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The realities of dinghy cruising?

DJE

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21 Jun 2004
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Fareham
I've got to ask where that is. It 'feels' like it's looking up Bosham Channel but the hills look wrong, no church.

(Terrific thread, thanks OP.)
Newtown Creek. Before the moorings went in!
 

DownWest

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25 Dec 2007
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S.W. France
The DHC mob who come down here, are slightly excentric. But very interesting to chat to. Lookng forward to the next visit..
 

FairweatherDave

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28 Sep 2009
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Solent
Well I've slept in my Wayfarer a handful of times and loved it. The reality you ask about is very subjective. It is harder work than yacht cruising, home comforts are pretty basic and you need to be organised. It takes a fair bit longer to store everything in the boat before you launch, and we always carried too much stuff. But a lovely way to cruise, there's no hiding down below, so pick your weather. If I didn't have family I'd still be doing it. So much cheaper. Personally I did not enjoy sailing or towing our Drascombe Lugger, it was heavy, and never slept in it, but I enjoyed the extra space for the children, and I didn't lose any money on it. Then again I haven't lost any money on our Wayfarer, still got it and love sailing it once in a blue moon.
 

dancrane

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29 Dec 2010
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8,977
DJE's photos are terrific. (y)

Even after years enjoying my big dinghy, I don't fully understand the dinghy cruising instinct, especially in the heavy boats that are bigger than plenty of comfortable small yachts. For me, the only level at which dinghy cruising makes sense is the bargain basement.

If you don't have any boat, even the humblest dinghy will elevate your quality of life, and assuming you're independent-minded and not distracted by the majority who only go sailing in order to race, you'll straightaway enjoy the thrilling options of exploring under sail, navigating, passage-making, anchoring in sheltered havens and camping aboard. Bliss, weather permitting...



...but, it's natural to add extra kit to increase the comfort, convenience, safety and versatility of open-boat sailing. Doing so is never cheap, and the more you add, striving to increase the yacht-like feel and function of a cruising dinghy, the costlier it becomes, till finally it would certainly have been possible to buy and maintain a small yacht for the same cost.

The yacht would live afloat, or at least, in a place that requires zero hard work prior to each time you sail. The yacht would have a ballast keel, putting the dinghy-cruiser's rational but inescapable fear of capsize, out of mind. The yacht would have beds with dry cushions, and a fixed roof that doesn't flap, billow, leak or need assembling after dark while the rain soaks the bread and the wife sits grimly shaking her head, swearing she'll never come again.

So...dinghy cruising makes sense, until you're financially able to enjoy cabin-boating. For that reason, and especially when good (old) cabin-boats have never been cheaper, dinghy cruising has to be really cheap. I spent less on mine, than most people pay for a bicycle.



I long since stopped planning too much. I still take the oars because as long as I take them, I never need them. The tarp under the foredeck can be rigged up over the boom as a tent; and with a couple of cheap compressible sleeping bags and about a dozen pool-noodles to lie on, sleeping is perfectly possible even on the sloping deck. Anchor and line, and that's it.

I believe the simplicity and spontaneity of not preparing long lists of equipment, clothing, food, tanks of water, fuel, and emergency supplies as if we were Joshua Slocum, makes the appeal of sailing away in the dinghy and not coming back the same day, much more fun. If you need a clipboard to plan your trip, you ought to be sleeping in a cabin. ;)

I've just remembered I have 4 or 5 tough inflatable/deflatable Italian rollers somewhere which made launching and hauling-up a whole lot easier. I'm sure that idea would be helpful on other boats....
I wonder if they're the same as the one I bought. The fact you say yours are Italian makes me think they probably are. I'm glad I only bought one, because despite claiming that it could carry a 400kg load, I wouldn't trust it to carry a quarter of that weight over a clean carpet without bursting or getting a puncture. Very lightweight kit, but quite a fun toy in a swimming pool.

 

zoidberg

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12 Nov 2016
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3,443
I like 'dancraig's perspective. Better than that, I understand it.

I like the simplicity and the ethos of dinghy-cruising, and its enthusiasts have each found compromises they are content to live with. I'm OK with that.

I'll offer the view that the 'unusual' compromise I found - and which permitted me multiple dinghy-cruising hols due to the cartop portability , is very much in the 'proper' spirit. Had I wanted to sleep on board ( afloat or hauled up ) that would have been easy. The trampoline makes a quite comportable mattress, and the 'Terra Nova' tent sits happily on top. The tricky bit is the driftwood fire.....

Perhaps the point is that there are solutions. You just need to exercise the muscle between the ears.... and go do it.
 

dancrane

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29 Dec 2010
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8,977
Glad you approve, Voidberg. ;) And I like the Mr Bond association, thank you. (y) A beautiful doctor at the General made that same slip of the tongue. It was tempting to pretend to her that I was Really Him, preparing for a role that required darker hair. With a touch of grey.

I was thinking again about the big dinghies which are as costly as similarly proportioned yachts, yet require much more physical input and forbearance with discomfort.

