View Full Version : Bahama Dinghy Plans

John Gearing
03-05-2002, 10:06 PM
Thumbing through a back issue of "Small Boat Journal" (darn shame they hadda stop publishing)I came across a fine story about a fellow who made a nice little coastwise camp-cruise in Florida in a 15 foot, wooden (natch!), Bahama Dinghy. Said in a sidebar that the got the design out of one of Chapelle's books. Well, I had a look at the book only to find that Chappy didn't see fit to include offsets....just lines. Rats. Sidebar also says that at one time the Apprenticeshop was going to put together some real plans for this design. Anyone have any idea if they did? Before you all tell me to contact the Apprenticeshop directly....let me tell you that I've tried to contact them a couple of times with questions aboaut specific boats they have built. Email, snail mail, telephone, I get the same response--dey don know nuttin! Maybe because the shop has moved about 4 times in the last twenty years! Bath, Nobleboro, etc, that no one at the current location seems to know anything about what was done in the past. Currently they seem to be mostly concerned with promoting the Atlantic Challenge. So I'm hopeful that someone else out there can point me toward some plans for a traditional Bahama dinghy. No, I can't afford to have one built on Abaco.

Dave Thibodeau
03-06-2002, 07:59 AM
At one time the Rockport apprenticeshop had a set of plans for a 12' Bahama dinghy. Dave Dillon had taken the lines from a 12' Bahama Dinghy sitting around in Rockport Harbor. I used the sail plan for a 12' Bahama Dinghy I owned. I don't know what happened to the plans the Rockport Apprentice Shop owned when it went out of business. Recently on e-bay there has been a Bhaama Dinghy offered for sale at a very reasonable price

Dave Thibodeau

03-06-2002, 09:31 AM
You'll not be surprised to know I don't. However, John, your question reminded me of one I've had for some time. Where does the designer get the table of offsets? Elsewhere on The Forum, in another place far away and a time long ago, someone asserted that one cannot measure off the drawings. Thus the question: Does the designer not develop the table from carefully drawn lines? If so and you were to enlarge the lines you have and develop your own table how far off would you be? Maybe Gearing Dingy doesn't emote the romance that Bahama Dingy does but you'd still have a pretty good little boat, no?


Tom Lathrop
03-06-2002, 10:23 AM

I can tell you how I do it without computers. Design the lines you like and check all the appropriate factors in the design. If it's a hard chine you can work from the plan and profile to generate the sections. For a round hull, you will need a half hull model to get the sections. In either case, the lofting comes next.

I lived for a year in the Bahamas in the mid 1950's and saw lots of "Bahama" dinghys. Never saw or heard of plans or offsets and no two looked exactly alike. I expect they did them by "eye". I did not know much about boats though.

I would be wary of building to Chappelle's "plans" anyway. Did he ever actually design a boat? I sailed on a 36 foot sharpie that was built from his drawings and thought it a poor boat.

Wayne Jeffers
03-06-2002, 10:26 AM
As I understand it, Norm, the offsets for all the stations are not rigid parameters from which the builder must not deviate, particularly the first time a design is built. On the contrary, they are intended as a definition of the shape of the boat within close tolerances. The final shape is determined by (first) lofting and (finally) by the builder fairing the molds, ribbands, etc., when the building form is set up.

I think the full-size patterns available for popular designs are the product of previous builders having proved or refined the offsets initially developed by the designer.


03-06-2002, 07:10 PM
in the book Expectant Father's Cradle Boat is a Bahama Dinghy you might can enlarge, or order just the Bahama Dinghy plans for a cradle from

Bob Lincoln
774 Kauga St South
Lake Tahoe CA 96150
Tel 530-577-8727

I have not seen either but it might work for you

Got a reply
Thank You for your request for the Bahama Cradle Dinghy plans.
They are $45.00 and will be sent to you in a round tube, when your check arrives.

Please make it payable to:
RKL Boatworks
774 Cayuga St.
South Lake Tahoe, CA 96150

[ 03-07-2002, 10:02 AM: Message edited by: dld ]

John Gearing
03-07-2002, 01:02 PM
Thanks for all the input so far, gang! The boat in the article was built by the writer, one Lowell Thomas, who used the lines from Chapelle's book and was enthusiastic in his praise of his boat's sailing and handling qualities. The design interests me because it is more of a traditional workboat type: no centerboard, pretty beamy, with greatest beam forward of amidships. Draft a whopping 18 inches! (Yeah, skinny water would be a bit of a no-no, but I'll live with that restriction...) Yet, Thomas reports that his boat was quite a smart sailer, enough so to intrigue me about the possibility of building another.

