Tyler won any design awards, he was a cramped fisherman in an
uncomfortably narrow boat. Tyler wanted a wide boat he could
stretch his legs in and store at home. Problem was, by law he
couldn’t trailer a wide boat. These frustrations led him to design
a wide boat with sides that can be turned up so that the boat fits
on a trailer.
Before Herman “Al” Tyler won any design awards, he was a cramped fisherman in an uncomfortably narrow boat.
Tyler wanted a wide boat he could stretch his legs in and store at home. Problem was, by law he couldn’t trailer a wide boat. These frustrations led him to design a wide boat with sides that can be turned up so that the boat fits on a trailer. With his design, Tyler won an award at the 2010 California Exposition & State Fair.
Tyler, a Gilroy resident, trailers his boat to the beach instead of leaving it at the dock. California law mandates boat trailers be 8 feet 6 inches or narrower, creating the same maximum width for the boats that fit on them, he said. Because of this, the 72-year-old was stuck with a narrow hulled boat.
“If you purchase a boat more than 8 feet 6 inches wide, you have to keep it in the water and it’s very expensive and there are problems with corrosion and things like that when boats are sitting in the water all the time,” Tyler said.
Typical to narrow hulled boats – boats narrow enough to fit on a trailer – his boat doesn’t have a cabin to warm up in or for storage, because narrow hulled vessels don’t have room for both a cabin and a walking path along the perimeter of the boat. Tyler said being able to walk the length of the boat is more essential in fishing.
Tyler, a retired design engineer who has drafted projects for the U.S. Army and Navy, brainstormed his dream boat.
“It occurred to me that what I needed was a dual width boat, a wide boat that could be easily configured to a narrow hull that meets legal towing limits,” he said on his project website.
After not finding a similar sporting boat design in production, Tyler imagined a 12 foot wide boat with sides that fold up to make the boat 8 foot 5 inches wide for towing.
Normally when boats are drafted, sketch artists base their designs on what they want the boat to do, Tyler said. Boats with narrow hulls are faster on the water while wider boats are roomier.
Tyler’s boat is both of these. The sides can be rotated up by hand or by an electric motor which would allow a user to push a button to make the sides turn up.
His computer model, created in a computer assisted design class at Gavilan College, won the Golden Bear Award at the 2010 California Exposition & State Fair for Industrial Arts. Congressman Mike Honda also honored Tyler with a certificate in December.
His instructor for the class, Colette McLaughlin, said Tyler was one of the most industrious students she’s ever seen.
“I thought at first he just wanted to learn the skills. But then he wants to build that boat,” she said.
Tyler’s class learned SolidWorks, a 3D mechanical CAD drawing program with the ability to weigh objects, analyze objects for weaknesses and alert users for design problems, said McLaughlin.
Tyler’s sketch includes everything found on a boat, including the anchor, outboard motors, electronics, radar and radios.
McLaughlin said she thinks Tyler’s computer model won because of its details.
“When someone works hundreds and hundreds of hours, it shows,” she said.
Tyler brought his grandchildren to the award ceremony, and said he was shocked at the recognition he received.
“He’s a modest person. There was a big ceremony for the winners,” McLaughlin said.
At first, Tyler didn’t want to enter his project into the fair, but McLaughlin talked him into it.
“He thought he had an unfair advantage because he had design experience. But I told him that he had a disadvantage because he didn’t have the computer technology background some of the other students have,” McLaughlin said.
“Younger students have a different skill set. Everyone comes from diverse backgrounds with different skills,” she said.
Tyler said there was a lot of talented students in his design class, and it was interesting to see their differing interests. One project he remembers is a design for breakaway stirrups for horseback riders to prevent horses from dragging fallen riders.
Despite Tyler’s success in the class, Tyler said he doesn’t want to go into the boat-making business.
“For me this was kind of like curiosity and labor of love,” he said.
Tyler said if he had designed the boat 30 years ago, he might be more excited about trying to build a company around it. Tyler is retired and said he doesn’t want to put a lot of money into making the boat.
“What I was really trying for was to find someone who would want to build it with me,” Tyler said.
“I would love to work with somebody, I would just like to see it get built,” he said.