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Understanding The Yacht Design Process

August 9, 2011

If you are in the market for a custom designed luxury yacht, you will eventually create a working relationship with an experienced yacht designer. You may find your designer on your own, through a broker or perhaps through the builder that will be crafting your vessel once it is designed and engineered.

Regardless of how you find your yacht designer, it is important to have a basic understand of what the yacht design process entails, especially if you are not fully experienced with marine design, engineering or naval architecture.

While each yacht designer or yacht design firm will have a slightly different process for designing your yacht, the basic approaches are the same.

First and foremost, the client should drive the initial design process.   This first step is where you begin to articulate your vision and to outline your needs and wants. How will the boat be used? Where will it travel? How many people will stay on the boat. Do you require a crew? What style of boat are you envisioning?

These details and many others will be discussed during the vessel mission. An experienced yacht designer will collaborate with you fully understand your requirements. This is also the point where the yacht designer would provide feasibility of the vision by agreeing with or tempering expectations.

Whether you are seeking to custom build a 200 foot super yacht or refit an existing vessel, this early process will be the same.

As the vessel mission is established and the conceptual design phase begins, a visual representation of how the yacht would look begins to take form.

The conceptual design process would include:

  • exterior styling
  • interior arrangements
  • space planning
  • mechanical systems
  • vessel performance calculations
  • vessel specifications
  • preliminary hull design

The conceptual design process would result in a concept package, with requirement outlines and regulatory compliance. During this phase of the design, bid packages can sent to builders.

A bid package is a set of detailed drawings and written specifications that would be provided to a builder’s engineers so that the builder could produce an estimate. As an owner, you will now have a better understanding of the time and cost involved in the build.

Once a bid to build is accepted, the next step is the design development phase. The detailed design phase expands upon the conceptual design and finalizes all of the details necessary in providing a completed design package inclusive of technical drawings, schematics and necessary design documentation to the builder.

This detailed design would include:

  • hull form and outfitting design
  • structural and mechanical attributes
  • stability analysis

The last design step prior to building is the production engineering phase. This is where all of the engineering details needed for the shipyard to build your vessel are provided. This would complete the instruction manual for the builder.

Production engineering services include:

  • lofting and nesting
  • tooling design
  • production detailing
  • 3D modeling

Once the design moves to the build stage, an experienced yacht designer can provide the necessary project management and construction oversight to ensure the yacht is built to the design requirements.

A good designer will include you in every step of the design process!

Yacht design is a shared vision between the yacht owner and their designer. When looking for a yacht designer or builder, look for someone that you can feel comfortable working closely with. Key attributes include a consultative, friendly and flexible nature.

While the design and build process is long, a good yacht designer will ensure that you are involved with each step taken toward the completion of your boat. A good designer will also work to ensure that all aspects of the design and build help support the original vessel mission.

Note: There are many intricate and detailed steps involved in designing and building a custom luxury yacht. Not every step was outlined here as this blog post was meant as a basic overview of the process.

Boksa Marine Design is a naval architecture and marine design firm specializing in custom yacht design. If we can assist you in any part of the design process, please don’t hesitate to reach us at

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