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Guest Post: Ron Holland and All the Oceans


Thank you to Ron Holland for this blog post about his new book All The Oceans: Designing by the Seat of My Pants.

AllTheOcenasThe decision to write All The Oceans was influenced by my involvement with the University of Auckland Engineering Department creating a Masters of Yacht Engineering program. The most frequently asked question from students was “How did you do it?” All The Oceans is my response.

I did not pursue what is now considered the conventional way to become a yacht designer. The combination of a fascination with voyages of exploration under sail, a natural talent for drawing and a three-year apprenticeship in a wood boat fabrication shop laid the foundation for me to strike out on my own. Without hesitation, I grasped every opportunity that came my way.

All The Oceans: Designing by the seat of my pants describes how I did it.

Ron embarked on a nautical journey five decades ago, from his native New Zealand, to numerous stops along the way before settling in Canada. He began his boat design career in San Francisco before spending 40 years in Ireland, where in 1973, he established Ron Holland Design. There he met a Canadian who wanted to return home, and Ron decided that it was time for a change.

Ron with Clan VIII in background in KitsAs he writes in All The Oceans: “My new office overlooked Coal Harbour, the downtown marina near Vancouver’s main commercial port: through the windows I had a clear view of boats moored at the Royal Vancouver Yacht Club marina, and beyond, of the snow-capped peaks of Cypress Mountain. It’s a dramatic but calming location, and I was looking forward to another phase of my life.”

It was, however, a stressful life, and in 2012 he suffered a stroke. Yet it too opened up new possibilities.

“Thinking it through further, I would do other things with my life, fulfilling long-buried desires. I would read more. I would teach. I would take piano lessons, as I had in my teens with my mother’s encouragement. I would do more drumming, which would also have the bonus of restoring some of the dexterity in my left hand. In short, I would start a new life in Vancouver-and I did,” he recounts in the book.

IMG_20180814_084859 Clan VIII, a 46 metre design collaboration with Perini Navi and Ron Holland Design off Stanley Park.Ron wrote All The Oceans to inspire others. This latest chapter — settling in Vancouver, BC (where he eventually moved his office to Granville Island from Coal Harbour) was indeed a new start. After writing his memoir, promoting the book would lead him to revisit old haunts all over the world, reconnect with old friends and regale audiences on how he established an award winning international design company also including colourful nautical tales culled from a life of adventure.

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