The WoodenBoat School

Elements of Boat Design

Learn the principles and process—then practice on your own design.

Tuition: $750

Note: This is a five-day course ending Friday afternoon.

WoodenBoat School boat design photo

Would you like to understand how to design your own boat or gain a better grasp of how design affects a boat’s performance? Would you like to better read and comprehend the hull line drawings that appear in any number of marine-related publications? Would you like to explore the relationship of construction methods to hull design—which works well with what? Would you like to think, eat, sleep, and discuss boats for a solid week? If so, you’ll find this challenging and fun course with talented boatbuilder and designer John Brooks to be right up your alley.

Whether you want to get a taste of the design process, be able to put your ideas on paper, or start down the road to becoming a professional designer, this course will allow you to accomplish several things. You’ll dispassionately analyze the science of what makes a boat float and move, while gaining an understanding of the role art plays in boat design. You’ll learn what makes a boat seaworthy or not; performance oriented or not; and buildable or not. And you’ll start creating your own design, mainly working on the preliminary and lines drawings, as much as time allows. Before taking pencil to paper, you will research the type of boat you want to design, discuss your initial ideas with John, and learn how to start drawing on your own, using basic drafting skills and bringing them into the computer age.

WoodenBoat School photo

Various building methods will be explored, from traditional to modern. Any technique can be used for each student’s own “dream boat,” from plank-on-frame to vacuum-bagged and epoxied veneers reinforced with exotic materials. John will also introduce students to how their boats can be built in alternative materials from their original choice. You will need to back up your project ideas with sound engineering principles, hydrostatics, and scantlings that reflect the intended use and life of the boat.

Students need not have any previous experience with boat design or mathematics; just a keen interest will do. The main focus of the course will be on understanding the concepts and principles that play a part in boat design and in developing an eye for aesthetics. In spite of modern technology, designing boats is still as much an art as it is a science. The eye and judgment of the designer are still the most important ingredients in any design. If each student leaves Brooklin with enough basic knowledge to design a good-looking boat that performs well, then John will consider this week a success. You may even find a burning desire to go ahead and start another one!