Marine Engineering 108: Why on earth does anybody pay so much for a custom boat?

And now, the customer: All the elegantly engineered keels, retro-installed electric drives and superyacht-regatta winning hulls matter not a whit unless these yachty wonders wind up into a real, floating boat. And that real boat requires the near magical, impossible-to-design thing: A real customer. We’ve been working the yacht design wheels for nearly 60 combined years, and we know less now about where the good clients come from than when we started. Where does the individual with the means, inclination and imagination come from to create a great boat? We have no idea. But it is impossible to overstate their […]

A Few Stairways to Heaven: What makes Anna’s interior go up … and down.

In this business, sometimes you spend two full months on a few sets of stairs. About half-way through the design of the 65-foot sloop Anna, currently coming together over at Lyman Morse Boatbuilders, we knew a unique focal point was emerging in this boat: The staircases. Designing any boat is a battle of inches. But with Anna we had to work in a graceful passage from the outer deck to the full interior of this yacht. Two seemingly simple sets of stairs were needed: One with just one riser, that led from the cockpit down to the raised salon. And […]

Paul Waring on “Alternative Boating Facts”

I’m an engineer. I live to reduce things down to basics. I love to break complex components into smaller pieces that make them easier to explain. Last week, we compared the price of different boats by measuring the cost of each pound of those boats. What did that simple price-to-displacement tool teach us? That comparing the price of boats is almost never apples-to-apples. The Bad News On Shopping for Luxury Goods. Comparing custom-made high-end products is tricky. The quality of the build and the cost of the labor are factors. Timeline and schedule also play a role. if you’re looking […]

What Ben and Steve Have To Say About Boatbuilding.

Steve Van Dam really did get his wife Jean, to “volunteer” to help him build his first boat shop. It was in 1977 and the young couple was living in a single-wide mobile home on a small woodlot outside of Harbor Springs, Michigan. “I wanted to build boats,” is how Van Dam likes to describe his approach to business. And today, almost 40 years later Steve, and now his son Ben, are still building some of the finest all-custom, handcrafted vessels on Earth. We sat down with Ben and Steve for a talk about their philosophy on boat building; how […]

Marine Engineering 105: Why My Boat Costs What It Costs?

Pricing dreams is the no-win gig in yacht design. No matter how hard we try, we never seem to be able to get away from the hard fact that the magic of enjoying a boat only displaces a fraction more than the frustration that comes with pricing that boat. It’s not rocket science as to why new boats are hard to cost out: The only thing posing more variables when building a yacht, is the owner’s evolving expectations in creating that yacht. Assisting clients in pricing their priorities is tricky. We have evolved two methods to get at an early approximation for […]

What’s Drew Got To Say About It.

Drew Lyman is not entirely sure: Did he spend more of his childhood in a house or a boat yard? His dad, Cabot Lyman, was part of the wave of young turk boatbuilders who came to Maine yards in the late 1970’s and 80’s to bring struggling local marine businesses into the 20th century. In 1978, the elder Lyman founded Lyman-Morse Boatbuilding, making it the family business that his son Drew now oversees. After a lifetime working his way around the marine construction firm, over the past few years Drew he has taken over direct day-to-day control. Drew is now […]

Marine Engineering 104: What keeps what’s inside my boat, inside my boat?

What is it with interiors? Those inner, untalked-about bits of boats that never seem to see the light of nautical-chat day. Does anybody, anywhere brag about the size of their cabin sole? Or compare the space-age materials in their staterooms or galleys? Has anybody ever said “High-performance head” on any boat in any century, ever? We doubt it.  “Interior denial” is a sort of sad fact of boat-design life. That’s too bad because what’s going on inside your boat is a driving factor for what’s going on outside your boat: How long she is; how beamy; how big the sails […]

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 […]