View Full Version : Small Daysailer/Dinghy/Knockabout under 15ft

Dennis Marshall
11-27-2002, 11:04 AM
Hello, all. You will be happy to know that I am not starting a thread in which we air our preferences for a particular design, as interesting and educating as such threads are. Rather, I am seeking some feedback from folks who sail in craft smaller than 15 ft. I currently have a 16.25 ft sailboat, but am looking to build a smaller boat in the near future. The smallest I have considered to date is 11.5 ft. Since I single hand a lot, the smaller boat is attractive on a variety of fronts. While I daysail mostly, I do have some aspirations to coastal/camp cruise the eastern shore of Lake Michigan in the future.

I guess I am wondering how folks find them. Are they practical and satisfactory sailers? What is it that you love about 'em and what do you find their limitations to be?

Any and all comments are welcome.


Leon m
11-27-2002, 09:58 PM
When I want to get on the water and I don't
feel like messing with all the rigging of my
Thistle(18').I just slide the mast in my wooden
sunfish(12')and Im off and sailing.I took it sailing on the west coast of Lake Mich.NOTE:if
you do this install an auto bailer!I had a blast
surfing waves in a fresh breeze!!!but it wont
store any camp gear :(
I also sailed a CLC kayak with a sail rig
this summer that was a lot of fun! It would make
a great camp boat ,very easy for one person to
handle.But I'm a newbie when it comes to boat building ,I'm sure someone else will have some
good ideas for you too
Good Luck....Leon

11-27-2002, 10:20 PM
I wonder if these http://www.anglomarineservices.co.uk/wan.htm are buildable from plans in ply.

Designed by Ian Proctor, it's a scaled down version of the famous Wayfarer. In any case, the various books by the Dyes, on dinghy cruising, would be worth a look.

11-28-2002, 01:43 AM
Well I haven't sailed it yet, but that Wanderer looks alot like an ACE 14 that I am building.
I can't wait to get it out on the water.
Happy Sailing.

Ace 14 Building Progress (http://hometown.aol.com/tylerdarby)

Arch Davis By The Sea - ACE14 (http://www.by-the-sea.com/archdavisdesign/index.html)

11-28-2002, 06:39 AM
My Columbia Lifeboat Model dinghy (Mystic book How To Build The Herreshoff Dinghy) is a great little boat to sail. At 11.5 ft. it is a little small for some of your proposed uses. Building that boat up to 15', as Herreshoff did and Joel White did with the Catspaw (12.5'), you would have a fine little open cruiser.

11-28-2002, 09:15 AM
Here's New Zealand architect Gifford Jacksons' "marisol" It's 12'7", very dry, and feels very secure in a steady breeze. In fact the sail plan calls for reefing point's if you feel you need to take the time. If you get becalmed, you'll row home quickly and comfortably with the gunter rig coiled up against the mast. Two adults are very comfortable and if you wanted to take along a child as a third, it would be fine. If you want to read more about her. WB did an article on her in issue #12 "Somthing of my Own" by Gifford Jackson
Bill http://www.imagestation.com/picture/sraid22/pc35443c4d77ee66e474486fd3d5e8758/fdac3d69.jpg

Paul Jeffrey
11-28-2002, 09:31 AM
I don't have one of these but do have the plans for the Core Sound 17. Take a look at B&B Yacht Designs Spindrift series of sailing dinghys they are up to 12'. They are stitch and glue constructed and are reported to be quite nimble.

B&B Yacht Designs (http://www.bandbyachtdesigns.com/)

The Ace 14 is also a nice looking daysailer.

There are many others out there all of different building times and skill levels. But the B&B Spindrift is a straight forward build and there is good support for builders.

11-28-2002, 11:19 AM
Hi Dennis:

I recently went through a similar design analysis looking for something that would be suitable to camp cruise around Isle Royale (in Lake Superior).

It had to be versatile enough to row and sail well, be small enough to go as deck cargo on the Ranger III and yet still be seaworthy.

I haven't started building yet--my deal with SWMBO requires me to finish remodeling a bathroom first-but I'm planning on building Welsford's Rogue.

Lot's of interesting designs in this size--I'll be interested to see what you settle upon.


Dennis Marshall
11-28-2002, 05:01 PM
Thanks to all for responding thus far.

Leon M: The Sunfish would be a lively sailer for sure, but getting doused by the waters of Lake Michigan, which never seems to be warm, is something that I would rather not do.

Jack: Thanks for the heads up on the Wayfarer Dinghy. I will look into the Dye's books on dinghy cruising.

Tydarby: Nice site. The ACE, which I have looked at before, looks to be a nice design. It also seems relatively easy to build despite your having to wrestle the lower topside panels into place. When you get her in the water, I would certainly like to hear how she goes.

Thad: I have looked at both the Hereshoff Dinghy and the Catspaw. I did not know that there were stretched versions. Did these stretched versions fall under a different design name?

