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Old 27-09-2015, 19:12   #1
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Good dinghy

A few weeks ago, I acquired a Walker Bay 8 with sailing rig. As our wives were away, my brother and I decided to give the new dinghy a proper test. Our goal was simple, we were to sail about 10 miles to an island, camp and return.

The recommended payload of the WB 8 is 425 lbs, which we were unable to achieve, due to our weight and the weight of the camping equipment, which resulted in a payload of about 450 lbs.

On day one we sailed upwind through channels into winds 12 knots gusting to 18. The boat handled very nicely, she did not risk swamping or capsize in spite of 2 foot white caps. At one point in the slog, we had to row, one of the ores broke, but we had made enough distance to windward that we were able to continue our voyage under sail.

After 7 hours we reached our island and camped in comfort under the stars (weight restrictions prevented us from carrying a tent).

The following morning we awoke to very strong winds. We were obliged to sail the boat out through a 75' cut through the granite cliffs into strong beam winds and seas. We shoved off hard, giving us steerage while the main powered up. The wind drove us on to a rocky lee shore, where the dagger board hit granite once, but we recovered from quickly and sailed for another 100 ft and clawed off the lee shore. The beam seas were about 5' and breaking. Then the main overpowered the rudder so we selected to drift and steer until we were into open water.

After about a half hour of taking the seas on the beam and quarter we were able to harden up enough to get some steerage. We sailed into the lee of an island where we regained our composure.

After leaving the lee, we were hit hard by winds gusting to 30 knots and about 5' white caps. The rudder was again overpowered. I placed my leeward oar into the lock, to provide drag and assist the rudder. We quickly accelerated, planning to 6 or 7 knots. This allowed us to cover some serious ground in the little 8 footer until the oar snapped near the blade. When the oar snapped, the boat gybed very quickly. When she gybed, the goose neck for the boom tore out of the mast.

We had no oars, and no meaningful rig, but I was able to steer the boat under bare poles within 200' of a rocky beach while surfing. My brother jumped out and swam the dinghy to shore (mainland fortunately, not an island).

I estimate repairs at around $100. Two oars and a goose neck. The boat got us back to the mainland, she never swamped and never got close to capsize. In my mind, that is a very very good dinghy.
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Old 27-09-2015, 20:19   #2
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Re: Good dinghy

All in all, it sounds llike a fun trip. I'm glad that mosquitos & other nasties didn't devour you due to being tentless!

Any thoughts as to perhaps a bigger/higher performance rudder? I know that on some small/mid-sized sailboats, such changes have made BIG differences in being able to control the boat when before, weather helm would have made them downright unsteerable... unless we got smart, & reduced our sail area.
- Just make sure that the hardware holding the rudder to the boat, as well as the transom is up for the higher loads.

That, & if you're so inclined, bilge board setups aren't too tough to fabricate either.

BTW, where do you plan to stow this beauty on your boat?
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Old 27-09-2015, 21:03   #3
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Re: Good dinghy

Uncivlized, the bugs are long gone in this part of the world, its cold. I have been considering the problem of being over powered.


My bro has an Alberg 22 and myself a Fantasia 35, neither one of us had ever been overpowered to the extent that we couldn't sail. The solution I thought of was to reef by wrapping the sail 5 or 6 times around the mast?


I keep the WB in davits, in light airs and on my foredeck in dirty weather.


The extent to which we were overpowered was weird, without the oar, we really couldn't do anything but drift down wind and think.


I have a plan to reinforce the goose neck with hose clamps, and I think the fact that we were so badly overloaded played a role. She accelerated soooo slooowly with so much weight that the rudder just wouldn't bite.
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Old 27-09-2015, 21:08   #4
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Re: Good dinghy

Really, I think the little WB, was hitting way above her weight class though. 30 knots and 5 foot white caps is a lot to ask from an 8 footer with 2 men and camping gear on board.
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Old 27-09-2015, 21:41   #5
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Re: Good dinghy

FamilyVan, thanks for the story. I recently added a sail kit (from craigslist) to my WB-8. I figured the rig was good for only about 15 knots but your experience in heavy conditions is encouraging.

Like you, I have found problems with the oars. Just about everything associated with the oars needs to be modified or upgraded: Oar lock sockets (Weak plastic and they pull out of gunwhale), Oar locks (weak), Two piece paddle (Oar lock falls in water when you take oar apart), Paddle blade (brittle plastic - cracks, breaks).

The basic boat is a sound design. Plastic is of a nature that does not crack (wish they made the paddle blades from same).

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Old 27-09-2015, 22:12   #6
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Re: Good dinghy

Pan, I think your 15 knots assessment is accurate. We felt the need to exceed the boats ability to test it properly. WB 8s are very hairy beyond 15 knots, basically unsailable at 30.


