BoatExpress: Free Yacht Design Software

Screenshot from BoatExpress

Off and on for awhile I have been playing around with Gerard De Roy’s excellent BoatExpress naval architecture program (free download available here). I found out about the software via’s list of yacht design software. While it does not have all the functionality of AutoCAD, it is simple, well documented, and almost error free – written in the SmallTalk programming language and compatible at least up to Windows XP. As someone with a bachelors in software engineering, I admire the amount of hard work and thought Gerard put into this program to make it production quality. I highly recommend the software as a low learning curve way for arm chair sailors to experiment with and experience first hand yacht design.

After unzipping the download, the first difficulty you may find is opening the “V” executable. You need to:

  1. Right click on the “V” icon
  2. Navigate to the Compatibility tab
  3. Check the box next to “Run this program in compatibility mode for”
  4. Choose “Windows 95” in the scroll list

Another difficulty is getting to the example walkthrough because the linking is funny. If you click on my link you will go directly to Gerard’s contents page for the example. Following through this example is a great way to familiarize yourself with all the capabilities of the software.

Finally, you may run into errors such as “Runtime error: Indexed collections are indexed by integers.” These errors are not as descriptive as I would of liked and not documented. If I get an error I have found that I am either doing something out of order (ex. trying to open hull characteristics before calculating the basic data) or have drawn illogical boat lines.

If anyone has tried or has questions about BoatExpress, feel free to comment below with your story.

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