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Old 08-10-2012, 07:46   #1
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Optimist as Tender?

Walking along the beach yesterday I happened upon a squadron of Optimist dinghys ready for some racing.

They have a simple sailing rig, centreboard and tiller, and look to have enough sealed areas to be unsinkable.

Add a couple of rowlocks and it would have everything I'm looking for in a tender.

Would one of thesebe suitable as a yacht tender?
I favour those special unsinkable and sailable tenders I've seen, but they're expensive, and haven't been around (here in Oz) long enough for a second hand market to spring up.

But Optimists look cheap enough.

I just really want a hard tender that can be sailed, but isn't so expensive that it'll get nicked.

Though I'm an experience sailor, I'm a wannabe in the cruising department, so I'd appreciate it if folks could gently poke holes in any of my silly ideas here on CF.
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Old 08-10-2012, 07:56   #2
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Re: Optimist as Tender?

I learned to sail in an Opti back in the fifties. I remember seeing my Dad try to sail one and how uncomfortable he looked in it. See if you can get a ride in one before you buy it.
There are lots of boats along those lines designed to be dinghies that may be more suitable. I'm thinking of building this one: Boat plan details, Prameke 7'-8' (PK78), Dinghies up to 12'
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Old 08-10-2012, 08:38   #3
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Re: Optimist as Tender?

It's not uncommon to see a cruising boat with an Opti in tow or hanging from the davits, but these are parents taking their 8-year old to a regatta. Many would say that an Opti is too small for an adult. Also, some of them are less than bullet proof, depending on the builder. On the other hand, an Opti is a veritable yacht compared to a Cape Cod Frosty.
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Old 08-10-2012, 09:16   #4
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Re: Optimist as Tender?

My primary tender is a 3.4 meter RIB with remote steered outboard. I bought an 8' hard rowing dinghy to leave ashore when I'm on my mooring (my boat does not live in a marina). I had never had anything but inflatable tenders before.

I can tell you that although the hard dinghy rows much better than an inflatable, it is amazingly unstable compared to an inflatable. I would not want one as my main tender, where you need to get on and off the boat in anchorages, sometimes with a bit of sea running. I think it would be positively dangerous -- especially when conveying non-sailors. I can just imagine someone tipping it over, whereupon it would sink like a rock. People could easily drown.

I considered an Optimist for this purpose, which is similar in size and idea, plus sails. Now I think I would not, simply because of the issue of stability and safety.
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Old 08-10-2012, 09:31   #5
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Re: Optimist as Tender?

I thought about bringing one: I love optimist sailing. I ended up with a Walker Bay with a sail kit which let me sail, motor, and row all with general levels of success.
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Old 08-10-2012, 14:45   #6
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Re: Optimist as Tender?

Yes, it is possible for an adult to sail an Optimist. I did it, I was 40 at that time. But you have to duck low when gybing, for there isn't much room under the boom.

Since the Optimist was designed to be sailed by kids, it rides low on the water with an adult onboard. Then, it is slow and you can ship some water if you don't move quickly in a gust. I have been told that an Optimist is difficult to put upright again after capsizing.

Alain
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Old 08-10-2012, 15:07   #7
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Re: Optimist as Tender?

Our friend here has an Opti converted to a tender. It is OK, but not if you are very tall/big. The pro is stability the con is the weight (perhaps only if you plan to store the tender onboard).

You will want to add some sort of protection all around yours - they tend to stratch the topsides of the mother ship.

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Old 09-10-2012, 10:05   #8
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Re: Optimist as Tender?

We had an El Torro, similar to but somewhat larger than an Opti, that we used as a dinghy for our Rhodes Reliant while we were in the San Francisco Bay area in the early '70's. It actually made a pretty good dinghy and could be rowed or sailed. The disadvantage was that it was relatively heavy and awkward to hoist aboard and store or to launch so it was often towed, which it didn't like much either. In an anchorage, however, it was a lot of fun and, of course, didn't require an outboard. One did have to be very aware of the winds and tide, however. More than once an errant kid had to be recovered by someone with an outboard powered dinghy.

FWIW...
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Old 09-10-2012, 10:34   #9
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Re: Optimist as Tender?

I had an el toro for a while. I found it frustratingly slow and wet. But then, most 8 footers I guess would be that way... so If you only have room for 8 ft or so, maybe an Optimist would be fine....
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Old 09-10-2012, 10:54   #10
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Re: Optimist as Tender?

Here is a qoute from the Optimist World web site concerning passenger weight:

"A lot depends on local conditions, particularly during the summer holidays. If you sail in a place that never gets more than 8 knots in summer, you are going to have problems winning over 55 kg."

My Yacht Club uses these to teach sailing to kids up to the age of 15, but normally they transition to Lasers or FJ much earlier. These boats are designed for small people, not adults.

One year we had a fun race for the adults in the Opti's and almost every adult male swampped their boat...
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Old 09-10-2012, 11:52   #11
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Re: Optimist as Tender?

My son has an Opti. I tried once to sail it with him. It rode so low in the water that with the slightest heal we would take on water and soon we swamped it. I weigh 200 and he was probably around 75.
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Old 09-10-2012, 15:03   #12
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Re: Optimist as Tender?

Our Club in SoCal, Alamitos Bay YC in Long Beach, had a bunch of old fogies that got together and sailed El Torro's and Opti's every Wednesday evening for years, they were known as "Geritollers" and most did pretty well--and even moreso at the Club bar afterward. Those fogies that sailed "big boats" formed the OFSC ("Old Farts Sailing Club") and conviened every Monday morning for breakfast and then a cruise around Long Beach Harbor. It was a good time.

FWIW...
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Old 09-10-2012, 16:10   #13
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Re: Optimist as Tender?

my sailing club sold off some old opti's at $50 each. one of the members decided to buy one to use as a tender for his anchored out c&c corvette. didn't work very well.

he's about average size - 5'10", 170lbs. he put a seat across it and sealed up the centerboard slot. it was only just usable in calm waters, and a bear to row because of the oar length needed. it was pretty unstable in most conditions. i think the only possibility would be to put a small o/b - maybe electric - on the transom and then sit in the bottom of the boat when using it. might be a bit more stable that way...
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Old 09-10-2012, 16:35   #14
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Re: Optimist as Tender?

Thanks guys. We're oldies. Good info here confirming advice given to us. "Get a rib 3m(10ft) minimum."
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Old 31-08-2017, 19:21   #15
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Re: Optimist as Tender?

resurrecting an old thread...I've had tons of fun sailing my daughter's opti against a buddy of mine's walker bay...

...then there's this: https://youtu.be/UokOO60dsMU
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