|Boat Design - Courtesy, Martin Reid|
Props (pun intended) to George Sass Jr. of Power and Motoryacht Magazine. His March 2013 Article, “Things I Just Don’t Understand,” had me nodding along like a pre-schooler to Lamb Chop’s Play Along.
Mixed in with such brilliancy as “the left lane on the highway is for passing only,” was one particular nugget of a question that I ask at every embarkation: “I don’t understand why more builders don’t go to sea and spend 48 hours on their boats while underway.” George writes:
Even if the boat is not marketed as a long-distance cruising vessel, this type of use can expose issues that both the weekend warrior and bluewater cruiser alike will want to avoid. After a few days, engineers may discover fridge doors with shallow shelves that jettison their contents when the door is opened while underway. Or a lack of fiddles on shelves and counters; no spot to store a few books and cruising guides; lots of lockers in the galley that don’t really hold anything at all, or an electrical panel that requires a gymnastic floor routine to access. It should never be necessary to say, ‘Honey, hold my legs up while I turn on the water pump.’
Amen George. It is SO shocking to me how many boats come equipped with a layout that’s pure nonsense. I asked recently via Twitter if boat designers actually ever spent time on a boat before, during, or after the design! Or, for that matter, if they’ve ever even seen a boat. Particularly the older models seem to be made for any creature but a mature human being.
Rather than rail against a group of career designers, I’m going to take this opportunity to say that just because they forgot to give you space to open the electric panel while someone is using the helm, it doesn’t mean that YOU can’t prevent a bad purchase. The trick is to simply arm yourself with the knowledge that boat designers must make compromises in order to build boats. Knowing this, you need to open every hatch, work every lever, and actually go through the motions of using the boat BEFORE you buy it.
Then, have fun at all of the boat shows – it’s like a scavenger hunt of poorly-designed spaces. On the flipside, don’t be too hard on designers…if they were out on their boats instead of inside on a computer designing them, none of us would have our water toys to begin with.