"You Can Build A Better Boat Than You Can Buy"  



The Design and or Building Process

CSB can design and build your boat for you. Or if you want a boat designed for you to build your self.


As with any new boat venture there is first, the idea and then to bring that idea into reality. The first task is actually performed by the prospective boat owner... it is to outline a brief "Owner's Specification" or "mission statement" for the new vessel. Rather than being highly detailed, the Owner's Specification acts as a general guide to the overall intent of the design in terms of size, layout, materials of construction, intended use, range, speed, and most importantly, the budget that is available for the project.

It is my practice at this point to study these preliminary requirements, then to provide the potential client with a "Design Proposal." The Design Proposal is a summary of the design process, a list of the deliverable drawings and documents, and an estimate for the design work for the vessel as described. If the project continues to be of interest to the client, the actual design work can begin.

Once the owner's requirements are thoroughly understood, a sketch is made showing the general arrangement inside and out, the styling, and the approximate dimensions of the vessel. This is the beginning of the process and a Preliminary Design Study. It may be as simple as a freehand "napkin" drawing to record the intent of the design, or possibly a set of lines printed out from a preliminary computer model, with the interior sketched in.

If it is requested, these sketches may be developed into a nicely drawn. The purpose of this Stage is to establish the accommodations, styling, overall size and the target displacement. With these parameters determined, there may also be enough known to establish a preliminary construction cost.

Right at the beginning, I will create a preliminary computer model of the intended vessel. Having created the computer model, the basic hydrostatics of the proposed design is known at right from the start. The computer model provides an excellent basis for establishing the rig, accommodation, structure, styling features, superstructure, etc. . . .


With owner feedback from the preliminary Design Study, there is enough known to begin the actual beginning of the final drawings. The design work done during this Stage and is directed toward creating the first few sheets of full size plans. They will ordinarily include the Sail Plan or Outboard Profile, the Interior Profile and Arrangement, and the Structural Profile and Arrangement. For larger vessels, there may be several additional sheets.

Along with these drawing sheets, there will be a preliminary Equipment List, and a preliminary specification. The intent is that enough information be presented that reasonably firm estimates can be obtained from builders for construction of the vessel. With additional owner and builder feedback, further decisions can be made with regard to equipment and finish in order to accommodate the budget for the project.


During the final Stage the design is refined to accommodate any requested changes, and then the remaining drawings are done in order to provide a complete set of plans in a building package. These several drawings will finally settle the interior and exterior details, the machinery arrangement, the deck plan, the scantlings, the construction sections, and the boat's final dimensions. From the final hull shape, the as-designed displacement, range and performance predictions, and the hydrostatics and stability can be determined.

The Building Plans package will usually include:

  • 1. Outboard Profile: The sail plan or other exterior details of the hull.
  • 2. Interior Profile & Arrangement: The vessel's accommodations.
  • 3. Sectional Views: The structure and interior joinery sections.
  • 4. Inboard Profile: the vessel's structure & major components: the engine, drive line, tanks, and major bulkheads.
  • 5. Deck Plan: Cabins, hatches, fittings, mooring and anchor gear.
  • 6. A Spar and Rigging Plan if necessary.
  • 7. The Lines Drawing and or Offsets.
  • 8. the Equipment List: A complete list of major equipment items, including appliances, electronics, mechanical, etc.

For larger vessels, each of the above categories may include several drawing sheets. And finished out by completing the weight budget, the final as-designed stability and performance analyses, and the specifications needed regarding the construction and the outfit of the vessel. Having finished this Stage for most vessels the design process will be complete.

This completes the "Design Phase" of the development of a new vessel, after which construction may begin. At this point, there is sufficient information for a professional or amateur builder to complete the boat as intended.


At this point the boat can be built. We at CSB would be happy to build the boat for you. CSB is next to Stones Marina boat yard with a 40 ton lift and lots of room to build your boat. Or you can build it your self or hire a builder. During the Construction Phase there may be additional services requested. For example, as the size of the vessel increases, the need for further detail ordinarily increases proportionally and in some cases there may be the request to provide additional design drawings. It is my practice to provide this level of support whenever it is requested.

What does it Cost to Develop a New Design...?

There is a fair bit of work in designing a boat well, even if it is a simple one. And given the number of designs which already exist, it may seem a little costly to commission a new boat design. On the other hand, it is an unquestionable delight to see one's ideas and dreams turned into one's own boat. And you get the boat you want the way you want it. It always comes as a pleasant surprise to discover that the costs involved to develop a new custom yacht design are less than the cost of paying a yacht broker's fee simply to purchase a new or pre-existing yacht. In many cases, custom design costs are less than half those of a typical brokerage fee...! Brokerage fees typically run from 4% to 10% of the cost of the boat.

Although most of my work is custom design and building, I have many stock plans available. And I can modify the plans to suite the customer if a stock plan does not exactly fit the bill; I also have a large number of prototypes from which a new boat design can be developed. If a completely new vessel type is in order.

When comparing a stock design to a custom design in terms of its proportion of the total boat cost, the difference is quite small. When considering a boat tailored to ones particular requirements rather than an "off-the-shelf" design, the difference in satisfaction can be well worth the difference in cost. If the custom designed vessel will serve its purpose for a longer time than one built to a stock design, then the design work will have been made worthwhile many times over.

For more information on developing a new design, or about building construction costs involved, please email or Call me.

In my view, what makes a boat a success is whether she is safe, seaworthy, sea kindly, able, beautiful to behold, and above all, whether she satisfies the wishes of her owner.

Where to Begin?

The place to start the process for a boat is to create an owner's "Owners mission statement" containing a list of the features regarded as being important in the new vessel. This will record any preferences in terms of rig, power, and equipment, materials of construction, overall size, accommodations, budget, project timing, and so forth. Ideally, this will be a fairly simple list or a briefly written description.

This document I refer to as a preliminary "Owner's Specification." With this in hand, you can more easily judge the relative merits of any design you may be considering.

If it becomes apparent that a custom design may be your preferred avenue toward "the right boat" you are more or less all ready to do so. Having created your "Owner's Specification" you can request a proposal for the project.

Your Owner's Specification can for example be sent via email or letter. On reviewing it, and once I have understood your requirements, I will then provide a written "Design Proposal" via mail or via email. This is always done in advance of undertaking any actual design work. My Design Proposal is an outline of the design process, a list of the deliverables, and an estimate of the anticipated design costs.

This written Design Proposal is provided free of charge. It is based on a template which I've developed over the years, and is then tailored to each project as needed.

If a new Custom Design seems like an appropriate path toward creating the new Boat of your dreams, please feel free to call or email me.


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