M.B. Marsh Design offers a steadily growing range of plans for small watercraft. Our services include custom design, refit planning, condition surveys, failure analysis, systems integration and more.

Our designs hit what we think is an ideal balance between performance, capabilities, cost and ease of construction. Most of them are suitable for amateur or advanced amateur construction. These are boats that you can build in your garage, needing only patience, common tools, basic carpentry and fibreglass skills, and a willingness to learn. The resulting vessels are stylish, capable boats that will serve you well for many years.

From The Drawing Board

New designs from our drawing board, and assorted thoughts on boat design in general.

Model testing the Almaguin, part 1: The framework

Computer simulations are pretty good these days, but there's still a lot they can't do. And as nice as it would be to have my own full-scale prototype of every boat I draw, that's just not feasible- there's never enough space or money for that. Models, though, are inexpensive, don't take up much room, and are fun to build- and, if done carefully with the right mathematical backing, can offer a lot of insight into how the full-size boat will perform.

Why so few proas?

Proas- the original multihulls- are rather rare these days. Which is really quite a shame.

A proa, for the uninitiated, is a laterally asymmetrical multihull: one hull is smaller than the other. Proas, at least in the strict definition, are also double-ended, switching bow for stern in a manoeuvre called a "shunt" when ordinary sailboats would tack. There are, of course, proas that tack in the conventional manner, although these are more commonly called tacking outriggers.

Lake waves, and the origin of a new powerboat

Waves, despite their well-understood mathematical and physical properties, remain a rather subjective point of discussion among cruisers. There's the tendency to exaggerate, of course- we've all heard a story that goes something like "I was beating into a force 6, there were 14-foot waves coming over the bow....". (Force 6, of course, brings an average wave height of closer to 9 feet given unlimited fetch.)

New plans: Almaguin 400 & 500 utility runabouts

The plans are ready! The four- and five-metre Almaguin runabouts, designed with first-time builders in mind, will be excellent fishing, utility or sport boats for inland lakes, rivers or calm coastal areas. They're built in taped-seam plywood and don't require elaborate jigs or fine carpentry skills. Have a look here, and please feel free to contact me if either of these boats interests you.


In The Shop

Dispatches from the shop: Progress reports on our boat building projects, plus some useful information for those of you who are building, restoring or repairing your own boats.

Engine access: Sterndrives

Crawling around an engine bay, trying to reach some deeply buried component with three flex fittings on a socket wrench, is nobody's idea of a good time.

Thankfully, at least a handful of production boat builders have recognized this, and offer reasonably good access to the critical bits of the sterndrive system's prime mover.  Still, it seems there will always be a few that insist you hire a double-jointed 8-year-old with the mechanical skills of a Formula One pit crew just to change a spark plug.