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Red CFJ Sailor 06-08-2013 12:15 PM

Dinghy Cruising/Camping?
I always like to think of things that I don't see or read very often, and I'm also not one to settle for 'one or the other', in this case, racing and cruising.

I've seen lately people asking if a cruiser can be a racer, and vice versa, but what about the boat?

Being a lover of trailer sailers, there are a lot of options in the dinghy world for very quick racers (such as FJs/420/Flying Scot), or very good cruisers (Potter 15/Montgomery 17), but what about something in between?

Of course, if you want to spend a quarter million on a 40ft boat, you can get a very good racer/cruiser, the Elan line comes to mind quickly.

I guess what I'm asking is, do people actively cruise/overnight on dinghys? I've seen people pitch tents on Hobies, but I'm curious as to modifications to make a 'do-all' boat.

Add sandbags for ballast during cruising times with the Admiral?
Interesting builds for on-board night shelter?

I'm curious to see everyone's thoughts....
While I highly doubt my 13' FJ would lend well to this, I'd think something like a Flying Scot would be an ideal mix of the two worlds, and would love to see what ideas/other boats people bounce around. :)

TQA 06-08-2013 03:50 PM

Re: Dinghy Cruising/Camping?
There is a fairly active association in the UK Dinghy Cruising Association : GroupSpaces

DCA member no 4, Frank Dye, famously sailed from Scotland to Norway and Iceland in his Wayfarer dinghy - and along the east coast of North America. He described the latter voyage in his book Sailing to the Edge of Fear.

It is worth a read.

CaribDream 06-08-2013 05:54 PM

I don't plan on overnights on my American 14.6 as my wife is not the camping type. However, I did buy it because of it's beamy roominess, and comfortable seating. We have no desire to race, not to knock it - it's just not our thing nor do we have sufficient time for it. I like to think I outfitted my little boat for "cruising". Our interest is to get out for a day and sail around on LI Sound visiting islands, coves, and waterside restaurants, bars, clubs.

We have waterproof charts, ground tackle, radio, cooler stocked with food and drink, VHF, bumpers, extra fuel, a little Honda outboard, etc. So as you can see, we're not setup for racing and our boat is just not meant for that anyway. My whole goal is to be outfitted for a relaxing , comfortable day of travel under sail in miniature scale.

watsongs 06-09-2013 04:12 AM

Re: Dinghy Cruising/Camping?
When I was working for Outward Bound in the Everglades back in the late 90's, a guy in his, say, late 50's came through. He had been cruising the coast of Florida; started (with his dad) at the Georgia border on the Atlantic side, about two months earlier, if I recall. His dad was with him through Daytona, I think, then he was solo from there on.

His vessel of choice was a 12 to 14 foot non-descript dinghy that had a small cubby; he had fashioned a canvas cover for the cockpit. For auxiliary power in the notorious calms of a F
Orida summer, he was towing an old whitewater kayak. He alternated between camping ashore and anchoring out, depending on resources and the bugs. He was having a blast, having come through the Ten Thousand Islands canoe trail. Occasionally uncomfortable, but that's where the memories come from...

manatee 06-09-2013 10:20 AM

Re: Dinghy Cruising/Camping?
There are group cruises like that around the country, like Texas 200 and Everglades Challenge.
_Small_Craft_Advisor_ magazine is a great resource for info on them - their contributors
participate in & report on the events, people, boats & equipment from coast to coast.

You may find these of interest:

Duckworks -

Small Craft Advisor - Small Craft Advisor

Small Craft Advisor - SCAMP PAGE

The Boats of Swallows and Amazons

Keep Turning Left

downeast450 06-09-2013 10:26 AM

Re: Dinghy Cruising/Camping?

Thanks for this thread. I think you have hit on a potentially important group of coastal sailors.

It is nice having a little larger boat that we can go offshore with and "live" aboard with "cabin" comforts. We can make "long" trips in relative comfort. It is limiting in some important (to us) ways, too. With a 5' fin and a tall mast there are many places along the Maine coast we can't explore and enjoy with our Islander. We are avid campers and do a lot of canoe trips along the coast and on inland lakes and rivers. Pulling into a protected cove, pitching a tent and sitting by a fire on a secluded beach is as nice as visiting an anchorage. I prefer camping by canoe in the Apostle Islands to anchoring in a cove there. The Maine Island Trail is a perfect opportunity for us to go camping with our Marshall Catboat.

Your question about a trailerable sailboat that would carry camping gear and have some capabilities for coping with "brisk" sailing conditions would be satisfied by a Marshall Sandpiper. It is the roomiest 15' boat I have ever been aboard. Its broad beam, gaff rig and two reef points make it possible for us to manage most conditions along this coast we would be comfortable in in our bigger boat. Wet from wave splash when it is rough and blowing, yes. Manageable and safe, yes. Fun and capable of going anywhere and everywhere, yes! It has taken us to some of our most memorable camping spots. It is camping. We like camping.

We also have a Rhodes 22 that is sitting on the hard. It is another great shallow draft, comfortable, safe and very capable small sailboat that will take you camping anywhere along the Maine coast.

Sitting on a beach with a small fire watching a cluster of yachts anchored out in a nearby cove always feels more inviting than being inside a rolling boat with no stars overhead.

We love it both ways. Do it and enjoy it. Our canoe camping gear fits easily under the deck of "Drinking Bird". My avatar is "Drinking Bird" headed out to an island near Bar Harbor.


Alex W 06-09-2013 12:00 PM

Re: Dinghy Cruising/Camping?
There are sail and oar dinghies meant for this type of use. They tend to be designed to row or sail well and have larger capacity than the racing dinghies that you mentioned.

This is an example that a friend owns:
Grapeview Point Boat Works' Caledonia Yawl

I've seen it, but haven't had a chance to sail it yet.

shadowraiths 06-20-2013 11:36 AM

Re: Dinghy Cruising/Camping?
Speaking of the Everglades Challenge...

happy_sailor 06-20-2013 02:09 PM

Re: Dinghy Cruising/Camping?
My fiancee and I were planning on taking our Thistle on the Everglades Challenge next year, and doing a bunch of camp-cruising in it this summer. It's a 17' racing dinghy, about 6' wide and a draft of 4.5' with the board down. It's super fast in light air but can get powered up pretty quickly. We were going to have reef points put in one of our mains and add water ballast bags (water is neutrally buoyant and won't sink, unlike sand). Unfortunately it fell off the lift onto the trailer and is currently broke hard...

I'm definitely interested in doing small boat cruising now, just a matter of finding another boat, etc. Love the idea of the Caledonia Yawl.

CaribDream 06-20-2013 03:27 PM


Originally Posted by happy_sailor:1046935
.....Unfortunately it fell off the lift onto the trailer and is currently broke hard...

I'm definitely interested in doing small boat cruising now, just a matter of finding another boat, etc. Love the idea of the Caledonia Yawl.

Sorry to hear about your mishap. Is there any hope of fixing it? If you go for a new boat will you be looking for another open boat, or something with a small cuddy?

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