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Old 20-03-2016, 09:54   #1
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The Sorry State of (Very) Small Craft

(OR: why I'm drawing lines on plywood!)

Dinghy 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 shopping!)

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 off, etc.

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 out...

wish me luck, I shall need it.
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Old 20-03-2016, 10:08   #2
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pirate Re: The Sorry State of (Very) Small Craft

Arthur Ransome.. now that's a name I've not heard in years.. folk used to take his type of mud crawlers over the Channel to France before all this 'Smaller than 40ft is dangerous' sailing started..
Good on you.. and happy building..
Maurice Griffiths was off the same school and worked up from small open craft to designing some great amateur builds.
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Old 20-03-2016, 11:13   #3
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Re: The Sorry State of (Very) Small Craft

Lots of active small boat cruisers along the Gulf of Mexico. Large, shallow bays and unlimited camping opportunities mean it is an ideal place for a small shallow draft boat.

Check out:

The Texas 200
WaterTribe Everglades Challenge
Duckworks Magazine
Duckworks - The 2015 Mississippi-110 - - Part One
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Old 20-03-2016, 11:22   #4
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Re: The Sorry State of (Very) Small Craft

Quote:
Originally Posted by RainDog View Post
Lots of active small boat cruisers along the Gulf of Mexico. Large, shallow bays and unlimited camping opportunities mean it is an ideal place for a small shallow draft boat.

Check out:

The Texas 200
WaterTribe Everglades Challenge
Duckworks Magazine
Duckworks - The 2015 Mississippi-110 - - Part One
RainDog--I wouldn't put the Texas 200 or the Everglades challenge forward as dinghy cruising events--they are more along the lines of events for an elite--who have definitely earned the title elite!. The Florida 120 would be more along the lines of a group event for cruisers!

I spent several weeks cruising the gulf coast of Florida, and in the entire time, I was the only one I saw or ran into!

I would like us to have something like the UK's DCA, but I don't think we do. I'm not saing there aren't Americans doing this--I'm saying we're pretty thin on the ground. Perhaps if we had more small boats that were suitable it would be more common. I still mourn the demise of the "Hobie Hilton" and similar for beach cats!
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Old 20-03-2016, 11:28   #5
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Re: The Sorry State of (Very) Small Craft

Not sure about the everglades challenge, but I have hung out with quite a few of the Texas 200 guys, and they are pretty regular folks. Not sure what sense you mean "elite" in, but none of them I have met are Olympic sailors. Seems to me what they have in common is more a love of boat building than hard core sailing.
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Old 20-03-2016, 12:02   #6
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Re: The Sorry State of (Very) Small Craft

Well, the Texas 200 is pretty punishing in terms of stamina and exposure to the elements--mostly heat and sun! The Everglades challenge is just that--a challenge conceived to be very difficult! When more people ended up doing it, they expanded to the Florida challenge, even more physically difficult, with some nasty portage thrown in!

I don't think most open boat cruisers could to the Everlgades Challenge--for one, you MUST have your boat, sans trailer/trolly/dolly/ on the hard, and the crew must get it into the water unassisted and not leave anything on the beach. That eliminates a whole lot of boats right there! The web site also cautions that that event requires a high degree of skill!

Not knocking the Water Tribe--hat's off to them!. Just not likely to draw the masses in either!

But the thread was about (very) small boats < 16 or 17 feet for cruising. The ones most suited to it are ageing out...getting to the point of needing rebuilds or not being worth the time and effort to rebuild. that, and many of them simply are hard to make work as a practical matter.
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Old 20-03-2016, 12:04   #7
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The Sorry State of (Very) Small Craft

What are you building? Think about a Drascombe Dabber or Lugger. Or a Wayfarer dinghy. I camped-trailered-sailed an AMF Sunbird 16.


S/V B'Shert
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Old 20-03-2016, 13:24   #8
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Re: The Sorry State of (Very) Small Craft

Tayana42, I'm building Paul Fisher's (Selway-fisher Design) Highlander 14--it's all I have room for!--with mods that he's approved.

I cruised an O'day Saysailer II--it worked out pretty well. The Sunbird was one of the ones on my short list, but hard to find around here!
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Old 20-03-2016, 14:08   #9
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Re: The Sorry State of (Very) Small Craft

Good Luck

The only difficulty encountered with epoxy centered around relying on the pumps to deliver calibrated amounts of resin and hardener without regular cleaning.

And not having additional material prepared to receive the resin mixture. While the material to be coated was complete, standing there with leftover epoxy.

Should be a gratifying experience to build from scratch.

Again, Good Luck !
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Old 20-03-2016, 14:44   #10
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Re: The Sorry State of (Very) Small Craft

Hi, again, DiinghyHoosier,

Thanks for telling us about your boat, and may the project go well.

Another book you might enjoy, "The Voyage of Jack de Crow", by MacKinnon.

Ann
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Old 20-03-2016, 16:04   #11
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Re: The Sorry State of (Very) Small Craft

When I was young I always wanted a Sanfransico Pelican, It seems that it might fit the bill. I thoink that was the name. Swallows and Amazons, great bOks
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Old 20-03-2016, 16:07   #12
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Re: The Sorry State of (Very) Small Craft

I've done some dinghy cruising among the islands in Casco Bay. I've met a few others doing the same, and plenty of kayak campers. . . . It's small-boat paradise up there in the summer, with fairly protected water and plenty of islands offering campsites. I'm always surprised there aren't more people out dinghy cruising.

Nice to have a small boat you can sleep aboard in case there are no campsites. On my dinghy you can't . . . unless severely pressed.
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Old 20-03-2016, 16:22   #13
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Re: The Sorry State of (Very) Small Craft

Please excuse my thick thumbs in previous post
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Old 20-03-2016, 16:35   #14
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Re: The Sorry State of (Very) Small Craft

If it was my intent to sail/cruise in an open boat, the Sea Pearl 21 would be where I'd start.
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Old 20-03-2016, 16:56   #15
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Re: The Sorry State of (Very) Small Craft

Admiral slater---that's a neat looking dinghy. Around here--and mostl places inland in the Midwest, either th e shore is privately owned, or very muddy! Kind of easier to sleep aboard, if you don't want mud!

Siamese: Sea Pearls rock! Hard to find here...and pricy..last one I saw for sail without a two day drive as 7.5K!
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