Over the last few weeks we have had the fun of launching two new designs; as a designer and builder launchings come in three parts, first is that day when the boat is loaded up and its time to head off to the water. From a builders point of view this is a great time the build is complete, the boat is as pretty as it will likely ever be the paint and varnish are new and fresh all the hardware and fittings are spotless. It is time to play, to get out on the water and enjoy the joy and freedom that comes with time outdoors in a vessel you have crafted. I looked forward to these two most recent boats in particular because they are boats that I can paddle, often new designs are too small for me to paddle and I end up on shore with the camera while others get to go play. Those times when there is no way that I will ever get to paddle the boat can make this a time that feels somewhat anti-climatic.
That brings me to the second look at launching, the first put in for a new design from the designer’s point of view. The launch can cause a designer anxiety, from a builder’s point of view you know the boat will float, from the designer’s point of view the question is not will the boat float but will it float as intended, does it sit in the water the way it was envisioned? Does the boat paddle as easily as hoped, does it handle in the water as planned, and will it do the job it was intended to do? This is when most of the questions that concern you as a designer get the final answers, you can be pretty confident that the design will do as intended and that you made the right choices but this is the confirmation.
No boat can do every thing; those who aim for a craft that can do a wide array of disparate tasks usually end up with one that does nothing really well. When you prowl through the various on line forums you often come across criticisms, I often find they are done with no though given to the boats intended purpose, but rather are based on a preconceived notion of what it ought to do or what that individual would like it to do. That does not mean that criticisms and commentary are not a good thing, we like to hear from our clients and others it is one of the ways that we are able to improve our boats and the plans for building them. The idea being that we want the boats to better meet the original design goals, not to try to head off in a direction the design was never intended to go.
The third launch is when the boat meets the public; these days this usually happens first on the internet through our web site where renderings of the preliminary design have been posted for weeks or even months as the design and then building process took place. When the boat is finished it takes place in parking lots, at boat launches and beaches as we head out and put a few miles under the keels and of course it happens at boat shows. Shows are great in that you get to introduce people to your work and get a chance to gauge the level of acceptance that the boats are receiving; the only draw back is that there are not many shows with a set up that allows for paddling leaving only discussion. Shows also allow for a chance to meet up with builders who you may not have heard from since the plans or kits were shipped.
That’s it for launching 1, 2, 3, tomorrows a paddling day, maybe we will see you on the beach.