There is a scale on the drawing in Chapelle's book, which could doubtless be used to measure points off the lines drawing. I suppose that the Smithsonian has this drawing in its Chapelle collection, and that it would be a larger drawing, which would make things easier. I was just hoping someone would have a source for it already. ;)

The Thomas article's sidebar mentions that Dave Dillon was about to produce plans of "a" Bahama Dinghy, and it sounds as though he did, but I kind of like Chapelle's 15 footer in concept more than a 12 footer. Yeah, you're right, there is no one set design for these boats. They came in all sizes from 10 feet to over 20 feet in length. There was some builder down in Abaco a few years back who priced them by the foot!

One thing about the drawing in Chapelle's book--in the text he seemingly goes out of his way to disparage the capabilities of the design. While he acknowledges that Bahamian sailors had made some outstanding long distance voyages in these dinghies, he attributes their achievements to their seamanship (and good fortune, as I recall), explicitly stating that these were the determinative factors, not the design. I'd love to know why he was so down on these boats.

Funny, Chapelle usually gets rapped for having not been a boatbuilder rather than not having a been a designer. I forget his exact biography but I think he was trained in design. As to how many boats he designed, I haven't a clue, though I am pretty sure that Roger Taylor discusses this in one of his "Good Boats" books.

Thomas' boat was a stripper he built out of scavanged materials for next to nothing. I'd probably try mine in traditioal lapstrake (so I can give it a nice oil/tar finish smile.gif )

03-07-2002, 01:39 PM
I looked last night, the plans for the Bahama Dinghy are in the Smithsonian catalog. As you already mentioned, they do not include offsets.


Tom Lathrop
03-07-2002, 02:12 PM

I was not really putting a rap on Chapelle. Sometimes people take some of the drawings in his books as being a tested and true design. They may well be but they can just as easily be a historically important boat with a lot of shortcomings. He was mostly a historian who wanted to record the mechanical statistics of boats for posterity. For that we owe him our thanks. I was just cautioning against taking a design from his books as worthy of reproducing for our use just because it's there.

Ian McColgin
03-07-2002, 04:55 PM
Donald Street has a nice 'Saints Dinghey' in Ocean whatever Yacht. (Not vol 2)

But no off-sets. Those guys built what they knew and evolved a bit at a time.

It is amazing what a real genius can do with little differences in shape. I've rowed good prams and then I've rowed one designed by LFH. It's really stunning.

But if you don't worry about such levels of perfection, there's no reason you can't fare up a nice half model from even rough lines and make a good dink.

G'luck & send pix and they come. That way we can mutter how you're putting too much drag in the skeg or the buttocks are too hollow or . . .

John Gearing
03-07-2002, 06:48 PM
Uncle Ralph--Thanks for the head's up! Guess I'll have to order their drawings and see what I can do about deriving my own offsets. Wonder if they have their catalog online?? I'll have to go have a peek.

Tom--I completely agree-Chapelle was recording these boats as an historian. Just because a boat appears in one of his books doesn't mean that it is necessarily a good boat, or that its design has not been surpassed. As an example, I recall the one of the WB articles about sharpies, both old and modern, and while the ones Chapelle recorded were interesting in their own light, it seems as if the modern designs have them beat for recreational functionality. Sometimes though, the boats are good--I recall that the Apprenticeshop built a sailing peapod from one of his drawings, a model said in the book to be fast, and it indeed proved to be quite a quick sailer. I became interested in this particular dinghy after reading her owner's enthusiastic description of her speed, stability, and handling, so I'm hoping he was telling the truth!

Ian--how did you know? My skeg HAS been dragging of late! 'Fraid I have to do a lot more aerobics before I get hollow buttocks, though! :D :D :D

John Gearing
03-07-2002, 07:14 PM
You wouldn't by any chance be able to direct me toward that Bahama Dinghy on ebay could you? I did some checking there but couldn't seem to find it.


