Join Date: May 2002
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The Architect's Apprentice, by Gary Schwarzman. I found this book in a used book store in Vermont. The author decided to commission the design and construction of a new, cold-molded wooden boat rather than buy one off the shelf. I found it a fascinating description of the how's and why's of custom boat building. I highly recommend it to anyone interested in the business of boat design and building, but especially so for anyone thinking of following the path of the author. As he makes it clear, if you are a hands-on skipper willing to do some of the basic design drawings yourself, are a good shopper and enjoy the hunt for quality used hardware, and are willing to participate in the construction of the boat, it costs just about the same to have your boat custom-made as it does to buy a mass-production model. The author gives a detailed cost accounting, and shows how he spent about 300K for his new custom 42 foot cold molded boat (this was the late '90s), and compares that to Royal Passport 41 (designed by Bob Perry). The way he sees it, you can buy the off the shelf model, take a few months to prepare and go cruising, or for "a lot more time and effort, it is possible to cast off the docklines of a custom-designed, professionally built cruising sailboat. The price is the same; the choice is yours."
This book makes it clear why there are so few custom sailboats built; it really is much quicker and less expensive to buy a quality production boat. Thank goodness there will always be a small group of those who enjoy or need to go through the custom process.