Join Date: Feb 2000
Location: Annapolis, Md
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What you are proposing is a pretty complicated process and frankly I am not sure that it will gain you very much. World wide there are a wide range of regulations that a boat can be constructed to.
The problem is that even if you could personnally write your own specification, there is no way that you can give that specification to a Broker and expect that broker to be able to evaluate whether a particular boat even meets those standards. In my experience, few broker, or even surveyors have the depth of knowledge necessary to evaluate many of the more esoteric aspects of a yacht designed to meet a highly customize set standards. There is no want that they can know, without distructive testing, the laminate schedule and achieved strength for example.
Many yacht designers would not be able to tell you if a given design of theirs met a customized set of regulations. They might have designed a structure with great care but things happen in the construction process that can greatly alter the real strength of a boat.
If you really want to end up with a particular safety performance I would think that you would want to work with one of the more sophisticated design firms, one that has good computer modeling capabilities. (What I mean by ''good computer modeling capabilities'' is the ability to acurately model loads and check structural elements in detail and not just the simplified off the shelf design packages that are getting common in the industry)Beyond that you would ideally retain that firm for in the field observation of the construction process.
Then there is the issue of the actuallu quality of the standards that are out there. If followed most are considered to do a reasonable job of protecting the consumer of an average production yacht. The problem is that they are designed to work in a very generalized application and are often simplified to the point that they are really very empirical and do not actually tell you what will happen in any specific or unsual case. They are often dumbed down to make them easier to achieve or enforce.
In listening to lectures on the process of developing these standards the processes are really interesting. For example, when they were trying to understand the forces that are exerted on bow sections, one of the research groups looked at two vessels that had had their bow buckled in heavy storms. One was an aluuminum yacht and the other a steel work boat. They built replicas of both bows and then very carefully measured the forces that were required to produce the levels of deformation observed in the actual boat. These were evaluated and a safety factor added and resulted in the generally recommended design loads for the bows of boats (roughly 80 psi, normal to the surface if I remember correctly). The development of the EU Stability standards was a really interesting process as well if you can find a paper on that process.
Here is a partial list of the better agencies writing yacht standards:
The Germanische Lloyds is considered to be one of the most stringent and detailed building guidelines. (http://www.germanlloyd.org/cgi-bin/w/w3red?SET=CUSTOMER&SUB=3}
The EU directive on small craft design is a very comprehensive set of design parameters. While extermely useful as a design tool, they have been softened a bit in the political process that lead to their adoption across the EU. In its original form it included very comprehensive stability data but that has been greatly reduced as well (http://europa.eu.int/comm/enterprise/maritime/maritime_regulatory/rsg_guidelines.pdf)
The Canadians have a good all purpose standard that will simple to read and understand does a good job with the basics. (http://www.ccg-gcc.gc.ca/obs-bsn/regs-stds/tp1332/main.htm)
For plumbing and electrical systems there is the ABYC and UL standards. In their own words, the American Boat & Yacht Council, Inc. (ABYC) develops the voluntary consensus safety standards for the design,construction, equipage, maintenance, and repair of small craft. The development of uniform standards is the basis for industry-wide design. (www.abyc.com)
UL is testing and standard setting organization that covers all kinds of things that are safety related.They are an excellent resource for electrical and fuel issues. http://ulstandardsinfonet.ul.com/
ABS has a whole set of standards for yacht construction but I beleive that they considered a little dated and are undergoing a rewrite. Maybe they are done by now as I have not followed that process in a couple years.