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Thread: Good 6 Ft Dinghy?

  1. #1
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    Default Good 6 Ft Dinghy?

    I know short boats are generally a bad idea, but I want the best boat that will fit in the back of my Toyota Tacoma pickup with tailgate and canopy door closed; a boat that lives full-time in the back, secure from weather and theft, always ready for an impulse row. There is 73" length by 42-48" width, depending on whether the boat fits between or partially above the wheel wells. The boat would be for one person (175 lb), mainly in near-shore Puget Sound, where some wind & chop is expected. Light weight is also important because many water access points involve a long carry, often negotiating driftwood and kelp-covered rocks.

    I've had a couple of 8 ft hard dinghies plus currently a number of kayaks and small inflatables, so have an idea of the sacrifices in speed and stability. Take-apart boats are interesting but they can be heavy, and the added assembly takes them out of the impulse category. A partially deflated inflatable is also rejected for similar reasons.

    Some candidates (with comments) are below, and those longer than 73" would be pared down by making the stern and possibly bow transoms less raked and more vertical:

    John Welsford Scraps, 6'3" x 3'9": I like this design very much, though my impression is that his designs may be slightly heavier and more complex to build (than pure stitch & tape) with stringers and other added bits.

    Paul Fisher Skylark 6, 6'0" x 3'8": Another nice design, already 6 ft long

    CLC Eastport Ultralight Dinghy, 6'0" x 3'4": Slightly narrower than it needs to be (for my purposes) and roundish bottom may lack initial stability. Also a complex-looking build for my purposes (I wouldn't do the kit).

    Alex Bogdanov Dingo, 6'6" x 4'0": Beamy with pointy-ish bow, not sure if this would affect handling or not (I built a Bogdanov kayak/skiff and like it a lot).

    Bolger Tortoise-type boats: Most stability and load carrying for its dimensions, but having built a similar boat once, found it discouraging to row in any kind of chop; so a bias against this type.

    There's also Warren Messer's PUD-g, Peterson Portage Pram, and others that may need too much modifying to meet the length requirement.

    I'm leaning toward Dingo for its pointy-ish bow and wide beam, provided this combination doesn't introduce any weird handling traits. It's weight is reported to be a very light 28 lbs but I would add some flotation, and anyway think the weight of any of these boats is more up to the builder.

    Your comments would be appreciated, especially by people who have used any of these boats (or similar) and can share experiences. I apologize if this topic has been covered but I did a search and didn't find anything pertinent.

    Thanks very much,
    Jack - Seattle

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Good 6 Ft Dinghy?

    This really is the place for a nesting dingy.Any dingy can be made to nest .

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Good 6 Ft Dinghy?

    Re: nesting dinghy, you are probably correct. I was thinking a nesting dinghy would be more difficult to build and heavier, and the added time assemble the two halves (to get underway) would take away from the impulse category. But I guess building would only involve adding a pair of bulkheads and then cutting the boat in half between the two. There is no question that a longer dinghy would be better in every respect, once on the water. The sticky part is getting from my truck to the water (and back) with absolute minimum of fuss. But I've never used a 6 ft dinghy, and it may be more limiting than I imagine.

    Jack

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    Default Re: Good 6 Ft Dinghy?

    Of the boats mentioned above, I think I like the Scraps the best.

    But can't you put a lightweight canoe/kayak type boat on racks over the truck canopy? That would open up a world of possibilities.
    I guess a bike cable lock might deter casual theft. Where I live there are a few old aluminum canoes that live atop the owners car, winter and summer!

    Otherwise, there is the Fliptail 6, a folding dinghy -

    https://duckworks.com/fliptail-6-plans/




    There are longer fold-up-boats on this page. These would have to go atop the canopy, but look like a pile of odds and ends, so nobody would likley steal one...

    https://duckworks.com/folding-boats/

    There is the 6' Skylark
    https://duckworks.com/skylark-6-plans/




    6' Doracle, which looks like a Bolger copy, https://duckworks.com/6-doracle-plans/




    The 5', 7" Deckster, another Bolgeresk "Brick Boat" - https://duckworks.com/deckster-plans/





    Ken Simpson has some fold up types - https://duckworks.com/ken-simpson/







    Sorry, no experience with any of the above!

    If it were me and I had to do this, I'd go with the Bolger Shoe box Punt. It's a six foot brick type but with built in side flotation tanks.
    I can't find a good photo of one, but Duclworks used to have an article about somebody that built one and put a sailing rig on it. Worked pretty good. In a boat so very small, I'd want the that built in flotation for safety!

