Sunday, August 23, 2020

Four small dinghies that make sense...

A broken record, some interesting reading, and in the "legal rape & pillage" department...

These days there's a lot of talk about downsizing, minimalism, and frugality but, it seems to me, that in the cruising community the "You must have a 10-foot rib with at least a 15Hp engine" dogma somehow undercuts the "Let's simplify" mindset.

So, as I need to build another dinghy in the not-too-distant-future here are the designs on my current downsized, minimal, and frugal shortlist of boats that will do the job.

  1. Tortoise
  2. Atom 6.5
  3. Eastport Ultralight 
  4. Eko-Youyou 
Folks who know me are aware of my propensity to build a Tortoise whenever I need a dinghy and can't make up my mind on what to build. Bolger's Tortoise does a great job as a dinghy since it rows well, carries a surprising load for its size, and is incredibly stable. Throw in the fact that it's cheap, easy to build, and should only take a few afternoons to build makes its inclusion to just about all of my dinghy building shortlist.

I really like the Atom 6.5 as it pretty much does everything the Tortoise does but introduces a little more shape to the mix. It won't really row any better than a Tortoise but the design is less likely to offend passersby who find boxlike boats a personal affront.

The Eastport Ultralight may actually row a kiss better than the Tortoise and Atom but not enough to notice and the more refined shape will piss off fewer folk. That said, that more refined shape comes at a cost in the form of less form stability and some may find it difficult to reboard from the water or problematic if fly casting while standing.

Lastly, Yann's Eko-Youyou (which happens to be a free plan) has had me wanting to build it since I first came across it. You might say he had me when I noticed the sculling notch on the rear transom It's a kiss slimmer than the Tortoise, Atom, and Eastport so might perform a bit better under oars but not so much you'd actually notice.

So, what's a poor boy going to do?

The bottom line is all four of the designs will work just fine and any one of them will get you where you want to go and back again. They are all simple and cheap boats to build and maintain. Seriously what more do you actually need in a tender?

Which, I suppose, has you wondering just what I'm going to build. In truth, I'll most likely be building Yann's design but since I'm building the boat myself I can add a couple of features I liked from the other designs as well and fine-tune to what works best for my needs.

Listening to some Joe Strummer covers

So it goes...