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.

Criticality One

Anything that people make is going to break. This is inevitable. It's a direct consequence of unavoidable, fundamental laws of the universe.

Part of the art of engineering is to control where, and after how long, things will break. We can't prevent failure entirely, but we can focus our efforts on the most critical items and we can ensure that the complete system – an engine, boat, spacecraft, whatever – is unlikely to fail at all within a certain service life.

The Factor Of Ignorance

"Safety factor." It's probably one of the most common, and most misused, terms in engineering.

The "factor of safety" might be better described as a "factor of ignorance". It's a multiplier, applied to loads and/or structural components in a design, to account for things that weren't explicitly taken into account in the design calculations. Those things could include variations in material quality or workmanship, uncertain overload conditions, accidents, and other hard-to-predict conditions that could cause a failure.

Weak Links

Is there an advantage to designed-in weak links, where a cheap and easily replaced part fails so that a more expensive one can be saved?
In many cases, there is; nevertheless, we shouldn't apply this design philosophy to everything we design.

Why I love boat trailers

If a boat is a magic carpet for dreams, then a trailer is a magic carpet for a boat.

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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.

Planking the Port Ama

This past weekend, we started planking the Starwind 860's port ama. With her first section of hull skin in place, the Starwind is looking more and more like a boat!

Making Scarph Joints in Plywood Panels

When your plywood sheets aren't long enough, they must be joined end-to-end.

Butt joints aren't strong enough. Backing blocks can cause problems when you try to bend the panels. CNC-cut puzzle joints work great – if you have a CNC cutter. So the good old scarph (scarf) joint is the standard solution.

Here's how to make one.

Does she look like a boat yet?

At what point does a boatbuilding project cease to be a pile of lumber, and become a boat-in-progress?

It certainly looks like we're getting there now.

The new boat shop

Have you ever wondered if you might be a boatbuilder? Well, if this photo gets you excited, then the answer is yes, you are.

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