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Old 10-18-2001
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Sue & Larry is on a distinguished road
Yacht Design and Circumnavigating

    I am from Kentucky and my dream is to circumnavigate the globe. I want to learn about yacht design and build my own boat. What are my choices with learning yacht design? The only course I am aware of is Westlawn. Is it still in business and is it a quality education?

    Sue & Larry respond:
    Yes, Westlawn does still offer yacht design courses. Of particular interest to you, as your goal is to build a single boat, may be its course called, "Yacht Design Lite." Check out the school's  website: www.westlawn.com.

    Recently, while anchored for several weeks in Annapolis, MD, we quickly became good friends with another cruising couple who had just finished building a 46-foot catamaran. As their new boat is the finest example of an owner-built boat we've ever seen, we passed your question along to them for some firsthand insight. Here's what they had to say:

    "Dear Doug,

    With no boat-building experience, we just completed a 46-foot catamaran, built from the hulls up using blueprint plans from an established yacht designer. Like you, we would like to circumnavigate and we wanted a well found blue-water cruiser. The project took us four years of 10 to 12-hour days, and we worked seven days a week. We can honestly tell you, it was the hardest work that we have done in our lives. To complete a labor-intensive project like this, you need to be fully committed and never lose sight of the dream; otherwise you’ll be left with a partially completed, and virtually worthless, backyard derelict.

    Although we personally have no information concerning Westlawn or other yacht design courses, we would like to offer another option. Yacht designers spend many years learning their trade and, as in most design work, trial and error is involved. With that in mind, we preferred to purchase the plans we wanted and dedicate our time and money to constructing the best boat within our capabilities. We were able to reconfigure much of the interior and design the insides to fit our needs. To imagine how many years it would take to go to yacht design school, draw up plans, and then begin to construct the boat—well, our feeling is that we would be too old to sail away.

    We encourage you to follow your dream in whatever manner you choose. Take it from us, the finished project is well worth the many, many hours it took.

    Don & Janice Pole,
    s/v Polecat

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