The Offshore Voyaging Reference Site

Learn From The Designers

Over the years I have written (some might say ranted) a lot against the evils of poor yacht design. And with justification, since there are few things sadder than a boat that doesn’t sail or motor very well, no matter how much power (engine or sails) we throw at it.

After all, we do this for fun, so surely we all want the pleasure of knowing that our boat operates in an efficient way in the medium she was designed for. And even if we don’t care, a good hull design is both more fun to sail or motor and safer—slow increases our exposure to bad weather, reduces manoeuvrability, and increases the load on the gear and crew.

But the sad fact is that many, perhaps most, boats out there have poor hull designs. I have already dealt with how that happens (see Further Reading), so this article is about what we can do to avoid ending up with one of those woofers. As so often happens, I was inspired by a comment from a member:

I am struggling to apply this information into selecting a hull that is appropriate out of the universe of boats available on the used market (within my budget). For a newbie, what advice would you provide to help identify a good hull from bad. I am unable to find prismatic coefficient for the boats I am considering. Is there anything else I can use as a proxy? Max hull speed is sometimes available. I want to make the right decision…but I don’t know how.

So let’s start by answering his question: There’s no single number, shortcut, or even group of numbers that will tell us whether or not the designer did their job properly or, as so often happens, was persuaded to do bad stuff by others (almost always in an effort to cram too much interior into a boat).

And to make things even more complicated, good design is a moving target depending on how each of us intend to use the boat.

Given that, there are only two ways to avoid buying a bad boat:

More Articles From Online Book: How To Buy a Cruising Boat:

  1. The Right Way to Buy a Boat…And The Wrong Way
  2. Is It a Need or a Want?
  3. Buying a Boat—A Different Way To Think About Price
  4. Buying a Cruising Boat—Five Tips for The Half-Assed Option
  5. Are Refits Worth It?
  6. Buying a Boat—Never Say Never
  7. Selecting The Right Hull Form
  8. Five Ways That Bad Boats Happen
  9. How Weight Affects Boat Performance and Motion Comfort
  10. Easily Driven Boats Are Better
  11. 12 Tips To Avoid Ruining Our Easily Driven Sailboat
  12. Learn From The Designers
  13. You May Need a Bigger Boat Than You Think
  14. Sail Area: Overlap, Multihulls, And Racing Rules
  15. 8 Tips For a Great Cruising Boat Interior Arrangement
  16. Of Cockpits, Wheelhouses And Engine Rooms
  17. Offshore Sailboat Keel Types
  18. Cockpits—Part 1, Safe and Seamanlike
  19. Cockpits—Part 2, Visibility and Ergonomics
  20. Offshore Sailboat Winches, Selection and Positioning
  21. Choosing a Cruising Boat—Shelter
  22. Choosing A Cruising Boat—Shade and Ventilation
  23. Pitfalls to Avoid When Buying a New Voyaging Boat
  24. Cyclical Loading: Why Offshore Sailing Is So Hard On A Boat
  25. Cycle Loading—8 Tips for Boat and Gear Purchases
  26. Characteristics of Boat Building Materials
  27. Impact Resistance—How Hull Materials Respond to Impacts
  28. Impact Resistance—Two Collision Scenarios
  29. Hull Materials, Which Is Best?
  30. The Five Things We Need to Check When Buying a Boat
  31. Six Warnings About Buying Fibreglass Boats
  32. Buying a Fibreglass Boat—Hiring a Surveyor and Managing the Survey
  33. What We Need to Know About Moisture Meters and Wet Fibreglass Laminate
  34. US$30,000 Starter Cruiser—Part 1, How We Shopped For Our First Cruising Sailboat
  35. US$30,000 Starter Cruiser—Part 2, The Boat We Bought
  36. US$30,000 Starter Cruiser—How It’s Working Out
  37. Q&A, What’s the Maximum Sailboat Size For a Couple?
  38. At What Age should You Stop Sailing And Buy a Motorboat?
  39. A Motorsailer For Offshore Voyaging?
  40. The Two Biggest Lies Yacht Brokers Tell