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kilarney 02-26-2011 01:27 PM

Looking for dinghy recommendations
I currently own a Sunfish clone (Pointer 14) and enjoy the boat quite a bit.

While I'd like to keep my current boat, I'd like to pick up something that my whole family can enjoy. I was considering picking up another Sunfish-type boat, but I'd also like something that is drier.

I live in northern New England, and sail in lakes. Offshore sailing and large waves are not an issue - although I'd like to be able to occasionally use the boat in protected ocean bays or Long Island Sound.

Here is what I am looking for:
- Something that my wife and two boys can all sail in.
- Something that can be beached.
- Easily trailerable. (I have a car and a van - nothing heavy duty.)
- Can be sailed single handed.
- Can be launched single handed. (The boys are still young.)
- Easy and quick to rig. (I often sneak out of work for a couple of hours of afternoon sailing.)
- A stable boat for the family. Positive flotation is a plus. I'm not looking to race. I'd like something that the kids can handle as the grow up.

I'm fine with one sail (e.g. lateen rig). If this means that it's quick to rig the boat, and it's easy to sail - then that's fine. Something that can take a little abuse is a big plus.

I am not handy. I would need a boat that's no more than a few years old. New boats are fine.

I'm starting to think that there just aren't many boats in this category. I've considered a Catalina 14.2 Expo, but I'm not sure if it's quite big enough. I've also heard that it takes two people to step the mast.

I'm also starting to think that I should just go with a 25 foot weekender type boat, but's that a thread for another day. The biggest problem with going up to that size is the lack of late model used boats and the fixed costs associated with a boat that is not routinely trailered.

Any thoughts? Thanks!

DonScribner 02-26-2011 01:48 PM


We trailer our Lancer 25 every weekend (wind willing) and I have launched her single handed, though it isn't fun. I'd suggest something in the 23' range with a center board. There's a zillion older models in great repair out there. I always add this part . . . make sure the head suits you. On smaller boats it is often right in the middle of the cabin, for all to see.

sailingdog 02-26-2011 01:49 PM

you might consider something like an O'Day Daysailer or the slightly smaller Javelin. They're not new, but they're decent boats and small enough that you can trailer them behind the vehicles you've listed, step the rig by yourself and large enough to handle you, your wife and two kids. The Javelin might be a bit tight depending on how big you, your wife and two kids are as it is only a 14' boat. :D

Another, probably better option, would be to get something like a Compac 17 Sun Cat. While only a few feet longer than your sunfish, it is a much bigger boat, since it is much beamier. The catboat rig means it has but a single sail to raise. The mast is designed to be easily raised by a single person. Might be a bit heavier than you want though.

Siamese 02-26-2011 03:09 PM

Sea Pearl 21

fallard 02-26-2011 05:41 PM

The previous post mentioned the Compac 17, which might be difficult to rig on a single-handed basis. A mast tabernacle (mast hinged above deck) is helpful in this regard.

Smaller catboats might offer a better solution. Compac makes a 14 ft daysailer, which displaces 500# (vs. 1500# for the 17). Other catboats in the 14' range include the Arey's Pond 14' at 700# and 7' beam and the Marshall Sandpiper (15.5', 7' 1" beam, 1050#). There are some older catboats in this range, such as the Minuteman and Handy Cat. The Catboat Association website list used catboats for sale.

The catboat rig is pretty simple and the centerboard arrangement lets you get into skinny water. You can nose these boats up to a beach, but I'd leave them floating in 1' ft of water anchored fore and aft and walk ashore. The weight of these boats, including trailer and gear should be well within your car's limits. The real advantage of the catboat is the form stability and the relatively benign sailing characteristics. Catboats are famous for weather helm--hence the large "barn door" rudder. With weather helm, you are likely to head up in a puff, rather than heel way over.

The downside to the catboats is their initial cost--especially new. The upside is that catboats are in a cult boat category and their resale remains high. They are typically very well built for their size and age very gracefully. Check the Catboat Association site for clues on used asking prices.

kilarney 02-26-2011 08:05 PM

The Compac Picnic Cat is the closest thing I've seen to my ideal boat. The price, however, makes the Catalina 14.2 Expo look nicer.

I think it's really down between those two. This assumes that a family of four can fit in them.

fallard 02-26-2011 09:13 PM

The first sailboat for our family of 4 was an O'Day daysailor. it was 16'9'' OA, had a6' beam, and displaced 575#, if memory serves (that was 40 yrs. ago!) Our sailing venue was the Mystic River and Fishers Island Sound (eastern end of Long Island Sound). We had a lot of fun, but it got dicey at times. We added an inflatable masthead flotation device in case of a capsize.

Our next boat was an 18' catboat. It had a beam of 8' and a displacement of 2500#. It seemed like the Queen Mary by comparison. Never worried about a capsize, even when we got caught once in 30 kts sustained, with no reef! We've moved well beyond the catboat in length and displacement, but the catboat was a sailing benchmark for our family.

It looks like you are not ready for an 18' boat yet, but the 14' boat is rather small if ever you expect to go into LI Sound. If you are interested in the catboat concept, you might try to hold out for something in the 15' category. You will appreciate the added weight and beam. This will put you in the same weight category as our old Daysailor, but you'll have more beam and-therefore--more form stability. You are still in a small boat for the Sound, but you'll be better off than in the 14 footers you mentioned.

BTW, I seem to recall that all boat under 25' are required to have flotation, so that should not be an issue unless you pick up an antique somewhere.

Good luck with your deliberations!

YeahJohn 02-27-2011 12:30 AM

We had a coronado 15 growing up. The C15 is a fun boat and as your boys get older they may appreciate a boat that rips. A Lido 14 is more manageable with way less sail and it has a stepped seat, so you don't sit on the rail. I would go with a C15 or newer Capri 14. I think it might be a fun boat to grow into. As mentioned O'day is another option and may be easier to come by in your area. The boats I mentioned are popular California boats. Try to by a popular club race boat if you can. That should help with resale. Just go to the lake and see what they racing. At our marina they race sabots, lasers, lidos, and fj's.

YeahJohn 02-27-2011 12:41 AM

Just to add a Capri 14 or Coronado 15. Can easily hold and sail with four people in light winds. Four is a crowd when you need to work hard in strong winds. My dad would step our C15 mast alone, The mast is 22'10". You should be able to manage the mast no problem. If I remember the Capri 14 is a major downsize family friendly version of the C15.

kcbillb2 02-27-2011 04:01 AM

Ttoo bad you're in New England. I've got a 15' Mutineer that would fit all your requirements. You might want to look for one of those. Big cockpit, trailerable behind anything other than the leafblower engine SmartCar..:)

Anyway, another option. Not to mention they still make sails for them...


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