There is no substitute for experience, and a good set of plans is simply the skillful distillation of experience. Of course, well rendered plans also bring in the intention of the designer, set on a course to be followed from a stack of materials to a finished work of art. The more that goes into the plans, the less room for error.
Everyone understands that modern tools, such as CAD software and CNC tools, are involved in the process more often than not. These modern tools are very good at adding precision and repeatability to the building process. Contrary to popular belief, they are not a shortcut for the designer. There is no “Draw a Boat” button.
Whether a designer opts for a pencil and drawing board, traditional 2D CAD, or the more involved 3D CAD process, it all starts the same way. There’s an idea and a world of blank paper (or screens). From there, the designer begins a detailed and lengthy tug of war as he pulls all the constraints of the real world into a “closest approach” to the original idea in his head. It doesn’t always work, but in Sam’s case, it has worked many, many times.
So, what does it takes to create full set of construction plans? At Devlin, the answer seems to hover around 500 hours. That’s right. A quarter of a working year. At my count, that puts Sam right on schedule for a 40-year run with a pile of weekends thrown in the mix. A few designers can do it faster, but most are slower. Some are a great deal slower. If I take into account the designs that have been reworked and upgraded as technology improved, I’d guess that Sam has burned a lot of midnight oil in his time.
In any case, when you decide to embark on a build of your own, you can rest assured that you are getting many hours of focused thought and many years of boat designing experience in your corner. That’s a huge advantage when you decide to fill your shop with a Devlin boat.