    There is even a nesting version that looks like a long suitcase. The side flotation tanks come off and store neatly in the center hull. That certainly would take up little space in the truck, leaving you with a little cargo capacity. The thing was intended as a lifeboat as well as a minimal tender, so at least it's safe, unlike many of the micro boats above!

    The Shoe Box is small enough that it is often kneeled in and propelled by a double paddle like a kayak. That's how Susan Altenburger uses hers these days.

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    Default Re: Good 6 Ft Dinghy?

    A couple of interesting options here http://forum.woodenboat.com/showthre...am-(Design-97)
    Larks

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  6. #6
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    Default Re: Good 6 Ft Dinghy?

    That folding skiff is an eye opener for me.
    I have had and used a few 6 ‘ dinks. Thing is , even if built biggish in beam and freeboard, it will still be a painfully slow rower. We’re talking 4 or 5 feet per stroke. Knot n a half or two .

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    Default Re: Good 6 Ft Dinghy?

    • wizbang 13: "I have had and used a few 6 ‘ dinks. Thing is , even if built biggish in beam and freeboard, it will still be a painfully slow rower. We’re talking 4 or 5 feet per stroke. Knot n a half or two"

      An 8 ft dink (say 7.5' WL) has a theoretical hull speed of 3.67 kts while a 6 footer (5.5' WL) is at 3.14 kts, not a huge difference. I do believe you though, that in practice, 6 ft dinghies do not seem to work very well. Maybe the problem is that 6 ft dinghy has roughly half the volume (length x beam x depth) as an 8 footer, so for a given load, it is digging a much deeper hole in the water. I think the Tortoise-types may be a good solution for a 6-footer, since (paraphrasing Bolger) they spread their displacement over the largest possible area.

      Jack - Seattle





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    Default Re: Good 6 Ft Dinghy?

    Edtbob,

    Thanks for your ideas. I will think harder on the shoebox style punt, though I built a punt years ago and had some issues with it. It was a fine flatwater boat but pointless trying to row upwind into a chop. It may make a better sailer than rower though. I do have an old Bolger book with both Shoebox and Brick. And like you, I would never have any small boat without good flotation; life's short enough as it is, no point in making it shorter.

    Jack

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    Default Re: Good 6 Ft Dinghy?

    Larks, thanks for the link. The Gartside pram looks interesting, and I do like a v-bottom. Though I would probably run the bottom out to vertical bow & stern transoms; to wring every bit of displacement out of my available 73 x 42+ inches.
    Jack

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    Default Re: Good 6 Ft Dinghy?

    Chuck Merrell's "Apple Tart"
    Single2.jpg

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    Default Re: Good 6 Ft Dinghy?

    I built CLC's nesting version of their Eastport Pram from typically thorough and comprehensive CLC plans. The two sections go together very quickly (under 2 minutes.) It rows very easily and nicely and also has a sailing option. The only caveat is regarding the seat layout dictated by the nesting aspect. It's great for one person rowing but add a passenger and move to the front rowing position and things get a bit cramped and awkward. Seating compromises are probably true for a lot of nesting designs. Something to consider before "nestisizing" a design.

    I also built a Fliptail 9 just because I was rather taken with the engineering that transforms a large-ish dinghy into a package that could be easily stowed under a bed. The Flip is a very cool boat and I'm very happy to have in the fleet but no one will mistake it for a performance dinghy. Even though it's a foot and a half longer than the EP, the Flip is slower than the EP. I'd imagine the 6' version to be even slower.

    Hope this helps some.
    Last edited by Dusty Yevsky; 07-15-2021 at 11:28 PM.

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    Default Re: Good 6 Ft Dinghy?

    On the folding idea, you might look for a used Folbot kayak. They fit in duffel bags, assemble in perhaps 15 minutes, and can be had for less than the price of lumber and epoxy.

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    Default Re: Good 6 Ft Dinghy?

    I wonder if you could scale this one down by ~8% to hit 73" (it's 80" as designed) https://duckworks.com/portage-pram-p...owing-version/. It's also possible that it could angle up, so not flat on the bed, and fit as designed (you'd have to do some careful measuring and maybe ask Duckworks -- they are selling CNC kits so they obviously have digital models!).

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    Default Re: Good 6 Ft Dinghy?

    dbp1, I did look hard at the Portage Pram. It measures just over 82" on their CNC drawing, and I thought it too much to cut 9" off (by making both transoms vertical) - though I could be wrong. I would personally be reluctant to try a straight scaledown on a boat already this small. Also the plans price is $100, which seems a bit steep for older plans which presumably don't include pre-shaped panel drawings - just offsets etc?

    Jack

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    Default Re: Good 6 Ft Dinghy?