03-07-2002, 09:28 PM
I do not believe that the Smithsonion catalog is on time, but I can give you the information I have. The Bahama Dingy in the catalog is the one shown on page 227 of American Small Sailing Craft. From other plans I have ordered I believe you will get exactly what is in the book, only at a larger scale. I can give you the informatiom you need.
The plan number is ASSC-90.
Make check to Smithsonian Institution.
Address is:

Ships Plans
Division of Transportation
NMAH - 5010/MRC 628
Smithsonian Institution
Washington, DC 20560

My catalog says the plans are $3 and shipping and handling is $5, but my catalog is dated 1993 so prices are probably wrong. You can try to contact them for a price update, but I could not find a phone number in the catalog. If it were me I would probably just send $20 and figure it was going to a good cause.

03-07-2002, 09:35 PM
I just proof read my post after I posted it. Obviously I meant "on line" not "on time" on the first line. Also, the plan number should be ASSC-89. Sorry about that.

Howard Gmelch
03-07-2002, 11:55 PM
The last time I had a question about Smithsonian plans I spoke with Paula Johnson at (202) 357-2025.

Todd Schliemann
03-08-2002, 01:02 AM
John, I think you had a similar question years ago on the "old forum" (which has gone the way of the world it seems).

Never mind off sets. I watched Winer Malone build one some years ago in Hopetown. He built by eye, with no offsets, with no power tools, in a lean-too, at the edge of the harbor. Local woods, some "imported" he constantly reminded me. They sail on their ear in the trade winds, heavily built, fun to sail, are a sight to see, but need careful handling to keep her close to the wind. As transportation in the Bahamas they can't be beat. Very nimble. There can be no other than one built that way, even in Marsh Harbor. They are unique to the local culture, even between Marsh and Hopetown, a matter of minutes in a dingy.

It seems so odd to me that this history is only as old as I can remember, and now we talk about "taking off lines."

Call up information on the telephone, Bahamas. Ask for anyone named "Malone." Then start taking your offsets. You won't get Winer, but you'll sure get an idea of her history.

Sorry, but we sometimes seem to ride a past wave over the more present one.

Dave Thibodeau
03-08-2002, 07:14 AM

It seems the Bahama Dinghy located in Florida sold for around $ 750, a very good buy in my book !!

I owned a 10 1/2 ' foot Bahama Dinghy modeled from a half model made by Winer Malone.

I can only speak from experience of the sailing qualities of these boats.

First, I believe they are one of the most graceful looking boats underway , I named my boat "She Dances To A Lovely Tune"

They have a full length keel which on a small sailboat is not the most effective method of allowing a boat to work to windward. But all you have to do is chose a course which the boat favors and this is of no consequence. I am sure when you reach the other side King Neptune will not ask how many miles you made to windward in your lifetime.

Dave hibodeau

Dave Thibodeau
03-08-2002, 07:32 AM

I found the Bahama Dinghy on EBAY, it did not meet the reserve so it was not sold. it is 10' feet long which is not the 15' boat you are looking for.


Dave Thibodeau

03-16-2002, 10:02 AM

I actually called information about a year ago, asked for Malone and had the pleasure of speaking
with Winer himself. I think I'm on his two-year waiting list for a dinghy. If one needs lines and offsets maybe this is the way to get them.
Incidentally he referred me to a guy down there who had recently purchased the last of the 14' Malone dinghies and wanted to sell it. The fellow actually called me but I passed on it. The trail is probably cold on that Malone boat.

Todd Schliemann
03-16-2002, 10:59 AM
Karl, that's great. I should have taken my own advice and not bypassed that Winer wave, LOL. They are great boats. You will love his version. Saw one 5 years ago on Long Island Sound. Seemed a little out of place, but looked to be in excellent shape. TRhink it got sold out to the midwest.

Winer, himself, is a soft-spoken gentlemen. His boats are workmenlike and strong. Elegant simplicity, a lot like Winer. Wish you all the best with it. Two years is a long time to wait. Good to see his "market" is still there.

fair winds

wizbang 13
09-19-2010, 01:34 PM
I am biased toward Island boats too. But Island chippys DID learn their thing from the outside world( white peeps).

01-17-2011, 08:12 PM
radio check