The Design Process: Putting your dream into motion

One of the most difficult stages in building a boat is deciding what kind of boat it is that you want to build. We all have different interests, wants and desires, so our dream boat would never be the same. One may want a speed demon, while another may want to just cruise around letting the wind take them where it may. So the question is where do you start? How do you design your dream boat? How does Van Dam Custom Boats take the image of the perfect boat from your head and put it in the works?

The design process is a whimsical ride. You get to watch as someone takes this image from your head and puts onto paper for you (or the computer screen). The very first step in this process is to come in and have a conversation with the designer(s). Through a series of questions and just good old fashion conversation, you will explain your wants and desires for your boat. Some questions that you may be asked are:

             -How fast?

            -How big?

            -Where will you be boating?

            -How many passengers will there be?

            -What do YOU want?

The in-house designer here at Van Dam Custom Boats, Michel Berryer, says that the creative process begins the moment an individual starts talking. “Maybe they bring in a photo, or a list of ideas, but invariably and as they’re talking, I start drawing the boat in my head. It’s not done deliberately, it just happens inside me,” he says. There are times when people know exactly what they want and then others when the designers have to try a couple different times in order to get it just right. Michel puts it best when he says “Marine design is described as a spiral. You start loosely on the edges and then keep tightening and tightening the concept until “viola” you’re there.”

So how do they come up with the picture that everyone else can see? It used to be that the designers would have to hand draw out the designs. With technology the process has been made a little easier. Using KeyCreator (a 3D modeling software by Kubotek), Michel is able to bring up the design on the computer screen. Some of these digital creations actually look like the boat is already made and it is a picture of it! Another piece of software that is used to help with the creation of the design is Rhino. This is used to assist in developing and making 3D surfaces smooth.

The CAD tools offer many conveniences, one being that the designs take less time. It is much easier for a designer to change a few things on the computer than with a sketch. Inside of taking possibly months to create the perfect design, we are now able to create it is weeks, or maybe even days.

Although most work is done on the computer, there are a lot of times that the old fashion way of sketching will help out. This is convenient to reference when needed, as well as, it travels nicely. You never know when a good idea for a design may pop into your head.

By the time the design is ready to begin construction it has been reviewed by several pairs of eyes, not once, but many times over. The designers have to look at things like stability, load, styling, operating environment, speed potential, ergonomics and sight lines. The design has been reviewed and studied at length to make sure everything will work smoothly.

From there the wood is laid out and the first cuts are made. Your boat is already becoming a reality.

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