Even before I started practicing naval architecture and yacht design, I learned that you had to publish magazine articles and technical papers about your work and what you know in order to attract customers. Customers like to know that you know a lot of stuff, and it’s better if you can explain complex topics in a meaningful and helpful way. I was pretty successful at this, having written quite a number of popular articles. The best ones are reproduced here, either in the as-published form or as seen on my previous website, and all as downloadable PDF documents.

Click on the title to download. They are listed more or less logically by topic.

Boat Design and Engineering

So You Want To Be a Boat Designer…?

Published on the original Sponberg Yacht Design Inc. website.

How to Commission a Yacht Design and Have It Built

Published on the original Sponberg Yacht Design Inc. website.

Engineering the Sailboat — Safety in Numbers

SAIL, June 1985

This is a revised and updated version that appeared on the original Sponberg Yacht Design Inc. website.

Design Brief: Ocean Rowboat

Professional Boatbuilder, June/July 2016, Issue No. 161

This design brief is on the Pacific Rowboat that I designed for Jacob Hendrickson to row solo, non-stop across the Pacific Ocean.

Design Brief: Modeled and Tweaked

Professional Boatbuilder, Aug/Sep 2008, Issue No. 114

This design brief is on the Moloka’i Strait motoryachts that I designed for Moloka’i Strait Marine.

Modular Catamaran Houseboat

IBEX Conference, October 2011

This is a video presentation on one way to design and build houseboats.  It’s about 7 minutes long–let it download (takes a minute or so) then click it open.

Keel and Rudder Design

Professional Boatbuilder, Jun/Jul 2005, Issue No. 95

David Vacanti, Kevin Milne, and I presented a session at IBEX (International Boatbuilders Exhibition) in 2004 on keel and rudder design, engineering and construction. David spoke about shape and hydrodynamics; I spoke next on design and construction; and then Kevin spoke on manufacturing as he owns Mars Metal in Canada, makers of cast lead and fabricated metal keels. Our talk was turned into two articles for Professional Boatbuilder magazine, the owner of IBEX. This is the first article by David Vacanti.

Keels and Rudders: Engineering and Construction

Professional Boatbuilder, Aug/Sep 2005, Issue No. 96

This is the second article by me and Kevin Milne.

Case Study in Lightweight Engineering

Professional Boatbuilder, Oct/Nov 2002, Issue No. 79

This is my tenth article for Professional Boatbuilder magazine, and the first time I had the cover article, the only cover in which PBB used a drawing instead of a photograph. The story is about my sailboat design, Bagatelle.

Case Studies in Redesign

Professional Boatbuilder, Feb/Mar 1997, Issue No. 45. This article features stories on extensive modifications on two boats: A new bow for the Freedom 38 sailboat, Wobegone Daze; and new lifting strakes for a Wilbur 34 powerboat, Blue Bill.

The Design Ratios

This series of articles appeared on BoatDesign.net during January to March 2010 and covered the basic design ratios that are used in naval architecture and small craft design. I have revised this document twice, once in January 2011, and again in September 2021. Paramount in this series is my discussion of S Number (S#), a way to rate all sailboat performance on a scale of 1 to 10. The discussion thread proved to be quite popular, as did S# itself. This PDF document is the entire series of “lectures,” if you will, in the order they appeared. It does not include the discussions that followed, but if you want to see the original thread with all the discussions, you can click here. In addition, you will want to download four other documents listed below. The first is the original S# article as it first appeared in 1988. Next is a spreadsheet for calculating S#. Third is an article from Cruising World magazine where Ted Brewer’s Motion Comfort Ratio first appeared. Finally, there is another spreadsheet for calculating Bruce Number as used in multihull design. Enjoy the reading:

Files related to The Design Ratios

Mast Design and Engineering

Design and Engineering Aspects of Free-standing Masts and Wingmasts

This is my technical paper presented at the Sixth Chesapeake Sailing Yacht Symposium, Annapolis, MD, 15 January 1983.

Engineered to Stand Alone

SAIL, October, 1983

This is a layman’s version of the technical paper on free-standing mast design and engineering.

Project Amazon: An Open Class 60 Sailboat for Single-Handed Round-the-World Racing

Presented before the Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers, New England Section, New London, CT, 20 May 1999

Also published as the lead article in Marine Technology, Vol. 37, No. 2, Spring 2000 (quarterly journal of SNAME). This technical paper is a complete description of Project Amazon.

Project Amazon and the Unstayed Rig

Professional Boatbuilder, Oct/Nov 1998, Issue No. 55

This is a shorter version of the technical paper that highlights Project Amazon’s rig. It is also my benchmark article on the most significant boat designs that have free-standing rigs.

