It’s not a “Tiny Floating House.” It’s a boat.

We like traditional residential architects. Some of our best friends are traditional residential architects. We enjoy the well-designed homes these architects make. We do interior design work for them. But even so, we have a big problem with a hip new architectural trend: So-called “Tiny Floating Homes” To us, “Tiny Floating Homes” are the worst kind of Post-Information Age marketing drivel. The original “Tiny Home” was bad enough: A Unabomber-scale shack marketed to the young who did not know better. Can’t afford a real house? No problem, kid. Get a “Tiny House” instead. And you get all the hassles of […]

Marine Engineering 101: Why My Keel Doesn’t Fall Off.

They’re boats. Not much happens without their keels. You’d think that the average boat person would be all over what’s up with the big heavy things down-under their boats. But most don’t and for good reason. The engineering involved intimidates: The Beach Boys would never, ever write a song “Hull John B.” And Jimmy Buffett, as much as he loves to fly, never got far with a tune called “Changes in Laminar Flow, Changes in Lateral Resistance.” But irrational keel fear is pretty darn dumb, once you know what it does and why. So let’s start with how a keel […]

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 […]

High-Tech Secrets of the “All-Mahogany” Italmas.

We love wooden boats.  Not as a tree-hugging denial of the engineering present, but as a modern composite design material. Properly-done custom wooden boats are considerably more efficient to build than most similar fiber-reinforced plastic, or metal craft. And natural materials, like wood, are also attractive options in marine design and engineering. If you don’t believe that, go look up flax composites and see how the same stuff they wear in Game of Thrones finds its way into high-tech boats. With that said, we’ve never condoned the other end of the wood debate: The “wood bigot.”  The fellow that seems only happy when […]

Das GunBoat: A Look At One Smart Carbon Cat.

One of the early production Gunboat 55’s, VaiVai, is for sale. And our designer two-cents is, this cat is the steal of this glamorous, all-carbon multi-hull litter. VaiVai is one of what owners and brokers close to this fast-growing fleet estimate is about 20 Gunboats in various states of completion around the globe. These G-boats are mostly floating maids in waiting, as the assets of Gunboat International, VaiVai’s original maker, work their way through North Carolina Eastern Bankruptcy Court. For the record, major branding and tools were sold in May of 2016 to France-based Grand Large Yachting, which now claims management of the physical production […]

Photobombing the Vendee Globe.

Might it be time for a Vendee Globe Cruiser’s class? All this time spent watching this latest Vendee Globe round-the-world race has got our Spirit of Tradition designer mind tingling: Might there be a way to channel the spirit of the original around-alone sailors of the Sunday Times Golden Globe race of 1969? If you recall, nine competitors started and only one finished, Robin Knox-Johnston. Could we update his original 32’ wooden double-ended ketch Suhaili with today’s highly-tuned racing machines? Let’s do a mini design brief for the Vendee Globe racers and find out. For the last few iterations, to better manage the risk and […]

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 […]