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Mark Ungrin

Careers in boat design?

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My teenager is thinking about various career options. Architecture is at the top of the list (and has stayed there for several years, so fairly serious), and she has an interest in the possibilities and constraints as relating to design of live-aboard boats. She's quite organized, and has just done an informational interview with a land-based architect about his career; she has now indicated she would like to meet and discuss with a narrow-boat designer if we can find one.

 

Can anyone recommend a good person to talk to about this? Ideally, we'd want someone innovative (i.e. not just producing minor variations on the same plan), and associated with a yard so she could potentially see a boat in progress to get a feel for how the designs are translated into reality. We're in Oxford so something around here would simplify things for the chauffeur (me), but since she's taking such an interest I'm willing to travel further afield if needed.

 

Thanks!

 

Mark

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Pretty restrictive career option to be fair, naval architecture might be nearer the mark, but not many in the UK these days. It can never be cutting edge technology, imho

There is an excellent vlogs of a good , innovative, narrowboat

http://pendle-narrowboats.com/cad-design-your-own-narrowboat-or-widebeam-boat/

https://www.thefitoutpontoon.co.uk/narrowboat-widebeam-design/

 

Edited by LadyG

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 I think you will find that most liveaboard canal craft are designed by the first owner and the builders.  There are very few pure design houses, if any, as none immediately spring to mind.

There are three sets of constraints: The design of the underlying steelwork, which is generally a stock product customisable to a greater or lesser extent for things like length, engine, doors, windows etc, but not in the basic bow and stern shape, cabin dimensions and shape. Things like disability solutions can seriously limit the choice of hull builder if you want experience in a special field.

 

The next is the capability of the boatfitter and his team.  These will often make decision requests and solution proposals  to the buyer.

The final one is the first buyer, and the depth of their pockets and their wants or needs.

 

Together they have managed to supply all but a tiny fraction of the demand (Think boats like Dover or Whitfield for examples where someone outside the build chain drove the design aspects) within a pretty small cottage industry.

High end naval architecture, as in yachts and super yachts and interior design thereof may offer more prospects.

 

 

Regards

N

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35 minutes ago, Mark Ungrin said:

My teenager is thinking about various career options. Architecture is at the top of the list (and has stayed there for several years, so fairly serious), and she has an interest in the possibilities and constraints as relating to design of live-aboard boats. She's quite organized, and has just done an informational interview with a land-based architect about his career; she has now indicated she would like to meet and discuss with a narrow-boat designer if we can find one.

 

 

Mark

What a great ambition!

Canal boats in Britain have changed but little over the last few decades - there are minor variations e.g. increased roof height, an unfathomable fashion for bedrooms at the pointy end, but most people would be hard pressed to tell a 1999 narrowboat from a 2019 one. When a designer tries to be bold and innovative, the result is usually commercially unsuccessful (look up "N.B. Whitefield" on the internet for an example).

 

However, river craft, both here and abroad, exhibit much more variety and (I would think) there's more scope for a creative designer. I am not sure whom you, or she, should approach, but someone on here will know.

 

Good luck to her.

Edited by Athy

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33 minutes ago, Mark Ungrin said:

Can anyone recommend a good person to talk to about this? Ideally, we'd want someone innovative (i.e. not just producing minor variations on the same plan), and associated with a yard so she could potentially see a boat in progress to get a feel for how the designs are translated into reality.

She can do woodworking courses at boatbuilding academies / schools along with learning design and other engineering skills, but it might be worth calling round the yards of narrowboat builders and asking who their chippies are and what the chances of an apprenticeship is.

 

http://www.tylerwilsonboats.com

 

https://www.collingwoodboatbuilders.co.uk

 

Though I may be barking up the wrong tree and she doesn't want to build them just design them. 

Edited by Tumshie

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A narrowboat is limited wrt its hydrodynamics so effectively she will just end up laying out a series of modular house type items in a 6 foot 10 inch space with a point bit at one end. Fernwood were the high end of boat internal fit outs wrt canal boats if you like that sort of thing. Not really architecture. I think Fernwood Boats wound up.

Edited by mark99

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51 minutes ago, Mark Ungrin said:

My teenager is thinking about various career options. Architecture is at the top of the list (and has stayed there for several years, so fairly serious), and she has an interest in the possibilities and constraints as relating to design of live-aboard boats. She's quite organized, and has just done an informational interview with a land-based architect about his career; she has now indicated she would like to meet and discuss with a narrow-boat designer if we can find one.

