RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT

At one time many designers had research and development projects that were quite varied, and if they owned or were closely associated with a yard they also did some prototype development. With changes in tax laws, R & D have progressed at glacial speed. Typical research projects were measurements of rolling and pitching in a seaway, wave slope versus stability, experiments with different diameters and pitch propellers on the same hull, reduction of vibration, and a host of other projects to enable us to design and build better vessels. At times we also compared models of different shapes, towing them simultaneously in smooth and rough water. Crude? Yes it was; however, for just a few dollars, by making a slow 3600 turn in open water, we could observe more of the behavior of the model in natural seas than could be obtained from multiple runs in a towing tank with simulated waves costing thousands of dollars. When we needed resistance and other critical information, we went to the tank, especially when the contract had penalties and bonuses based on speed, fuel consumption, and other things computed during the trial runs of the vessel.

Today most of this is simulated on a computer and much of the input is based on unverifiable assumptions and as, the saying goes “garbage in garbage out” is fact not fiction. I have yet to sail in a sea such as those generated by a computer.  The ones I seem to encounter are confused, more often than not, and the swell, wind wave, and current are crossing each other. Perhaps I have found a new ocean? The same goes for any other problem, be it via a computer or slide rule, for when a statement is made “we assume this and that” the result will be garbage.

Some of the other fields that designers are involved with include: 

1.      The preparation of drawings for publication to illustrate historical  research done by others. 
2.      Hydrodynamic analysis of certain types of vessels as an aid in selecting a rational approach for          designing and constructing a replica. 
3.      Preparation of working drawings based on the lines taken from a half model.
4.      Advising on technical language used by novelists. 
5.      Feasibility studies.
6.      Plans and contract reviews. 

In my own case, I also design and have manufactured anchors for sailing and ocean voyaging vessels. The picture shows four 45# anchors ready for shipment to a schooner and a junk. These anchors will grab and hold in most bottoms. It must be remembered that a sailing vessel has but one chance with the anchor; otherwise, it not only has to retrieve the anchor under sail but also fall off, tack, or wear around in order to make another attempt.

I have not been able to comprehend the idea and practice of designing and building of supposed replicas where the only similarity is the profile and the deck outline. Invariably a cut-down rig is substituted. All these changes are done under the guise of that was the way it should have been done or, after all, we have to meet the Coast Guard regulations. If the original were successful, who is to say in hindsight that it ought to be changed and how it should be changed?  I have difficulty also in accepting the idea of throw-away boats and engines that are encouraged by our tax laws. This encourages lack of maintenance and cutting corners in construction and the use of engines not as robust as they should be. This also encourages the regulators to dream up more regulations. There have been more regulations passed and enforced during the past 30 years than the total dreamed up in the previous 300 years. I was brought up with the notion that what you build to the best of your ability today will still be serviceable for your grandchildren.

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