As the designer/builder here at Belle Boats, I thought I’d tell you a bit about myself:
I’ve been interested in designing and building sailboats almost my entire life, having built a wood Optimist pram in school and, later, a couple of Joel White designs and a 20ft Phil Bolger cat-yawl on weekends. I then decided to “go pro” and, after a year at The Landing School in the traditional boat-construction program, I moved to Brooklin Maine to be a boat carpenter for Doug Hylan at D. N. Hylan & Associates. I worked about ten years there, enjoying building and restoring many fascinating and challenging boats using traditional plank-on-frame as well as modern wood construction techniques.
While working for Doug, I became more and more interested in the design side of small craft. I designed BELLE for my own use, and I’ve since developed other design concepts, including a larger 20ft version that I call Belle 20.
My focus is on daysailers and small cruisers, but don’t be surprised to see some sketches for powerboats under 25ft. In my view the world needs all the attractive, fuel efficient boats it can get. I’m working on it.
I’ve taken courses in CAD technologies, including 2D and 3D design processes, but I remain convinced that hand sketching is still an essential part of the design process. At least it is for me. So all my designs are hand drawn using traditional techniques.
In 2016, the original BELLE went to a terrific new owner in the Chesapeake area. I also moved back to Shelter Island, New York, where my parents had retired some 20 years ago. I started Belle Boats to design and build custom wood daysailers and cruisers using contemporary and traditional building techniques.
—Daniel Gonneau, Designer/Builder