 

Can anyone recommend a good person to talk to about this? Ideally, we'd want someone innovative (i.e. not just producing minor variations on the same plan), and associated with a yard so she could potentially see a boat in progress to get a feel for how the designs are translated into reality. We're in Oxford so something around here would simplify things for the chauffeur (me), but since she's taking such an interest I'm willing to travel further afield if needed.

 

Thanks!

 

Mark

It is pretty much a cottage industry with (probably) only something like 300 built across all of the manufacturers per annum with a couple of large companies working on a 'production line basis' and the rest producing 2 or 3 per annum in a shed.

There is no market for these boats outside of the UK as they do not 'fit' on any other waterways

 

If she really wants to get involved in boat design then maybe a sea-going boat company would be the way to go - I know Princess boats (one of the world's biggest motor yacht builders) at Plymouth are expanding their work force as they cannot build enough boats for their worldwide orders (their boat run from about £1 million to £5 million but they are starting to sell some 'cheap ones' at £500,000)

 

https://isw.changeworknow.co.uk/princess_yachts/vms/e/careers/search/new

 

Princess Yachts starts 2019 with strong sales at boot Dusseldorf, the world's largest indoor boat show

•    Impressive sales of 21 yachts worth in excess of £38m achieved at the show
•    Princess Yachts helped boot Düsseldorf  celebrate its 50th anniversary with three global debuts- F45, V78 and Y85
•    Princess  confirm strong order book for 2019 and 2020 along with the announcement of the new V55 

Princess Yachts, the UK’s largest luxury yacht brand, has announced it sold a total of 21 yachts worth in excess of £38m at boot Düsseldorf, with more confirmed orders anticipated in the coming days .

Princess displayed 11 yachts on its stand at boot Düsseldorf, including three global debuts for the Y85, V78 and F45. Princess’s iconic Project 31, a heritage vessel built in 1968, and the revolutionary new R35 performance sports yacht were other highlights of the line-up which celebrated boot Düsseldorf ’s 50th birthday in style.

 

 

Edited by Alan de Enfield
  • Greenie 1

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Try Richard Haynes at Kingsground Narrowboats.

 

Kingsground Narrowboats - Tel: 01869 351 321 Mob: 07785734367

 

They are at Enslow Wharf which is close to Oxford and have built some extremely well designed narrowboats. 

 

I have no connection with the company other than being a satisfied owner of one of their boats.

Edited by cuthound

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Good post from Alan. I was going to suggest that most narrowboat production is almost akin to talented fabricators knocking custom specials up in a big garage using eye and experience plus a few jigs in close liaison with end user. At the very design high end, business took me to Ben Ainslee racing on the coast and that's the other end where design hydrodynamics I guess is all consuming.  

Edited by mark99

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Thanks very much everyone. We're going through the various links.

 

Just to clarify, she's not necessarily looking to get into designing narrow boats specifically, but she's interested in the fact that people in this area have faced a lot of challenges in efficiently fitting various functions plus storage plus people into a small space, and some of these solutions may be generalizable to other "small-is-beautiful" architecture (whether on land or on the water). This is also primarily about blue-sky / planning ahead ("what might this career look like?"), it will be a few more years until she has to actually choose a program at university.

 

She is generally avoiding "large-scale" architecture - on her own initiative, but also reflecting my concerns that there can't be as many opportunities to lead projects in those areas. If you want to exercise your creativity in designing small houses, live-aboards, caravans etc there is some opportunity to go out and find a customer. If your dream design is for a stadium, or a mega-yacht, or a skyscraper, your chances of ever getting to build it seem fairly slim just because the budgets to do that are not that common, and will be going to big established design houses. Some of the concepts may be portable, but at that scale I can imagine many of the challenges get beaten into submission with a chequebook...

 

I probably should not have specified narrow boats in particular - we're here for year from Canada, and they are the design that I associate with the waterways over here, but that's a good point, designers of river-craft in general we could talk to would be of interest!

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1 hour ago, Athy said:

What a great ambition!

Canal boats in Britain have changed but little over the last few decades - there are minor variations e.g. increased roof height, an unfathomable fashion for bedrooms at the pointy end, but most people would be hard pressed to tell a 1999 narrowboat from a 2019 one. When a designer tries to be bold and innovative, the result is usually commercially unsuccessful (look up "N.B. Whitefield" on the internet for an example).

