Everyone’s got one.
Every now and then I’ll ask a boat-related question on a public forum or email list. It sure isn’t a problem getting people to weigh in with their opinion, that’s for sure. The challenge, actually, is picking through the dross of misunderstanding, inaccurate information, speculation, and completely made-up answers to find the grains of expertise and knowledge.
This is precisely why I picked the boat designer I did, because they has already provided me with a wealth of
trustworthy and well-respected information about boatbuilding before I ever bought my plans (read Boat Plans: Choices Made and Not Made).
For the most part, during my build, I’ve hewed pretty close to the plans and the recommendations of the boat’s designer. I’m all for experimentation, but I’m also deeply respectful of the experience and expertise of those who came before me.
In the planning stages, there were boats I liked that came close to what I wanted, but differed in some way from my vision of our little shantyboat. I definitely flirted with the idea of taking those plans and making significant modifications.
I resisted that urge, for the most part, and picked a boat design that met my needs, at least in terms of hull design.
For the changes I did plan to make, I had the good fortune to be able to talk to my boat’s naval architect and get his advice on these modifications (read Questions for the Old Man).
The opinion in boatbuilding forums is often to take this design and lengthen it, or add one of those or one of these. And I’m sure for those experienced boatbuilders, such modifications would be a breeze. But what about the first-time boatbuilder, the person just starting out?
I think people get excited sometimes about sharing what they know, but
forget that there is a bigger picture. Too often, I think that picture holds the very real possibility of a half-built boat collecting rainwater in the backyard of a frustrated amateur boatbuilder.