The Offshore Voyaging Reference Site

Of Dishwashers and Yacht Designers

This evening I was washing the dishes at Base Camp, our somewhat primitive (at least by modern North American standards) shore base, and musing on various metaphysical issues, as I tend to do when performing routine tasks…often to the detriment of the results, like dish cleanliness.

Anyway, after cogitating for a while on how two people with a very nice 56-foot sailboat could possibly be the same two people with no dishwasher at their shore base, my mind turned to loftier things.

And I was struck by a great truth about yacht design, probably inspired by having just read Voyages, the annual journal of the Cruising Club of America.

Good yacht designers create the boat their customers want.

Great yacht designers create the boat their customers need.

I have no idea whether this is an original thought, although I suspect that I must have heard or read it, or something like it, at some time in the past.

No matter, the point being that remembering this when we are searching for a boat will contribute hugely to good outcomes.

Or, to put it another way, the really great boats out there are designed (and built) by the few, the very few, who stick to a vision without being pulled this way and that by every potential customer with a large cheque book or by the marketing types who profess to know what said owners want.

Four great designers who come to mind are Steve Dashew, Jean-François Delvoye of Borèal, Olin Stephens (ably assisted by his brother Rod), and Jim McCurdy, designer of Morgan’s Cloud and Carina (line drawing above).

It’s not that these boats are perfect manifestations of their creator’s vision. Each designer has made some concessions to make their boats saleable—McCurdy probably the least, which accounts for why his boats never sold in very large numbers…and why they are among the best offshore boats ever drawn—but none of them allowed the market to pervert their boats to the point that their fundamental purpose, going to sea in comfort and safety, has been materially compromised.


I’m sure there are more designers with this level of intestinal fortitude. If you can think of other worthy additions to the list, and why they qualify, please leave a comment.

Further Reading

Boat Design/Selection Child Topics:

More Articles From Boat Design/Selection:

  1. Colin & Louise are Buying a New Sailboat
  2. Q&A—Sailboat Performance, When The Numbers Fail
  3. Talking About Buying Fibreglass Boats With Andy Schell
  4. US Sailboat Show Report—Boats
  5. Some Thoughts On Smaller Older Cruising Boats
  6. Wow, Buying an Offshore Sailboat is Really Hard
  7. Hull Design Torture Test
  8. Of Dishwashers and Yacht Designers
  9. Which Is The Best Boat For Offshore Cruising?
  10. Meeting Up With Steve and Linda Dashew
  11. Cruising On Less Than $15,000/Year, Including The Boat—What It Takes
  12. How Not To Buy a Cruising Boat
  13. Where Do We Go From Here?
  14. The Boat Design Spiral
  15. Spade Rudders—Ready for Sea?
  16. Trade Offs in Yacht Design
  17. We Live in Rapidly Changing Times
  18. Long Thin Boats Are Cool
  19. Beauty and The Beast
  20. Q&A: What About Ferro-Cement Boats?
  21. Thinking About a Steel Boat?
  22. Your Boat Should Forgive You
  23. New Versus Old
  24. Rudder Options, Staying In Control
  25. “Vagabond”—An Extraordinary Polar Yacht
  26. Learning The Hard Way
  27. The Real Story On The MacGregor 65
  28. An Engineless Junk Rigged Dory—Another Way To Get Out There
  29. S/V “Polaris”, Built For The Arctic
  30. Boats We Like: The Saga 43
  31. Designers of “Morgan’s Cloud” Have A New Website
  32. Q&A: Interior Layout And Boat Selection
  33. A Rugged Boat For The High Latitudes
  34. Q&A: Homebuilding A Boat
  35. Q&A: Sailboat Stability Contradiction
  36. Are Spade Rudders Suitable For Ocean Crossings?
  37. There’s No Excuse For Pounding
  38. Q&A: Tips On Buying A Used Boat For The High Latitudes
  39. Used Boat For Trans-Atlantic On A Budget
  40. QA&: Is A Macgregor 26M Suitable For A Trans-Atlantic?
  41. Q&A: Used Colin Archer Design Sailboat
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