Reading Boat Plans
As with any other architecture or engineering design each boat plan is full of boat specific jargon and unique terms that are normally not seen in other places.
This can become a huge barrier for entry for a novice, and may even make the task more daunting than it actually is. Most of the jargon is standardised and simple shorthand, so it really is very easy to interpret once you’ve learned what they mean.
Loa or “length overall.” is a measurement of the overall length of the craft, from its stem to its stern. It doesn’t include any extrusions from the main vessel such as bowsprits (the long poles seen jutting from the fronts of some sailboats).
LWL and lwl, although they look the same are actually different. LWL or load waterline is an archaic term that is no longer used. On the other hand, lwl or" length at the waterline" is still in use and one of the most important measurements of a boat. lwl actually reflects how long a craft is when it is sitting in the water.
D or "Depth" is another shorthand term that relates to the depth at the deepest point, normally located near the center of the hull.
LBP, or “length between perpendiculars” is a measurement usually used in larger boats as it refers to carrying capacity. Since this measurement doesn’t include the weaker overhanging areas of the craft, it is a more accurate reflection of the boats load-carrying ability.
These couple of shorthand notations are enougho get you started and should let you get a grasp of many smaller boat plans already created. Of course commercial or larger ships do become far more complex as more measurements and calculations are required.
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