The Basic Rules of Hull Design


Hull design

Hull design

If you thought a mere boat couldn’t have much to it, you would be wrong. There are umpteen parts of the humble boat, and each with its own name to faze the novice with. Keel, stern, rudder, shackle, mast, mainsheet, boom, and burgee are names of various parts of a boat. However, the most important part of a boat is undoubtedly its hull. The hull refers to the bottom of a boat, and determines its fundamental structure and shape. You need to follow certain basic rules of hull design, if you want your boat hull to actually float on and not coyly sink into the water.



The basic rules of hull design delineate two broad categories of hull design: planing hulls and displacement hulls.

  • Planing Hulls: These are designed to ride on water, irrespective of the weight of the boat. The flatness of the hull enables less drag thereby increasing speed on the water. On the flip side, planing hulls do not fare well in rough waters. Most modern planing boats employ a V-bottom for handling in tempestuous terrain.
  • Displacement Hulls: These hulls are based on the principle of their “displacing” or moving an amount of water that is equal to the boat’s weight. Displacement hulls win marks on their performance, and find use in long-range trawlers. However, boats with this type of hull cannot exceed a speed that’s measured by the square root of the product of their waterline length with 1.34.


The basic rules of hull design mandate that the total ballast that you store in a boat doesn’t weigh over half of the entire upward weight that the boat will provide. To rephrase this, the ballast ought to be enough to keep the boat stably dipping in the water, and also enable an adequate upward thrust working on the boat’s sides.


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