    Six foot boats are for going a couple hundred feet between the mooring or shore and the primary boat. Not pleasure rowers--they do beat swimming to your boat, however. This is just my opinion.

    What about a nesting skin on frame boat? Two six foot halves. They would be light.

    Just a thought. Good luck!

    Kevin
    There are two kinds of boaters: those who have run aground, and those who lie about it.

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    Default Re: Good 6 Ft Dinghy?

    Quote Originally Posted by Breakaway View Post
    Six foot boats are for going a couple hundred feet between the mooring or shore and the primary boat. Not pleasure rowers--they do beat swimming to your boat, however. This is just my opinion.

    What about a nesting skin on frame boat? Two six foot halves. They would be light.

    Just a thought. Good luck!

    Kevin
    yea this is what I was trying to say in # 6. Theoretical hull speed my butt ... maybe one can motor a 6 foot dingy at 3 plus knots ... Using one to row/sail around gonna get old real fast .

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    Default Re: Good 6 Ft Dinghy?

    Thanks Dusty and everyone else for your thoughtful replies. The consensus seems to be that an 8 ft (nominal) dinghy is the smallest practical size for covering reasonable distances, and 6 footers are an okay option only when nothing longer will work. While I can't disagree with this, I'm not rowing a load of groceries out to my boat anchored off in the distance, or going on an all-day row/sail adventure.

    For me it's a quick 2-hour row/paddle several times a week for exercise and refreshment, and I've found that my smallest/lightest boats go with me while the bigger ones stay at home. So it's a matter of extrapolation; if my current smallest boat is my most used, should I go even smaller? Still pondering this one

    Thanks again,
    Jack

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    Default Re: Good 6 Ft Dinghy?

    I'll absolutely defer to everyone else in terms of actually wanting to row one of these things (I rowed an 8ft bolger box, and it was fine with a daggerboard down, though I wouldn't call it fun!), but if shrinking the portage pram seems like too much, shrinking this one (off of the smallest size) would only require dropping 5"...

    https://bandbyachtdesigns.com/catsaw-two-paw/

    You could also email Graham and ask him if he thought it was a bad idea -- he's already made a bunch of versions, so would probably have a sense of whether shrinking it a bit more would do okay.

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Good 6 Ft Dinghy?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jack Loudon View Post
    Thanks Dusty and everyone else for your thoughtful replies. The consensus seems to be that an 8 ft (nominal) dinghy is the smallest practical size for covering reasonable distances, and 6 footers are an okay option only when nothing longer will work. While I can't disagree with this, I'm not rowing a load of groceries out to my boat anchored off in the distance, or going on an all-day row/sail adventure.

    For me it's a quick 2-hour row/paddle several times a week for exercise and refreshment, and I've found that my smallest/lightest boats go with me while the bigger ones stay at home. So it's a matter of extrapolation; if my current smallest boat is my most used, should I go even smaller? Still pondering this one

    Thanks again,
    Jack
    Lot more use of a slightly longer boat if you are rowing it. Despite your comments about length an usage..a slightly longer boat will row far better than a 6 ft dink. And, you will enjoy it more! If storage is a prob, then make a nesting one. But I don't think that is your prob..
    Something light? Then you will get out more.

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    Default Re: Good 6 Ft Dinghy?

    The 6’ version of Harry Bryan’s Ladybug could work.
    https://www.offcenterharbor.com/2017...elbarrow-boat/

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    Default Re: Good 6 Ft Dinghy?

    This site has a few small boats. https://hvartial.kapsi.fi/

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    Default Re: Good 6 Ft Dinghy?

    Thanks once more for the latest batch of responses. I think the weight of opinions against 6-footers has begun to penetrate my simian skull.

    And I just realized that I have a small inflatable boat/raft in a corner of my shop (came with a larger boat purchase) and has never been used, though I inflated it once to measure it. It's heavy, and too wide to fit inflated in my pickup, bit it's not much over 6 ft long if I ignore the pointy pontoon extensions extending past the transom. So I will inflate the little beast and give it a proper trial with its stubby oars. While far more stable than any hard sided 6-footer, it should give a taste of covering distance in a small boat. I think I already know the outcome of this little test

    Jack

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    Default Re: Good 6 Ft Dinghy?

    Jack, My first build, aged about 11 & a half, was a little flat bottomed 6ft pram. Managed it in a week of all hours work, inc the the gaff rig and oars. Huge fun for several years.
    But, now, I would build something a little more caperble and slightly longer. So, if you need to get it into your pick-up.. a nesting job. In reality, a few oz heavier and a couple of hours extra work.
    Some friends have a Nest-a-Way three part GRP narrow dinghy. Takes a couple of minutes to join the bits. Not a hassle in real life.

