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The realities of dinghy cruising?

Long-John Saliva

Active member
Joined
28 Dec 2016
Messages
279
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 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.

That looks like Ashlet Creek to me and like you had Weston Sailing Club membership stickers on the stern?
 

Long-John Saliva

Active member
Joined
28 Dec 2016
Messages
279
I admire you folk, I really do, but I can't think of any way that I could have slept in our Laser Stratos. That was pretty big, as dinghies go, and we did have an outboard for it, but we never made it outside of Soton Water. Long story. A couple of years ago, realising I would probably never sail a dinghy again, we gave it to Soton Sea Scouts.
 

Long-John Saliva

Active member
Joined
28 Dec 2016
Messages
279
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. 😏

I usually dry out in Marchwood Priory, with all the others.
 
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