WFK: Thanks for the pic of the Marisol Skiff. That is the first one I have seen in the flesh, so to speak, and it looks quite capable. Did you build it? Was the construction fairly straight forward?

Paul: I have looked at B&B, and have even lusted after the CS17. That design is a little larger than I want, although I wonder if Mr. Byrnes would ever consider a CS15. I have also looked at the Spindrift 12. Those boats are very nice too, but I have to admit that I am not a big fan of S&G construction. My last project, and the first time I ever did S&G, kind of soured me on it. I found it to be messy. Of course, working in 90+ degree temperatures while gluing has its disadvantages.

LoonyToo: I own 3 sets of Welsford's designs -- Rogue, Houdini, and Truant. His Truant design is 11'6" x 5'4" and seems a shorter and less beamy version of Houdini. I am a fan of his designs, obviously, and these three boats seem quite capable. I will be interested in hearing how the construction and sailing of your Rogue go.

The problem with boats, well, the problem with me and boats, is that my short list never really gets short! :rolleyes: And from what I have read on this forum and others, I am in good company. :D


11-28-2002, 10:47 PM

I did buid the "Marisol",....1982, I was 22. Looking back on it, I was pretty nervous about it, but my boss was right there to give me a hand when needed and once I really got into it I did just fine. The hull is so strong, glued seam as well as riveted labstrack. Only 3 planks pr/side, not to mention dbl layers of 3 mil. ply on the bottom. That part certainly not nessesary. It truley is a little ship.


Dennis Marshall
11-29-2002, 08:04 AM
Hi, Bill. You wouldn't happen to have any more pics of the "Marisol" that you could post could you. I am quite interested in the interior arrangement of the design.

Thanks, Dennis

11-29-2002, 01:10 PM
Check out the Sharpie Book by Reuel Parker. There's a 14' sharpie skiff in there with a simple leg-of-mutton sprit rig that has good carrying capacity and would still be easy to single hand.

11-29-2002, 01:11 PM
Hi Dennis from a former Michigander,....born in Kazoo and grew up in Northport,about 3 hours north of you. Here's some shots I took of my boat this morning. The only real difference between my boat and the original design is that I made my aft seat a wrap around version,....Jackson had a bench on either side, also his bulkheads were watertight which if I were to do over again, I think I would do.

Bill http://www.imagestation.com/picture/sraid40/p3065610f02926dc69c1771986274912f/fcfe32b0.jpg

11-29-2002, 01:53 PM
Dennis: I would think anything less than about 15' would be a bit cramped for camp-sailing. But since you're looking for an 11-12 footer, you might have a look at Joel White's Shellback Dinghy. It's strong, easy to build, won't open up while trailering, and rows and sails very well. Scads of them have been built.
See any WB for ads.

Dennis Marshall
11-29-2002, 04:02 PM
Bill, thanks for posting the pics. I appreciate your taking the time to get them for me. Do you think that it could stand an increase in overall length of 10% and still maintain its virtues? This would mean an LOD of about 14ft.

Bayboat: I have looked at the Shearwater and Pooduck Skiff. I have also considered White's peapod. The Pooduck and Peapod seem more to my liking. While I know that Pooduck sailors are fond of their craft, I have not heard about the peapod.


11-29-2002, 04:32 PM
Dennis; I think Bayboat is right. 12' for the most part is a little small for camping/sailing. That being said here's a picture of a San Francisco Pelican (not mine) which I also have, the biggest 12' boat you'll find. I had more fun sailing this boat in my teens after school. My father and I built it when I was in high school, and is very suitable for your needs. Perfect for camping,.... 4 adults easy plus all the gear as well as a small outboard on the transom. A fantastic small family boat, very forgiving and designed for the bay, so it'll take the wind. The local highschool here on Orcas had a class that took 4 pelicans down the inside of Vancouver Island (big water indeed!) http://www.boat-links.com/PT/PT2000/Pelican.jpg

[ 11-29-2002, 05:51 PM: Message edited by: WFK ]

11-29-2002, 05:13 PM
As far as size goes, Margaret Dye has camp cruised her 14 ft. Wanderer pretty extensively. But she's a wiry slip of an old gal.

And you really must hunt up some of the books, written by both Frank and Margaret. They are the grandparents of cruising in tiny boats. Frank and a friend once sailed a Wayfarer from Britain to Iceland.

Dennis Marshall
11-30-2002, 09:42 PM
Bill, sorry to bother you again. When you posted the picture of the Pelican, I went over to yahoo to check out the pelican-sail bunch. It's an odd lookin' boat, to be sure, but I kind of like the sampan shape. Do you sail yours much now?


11-30-2002, 10:27 PM
unfortunatley Dennis, my pelican wouldn't pass a survey these days,... 25 years of being out in the weather has taken it's toll. They're pretty common out here because one of the main builders of these boats is near by,....Smith Brothers of Bow WA.,.. kits as well as complete boats.
I do have lots of sailing as well as construction photos I could scan if you like. In fact my neighbors pelican is for sale.


