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 […]

Marine Engineering 102: Why’s My Hull Shaped the Way It Is?

It’s the mysteries of our hulls that draw us to them. One moment, you’re on dry land unacknowledged by an uncaring terra firma. The next, you’re aboard. And part of the running conversation between you, the sea, and the hull that floats on that sea. Not all hulls use the same vocabulary. Agro, tippy skiffs seem to threaten with a techno hull-speak of planing, surfing and foiling. And more stately yachts, like our plush 90-foot ketch Bequia, practically bow to those who wander her decks with a hushed language of soft entry, high freeboard and tons of reserve buoyancy. To […]

We love our clients! We love our clients! We love our clients! We love our clients! We love our clients!

But sometimes we have to just keep repeating that to ourselves. Like a mantra. Because sometimes our dear clients can drive us … nuts. It’s a strange business, designing boats. Customers have to be a little bit “unusual” to commission a custom-boat. It means you’re so picky that of all the thousands of designs, you couldn’t find what you wanted among the common offerings. And you’ve also spent a long time thinking through each itty-bitty corner of your unique boat. You’ve got a lot of preconceived notions. But not the exact expertise to make them all work. So when we […]

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 […]