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    D.N. Hylan & Associates Newsletter
                  The Design Edition

Fall 2012 
Welcome to the second edition of the D.N. Hylan & Associates newsletter.   The theme of this edition is design and Doug Hylan's designs in particular.  I hope that you enjoy the following discussions of his process and a few of his powerboat designs.  I also hope that the photos, drawings, and descriptions below might inspire you to consider what a custom design for you would look like.
 It is a rare pleasure to have anything that is made just for you.  A pair of shoes that fit perfectly, a delicious meal, a home designed and built to suit your life style and taste.  But a custom designed and built boat is unequaled in it's potential to reward.  Because a boat is art and engineering, physical and experiential, dynamic and inanimate all at once.  It is a mahogany dining room table and a 1966 Jaguar XKE rolled into one (see Watch Hill 15).

You don't have to have it all figured out.  An inkling is all it takes for us to begin a collaboration.  A boat you've admired, a feature you like and we're on our way to what might turn out to be one of the more rewarding experiences of your life:  the design and construction of a truly exceptional boat.


Ellery Brown

In This Issue
A Doug Hylan Design
Posthaste IV
CALIDRIS - Doug's newest design
Watch Hill 15 Launched

A Doug Hylan Design 


If you come all the way down to Brooklin, and all the way down the long dirt road to the Benjamin River, you'll find our shop. Frank Day Jr., his father Frank and brother Arno used to build lobsterboats here, designed from hand carved half hull models. Half of the DNH shop used to belong to Junior Day. I call it Junior's shop just like everyone else, even though I never met the man. If you're looking for Doug you probably won't find him here. You've got to go all the way down the path to the office perched out over Hawkins' Cove. Inside you'll find a panoramic view of the Benjamin River and Doug at his "drawing board". He might be a hundred feet from the shop, but don't be fooled, he has a hand on nearly every piece of wood.



It is hard to over emphasize the impact of Doug Hylan's design work on our construction and restoration work here at D.N. Hylan & Associates. Every piece of the back bone, floor timbers, bulkheads, deck beams, raised panel doors, drawers, trim and fiddles begins on his "drawing board". Of course the drawings and patterns are only as good as the boat builder who brings them to life. Without exceptional craftsmen in the shop all that drafting would be best put to use in the wood stove every morning. But the volumes of shop drawings and patterns he provides for every project in the shop help to ensure the high standard of precision and quality that is the foundation of every boat we launch.


In the midst of the day to day drafting that keeps the shop humming, Doug has somehow managed to accumulate a significant portfolio of complete and original designs (most of which have been built here in the shop). And he is just beginning to hit his stride. This year (so far) Doug has finished four new designs. They are: OONAGH an 11' pram, POINT COMFORT SKIFF an 18' outboard skiff, D'ANNA a 30' composite Beal's Island lobsterboat, and CALIDRIS a 32' 'marriage of tradition' powerboat. They represent an impressive range of size, style, propulsion and construction method. What they share is the same careful proportions, knowledgeable engineering and attention to detail as the shop drawings we rely on every day.


Below I will discuss three powerboat designs of Doug's that together represent a spectrum of influence, if you will. On one end of the spectrum, representing fairly strict adherence to the style and performance of a specific traditional type is the 30' power boat D'ANNA. In the middle is POSTHASTE IV, a 34' power boat with lobsterboat roots but a style and detailing that make her a bit too elegant for that category. And on the other end, fresh from the "drawing board" is the 32' CALIDRIS, representing an innovative coalescence of traditional features. All three are medium sized powerboats designed primarily for day use but with a range of accommodations corresponding to their size.




D'ANNA is a direct descendant of a 1952 Beal's Island Lobsterboat called DIANA. DIANA was designed and built by Alvin Beal in 1952. In 2001 lines were taken, DIANA was restored to new condition for use as a pleasure boat, and Doug put together a set of plans to document Alvin Beal's original work. She is a fine example of a highly evolved work boat type native to the Jonesport - Beal's Island region of Downeast Maine. There are many features of the type that make great sense for a pleasure boat. The skeg construction native to Downeast Maine is faster (both to build, and on the water)  as compared to the built down construction typical of lobster boats up the coast. This type of construction also lends itself to modern composite construction quite well. The small house and large cockpit layout make perfect sense for a spacious day boat with simple overnight accommodations. A cockpit shelter that was traditionally open on one side for operating the pot hauler makes for an airy helm and cockpit area that can be easily protected in foul weather with a canvas curtain. The high flaring bow (for sea keeping) and the low freeboard aft (for hauling pots) make for a distinctive sheer. The curved transom and diamond shaped port light are purely aesthetic elements, I believe, but iconic features of the type as well.