Wild Dingo
12-01-2002, 12:21 AM
mmmm Im fast becoming amoured with Iain Oughtred's "Elf" design... really I am guys!!! :eek: ... seriously! :rolleyes: Its a real humdinger to me old eyes musta been a viking in me other lifes... :cool:


At 15ft LOA x 4' - 5' beam wieght is a nice 140lb and her sail rig 53sq ft... I reckon she would be the bees knees!! I am seriously taken with this little girl...

I really would like to know more about her... There must be someone who has built one? surely??? Sorry mate but Im not too far of the track as she fits your criteria in that shes 15ft!! :D

Take it easy

12-01-2002, 06:04 AM
Take a look at John Welsford's stuff. he designs a whole range of wee boats for just what you describe. The best way to find out about them is to get his book, the New Zealand Backyard Boatbuilder, which has all his designs and bags of good stuff in it. the only problem is that you'll have to find the metric side on your tape measure, but i reckon it's worth it.

Dennis Marshall
12-01-2002, 10:49 AM
Shane, yes, the Elf is nice. WaterCraft magazine featured a story on the Elf within the last two years. In fact, it made the front cover of the mag, Oughtred and all. Sorry, I don't have the details, but a search at their website for back issues would give you the information you are looking for.


Dennis Marshall
12-01-2002, 10:52 AM
Bill, I would be interested in seeing some of those sailing pics. It is cold and snowy here and I need a lift. I would also be interested in hearing a little more how she handled. Is the boat overcanvassed? Is it responsive? When folks talk about it being fast, what does that mean. Does she plane in a breeze?



12-01-2002, 01:28 PM
Dennis; Here's a shot of my good ship. The top picture was in 1976 or '77 and gives you a good idea how much flair a pelican has. With nearly 6' of beam, I won't say impossible, but you really have to screw up to dump one of these over. The middle picture shows a bit of the fordeck rigging with later models changing to a roller furling to better control the jib, and If you need to get it down in a hurry, it all can be done from the cockpit. The last pic shows a Pelican campout,...thats my blue boat closest to the camera. I think there was 20 of us, and I was 17 or 18. Great fun, I latched on to a nice lingcod that weekend. As one could imagine, these boats don't do great to windward, but off the wind they scream. And again the way the hull is shaped when you get in a position where you need to spill the wind, they respond instantly, but are by no means over rigged!
Bill http://www.imagestation.com/picture/sraid40/p7d1a10a3626235114107e51d8ac0483d/fcfc2709.jpg

Dennis Marshall
12-01-2002, 02:00 PM
Great pics, Bill. The boat looks like a lot of fun. Thanks!


12-02-2002, 01:59 PM
An interesting variation on "one-footitis", except that most sufferers seek to go up in size, not down. I assume that it's because, unlike most of us, you're practical enough to realize that it's easier to build a smaller boat.

Personally I'm proud to be the owner of a Mirror 11 dinghy, which is an mahog ply pram. However, I find it fairly cramped. Any trip over 2 hours is just not practical, and camping/cruising would be an adventure in itself, probably stretching the limits. I'd have to say that you'd want something at least 14" for that application. Having said that, I've gone for a week canoe trip in a small canoe with wife + dog + gear, in some lakes that tossed up pretty good, so who am I to judge?

12-07-2002, 02:09 PM
I have a Core Sound 17 and would have definately gone for a CS15 if it had been available. Now, however, I wouldn't think of swaping.

I modified my design to have a casting platform at seat height taking up much of the forward half of the boat.

If I'd followed the plans and built with the forward deck I'd really consider sailing it to Isle Royal. Actually, I'm ALMOST ready to cross the gulf stream.

Graham is talking about a cabin version of the Core Sound 17. I WOULD take that to the Bahamas!


This link will get you to the albums section, then you'll have to search for my pictures.

Every August I join my brother for some salmon fishing. He has property on Drummond Island. Truly beautiful sailing waters, but if I brought along my boat we wouldn't get to fish.

Just some ramblings..17 feet might be just too big for you. If I had a larger garage I'd be building a Princess.

12-10-2002, 06:39 PM
Tread Lightly (http://www.jwboatdesigns.co.nz/new_designs/TreadLightly.html)

LOA. 4.000m 13 ft 0 in
Beam 1.500m 5 ft 0
Draft, board up 0.200m 8 in
Draft, board down 1.1m 3 ft 8in
Sail area 11.5 sq m 123 sq ft
Weight (est) 90 kg 198 lbs


imported_Steven Bauer
12-10-2002, 07:17 PM
Hey, I was gonna suggest Tread Lightly! There was a nice little write-up in the latest Watercraft.

Scott Benner
12-10-2002, 07:41 PM
B&B do have a 15' boat. It is the Bay River Skiff


Also, you might check out the Sentinel Challenger 13 and the Argie 15 at Dudley Dix Designs.


Good luck,