Naval architects: designers of your dream yachts
by Dudley Dawson, James Roy, Tim Thomas
First comes the preliminary profile and arrangement plan, defining the look and general outline of the yacht, and the general specification, which lists all of the materials and equipment that will come together to form the yacht. This is the preliminary design proposal, and is used as the basis for a contract between the client and architect, or between the client and builder if the architect works for the builder, to develop the design further and in more detail.
Next, calculations are made with regard to the expected weight of the completed yacht, in various conditions of fuel, water and complement loading. To develop this overall weight estimate, the individual weight of every single piece of structure, equipment and outfitting, right down to the last brushstroke of paint and the last crystal goblet, along with its location vertically, longitudinally and transversely must be accounted for. Even with computers, the process is mind-numbing, but it is the foundation upon which the design is built.
The weight estimate, once completed, is used to develop a rough lines plan, defining the shape of the hull. Particular attention is given to the underwater portion of the hull, which will determine whether the yacht will perform at optimum levels in various conditions of loading. It must also take on the worst that the sea has to offer, riding as comfortably as possible, without drawing too much water to venture into shallow venues that might be on the clients cruising agenda. In an iterative process, the lines plan and the arrangement of the yacht and its equipment, and thus also the weight estimate, are refined until they agree as to the locations of the centres of gravity and buoyancy.
This general construction plan, along with the profile and arrangement plans, the lines plan, and the specifications, form the bid package
Having completed that, the architect then goes around the design spiral once again, or maybe twice or thrice, refining the design and coming ever closer to what will eventually be the final design. At each step, more detail is added. For example, a rough estimate of the total weight of the electrical system is used for the first turn around the spiral. A refined estimate in more detail is considered the second time, and perhaps a final calculation the third time would use actual weights and locations for every motor, appliance, electrical panel and lighting fixture.
Somewhere in the middle of this, the architect will also address the construction of the yacht in moderate detail in order to estimate the weight of that portion, and to define for the prospective builder or builders the scope of their bid. This general construction plan, along with the profile and arrangement plans, the lines plan and the specifications, form the bid package with which the client, or the architect on his behalf, will begin contract negotiations with one or more prospective builders.