2. STARSHINE Design on Matson Time

As indicated in an earlier post (click here and scroll down to “2. Sinking Beer Cans”), my buddy Doug and I both worked for Matson Navigation Company in their Industrial Engineering Department. This enabled us to plan our restoration of the GAMBELLA in detail on company time. Eventually, however, Doug got ambitions to build a much larger boat, and I bought out his share of the GAMBELLA to help finance his efforts in that regard.

Doug had two main criteria for his new boat. He wanted it to have a flush deck with no visible cabin, and he wanted it to have full headroom below for himself. Doug was about a half inch taller than me — almost six foot three inches. So that, together with the flush deck requirement, dictated a design for a rather large boat. The STARSHINE, as she was eventually named, measured fifty-six feet on deck.

Doug was intent on designing and building this boat himself.  In designing a vessel, making a drawing or even a scale model, may be the easy part. The problem is that a considerable error in measurements can accumulate in scaling up the plan. The traditional way to avoid this error is to lay out the curves full size on a large floor of some kind. Spaces used for this process were often lofts; hence the practice became known as lofting.

Lofting Lines Full Size

Traditional Lofting Lines Full Size

Doug didn’t have access to a loft, but he did have access to the office computer and he was a math major in college. Using a computer-aided process called multiple regression analysis, he managed to fit a mathematical equation to each longitudinal and each cross-section line of his plan. He then set them equal to each other at every place they were supposed to cross to see if they actually did meet at that point. If they didn’t, he modified the equations until they did. Even with the aid of the computer it was a long process that went on for weeks. This was in the early days of office computer systems. The individual terminals were like teletype machines and they all accessed a central processor. The engineers in the department all had their own offices and there was no office network to speak of and, hence, no central oversight on the computer use. If you could hear a terminal running then that engineer was obviously hard at work. I was the only one who knew what Doug was doing and I kept mum about it. Doug also got enough of his assigned work done that no one got suspicious. I left the company to go to work for the Maritime Administration before he finished, but he finally did get it all done. It was quite an impressive effort and everybody thought he worked so hard for Matson.

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Saturday, February 27th, 2010 Matson Navigation Co.

1 Comment to 2. STARSHINE Design on Matson Time

  1. Rob, will you please add a “STARSHINE” tag to this post. Thanks for the low down – Dad never told me aobut this part of the design. I still have half of the scale model he built. The full model eventually split down the middle ( thannk heavens Star never did that) and one half got lost. He mounted and painted it for me one year. It now hangs in my kitchen, along with photos that my Uncle Ric took in SF Bay.

  2. HeatherB on March 20th, 2012

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