    About your inflatable find. It might row, but no fun in doing it..Bit of length and decent oars, along with a rigid hull, can make things much more enjoyable. Which, is why we do this stuff?

  25. #25
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    Default Re: Good 6 Ft Dinghy?

    Excellent for landing on rocky beaches and dragging ashore: https://www.westmarine.com/buy/west-...SABEgKhcvD_BwE
    “Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world's great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of those rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs."

  26. #26
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    Default Re: Good 6 Ft Dinghy?

    Quote Originally Posted by Breakaway View Post
    Six foot boats are for going a couple hundred feet between the mooring or shore and the primary boat. Not pleasure rowers--they do beat swimming to your boat, however. This is just my opinion.

    What about a nesting skin on frame boat? Two six foot halves. They would be light.

    Just a thought. Good luck!

    Kevin
    This.

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    David G
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  27. #27
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    Default Re: Good 6 Ft Dinghy?

    Thank you all for your excellent suggestions! I have been duly inculcated, and appreciate your patience and benevolence.

    And David G, pebbles do very little (ask my wife!); so maybe trepanation, followed by a 1/2" drift pin.

    Jack

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    Default Re: Good 6 Ft Dinghy?

    Quote Originally Posted by David G View Post
    This.

    Just another pebble to bounce off your NakedApeSkull.
    I misread this and scoured the internet for plans for the “nakedapescull” I can tell you the plans don’t exist

  29. #29
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    Default Re: Good 6 Ft Dinghy?

    On a lark, I've mostly drawn up something for you, Jack - shoot me an email if interested.
    6'x4', 20some lbs, decked or not, round(ed) transoms or chined, an easy weekend build (plus paint drying time).
    Half of a sheet of 12mm marine ply, three or four 1X cedar boards, 7' of fabric, foam for flotation, paint, screws, a tube of Six-10 or the like.

    Dave
    GentryCustomBoats@yahoo.com

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    Default Re: Good 6 Ft Dinghy?

    Dave you'r teasing all reader's of that discussion ;-)
    Please show us at least a draft of your creation.

  31. #31
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    Default Re: Good 6 Ft Dinghy?

    WOW! Would love to see it, and happy to send you a few bucks for your trouble. I've never done SOF but it seems perfect for my needs. Unfortunately I'm out of town from the end of this week until September, so little chance to do anything except look at it until then.

    Thanks very much,
    Jack

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    Default Re: Good 6 Ft Dinghy?

    Next year, I intend to build one of these PT11 nesting dinghies http://www.ptwatercraft.com/ptwatercraft/PT11Home.html

    As designed, it'll be too heavy for me so I'll build it with foam and glass. But to have a very light tender that rows really well and is easily stored on deck, it's worth it. Especially when the wind is up.

    But I'm also a big fan of Dave Gentry's designs so I'm happy to be convinced of an alternative!
    Rick

    Lean and nosey like a ferret

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    Default Re: Good 6 Ft Dinghy?

    Sorry - it was my daughter's bday week.
    More or less this. Optional (fabric) deck hides flotation and should keep the cockpit out of the water if she's on her side. Coaming can be squared off up front, for easier building. Top of the truck's wheel wells will hit an inch or so below the upper chine. As depicted she's meant for Jack's size and needs, including moving forward and staying drier in chop. Arrangement can be modified for a passenger or whatnot. She would work with a smaller trolling motor, but not for anything heavier - or a sail rig. A golf umbrella and a sculling notch would work though.
    Tortuga, in homage to Bolger's 6' Tortoise.
    Tortuga 3small.jpg
    Last edited by DGentry; 07-27-2021 at 08:57 AM.

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    Default Re: Good 6 Ft Dinghy?

    Thank-you Dave.
    Very nice little turtle.

    And happy birthday to your daughter!

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    Default Re: Good 6 Ft Dinghy?

    Jack,

    You also might consider Iain Oughtred's 7ft Auklet but built short to 6ft.

    It's beam just fits between your width limit. Unusually for a small boat, Iain went to lengths to give it a narrow waterline entry, and it's designed displacement is for one, maybe two. At a shorter length it will have a lower design displacement but that should mean it's about ideal for one only and sit on it's lines. Built lapped in 4mm the planks should bend just I'd have thought. The finished boat will be a bit of a compromise but there will be people intereted in buying it one day, plenty of people want a light tender to fit over a coachroof and will accept the compromises.

    Last edited by Edward Pearson; 07-27-2021 at 05:36 AM.

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