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The Masthead
March 2012 Page 7
Sept. 2012 Page 7
y deciding to design boats
for a living stems naturally
from a fascination with water:
lots of time spent on and in it,
and an eventual desire to design
and build boats that I could sail.
Around the age of 15 I started
drawing boats fairly seriously by
first copying the work of others
then drawing my own. It was a
good way to develop a 3D way of
imagining shapes from 2D plans.
The central library near my High
School in London, Ontario in the
late 70s had amazing boating, adventure, and boat design
sections, so I was especially influenced by books about and
by a lot of British designers, that were in circulation there at
the time. It was hard to concentrate
in school as I'd draw boats all the
time, and I imagined how they'd
move through the water and how
they'd take me to distant shores.
After one year of engineering in uni-
versity I realized that - at that time
it's still the same now, unfortu-
nately) - one couldn't get to design-
ing boats through the regular educa-
tional system very well or quickly in
Canada. I checked out Westlawn,
and after asking the well-known
Naval Architect, Robert Harris, about
the school ("yes, it's good", and
sail, sail, sail" was his reply) I
started the course at the age of 19 .
. .
mostly to learn how to design
multihulls. It was the perfect way for
me to learn at the time as I could
work part-time in a string of jobs,
participate in several sports, and
concentrate really well on the
course, which I eventually com-
pleted at the age of 22.
To make a long story short, I could-
n't decide how to get into designing
full-time (I was worried about get-
ting 'stuck' designing certain types
of boats while working in someone's design office) and
ended up sailing a lot, working as a finish carpenter, and
eventually moved with my wife to historic Annapolis Royal,
Nova Scotia.
Strangely, it was while renovating historic homes that I de-
veloped a different way of seeing design elements: how built
heritage details could be incorporated into modern work
and how sometimes asymmetry works better than symme-
try. I always dreamt about working as a boat designer during
this phase of my life, but in a way that allowed for a lot of
time to be spent with our new son and to be active in our
community - especially in environment and social issues.
With this in mind, it was after marine illustrator Sam Man-
ning suggested I learn how to use a computer (funny, as
Sam and his wife Susan are known mostly for their use of
hand tools and old ways of doing things) that I learned Mac-
Laurie McGowan 
LeBlanc 50: This hull was designed for experienced builders for all kinds of inshore
and offshore fishing, but is mostly used for fishing lobster of southwest Nova Sco-
tia. Despite a L/B ratio of 2:1 these boats are very seaworthy and fuel efficient.
Most LeBlanc 50s are used in the winter fishery and frequently head out to fish
against 40+ knots of wind and big seas while other boats remain in port. The build-
ers of Southwest Nova Scotia are very creative and are always coming up with new
hull and gear developments and the LeBlanc 50 has turned out to be a good plat-
form for these.
Typical dimensions for the boats from this mould are 45' to 55' (13.7 - 16.8 m)
with widths of 23.5'- 27’ (7.2 - 8.2m), and engines are 400 – 600 hp (300 – 450