The absence of ballast issue is worse than the absence of a cabin. Roger Barnes seems to be as bright, positive and energetic as any man of his years has a right to be. He has sailed and rowed his heavy, traditional lugger on many ambitious and arduous journeys, and his honest descriptions of them are always very readable and watchable...



...but the fact that after a long time without encountering much difficulty or danger, he finally capsized at sea and discovered himself in serious need of outside help to recover the boat, proved (to me, who was always wary) the limits on coastal cruising in a boat that doesn't self-right.

I've spent days and odd nights this last year on a small cruiser with an iron keel. The deep sense of peace that comes from knowing she cannot roll over and lie on her side, turning the scene you had been enjoying into a hideous, perilous mess, is priceless. This one's not mine. 😏



Of course, a ballasted cruiser brings anti-fouling toil and mooring costs that the dinghy cruiser may laugh at, but the ballast-keel owner has the last laugh, because compared with the dinghy, it's relaxing, self-indulgent, with no great effort and no reason to fear, or sweat, or spend comfortless hours working hard just to keep the mast out of the water.

I think Charles Stock's cruiser Shoal Waters presents the step up from the arduous heavy dinghy zone into the effortless tiny cabin category. Most dinghy cruisers appreciate the traditional scene, and relish the flexibility of having only a few inches of draft. Shoal Waters achieved charming, restful stability and solidity in a tiny package, where even the biggest dinghy relies on her crew to stop her rolling over. Wouldn't most dinghy-cruisers prefer to escape that?



Perhaps dinghy cruising is for the young. It will certainly exhaust anyone who's out of shape.

To warrant the effort, you need to be gleefully enthusiastic about the simple business of owning, launching and sailing an open boat. That's true in all dinghy sailing, but I've found some of the joy of owning the Osprey is tidying her away and getting home to the sofa.

If you cruise a dinghy in a determined way, you need to be smiling as you fall asleep on the hard deck, and still smiling when you wake in the cold night, busting for a piddle but unable to extricate yourself from the jam of bedding wedged under the thwart. Dinghy cruising is hard, and cruising in a yacht, isn't.
 

DownWest

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25 Dec 2007
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Good thoughts Dan
I am going half way. My Oughtred boat is great fun, but I am aware that if I go over, then I likely would need help. Creaking joints means that is getting more likely, so the build in the shed is 17ft (designed as 15'4", but I have changed it a bit) and has a ballast keel . Will come back from mast in the water without bailing. Cabin for two and about 450kg all up. Draws 18" so knee deep. Not quite as versatile in shallow waters, but will suit what I do about here. (And no plate case in the cabin..)
Google Bolger Micro for an idea. Bit controversial, but an easy build and rig. Hull is being turned this w/end.
 

Wansworth

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8 May 2003
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15,070
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SPAIN,Galicia
My first coastal cruiser was a 15 foot grp double ended that I decked and had a sitting headroom cabin,seemed spacious until another person was in it.Being boatless now I think that if I had another boat it would be a 17 foot cabin sailer with outside ballast and bilge keeels to be upright on the hard,obviously not so manageable as a dinghy,But it could be left with all your stuff safe whilst you returned home and afford shelter in the British summers
 

ProDave

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5 Sep 2010
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10,461
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Alness / Black Isle Northern Scottish Highlands.
My first coastal cruiser was a 15 foot grp double ended that I decked and had a sitting headroom cabin,seemed spacious until another person was in it.Being boatless now I think that if I had another boat it would be a 17 foot cabin sailer with outside ballast and bilge keeels to be upright on the hard,obviously not so manageable as a dinghy,But it could be left with all your stuff safe whilst you returned home and afford shelter in the British summers
You have just described the Leisure 17, the little boat that I now sail. Big enough to sleep 2, and it's a good boat to sail. One has crossed the Atlantic even.
 

dancrane

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29 Dec 2010
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8,977
If I go over, then I likely would need help... so the build in the shed...has a ballast keel . Will come back from mast in the water without bailing. Cabin for two. Draws 18" so knee deep. And no plate case in the cabin.
...if I had another boat it would be a 17 foot cabin sailer with outside ballast and bilge keels to be upright on the hard...could be left with all your stuff safe whilst you returned home, and afford shelter in the British summers.
I believe you gentlemen have it - the informed approach to cruising minimalism. The Bolger sounds terrific, DW. (y)

I think that the only reasons to select a cruising boat that cannot fully shelter the off-watch crew from weather, and cannot be used to store the weighty kit which most campers conclude they need, and cannot self-right herself in potentially dire situations, are the apparent low costs of a dinghy compared with a yacht, and the slight perversity of people who embrace an avoidable difficulty as 'a challenge'.

I know, I've been doing it for years, and it's just an excuse. Access to a cabin boat immediately diminishes the appeal of cruising a dinghy.

Not that I couldn't be persuaded to do it again.


 

brainstorm

Member
Joined
16 Feb 2004
Messages
194
Location
Wirral
Glad you approve, Voidberg. ;) And I like the Mr Bond association, thank you. (y) A beautiful doctor at the General made that same slip of the tongue. It was tempting to pretend to her that I was Really Him, preparing for a role that required darker hair. With a touch of grey.

