Why We Loft...
- and don't take critical measurements from the plan. Advice from the great
Charles G. Davis:
"The designing of yachts is a business distinct in itself.
"The building of them is another, but between the two comes a process
known as "laying down" the yacht that links the two together.
"Designs, as we see them printed so often, are of little use in actually
producing a yacht from them. A young architect, to become proficient in
his profession, should follow through the laying down of the plan, and he
would soon see what lines are important and what are useless on the plan.
"The architect pins down on his drawing board a very heavy sheet of
drawing paper. On this he first sketches, and gradually fairing up line by
line, produces a perfectly faired-up plan, the lines as fine as a 6H lead
pencil will mark or inked with ruling pen set very fine.
"From these very carefully drawn and very fine lined plans he measures off
into a scale all the measurements for the table of offsets. Then, as a
further guide, he makes a tracing of the lines, that the builder may
comprehend the style of a boat she is eventually to become, and also
traces off a copy of the construction plan.
"Anyone who is familiar with drawing knows how the weather affects tracing
"You pin it out smooth and flat to-day and get the plan half traced.
To-morrow when you go to finish the plan you find the linen affected by
the change of atmosphere so it stands up in puckers all over, and there is
about an eighth of an inch of slack in a plan four feet long, so that the
mould stations or sections on the linen, when you spread it out again
smooth, are a pencil mark different at the ends when the middle section is
"That illustrates one danger in trying to measure direct from a plan.
"Now, by the time a blue print is made and the paper washed in water and
hung up and dried, that also under-goes a material change in size. So it
is dangerous to, try and measure direct from a blue-print. The blue-print
sent a builder should have every measurement he will need in reproducing
that plan full size, marked out in figures so many feet, inches and
eighths of inches
"6-08-7 meaning six feet, eight inches and seven-eighths of an inch;
12-10-2 meaning twelve feet, ten inches and two-eighths, etc., etc. All
these measurements should be taken direct from the original paper drawing,
not from a copy of it, as each measurement must be enlarged twelve times
on a plan drawn one inch to the foot, and even the most accurate measuring
will make differences when enlarged that amount.
"It is up to the builder, then, to "fair" up the plan on the floor. His
eyes are trained by constant use to sight curves. He will see an unfair
hump when the ordinary yachtsman will think the line is true.
"Some designers always want to see the lines after they have been
enlarged, to see how the builder has negotiated these unavoidable
differences, and approve them before wood is cut.
"It is far better for the architect to be there when the bat-tens are
being bent, and approve of them then, as he will see more than even he can
after the lines are penciled in. The action of the batten itself shows,
often by its stub-born refusal to bend out to a spot, that the spot is
wrong yet after the batten is removed it doesn't show so plainly to the
The world is a skirt I want to lift up. <Hanif Kureishi>