Friday, March 23, 2012

Matters of Detail: The Real Custom

This must be a stressful time for marketing professionals. It seems I keep reading about the demise of traditional avenues for advertising. From what I’m told, ever evolving “Social Media” seems to be the panacea , but it would appear that the constant shape-shifting makes it pretty hard to get a firm grip on that too. Likely the feeling of uncertainty about where this is all headed is the first indication that I am no longer an especially youthful member of the labor force. I remember watching how my parents’ awkward, stumbling, negotiations with various forms of “new technology” resulted in what I interpreted to be reluctance followed by resignation of their growing technological obsolescence (for carbon dating purposes those technologies included ATM machines and cordless phones) . It is no comfort to me that, at age 34, I may be approaching the same obsolescence, but I tell myself that this apparent inability to keep current has more to do with the amount of time spent cooking and cleaning up after kids than ossification of cerebral tissue. For the record, prior to my Father’s aforementioned resignation I had the opportunity to learn my first engineering axiom: violence and portable electronics do not mix.
But back to marketing. Of late I have taken a somewhat jaundiced view of the process the American Marketing Association defines as “the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.” For me, the source of affront is the amount of marketing and advertising that invokes quality with words like artisanal, hand-made, custom. As it happens, your smart phone was hand-made. My opinion is that if you didn’t explain your needs and desires to a designer and personally choose a builder, whatever you bought wasn’t custom. Custom is designing and manufacturing a one of a kind seat for your vehicle with the kinesiologists and occupational therapists at Advanced Seating Systems Technologies Inc. Yup, that’s ASSTECH. 

So I’ve decided rather than complaining it’s time for another MATTERS OF DETAIL post highlighting what the crew is up to. When it comes to custom I think you’ll know it when you see it. Enjoy! 

Joel built the swivel goosenecks for Adventuress’ booms to a design we received from the people at Fairlie Restorations. The drawing we received was as carefully prepared and elegantly executed as the finished piece. 

Ian Bruce’s designs for the spar end fittings anticipate every load and function. Elegance in engineering and manufacturing is when nothing needs to be added, nothing taken away, and it looks like this. 

Leathered gaff saddle and…oh well, a few other fittings:


The best name in yacht hardware award goes to the dolphin striker. Close cousins, these whisker stay struts support the transverse loads applied to ADVENTURESS’ bowsprit. 

The bowsprit heel fitting will receive a fid in the same arrangement typical for a topmast. The cleats and tangs accommodate a fiddle block purchase to achieve proper headsail luff tension.

ADVENTURESS’ rig doesn’t have true hounds per se, though I can’t think of a better term. Special ramps or bolsters are carved to accommodate the diameter of the leathered shroud eye splice, and shaped to keep the tension in the upper shroud from sawing through the opposing shroud directly beneath. 

The after end of the outhaul track is incorporated into the wear plate fitted to protect the boom from the chafe of the mainsheet bridle span. Note the slot through the track riser to accommodate the wire seizing that will secure the single loop bridle span in place. 

G-10 garolite is an extremely durable makeup of multiple layers of fiberglass soaked in resin, then highly compressed and baked. It’s Impervious to moisture or liquid and physically stable in a harsh marine environment. Take a look at how the crew fitted these clever G-10 reinforcements where the shrouds from the heads of the main and foremasts pass through the spreaders on way to deck. 

That’s a combination skylight and gas locker you won’t find at the hardware store. 

Custom doesn’t mean polished metal and glossy varnish. Here’s the system Eric Martin built to provide the crew with accurate and reliable liquid levels in the fuel, fresh water and wastewater tanks. 

Every electrical cable plumbing pipe/tube that passes through a watertight bulkhead is carefully labeled and deliberately located to accommodate service and maintenance. 

It would be accurate to say the wheel box was designed and built to fit the steering gear. John stopped by the office to say “stop worrying, it fits, there’s enough room between the quadrant and the inside of the box for at least 2 coats of varnish.” 

It would be great if you could buy a Lloyds Register of Shipping Approved Shaft Log and cutlass bearing for a 2” propeller shaft installed 5 degrees off center and 1.5 degrees down…but you can’t…. So you have to make them.

I’ve been working here for a little over 8 years and in that time I’ve made relationships with a number of great people who manufacture high quality and reliable equipment. The fact is you come to appreciate the people who can be relied on to make you look good. In my experience no one does it better and more consistently than Jim Andersen and his compatriots at Harken Inc. Thanks to Harken’s custom division in Italy ADVENTURESS will carry winches with custom drums to match the style originally favored by Fife. 

You will find few yacht adornments as distinctive as the Fife covestripe. We had the benefit of the designer’s drawing of ADVENTURESS’ original covestripe and took rubbings of the details carved in the hull before we restored the stern. Port and Starboard rubbings differed somewhat, but the presence of the original plans allowed us to overlay the three and examine the differences before choosing the configuration to carve into the restored hull. 

-Brendan Riordan

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At March 24, 2012 at 8:23 AM , Blogger Tom said...

This is all just amazing work. Thanks for taking the time to document it.

At March 26, 2012 at 7:51 AM , Blogger Rockport Marine said...

Thanks for your interest, Tom. We are so excited to see this boat in the water!


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Location: Rockport, Maine, United States

Rockport Marine is a group of talented craftspeople who design, build and restore wooden yachts with unparalleled expertise.