Tips for buying a boat from the guy that makes them

We asked Naval Architect Peter Thompson about what it takes to design and build a boat. Turns out, you need a good grasp of math and a love for the ocean.

Peter has been sailing since he was in high school, and has owned boats his entire life, so we asked him for advice on how to buy one.

Here is what he said.

Trident Marine: Tell us about what you do…

Peter Thompson: I am a naval architect. Naval architecture is a multiple discipline engineering job that involves the design, build and sustainment of marine craft, which could include small pleasure craft, ferries, workboats, naval combatants, cruise ships, submarines, bulk carriers, remotely operated vehicles, floating oil structures and fishing craft, just to name a few.

Naval architecture predominately involves complex structural design, but has other important aspects, such as resistance and powering predictions, stability of vessels and seakeeping analysis.

TM: What kind of boats do you work on?

PT: Currently, commercial aluminum high-speed craft between 20 to 100 metres. I have also, in the past, experimented with smaller composite sail craft between 1 and 12 metres.

TM: How did you get into this line of work?


PT: I sailed as a sport starting in early high school. This was a fairly large part of my life and, while looking for career paths, naval architecture was recommended to me based on my sailing interests.


It also somewhat helped that I was analytically and mechanically inclined, so an engineering discipline did suit me. Finding a job that combined these was a perfect fit that combined my strengths.


TM: What do you love about your job?

PT: Creating something new and trying to push the limits of technical boundaries. And getting paid to ride around on a boat never gets old.


TM: What do you like about boating?

PT: It can be a nice relaxing thing to do on a weekend and if you can combine it with a more challenging boat, a good physical workout.


TM: You have owned boats in the past, can you tell me about that?

PT: Yes, I have a long history of small racing sail boats with the odd speedboat thrown in. Most of them have been high performance singlehanded boats. Finding experienced committed people to sail with can be difficult, so boats that I could use by myself allowed me more opportunities to use them. I have always found a boat that was difficult to use to be the most interesting to sail. The highlight was being able to pass boats with engines.


Peter’s top 5 tips for buying a boat

  • Boats are very easy to buy and hard to sell. This can be a double-edged sword when buying.
  • Always ensure that what you are looking at does suit you and your needs.
  • Always be wary of ongoing upkeep costs, as these can become the predominant cost of boat ownership. This can be especially problematic if the boat is seldom used.
  • If buying second hand, condition is everything.
  • There are many pitfalls to avoid, so if you are inexperienced the best thing I can advise is to get someone who knows what they are talking about to offer their experience.

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