Join Date: Feb 2000
Location: Annapolis, Md
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Re: Pros and cons of steel sailboats
I think you point is correct that many of the most venerable designers of offshore cruising boats never built a boat with their own hands and were not distance cruisers themselves, and yet many of their designs have proven to be wonderful offshore cruisers which done significant long distance voyages. Off the top of my head I would add to the list of venerable cruising boat designers who never built a boat with their own hands or went distance cruising: (I don't consider offshore races and deliveries to be distance cruising)
John G. Hanna
Ralph E. Winslow
George Stadel III
As I suspect you would agree, for the most part, the yacht designers who have become venerable, chose to design boats because they love to design yachts and have a talent for it. They may enjoy sailing, and they may learn from sailing their own boats and talking with people who have sailed their designs, but in reality, thier prime motavation in life is that they enjoy designing boats and so they have chosen to make yacht design their full time careers. Reaching the pinnacle in any profession requires focus and an internal drive to become proficient at that field of study. With caring designers, each new design benefits from the lessons learned from prior efforts. They become dilligent students and critics of their own work and in doing so advance thier art. By and large, it is only human nature amoungst creative people to do so. In the discussions Brent mentions making changes to his designs over time based experiences with his earlier designs. This trial and correction process only serves to improve one's work over time.
My sense is in the case of the majority of vernerables above, their idea of a great life was to spend their time designing and sailing casually, rather than divert their efforts and squander their limited time on earth by going walkabout or building a boat with their own hands. This was their choice and so for them this was the right decision. In my opinion, there is nothing wrong with being a shore-based designer if that is what you chose any more than there is any thing wrong with spending much of your life sailing long distances and dabbling in yacht design along the way. But I am uncomfortable with the idea of criticizing these greats because they chose to focus in their profession and hone their skills rather than go off and spend years of their life cruising or building boats.
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Curmudgeon at Large- and rhinestone in the rough, sailing my Farr 11.6 on the Chesapeake Bay
Last edited by Jeff_H; 10-01-2013 at 09:53 AM.