We were passed by a reefed Hans Christian 43 and the skipper gave us a mischievous smile and 2 thumbs up as he passed us. He clearly thought we were a couple of nutters.
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Old 28-09-2015, 00:01   #7
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Re: Good dinghy

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Originally Posted by FamilyVan View Post
He clearly thought we were a couple of nutters.
He is not alone
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Old 28-09-2015, 01:22   #8
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Re: Good dinghy

Given what you had to work with, it sound like you guys did a dang good bit of seamanship. And in addition to having one hoot of a trip, you exposed the dink's strengths & weaknesses.

The way I see it, you've got a couple of options so that your rudder works better when the breeze is up.

- Upsize the rudder, & go to both a more efficient foil section, & rudder shape in conjunction.

- Experiment with moving the rig aft a bit, so that your CE, & CLR aren't so far apart. Thus making it so that your rudder isn't working so hard to keep you on course, & balance out the forces of the rig.
As right now the rudder's acting as both a rudder, & a keel/dagger board. So doing either or both of the above should Really help.

- Look into adding blige boards, or a daggerboard.
The former being far more pleasant with regards to not losing interior space inside of the dink. Plus, no need to cut holes in anything.
*That bit which you were doing with the last surviving oar, under sail, until it broke, was essentially using it as an ad hoc bilge board (aka keel). Which also likely took a lot of load off of the rudder, & allowed it to perform it's primary function, instead of it's being pressed into acting as both a keel & rudder.

And on top of all of that, adding a nice 7'-7.5' pair of glass/xynole sheathed oars would be so choice.

Plus, if you wanted things to be full on tricked out, you could go to a bendy, CF, or tapered wooden spar, so that the tip bends in the gusts/heavier air. Automatically depowering things. Much like the rigs on the Freedom line of yachts.
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Old 28-09-2015, 06:06   #9
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Re: Good dinghy

Interesting observations Uncivilized.

Another option we tried, but had little success with, so I didn't mention, was attempting to scandalize the main, by tying the boom off to the mast at about a 45 degree angle. The experiment just made a lot of noise and made the boat unpredictable, so I wouldn't recommend it.
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Old 28-09-2015, 06:13   #10
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Re: Good dinghy

Couldn't stand the way mine sailed. Chord length in the centerboard is far to short making it stall all the time.
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Old 28-09-2015, 06:20   #11
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Re: Good dinghy

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Couldn't stand the way mine sailed. Chord length in the centerboard is far to short making it stall all the time.
Agreed, they are a little slow to accelerate which can lead to inadequate steerage and stalling, particularly in in heavy airs.
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Old 28-09-2015, 10:43   #12
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Re: Good dinghy

Fatter foil sections are far more stall resistant than skinny ones, & more easily get proper flow re-attached when you do. Unless you're racing, typically the little bit of extra width for performance gain is worth the small drag penalty. Especially in boats where it's easy to accidentally cause things to stall, like dinghies, where it's tough to maintain consistent; hull, foil, & sail angles of attack. And to keep the flow attached to the sail(s) as well.

The idea for a further aft rig ain't mine. I first saw it in an emergency sailing rig for an inflatable, decades ago. One which was designed to turn ones inflatable with floorboards into an emergency escape vessel, in case the mother vessel went down.
So in lieu of trying to rig more conventional boards, to prevent leeway, they had a big rudder aft, & a free standing wind surfer'ish, full battened rig, way aft.

The vast majority of sailing dinghys, & small sailboats have freestanding rigs, for the reason I named earlier. Including one of, if not the most popular one in the world....
- The Laser.

A big part of the freestanding rig thing too, aside from what I mentioned, is that when a rig bends in order to depower itself, the air flow stays attached to things a lot better than is the case in a conventional (stayed) rig. Where you have to dump the sheet, & lose flow connectivity, in order to depower things. And in puffy conditions like that, every little bit of extra power (connected air, & foil flow) helps drive you towards your destination.

Plus, due to the auto de-powering thing, you've got a good bit better chance of keeping flow attached to your foils in the water. Which again, helps to aid in adding/maintaining motive forces to get you to your destination.

Bruce Schwab's boat, Ocean Planet, was a primo example of this kind of thing. And the premise behind the freestanding rig was that he'd be able to drive the boat to a higher degree of it's potential, more of the time. Instead of having to change sails, & shift gears (both sail, & trim wise) all of the time, as did his competitors.

It's a concept which has worked REALLY well for quite a lot of Tom Wylie's (other) designs. They're blazingly fast, especially for having arguably little sail area for boats their size. Plus being cheaper & easier to sail.
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