I was thinking again about the big dinghies which are as costly as similarly proportioned yachts, yet require much more physical input and forbearance with discomfort.

The absence of ballast issue is worse than the absence of a cabin. Roger Barnes seems to be as bright, positive and energetic as any man of his years has a right to be. He has sailed and rowed his heavy, traditional lugger on many ambitious and arduous journeys, and his honest descriptions of them are always very readable and watchable...



...but the fact that after a long time without encountering much difficulty or danger, he finally capsized at sea and discovered himself in serious need of outside help to recover the boat, proved (to me, who was always wary) the limits on coastal cruising in a boat that doesn't self-right.

I've spent days and odd nights this last year on a small cruiser with an iron keel. The deep sense of peace that comes from knowing she cannot roll over and lie on her side, turning the scene you had been enjoying into a hideous, perilous mess, is priceless. This one's not mine. 😏



Of course, a ballasted cruiser brings anti-fouling toil and mooring costs that the dinghy cruiser may laugh at, but the ballast-keel owner has the last laugh, because compared with the dinghy, it's relaxing, self-indulgent, with no great effort and no reason to fear, or sweat, or spend comfortless hours working hard just to keep the mast out of the water.

I think Charles Stock's cruiser Shoal Waters presents the step up from the arduous heavy dinghy zone into the effortless tiny cabin category. Most dinghy cruisers appreciate the traditional scene, and relish the flexibility of having only a few inches of draft. Shoal Waters achieved charming, restful stability and solidity in a tiny package, where even the biggest dinghy relies on her crew to stop her rolling over. Wouldn't most dinghy-cruisers prefer to escape that?



Perhaps dinghy cruising is for the young. It will certainly exhaust anyone who's out of shape.

To warrant the effort, you need to be gleefully enthusiastic about the simple business of owning, launching and sailing an open boat. That's true in all dinghy sailing, but I've found some of the joy of owning the Osprey is tidying her away and getting home to the sofa.

If you cruise a dinghy in a determined way, you need to be smiling as you fall asleep on the hard deck, and still smiling when you wake in the cold night, busting for a piddle but unable to extricate yourself from the jam of bedding wedged under the thwart. Dinghy cruising is hard, and cruising in a yacht, isn't.
Hi Dan

I have been interested to follow this thread and was flattered to see a photo of the saloon in my little Corribee! Well found. Sadly I am in England and she is in North Wales so out of bounds for the time being.
Not sure but is your boat an Osprey maybe?
 

dancrane

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29 Dec 2010
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8,977
Hello Brainstorm, I'm astonished that a photo of a cabin, picked almost randomly, has been recognised next day by its owner!

I was thinking of the Corribee as one of the best examples of an inexpensive small cruiser, and I haven't seen a nicer example than yours. I hope you get to see her soon. Below is Sam Llewellyn's Corribee. With so many nice cheap cabin-boats like these around, I don't believe anybody cruises a dinghy unless they have a slightly barmy streak.



My own exercise in madness, as you observed, is a Mark 2 glassfibre Osprey. These days I mostly day-sail, trying to summon the courage to trapeze single-handed. Just one rotten photo of that.



But I do like drying out in a creek or dropping anchor, then sitting low in the deep cockpit enjoying soup and coffee from flasks and lighting a cigar in the sun. It creates a deep sense of un-dinghy-like relaxation, which contrasts nicely after a very active sail to get there. That's my hybrid way of making the best of the limits in a boat with no accommodation, but I doubt it's what other dinghy cruisers actually seek.

When SWMBO isn't so nervous of my steering, perhaps she'll enjoy it, too. 😏

 

DownWest

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25 Dec 2007
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8,435
Location
S.W. France
Local friend, same age as me.. built a nice 15ft lod gaff cutter some years ago and has enjoyed sailing it about here. Moved on to camp cruising (he is also in the DCA and 'hosts' the events here) so made a boom tent and fixed the thwart that braces the plate case so it could be removed to bed down. Not ideal and he was muttering about it, then got caught out in a thunderstorm with strikes on the water quite close. Tent was flapping violently and little sleep. So , I said, why not a cabin? Maybe next winter.. Why? So he did it. It is too cramped for two (she does not sail) But works very well for him. You can see it in the DCA vids and pix. Blue with tan mainsail.

Dan, are friendly with buoys??
 

jwilson

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22 Jul 2006
Messages
5,087
Re launching: if you are lucky you will have somewhere like Falmouth Haven Grove Place with a wide shallow concrete slipway, a pontoon on one side to moor boat while you park the car and trailer, and nearby parking for both.

I do however remember launching a towed dinghy on a slipway and having to drag it up above the water (hated doing that but the tide was rising) and leaving it to drive away and find a parking space. Then couldn't find a parking space anywhere near big enough for car and empty trailer. Back to the boat, drag it up a bit more and try again. A lot of council car parks do not allow trailers, and you can get a fine if you leave one there.

I did once properly 'dinghy cruise', carrying a tent etc. in the boat to put up ashore at night. Bought a small cruiser soon after: just so much easier to drop a mooring and go, with cooker and bunks already on board in the cabin. And only a car to park, not a car and trailer.
 
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