Using DIANA's lines DOUG drew a 30' version called D'ANNA. Aesthetically she could pass for a 1950's Beals boat, but is more structurally up to date. Although considerably larger in terms of length, beam, and space, D'ANNA has the same displacement as DIANA. The weight savings, which is due to the cold molded construction that Doug specifies, allows for good speeds with even less horsepower than her sisters. A 75 hp inboard will push D'ANNA up to 14 kts. Of course more horsepower will increase the top speed, but with gas prices pushing $5/ gal at gas docks this fall, 14 kts might be plenty fast!

Other differences in D'ANNA include slightly more freeboard to allow for more comfort down below and a self bailing cockpit, more accommodations including space for a single burner stove top as well as a sink, head, v-birth and storage.

Outwardly she is an authentic example of a distinctive work boat type...yet her accommodations are worthy of any classic yacht, with raised panel joinery, varnished cherry trim, bronze hardware and custom upholstery. Her seaworthy hull shape and handsome superstructure are the result of generations of refinement by fisherman/ builders ...YET she is put together with modern techniques and materials to save weight, decrease maintenance and improve her fuel efficiency.


The two Beal's Island boat we have built and restored so far have been very well received. BRENDA KAY (a bit more than a foot shorter than D'ANNA, but also cold molded) won "Best Professionally Built Powerboat" at the 2010 WoodenBoat show in Mystic Ct. But I have to say, more flattering than that is the reception these boats receive out on the water, up and down the coast, from fishermen who know a damn good boat when they see one.





Posthaste IV

POSTHASTE IV was inspired by a one-off pleasure boat called MEADOWS. MEADOWS is a distinctive and elegant launch with lobsterboat roots designed and built in 1955 by renowned Brooklin builder Arno Day. MEADOWS at 30' LOA and an 8' beam, with her plumb stem, subtle sheer, teak decks and varnished transom was a yacht through and through.  A customer who admired MEADOWS came to Doug to inquire about designing and building a slightly larger version with more overnight accommodations.  

Meadows on launch day 1955 

In the course of researching MEADOWS Doug discovered that although she had been an open launch for as long as anyone could remember, she was originally launched with a round fronted house and rectangular port lights. Doug enlarged meadows lines to 34' and a proportionally wider beam of 10' 3" and rendered a trunk cabin reminiscent of the original but incorporating a windshield and standing shelter. The new boat is be powered by a Yanmar 240hp diesel, and at a cruising speed of 15 kts she burns about 7 gallons/hr. Like MEADOWS, POSTHASTE IV's main occupation is day cruises, but she is at the ready for extended adventures with ample cruising accommodations for two.


A while back I stumbled across a photo of STROLLER in Maynard Bray's Herreshoff of Bristol. She was a 46' powerboat designed by Sidney Herreshoff and built at HMCo in 1929. While she is a much larger boat than POSTHASTE IV, her plumb bow, trunk cabin with rectangular ports and raised panels, dark hull and elegant detailing all made me think instantly of POSTHASTE IV. The influence of a particular design, type or feature is not always immediate or even traceable. Doug has spent a good part of his life noticing, remembering and studying quality watercraft design and construction. Inspiration might be born on a fall cruise in the Chesapeake among buy boats and deadrise skiffs, or in the pages of a book on N.G. Herreshoff. It might linger for years as a note, a sketch, or just a memory before finding its way into his latest design.

Down below the presence of a Herreshoff influence is quite tangible. Off white raised panel doors and v-matched bulkheads lighten the space and contrast the rich varnished mahogany cabin sides and trim. A compact galley including an oven, an enclosed head, electric ice box, a large hanging locker and a roomy V-birth make for a comfortable space to spend a night, or a few. In the cockpit the varnished mahogany dash, engine box and coamings along with the teak sole and button stern seat cushion round out the theme of simple elegant comfort.

Posthaste IV interior 

POSTHASTE IV is a wonderful example of the depth and variety of reference which Doug is likely to call upon in the course of drawing a boat. Ostensibly she references MEADOWS, but her true elegance is born out of a long studied and intimate knowledge of classic features, appealing proportions and pleasing details.




