“De Nederlandse Yacht Factor:” Early Thoughts on How the Dutch Rule the Marine Design Seas.

When it comes to dealing with fluid molecules of hydrogen and oxygen, the Dutch have water down cold. The small low-lying nation-state that is The Netherlands leads the world in many marine-oriented categories. It is the global master of large-scale flood management and wetlands maintenance projects, like the Zuiderzee or Delta Works. The Dutch crush it in water-generated power and industrial energy applications. And closer to our floating world, the Dutch yacht design and engineering economy is filled with storied operations like Royal Huisman, Dykstra Design and Hoek Design. Studying these great outfits work is one of the humbling parts […]

The Spirit of Tradition “Guest Cottage:” The Most Exclusive Marine Environments on Earth — But at a Fraction of the Cost.

It’s been a bit spooky out here on the sidelines of the Tiny Floating House wave. We love the charm of smaller homes that float. But it’s scary how seemingly unaware smaller floating home makers are of the nautical engineering realities of self-contained little, floating human worlds.   On many levels, “Floating Homes” are different than yachts. They do not need to be easily driven through the water. They do not carry sails. Most don’t have motors. And often, floating homes have more consistent and lower-cost access to shoreside infrastructure. But these miss the point — and risks — of […]

Marine Engineering 103: The Hidden Life of Chainplates.

In terms of unknown, unloved, and uncared-for naval engineering heroes, it’s tough to beat chainplates. That’s right, chainplates. The deeply-engineered chunks of metal or space-age composites that join hulls to rigging and masts. Chainplates aren’t exactly flashy. They do none of the sexy “sail-ish” stuff of generating lift or foiling through water. They don’t help a boat float or navigate. Think of chainplates as anchors, they merely connect. They are part of the virtual engineering chain that manages the enormous loads of a large boat moving through wind and water. Chainplates do their work using bronze, stainless steel, aluminum and […]

How To Launch a Torqeedo.

Thanks to the folks at Torqeedo, getting rid of that silly old internal combustion engine has never been easier. Back in 2014, one of our favorite smaller designs, The Signature Series 24, got a loving prototype build up at the Northwestern School of Boatbuilding, in Port Hadlock, Washington. Christened Azulita at the Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival, that year, this little Spirit of Tradition honey has since made her way to the mid-west. These days she charms her current owners day-sailing on Lake Michigan. (Go ahead, waste the morning and check this video of her footing around in, at most, 5 knots […]

The Millennium Falcon Comes to Foggy.

Not that long ago, in a boatshop not so far away, our former co-workers at Brooklin Boat Yard gave us a plumb gig: Engineer probably the single most complicated boarding system for probably the most unique sloop on the planet: the 74-foot, Frank Gehry/German Frers-designed Foggy II.  After a similar number of design hours that we’d put into the design of an average 40 footer — the Millennium Falcon was born. The Falcon, as we have come to call it, is the central fitting for the do-it-all, transom-mounted articulated boarding stair that could also reach out and dock with a dingy,  tender, or […]

Around the World, Unassisted, and Without Diesel Fuel.

We are as rapt as any sailor with the 2016 Vendee Globe. Who can resist this most serious test of sailing ability? We’re glued to our smartphones and PCs, following the global match racing that every four years brings us bizarre and beautiful footage of the craziest, most daring, mostly French, solo sailors blasting around the globe, unassisted, in high-tech, insanely powerful machines. But we as boat designers have a deeper backstory to explore in this 2016 Vendee Globe. There’s a serious hybrid-engineering angle going on deep in the fleet. Foresight Natural Energy, skippered by 33 year-old Conrad Colman, is trying to lap of the […]

The Spirit of Tradition Calculator

If you’re into the kind of boats we do, you’re probably are into the kind of navigating we do: Global positioning and automatic chart plotters are great. But nothing beats working up a good old-fashioned dead reckoning. Sit down, break out the throw-back paper chart, estimate how far you’ve gone, at what speed, and in roughly what direction. And, after some basic calculations, you know where you probably are. But dead reckonings pose a strange 21st-century challenge: Doing the calculations reliably. In boats, traditional cheap electronic calculators can’t seem to stop dying from the moister and lack of use. Smartphone […]

“Sailbot'” Crash Avoidance Tech Passes 2,500 Miles.

A remarkable tale of sailing grit and cunning has gotten almost no coverage: The University of British Columbia’s Sailbot Team and its Transatlantic Challenge is going on as we speak. The team has developed, designed, and built a roughly 20-foot autonomous sailing catboat, called Ada. This wishbone-rigged, bulb-keeled sailing robot has navigated nearly 2,500 miles in a mostly zag-zag course through the mid-Atlantic. Like most pioneers there have been issues: On August 29th, disaster struck when its rudder froze. Ada has also survived power outages, gear failures and getting crushed by other ships and debris. In spite of her struggles, Ada is making real headway. […]