Boat design and construction has been an integral part of the history of a strong maritime nation like India. Over the years, there have been numerous changes in the design and development stages of boats.
However, some aspects of boat and ship design have remained consistent. These include the structural, technological and holistic factors that primarily influence boat design. It is interesting to note that though the transient components have changed with the social, political, military regulations, the core values of boat design have remained mostly untouched.
In recent times, with the advent of technology and the increasing awareness about the harmful effects of boat emissions, boats have undergone some fundamental revisions for better performance.
Here we discuss the principal aspects of boat design and manufacture and also the ones that influence the sale of boats. We shall not focus on the structural aspects, instead focusing on the aesthetic and technological aspects that have come to dominate the design requirements today.
Principal Aspects of Boat Design and Manufacture
There are four principal aspects of boat design, viz., aesthetics, materials used in building the boat, the various technologies and features integrated into the boat, and the psychology of the boat buyer. All of these aspects need to be optimized for creating a boat that is up-to-date, environment-friendly and economical.
Let us study these elements in more detail.
- Aesthetic Boat Design
One of the main aspects of consideration, after all structural requirements are satisfied, is the aesthetic appeal of the boat. People usually believe that only cruise ships or luxury yachts are expected to think about boat aesthetics; it is enough for the other boats to be functional. However, this is far from the truth.
Even the smallest of boats needs to be ergonomic and have a certain aesthetic appeal for achieving maximum efficiency in operation. The design philosophy has to include all the human and social elements through the design process, to create a feeling of pleasure in operating the boat.
The influence of aesthetics varies from boat to boat, depending on the function for which it is used. A kayaking boat and a patrol boat will not have the same design requirements.
Nevertheless, in either case, the appeal of the boat increases manifold when it is optimized for ergonomy as well as structure. From the owner’s point of view, having an aesthetically designed boat can boost mental well-being of the crew, thereby helping in crew retention. It is also crucial in attracting sponsors and passengers, on account of its ‘good taste’.
- Materials Used in Boat Design
The materials used in boat design and manufacture have developed radically in the last 50 years, with the invention of better, cheaper, and more durable options. Wood, iron, and steel were traditionally the core materials used to build a boat. The chief problem with iron and steel is that they can be too heavy for smaller boats, which limits their application to large ships and cruise liners which almost all still use them for the hull design.
Aluminum is more preferred, although its high price and maintenance cost are a discouraging factor. In recent times, the major shift in boat material has been from wood to fibreglass. Glass-reinforced plastic, alternatively known as fibre-reinforced plastic, has become the material of choice for small boats today.
Figure: FRP Boat Building at Craftway Engineers
High speed, increased reliability, longer life, low maintenance cost, resistance to corrosion, and improved efficiency are some of the major advantages of FRP boats.
- Technology in Boat Design
This is one aspect of boat design that has changed drastically in the past decade. There have been monumental improvements in the technology integrated in boats, to make the ride comfortable and smooth. Sophisticated navigation and location software, advanced personal safety devices, automated controls, and thermal imaging are just some of the examples in which technology has become an integral part of boat design.
Today, every boat is designed to accommodate these components, as they have become necessities for better operation. A lot of new technologies have been influenced by the need for more environment-friendly boats. Sustainable boat design, which makes use of renewable energy source to fuel its needs, reuse and recycling of hazardous waste to prevent marine litter, etc. are some of the ways in which boats are trying to reduce their carbon footprint, thanks to technology.
- Boat Buyer’s Mindset
Emotion is a key factor that induces a person to buy a boat. Naturally, this means that it needs to be considered as an important aspect during boat design. There are various types of boat buyers who need different kinds of motivators to close the final purchase.
These range from serious professionals to amateurs who simply like to go out for a weekend of boating and fishing.
Nevertheless, all kinds of boat buyers are understandably concerned about the way the boat has been designed. Depending on the application they are choosing the boat for, their requirements and perspectives vary. It is important for design engineers to understand the end-buyer’s thought process and take their convenience into account before adding or eliminating any functionality from the boat’s structure.
These are the four aspects to be considered for boat design and manufacture. Although the structural design of boats remains somewhat consistent for the different applications, these factors influence boat design beyond its size and shape.
Boat manufacturers and service providers in India are aware of these considerations and we see a new generation of innovative boats coming up accordingly. It is now imperative that we look towards the future for inspiration and keep reinventing our design considerations to build great boats!
What other factors would you say influence boat design? Drop a comment to let us know!