Free-standing Masts – Some Thoughts on the State of the Art

Published on the original Sponberg Yacht Design Inc. website.

Wing Masts, by Ted Hugger

Professional Boatbuilder, Dec/Jan 1992, Issue No. 14

Not my article, but featuring my design work.

Boat Recycling

Recycling Dead Boats

Professional Boatbuilder, Aug/Sep 1999, Issue No. 60

This is my most requested article because so many people around the world are worried about the increasingly large mountain of fiberglass boats that are piling up in our landfills. What can we do about it? This article provides some answers.

Thoughts on Recycling Dead Boats

Professional Boatbuilder, on-line, Sept. 2016

Seventeen years later, PBB asked for an update, so I wrote a retrospective on the problem with notes on international progress, as reflected in the next two articles below.

Decommissioning of End-of-Life Boats

Related to my article Recycling Dead Boats, this is an update of the problem of dead boats from the European perspective. It is published by the International Council of Marine Industry Associations. The version posted here in this PDF file is from December, 2007.

Future of Yacht Recycling Conference, Amsterdam, November 2015

Also related to Recycling Dead Boats, this is a summary of the proceedings of an international conference on boat recycling. It provides lots of encouraging news about the state of the boat recycling industry, which is, in fact, taking place around the world.

Boat Disposal, Part 1 of 2

Professional Boatbuilder, Feb/Mar 2021, Issue #189

And 22 years after my first PBB article, we are still talking about the problems of dead boats. Fortunately, progress is being made. This article starts a two-part series by PBB Contributing Editor Dieter Loibner on what developments are taking place in recycling dead boats. Dieter asked me to contribute to Part 2, which is below.

Boat Disposal, Part 2 of 2

Professional Boatbuilder, April/May 2021, Issue #190

My wife and I have been cruising on Corroboree now (2021) for 4 years, we’re about halfway around the world, and we have seen a lot of dead boats on our travels. Just before we arrived in Australia, Queensland started their War On Wrecks initiative to clean up more than a thousand derelict boats along its 4,333 mile coastline. PBB gave me a chance to write a sidebar about what’s going on here, and Dieter handles what is going on in the rest of the world.

PARTING SHOTS–Professional Boatbuilder Magazine

As you can see from the above listings, I have written a lot of articles for Professional Boatbuilder magazine. The last page of the magazine is a column called “Parting Shots” where one can express an opinion on any topic related to boat design and construction. They are fun pieces to write, and I have had my share of them published. Below are a few of them that I find rather poignant, and I hope you do, too.

The Last Word (we hope) on Florida’s Licensure Decision

Professional Boatbuilder, February/March 2009, Issue #117

Naval architecture is a recognized engineering field, but for a long time NA’s were not licensed under the auspices of state Professional Engineering Licensing Boards. They still aren’t, at least not uniformly across the country. The question to license or not is a very complicated one, and in Florida the effort to control licensing of NA’s very nearly put the whole boating industry out of business. I had a part to play in the effort to see that licensing in Florida became voluntary, not required. This article reviews Florida’s final decision–I was there. I will add that even though I had a PE license in naval architecture from Connecticut, Florida would not recognize it and would not allow me to use my engineering stamp. The reason was that the qualifying rules in Florida are very different than the rules in Connecticut. And I did not even live in Connecticut when I got the PE license there, I lived in Rhode Island, and Rhode Island would not offer the PE exam in naval architecture. That’s why I went to Connecticut. See, it’s already complicated, so I’ll stop there. In the end, Florida offers the naval architecture PE exam if you want it, but it is not required.

No Skills Required?

Professional Boatbuilder, April/May 2011, Issue #130

This piece answers the question, “What is the magic formula for…._________?” You fill in the blank. It seems amateur boat builders and designers are forever looking for the easy solution to, well, everything. It could be stability, canoe body draft, or plywood thickness, or any myriad of other factors. Yes, there are formulas for those things, but you need more than one for most–they involve a process, not a single simple formula. Well, it got to the point that someone developed a boat design program that requires “no special skills” to operate. Well, that set me off–my whole career in naval architecture was an effort to develop very special skills to design boats. So this article is what I had to say about that.

Deketchification of America

Professional Boatbuilder, April/May 2013, Issue #142

Whatever became of the ketch–the epitome of the perfect cruising rig? Back when I started designing, it used to be that ketch rigs were options on just about any serious cruising sloop. But well into the millennium, nary a ketch, at least a new one, could be found anywhere. Why? They are marvelous rigs, but America had been