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Old 24-05-2010, 22:28   #1
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Question Help Needed - Re-Rigging a 12' Sailing Dinghy

For years my grandparents have had an old 12 foot Davidson sailing dinghy. The thing is in rough shape, but the lines are pretty and the fibreglass hull is still in fine. About 15 years ago my Dad took the boat out sailing and snapped the mast. Nice work pops. After this, I guess my family gave up on the sailing side of this dinghy and used it solely as a rowing dinghy. The mast, daggerboard, sail(s) and rudder have all been lost in the years.

I'm going to get this boat sailing again this summer. I've never sailed a dinghy, but have spent the last 6 months living aboard a sailboat in the Caribbean. Because I've never sailed a dinghy I have a bunch of basic questions for all those tech-savvy sailors I know exist out there:

The Rig:

I have no idea how the rig was set up. The mast step is about 2 feet aft of the bow, a rectangular step only about 2 inches deep. I'm going to make a wooden mast, I've heard spar-grade spruce is the best to use? What sort of stays/shrouds do I need? I'm assuming I'll need a boom, but I've seen hobie cats without booms...? I noticed a lot of cat boats were gaff rigged. Why is this? Do many 12 foot dinghies have jibs? The mast seems pretty far forward to have a jib on there...

The Daggerboard:

I met a great guy in Miami named Zeik who made a daggerboard out of a street sign, said its the best material for one. But I've also heard of composite daggerboards. Honestly I have no idea what is important in building a daggerboard. I need to look at some plans, but just wondering about some general pointers on how to build a daggerboard, particularly what material is best to use, and how to determine the best dimensions for it.

The Rudder:

Same goes as daggerboard, as far as not knowing how to build one, but needing general suggestions/any good plans anyone might have.

The Sail:

I think I'll have to build the rig around the sail, because I'll be buying the sail second hand. Thinking of grabbing an old mainsail from a larger cruising boat and just putting in a new foot to make the sail an appropriate size? Maybe I can find a sail with a second reefing point and use that. The dimensions might be a little off, but I don't know if I can find an actual dinghy mainsail...

If anyone could answer any of these questions, it would be unbelievable. I'm shooting in the dark with this project, but that's kind of the fun of it

Thanks cruisers forum, you haven't let me down yet!
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Old 25-05-2010, 13:19   #2
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Start off by doing a search for info on the original configuration. See if she has a builders plaque somewhere inside with model and such. From there you can figure out roughly how to proceed.

Do the research first.

SV Sabre Dance, Roberts Offshore 38
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Old 29-05-2010, 23:42   #3
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Is this a Davidson pram? I used to have one. The easiest thing to do is to make a sprit rig, so no stays, etc. Cheap. Google it. You can make one out of Tyvek or light polytarp that will work well enough to learn with. Sure you can get really fancy with expensive stuff, but you are a newbie and want to learn from the ground up, so go cheap and quick. You can make a polytarp sprit rig in an afternoon. Rudder and dagger board, I would go plywood. If it all works out, you can dry them out and fiberglass them, but go sailing first. A thin metal board is fine until you bend it while it is down. Then you play hell getting it out. That usually only happens when the wind is picking up too strong for your tastes, you just spilled the wine in the bilge and your girlfriend fell over board. For sprit rigs I make a mast out of laminated lumberyard red cedar. They are supposed to be no good and too heavy, and I expect mine to break any year now. I've been using it for four. For the sprit use a clear cedat 2X2. Works fine. Be sure to re-inforce the gudgeons on the transom [make sure there is wood for the screws to go into, not just a layer of 1/2" fiberglass]. You can find all this on the web. I think that is a pretty good pram. If you have a library, check out RD Culler's Skiffs and Schooners and read all of his advice on sprit rigs, rowing and small boats. He was THE master.
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Old 28-01-2012, 21:04   #4
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Re: Help Needed - Re-Rigging a 12' Sailing Dinghy

Don't know if you ever found an answer. Davidson made two 12foot models. One had a small deck in the front. The main sail was stepped back further to allow room for a jib. It had a one piece mast and a drop metal center board. It was the heavier of the two. The other model was more like a row boat. It had a small triangular seat in the bow, a seat just ahead of the center board trunk, another seat just about mid ship and a seat in the rear. Both middle seats had oar locks. The center board and the rudder were both wooden. The mast was is two pieces to allow it to be stowed in the boat while trailering. Both the mast and the boom were slotted. The sail slid into these slots. The mast had three stays attached to the top half of the mast (no back stay). I have the row boat style one with all the original parts. It needs some work, and is not for sale. I live in Victoria BC and would be glad to help with pictures etc.
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Old 29-02-2012, 20:41   #5
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Re: Help Needed - Re-Rigging a 12' Sailing Dinghy

Sailboats To Go - Our Mission: Extremely Portable Sailboats

Try these guys. I sail my dinghy with one of their set ups. My experience with Jim, the owner was pleasant.
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dinghy, re-rig, rigging

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