When I graduated, I began working in steel shops, first as a labourer then as a specilalist, on the brake presss , section rolls, plate rolls, and other machinery. This gave me good, hands on experince on what works on steel and what doesnt, and how steel behaves when worked. During htta time I bought a 36 ft ferro cement hul and finished her. She had a short keel with rudder attached. With my zero expoerinence, I thought she would be a much better boat, with the rudder 6 feet furtehr aft. But considering my zero experience at the time I defered to the exertise of her "world reknown designer "a huge mistake, as time and miles would prove conclusively. I spent al spare time reading everything I couod find on Yacht design.Skenes Elements of Yacht Design, became one of my best sources, altho I learned later, he didnt understand cruising priorities, like directional stability, and solid functional gear , or the amount of gear a cruiser will carry out of necessity.( something many current desingers have no idea of ) Then, after a winter cruising BC, I set sail, at the ripe old age of 23, singlehanded , for New Zealand.
I arived in New Zealand with $5 and 5 lbs of rice. Luckily there was a labour shortage there ( bus scab wages)
I hired on as a labourer at a steel fabricating shop, and at much lower wages I found myself advising thenm on simple solutions to problems which were baffling them which I would quickly come up with simpe solutions to. It clearly showed me the uselessness of the qualifications they had. I decided then and there not to underestimate what I could do.
At that time Ganly's Snowbird was featured in Sea Spray magazine, a 30 footer made of 3/16th plate. One thing which had limited my interest insteel was the myth that it had to be 1/8th inch plate . My fero hul was far heavier than 3/16ht plate ,and except for her lack of directional stability and her rudder being in the wrong place she sailed fine.
After cruising up thru the western Pacific, I lost that ferro boat in Fiji, when she broke loose from a mooring. Had she been steel, she would have suffered zero damage in the same conditions.
So I left all th egear off her at a shipping agenbty and flew home to build the steel boat I had been designing. I took my drawings to Stan Huntingford ,a highly respoected local designer. The first thing he suggested was a plywood deck ,a huge mistake , to improve stabilty.Then he suggested multi chines, which reduce stability.. The he told me that a 4 inch bulwark would hold a 4 inch layer of water over the entire deck ,when the boat was heeled 25 degrees going to windward. Withj such a highly respoected designer spouting such harbrained logic, I thought I couldnt do any worse alone ,than he could. A local writer and circumnavigator, who had dealings with him, confirmed my thoughts. The only other options, Covins were similarly hairbrained interiors ,like a collection of closets and crawl spaces, with a huge amount of boat wasted on cockpit, and a huge amounbtof bits and pieces making a hirendously more complex and labour intensive construction than needed or even relevant ,based on my years of steel working expereince, and only ten gauge plating with all it's problems. So I desinged my own boat, sucessfuly .
Time to go. More editing to come
Thanks for the first part of your story. Was the first boat Origami style or more conventional steel construction? Hope you will continue with the remainder of the Brent Swain story. When and how did you get into designing the other boats and doing it for others? How many designs, how many boats, etc? Also, building of the designs?
Years ago, here in coastal NC, especially down on Harker's Island, there were old time boat builders who built trawlers and fishing boats of all sizes in wood. I am told that these people would build from a set of simple formulas. The first frame had a certain angle/size, the next a little different, the next still different. I have read that they would sometimes work out the frames (and consequently the design) on the back of an old envelope. The boats were rugged and would last many years (however, steel construction seems to be replacing the old wood construction). How to do the calculations was just passed down form generation to generation. These guys built successful boats, but their skill seemed to center around carpentry more than it did in understanding the forces and stresses working on the boats. I'm guessing that over time and through the generations, they knew, from trial and error in the field on their and other's boats, that a boat of a certain length/beam, needed frames and planking of a certain size. Most of those builders are now gone.