 

However, river craft, both here and abroad, exhibit much more variety and (I would think) there's more scope for a creative designer. I am not sure whom you, or she, should approach, but someone on here will know.

 

Good luck to her.

Fernwood Boats took any information on Whitefield off their web site a couple of years ago now. 

I believe Fernwood is no longer trading either.  

There are some photo's of Whitefield here: https://www.bing.com/images/search?q=fernwood+boats&FORM=HDRSC2

 

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Concept boat 'Whitefield' for sale

One of the most unusual boats to be seen on the canals of late is up for sale. NB Whitefield, seen on TV and the magazines, has striking style with a paint scheme that is best described as 'bright'.

The discussion on the forums has been intense and generally extremely negative, although with a visible minority suggesting that they would go for it, with a few changes. The owners probably didn't endear themselves to the waterways community with some seemingly aloof comments about boat shows, boat yards and other narrow boats; all these comments are in the test report.

It was a brave attempt to break into new ground, but these kinds of concept boats have not done well in the past. It is fair to say that there is a higher proportion of olde worlde traditionalists of a very conservative nature on the Cut than almost anywhere else. It is admirable to be different, but it could turn out to be difficult to sell something quite so unique into such a conservative market; the owner is relying on their being one other boater with such avant garde taste and a serious amount of cash. This other boater also needs to be in the market for a second hand boat some time soon. That seems to be a lot of planets needing to be lined up at the same time.

I wish them well, but I suspect - like many - that this boat will simply not sell. They may have more luck taking it to the Canal du Midi or the Loire and selling it there. After all, it has its roots in the Mediterranean cabin cruiser world. Or maybe a Russian oligarch is looking for a narrowboat.

Posted by Mark at 23:33

 

 

http://nbnorthstar.blogspot.com/2009/09/concept-boat-whitefield-for-sale.html

Edited by Ray T

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I would suggest getting a  copy of

"Narrowboat Builders Book"  1999 3rd edition by Graham Booth, should be able to pick up a used copy for around £10. Although a bit dated it should give her a good feel for how narrowboats are built and fitted out. 

The market for innovative narrowboats is very, very small. Some have tried and few, if any, have succeeded. 

As a exercise a popular length for a narrowboat is 57ft with an external width of 6ft 10inch. This gives a typical set of  internal dimensions for a semitrad of approx 42ft x 6ft(w) x 6ft 6inchs (h). So the exercise (which many on here have gone through) is to provide:

Sleeping

Storage 

Kitchen Galley

Lounge

Bathroom/shower room

All necessary services 

 

The following site may give you some ideas and may even be worth your daughter contacting if they are aminable to the idea. 

https://www.thefitoutpontoon.co.uk/narrowboat-widebeam-builders-3/

 

Just out of interest it may be worth her looking at a traditional boats man's cabin which is a classic piece of "small space" design. Others on here could probably tell you the best place have a look at one of these in your area. 

http://www.canaljunction.com/narrowboat/boatmans_cabin.htm

 

Edited by reg

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2 hours ago, reg said:

Just out of interest it may be worth her looking at a traditional boats man's cabin which is a classic piece of "small space" design. Others on here could probably tell you the best place have a look at one of these in your area. 

http://www.canaljunction.com/narrowboat/boatmans_cabin.htm

 

 

Also Harald Joergens' virtual tours include back cabins:

https://www.haraldjoergens.com/panoramas/bclm-president/files/

https://www.haraldjoergens.com/panoramas/bclm-swallow/files/

  • Greenie 2

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2 hours ago, TheBiscuits said:

High end design?

 

They are wallowing buckets if you talk to the pros! ;)

 

 

Whilst here in NZ we might hope that all our competitors in the America's Cup come up with wallowing buckets, we believe, and are designing for, and are training for, that the Ben Ainsley boat will be formidably competitive, along with some other challengers.

Along with the Americas Cup regatta, there will be racing for the massive J class, and veteran classic yacht sailing.

 A promotional video and photography session was held a couple of days ago showing our A Class Gaff rigged yachts racing to encourage more overseas entries for racing during the cup campaign. These boats are all over 110 years old restored to original gaff rig configuration. The 1897 60ft? Fife designed, Australian built Sayanara is an almost certain visitor.

I also agree with examining boatman cabins as a superb bit of space efficiency.

