My story of how to win an argument with the USCG (only do this once)


I had the pleasure of designing and having several 65ft Catamaran “Party Fishing Boats” built to my design and received certification for each with almost no problems with dealing with that process.  Move ahead in time and my then business partner Chuck Neville and I were designing a new 65ft Catamaran built of FRP, vs the older wood vessels. Chuck and I split the design work 50-50 and completed the first of a large class of vessels in Tarpon Springs, Florida  All went well until I took a phone call from a very nice Coast Guard officer in DC who proceeded to question me on one of our calculations that was not correct.  Normally Chuck would deal with the USCG but I was at the office alone that afternoon so tried my best to answer his concerns.  The officer explained the problem and noted that this very problem would cause our design work to fail all the stability regulations set forth in the CFR requirements.  Running scared to death I reran our math as I talked (really stalling) to the Lieutenant so that I could take a look at what we had done.  All looked right and spot on in my opinion.  Not so noted the Lieutenant.  After a very short gulp in my throat I began to tell the officer that his calculations were wrong.  Stupid me, as I know better than to argue with the CG, but I did anyway as I believed in the calculations. 


Now to the crucks of the story, I was running a new software program that Chuck and I purchased from the developer who wrote the GHS program.  As I understood it at the time we were one of the very first to purchase said software and was so happy to have such.  Neither Chuck nor I are University Graduate Naval Architects so we both worked with that in mind and treaded lightly when it came to sophisticated calculations and work on vessel stability.  Not this time I must confess as I informed the nice officer in DC that his calculations were very, repeat VERY wrong.  I could hear his, shall we say thinking, was not so kind back to me.  “What did this fancy Navy software do wrong, and how did you do your calculations so fast”.  Being a Navy vet I did not wish to walk all over his software but I blurted out…”since when does water run uphill to the catamaran hull that is higher than the hull that is being depressed due to the Incline Test”.  There was a long pause and he said you are right, how did you do that calculation in less than half the time I did mine.  My answer…..”New software from a friend of ours.”   His attitude changed in a flash, “Tell me how to get said software”.  I then called our friend and told him of the conversation.  What then happened changed the entire USCG process of getting passenger vessels certified in the USA.  I call back to the nice officer and told him that 5 free copies were going to be sent “over night” to him to review and study.  As Paul Harvey use to say….”Now you know the rest of the story”. - Stephen Seaton

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