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The 8 Rules of Spirit of Tradition Yacht Design

We’ve been drawing Spirit of Tradition boats for pretty close to a quarter-century now, and we’d like to think we’ve gotten pretty good at it. After all, we were in on the ground floor when sailors began thinking it’d be cool to sail a boat that had all the structure, performance and convenience of the ugly modern boats in the marketplace of the early Nineties, but tied back to the gorgeous graceful lines of the meticulously restored classics beginning a resurgence in those days. The key to a successful SOT design (that is short for Spirit of Tradition) is 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 […]

Top Ten “Spirit of Tradition” Yachts for 2017.

And so it begins: 2017 will be the year the Spirit of Tradition story finally gets set down on paper. We cannot explain why the world has not bothered to document what went down design-wise in Mid-coast Maine over the past 20 years. How the talented — and the flawed — mixed traditional classic yachts with modern materials. And how these pioneers pushed back the barriers for performance and design. And changed boating, for better or worse. It’s a story that will take a while to tell. Probably, well into 2018. But this is the year we are on it, […]

The Spirit of Tradition Condo: The New York 40 “Marilee.”

Nathaniel Herreshoff may be regarded as the Gandalf of all things that float. But interior living and creature comforts?  Well, not so much. We know a bunch about design practice since that Golden Age of American yachting. Take Herreshoff’s classic 60-foot class, the New York 40.  Browse through the 14 boats that the Herreshoff Marine Museum, in Bristol Rhode Island, lists as original New York 40s, and it’s clear these classics did in fact set the bar for weatherliness, toughness, and outer elegance. But take a look down below, and it quickly turns into an off Thursday night at the local pub: Dark, cramped, lo-tech, […]