few hundreds of dollars.

Q. How much fuel should one figure for the main engine on long ocean passages in motor vessels?

A. Generally speaking, if the engine is well matched to the vessel, then for the average vessel 16 gallons per continuous shaft horsepower will yield about 3000 nautical miles. On a long slender vessel of the same displacement for the same mileage, it will be on the order of 11 gallons per shp, and on a shorter fat vessel with the same displacement and horsepower 20 gallons per hp can be expected. Waterline length is the main basis for speed. To achieve a given speed is dependent on horsepower and displacement.

Q. Do you broker vessels of your design?

A. No.  I am not a licensed broker, but there have been occasions when I have known of a vessel for sale and been able to put a buyer in touch with the owner. 

Q. Do you do surveys?

A. On occasion I have done surveys, but will now do only those of metal construction. My present location makes a survey rather expensive because of the traveling time that could possibly be involved.

Q. Are you still building boats?

A. Yes. I build boats only for my own use and some prototype and experimental hulls for others. My shop is equipped to construct in wood, steel, and aluminum alloys up to 45’ in length. All hull shapes are possible as my equipment also includes 10, 20 and 50-ton frame-bending machines, and a forge. Unfortunately all hulls are built outside, and weather here is a factor.

Q. On ocean voyaging power vessels, do you recommend flopper stoppers or some sort of sailing rig?

A. On fishing vessels, because of their abundant lofty gear, flopper stoppers offer an excellent solution when a vessel is operating at 3 to 5 knots. Most who have this rig, other than shrimpers, maintain that they do not use it except when fishing. The drag, when free-running, causes a dramatic decrease in speed as well as an increase in fuel consumption. Personally, in the open ocean, I prefer to alter course a couple of points, which usually results in a very acceptable motion and often an increase in speed. On pleasure voyaging vessels, I prefer sails for steadying purposes which, in fair winds, also assist the engine, permitting a reduction in rpm or increase in speed. I make no attempt to make the rig, say, as efficient as a motor sailer, but classify the rigs as “continental.” If the engine fails, sooner or later you will make landfall or reach some continent.

Q. Do you prepare electrical and piping schematics as part of the total design?

A. No. I have found that these drawings are worthless and subject to changes since each boat is different. For my own personal boats that I build, I do the basic electrics—navigation lights, cabin lights, VHF radio, fans, autopilot (power vessels only). For Radar, SSB, refrigeration, multiple battery systems, hot water, air-conditioning, inverters, dual voltage DC and AC, I find it less expensive to hire a marine electrician who not only installs but supplies the schematic drawing for the system as installed.
The same applies to piping. If it just basic as in the old days where one had only a fuel fill, vent, water to the engine and galley and water closets, there is no problem. When you add in showers, hot and cold running water, hot water tank, etc., which all occupy a space, it is easier to do that after you have located all of the items that are to go in the engine room. Very often a manifold is designated for one position in the engine room because only one battery was planned, and then the owner installs a bank of batteries which now extend into what was reserved for the manifold. What now, brown cow?

Q. What is your recommendation for water tank capacity?

A.  I have made many long ocean passages where the capacity of the tanks permitted two quarts of water per person per day, i.e., for two people, a 30 gallon tank was considered quite generous for an Atlantic crossing. On our own schooner, which is engineless, we carry 56 gallons of water. After 62 days of voyaging, we still had 28 gallons on board. We were able to catch rain water on several occasions which kept the tanks topped up. Today, I ordinarily recommend and incorporate into many of my designs a tank capacity of 50 to 100 gallons, and recommend the installation of a small watermaker, such as the PUR. This works well on both sail and motor vessels. Should the watermaker fail and the tanks are full, there is still more than enough water for the crew to remain healthy until such time as they reach port. All of my designs have water catchments which would help in this situation. I do know of vessels where the owner insists on washing the vessel down daily with fresh water, numerous showers per person per day are taken, and fresh water is used even to flush the toilets. This would take a very, very large watermaker.  However, those who are used to sailing and especially voyaging seem to manage quite well on very little fresh water.