(OR: why I'm drawing lines on plywood!)
Cruising (or Open Boat Cruising) doesn't seem to be as well publicized in the US as in the UK, but it's my thing.
But I want to point out that many of the un-ballasted Center-Board boats available--actually most of them--aren't optimal for the job. In fact, locally I gave up the search. By locally I mean a triangle roughly defined by Indianapolis in the north, Cincinnati in the east, and the Land-Between-the Lakes region in the west!
Part of the problem is regulatory: since 70 or 71, the floatation requirements for un-ballasted small craft have resulted in manufactures--working to build to price
, because little boats that cost a lot don't sell all that well--producing boats that lack storage
, and that don't lend themselves to sleeping aboard under a tent, and that (in many cases) are actually less safe because the distribution of flotation makes them difficult to recover from capsize
and actually more prone to invert.
Add in that newer boats trend towards sailing very fast with nothing aboard but crew and required safety
items and it gets harder.
Unfortunately, the used boat
market is dismal as well--you can take your pick of the above boats, sorta (but not really here abouts--very limited choice), and you can find some that are actually good for the purpose--that are quite expensive, as they are coveted for other reasons as well. One major factor is the poor condition of many used dinghies! People don't seem to take care of them. Add in the tendency of people to conceal major problems, and well--it gets hard. (Saw one boat with a 4' crack in the hull--than had been sanded and painted over to look shiney! Always take plastic mallet dinghy
What you need is a small boat. 12' is about the smallest, if it's got a useful layout and 16' or so the largest that's easy to use. You need either a place to lay down where you are not wedged between the centerboard
case and something hard or lodged with no turning room under a thwart--or a layout and construction that can let you rig one without being a cabinet maker, engineer
or Time Lord. Those can be hard to find, strangely enough.
One of the biggest problems is the "old small boat neglect syndrome" You can find boats that would work, but they require so much repair that it becomes a rebuild--sometimes to the extent of popping the deck
Any way, after three years of looking, I'm building. NOt because I'm all into the idea of building a boat, but because it makes economic sense: Open boat or Dinghy cruising has become very specialized it seems, (Arthur Ransome must be spinning in his grave!) and suitable boats a bit rare. After looking, looking and looking, I realized that I could, in fact, build a 14' for about what I would have to pay for a 14-16' boat that would them need repair and refit
(and probably new sails!)
so My basement has a stack of plywood
, jugs of glue, etc, as I start drawing bulkeands, frames and panels
wish me luck, I shall need it.