1.Start your project with finding good referance images.
http://www.the-blueprints.com/ is a goog place to start. Place your images either as imageplanes or as a texture on polyplanes. Start blocking the shapes using simple geometry (boxes and cylinders)

2. Keep adding details, keep the geometry simple and clean. Let the geometry flow with the lines in the model. You don't have to smooth all objects, use bevel instead if you can get away with it (like the cabin).

3. I used Planer mapping from the side for UV-mapping, but to easier draw the planktexture I had to manually straighten the side by moving the UV points.

4. I made the textures in Photoshop, mainly by editing photos. The planks is a photo of a plankwall. I used blending modes in Photoshop and added images with scratches and paint to make the texture rougher. Text was also added i Photoshop together with the nails. For the specular and bump map I used many of the same layers from the color texture but converted it to black and white and added more noise to the texture.

5. The cabin was also UV-mapped with simple Planer mapping (one from the side and one for the front and back).

6. I added Mentals Ray's Ambient Occlusion texture to the cabin and rendered in from the side and front (see upper left corner). I used the ambient occlusion as an Multiply blender in Photoshop and copyed some planks from a photo around to make the texture complete.

7. Here is the final boat with details and textures. The rendering is done using Mental Ray with a couple of Directional lights and Final Gather.

8. The model was grouped and placed into a Maya Ocean scene with a cloud background and a Maya 3D Fluid container to make the mist. I also added wake and foam container to the boat so the ocean reacts to the boat. I added a spotlight with fog for the boat.

9. Here is the final image. See highres version in my Portfoliosection.