Join Date: Feb 2000
Location: Annapolis, Md
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At some level, I agree with the comments above. Bruce Roberts has some reasonably nice design, but he also has quite a few worse than mediocre designs in his catalog. His Spray series, while quite popular, produces designs which would not be very appealing to sailors who care how well a boat sails.
I like most of Dudley Dix's work. He seems to have a good sense of proportion and seems to do the kind of careful engineering and detailing that produces good boats. In the 60 foot range I really like his Dix 64 which (except for its extreme shoal draft for a boat this size) is a very moderate and seemingly well thought through design. His 65 foot Liberte' design sails out of Annapolis, and so I see her underway quite often. I am less impressed with that design.
Ted Brewer is an extremely respected designer of traditional cruising boats. My father owns one his 42 foot FRP production boats and it has been an excellent boat. I am not familiar with his bigger designs.
Tom Colvin is a guy who thinks out of the box. He has designed a wide range of traditionally based metal boats. While all kinds of grand claims have been made for these boats, I think that in reality, these are good solid boats that seem well suited to the non-performance oriented distance cruiser.
I also like the work of Yves Tanton who is a very ingenious designer and who seems to produce very clever designs. The only set of his drawings that I have seen was somewhat incomplete but I don't know whether that reflects that specific owner's objectives or Mr. Tanton's norm.
Van der Stadt is extremely respected for their very high quality steel boat designs. I am more familiar with their midsized modern designs and their 35 to 42 foot older designs, but I have known owners of their larger designs who have raved about their boats.
I worked for the late Charlie Wittholz who had a great eye and was a very conscientious designer. Last I heard, his family was still selling his designs. I worked on a number of his steel designs and I think that watching him work, he was someone who genuinely understood what made a boat work and tried very hard to produce good designs.
If you were going to build a boat this large, I seriously want to suggest that you consider a custom design, a design that works for your specific needs and goals. Only you know what you want out of a boat, and frankly if you are going through the trouble to custom build a boat, then the small incremental cost of doing a custom design only makes sense. If I were going to do a custom design, I would strongly suggest that you contact Antonio (Tony) Dias (Antonio Dias Design 171 Cedar Island Road,Narragansett, RI, 02882). I have known Tony for may years and I really love his work. His designs are beautiful to look at, but more importantly extremely well thought through and carefully crafted.
I do want to touch on the premise of this thread. "My dream boat is a steel hull schooner or ketch with lots of room. Roberts has the designs that seem to fit." and at the heart of it, it sounds like you want a steel 60 footer with an antiquated rig. I think that it would be easier to answer your question about designers of steel boats, if we understood what you are trying to accomplish with this boat. Designers, like the people who buy their designs, have strong design personalities that inform the thousands of design decisions that must be made in the course of producing a design.
In other words,
Do you plan to build this boat yourself, or have a yard build it, or buy a used boat?
What do you plan to do with this boat? (i.e. live-aboard, distance cruise, charter)
Where do you plan to sail this boat?
How experienced are you as a sailor or boat builder?
This is an enormous boat that will take a large crew to handle safely. What is your goal for a boat this big?
Why are you focusing on Steel?
And so on....