CALIDRIS is Doug's newest design. I will leave it to him to describe it's inception and the design process, but I'd like to comment briefly on the end result because it represents something new for Doug and perhaps for the rest of us too. While the POSTHASTE IV design makes reference to a number of classic features and details from various sources, her trunk cabin, wheel house and hull shape place her firmly in the (regrettably titled) category of "lobster yacht." CALIDRIS, on the other hand, incorporates several distinct characteristics of previously unrelated classic and traditional watercraft. These features coalesce into something truly unique for which there does not seem to be a category. So I have taken to calling her a 'marriage of tradition' powerboat. Like the (perhaps overused) term 'spirit of tradition', 'marriage of tradition' does not refer to any particular feature, but rather a design process. While no single feature of the design can be dated any later than 1950, Doug has thoughtfully and creatively combined them into something unique. I for one am excited at the wealth of possibilities that exist with such an approach. For a designer that has spent a good part of his career promoting and re-interpreting classic and traditional types and designs, CALIDRIS represents a seminal moment. She is truly something new.

Doug Hylan on CALIDRIS:

Last March, I was approached by David Farrington of Boston and Portsmouth, NH who asked if I would be interested in designing a torpedo stern lobster boat. He had seen my D'ANNA design, a 30' cold molded interpretation of a slightly smaller traditionally built Alvin Beal model, DIANA, that we had restored in 2003. The Jonesport/Beals Island area was the cradle of early Maine lobster boat evolution, and it was here that Will Frost, Alton Rogers and George Dow developed the torpedo stern.


There is some debate as to the roots of this distinctive stern as well as it's functionality in the lobster fishery, but there is no question of it's attractiveness. Difficult to build and problematic to maintain, it stands as a reminder of the high priority that was placed on aesthetics in the workplace by our not-that-distant ancestors.


Dave came to me with a well thought out design brief that showed me that he had both put a good deal of thought into the project, and had the experience to back up his preferences. His brief included the intended use and desired speed, preferred construction method and engine, and a list of boats that he admired. Any custom design must start with this kind of information, and it helped the project get off to a quick start. CALIDRIS would be a boat for day cruising, so overnight accommodation would be spartan. She would have a long season, from early spring through late fall, so an enclosed pilothouse was needed. There would often be friends invited, so cockpit and shelter space would need to be generous.


 Dave and I share a fondness for 1920s upright styling, as well as a distaste for high maintenance exteriors. So, CALIDRIS' visual impact would be based on elegant shape and rich detailing rather than lots of brightwork. Varnish would be saved for the pilothouse and cabin where it lasts a good deal longer. Lots of windows will prevent the gloom that can sometime result from extensive interior brightwork.


E-mail is a great boon the the custom design process. Proposal drawings and revisions can be easily exchanged, and quick questions and answers traded without undue disruption on either end of the pipeline. Still, occasional phone calls and face to face visits are important to the process. Frequent communication helps keep me from heading down a wrong track, and can provide the client with fascinating insights into the design process. As the work unfolded, I think both Dave and I were surprised at how closely our tastes and priorities meshed.


Dave intends to build this boat himself, for his own use. While a boat of this size is a considerable undertaking, Dave has proven his tenacity by completing several previous projects. In addition, he has a well equipped shop, the support of a talented group of friends and an understanding spouse - all good indicators for the completion of CALIDRIS. And we will be here to assist as well, with patterns, detail drawings, advise and encouragement - the custom design process goes well beyond just a set of drawings.


Watch Hill 15 Restoration

On June 16th on an early morning tide Herreshoff Mfg Co. hull # 890 KRISTIN (ex Geraldine, ex. Black Arrow, ex Tobasco) a Watch Hill 15 slipped quietly into Hawkin's cove. Five hours later she was tacking out of the Benjamin River in 20 kts with a bone in her teeth an reef in her main. At rest, in flat water KRISTIN is all elegance and grace. She has long over hangs, bright finished curved/ raked transom, rich mahogany in the coamings, toe rails, raised panel doors and trim, subtly contrasted by the antique white of the hull interior and the pail golden sitka spruce of the mast and boom. She is the kind of boat that you take your time rowing away from after an afternoon sail. But this is no piece of furniture!  
WH-15 sailing1

In her taught lines there is an intensity, a sinuous suggestion of potential energy and speed. In light winds, with so little hull in the water and so much sail in the air she'll ghost along, rewarding every zephyr. When it breezes up you'll want your butts on the windward rail, and she might throw a little spray in your face, but that's ok because you're flying!

KRISTIN can now be found on her mooring in Noank, CT. She is close enough to Watch Hill that she will race with her wooden sisters from time to time, but more often her new family will take her for day sails up the river to Mystic Seaport or out into Fisher's Island Sound.




I hope you enjoyed this edition of the D.N. Hylan & Associates Newsletter.  I'd love to hear any comments, criticisms or questions you have (except in regard to my grammar!).  Please don't hesitate to forward this to a friend using the links provided.
If you're ever all the way down in Brooklin, come find us.  I'd love to show you around.

Ellery Brown
D.N.Hylan & Associates