 

Edited by DandV

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It's noticeable that some of their designs, which I assume are sea-going craft, have a hull thickness of 6mm. People who go into a cold sweat at the prospect of taking to a canal in anything with less than 10mm of steel under them should take note!

 

It does look as if Branson's are constantly developing new designs, so there's obviously a call for designers of such craft.

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1 hour ago, Athy said:

It's noticeable that some of their designs, which I assume are sea-going craft, have a hull thickness of 6mm. People who go into a cold sweat at the prospect of taking to a canal in anything with less than 10mm of steel under them should take note!

The big difference is that sea-going boats do not tend to (scrape along) tie up against concrete / steel every night, nor do they drag their bottom along ground, thru the mud and gravel and occasionally scrape over shopping trolley's and 'safes'.

Sea going boats tend to be lifted out annually to be anti-fouled.

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1 minute ago, Alan de Enfield said:

The big difference is that sea-going boats do not tend to (scrape along) tie up against concrete / steel every night, nor do they drag their bottom along ground, thru the mud and gravel and occasionally scrape over shopping trolley's and 'safes'.

Sea going boats tend to be lifted out annually to be anti-fouled.

I'm sure you're correct; but are they not subject to greater pressure from the movement of the sea, compared with the relatively inert waters of most canals?

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5 minutes ago, Athy said:

I'm sure you're correct; but are they not subject to greater pressure from the movement of the sea, compared with the relatively inert waters of most canals?

The RCD ensures that they are structurally suited to the waters for which they are 'rated', this would normally mean sufficient ribs and reinforcing in specific areas rather than thicker and thicker hulls adding more weight to the boat.

 

You will note that these categories are the total reverse of the MCA categories.

 

The following four design categories help to quantify a boat’s degree of seaworthiness, based on the wave height and wind speed the boat is designed to encounter and handle. The further offshore the vessel is expected to venture, the higher are the expectations for construction strength, stability, freeboard, reserve buoyancy, resistance to down-flooding, deck drainage and other seaworthiness criteria.

  • Category A – Ocean: covers largely self-sufficient boats designed for extended voyages with winds of over Beaufort Force 8 (over 40 knots), and significant wave heights above 13 feet, but excluding abnormal conditions such as hurricanes.
  • Category B – Offshore:  includes boats operating offshore with winds to 40 knots and significant seas to 13 feet.
  • Category C – Inshore: is for boats operating in coastal waters and large bays and lakes with winds to Force 6, up to 27 knots, and significant seas 7 feet high.
  • Category D – Inland or sheltered coastal waters: is for boats in small lakes and rivers with winds to Force 4 and significant wave heights to 18 inches.

Since the number of people onboard can impact a boat’s seaworthiness, changing the number of people on the boat can also change its category, with more people aboard -- and more weight and potentially less stability -- putting a boat into the next lower category.

 

You will note that whilst my boat is rated "A" for 8 people it is rated "D" for 14 people.

CAM00263.jpg

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28 minutes ago, Athy said:

I'm sure you're correct; but are they not subject to greater pressure from the movement of the sea, compared with the relatively inert waters of most canals?

 

Seagoing hulls are designed principally for structural strength for which they utilise curved (and therefore stiff/strong) surfaces, which in some cases can reduce the need for frame stiffening to a large degree. ....  it is entirely possible to design a 10m long sailing yacht with a 3mm steel hull, providing there is adequate curvature.  A boat with light upperworks and topsides, with adequate ballast in the keel is a good sea boat.  A 10m yacht with 6mm topsides, cabin and deck is likely to be a sluggish pig. 

 

The worst things that can happen to a yacht in normal conditions are grounding as the tide ebbs, and hitting a half-submerged container.  The first condition is mitigated by a strong keel connection to the hull which needs adequate stiffening to disperse the stresses fro the keel.   There is little that the designer can do to protect the boat against the second condition.

  • Greenie 1

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On 14/04/2019 at 18:47, Mark Ungrin said:

she's interested in the fact that people in this area have faced a lot of challenges in efficiently fitting various functions plus storage plus people into a small space, and some of these solutions may be generalizable to other "small-is-beautiful" architecture

She should definitely take half a day looking round a caravan sales outlet if she wants to see some very clever and innovative use of every nook and cranny. Particularly newer caravans. In most places the vans are all unlocked and you can just wander around to your heart’s content. 

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