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Old 08-22-2012
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Smile cruising dinghy in currents and beach camping

I can't afford more than a used trailerable dinghy, and I live in Victoria, BC, so there are strong and somewhat complicated (to me) currents here (see this website).

I want to island hop and beach camp with one other person and fairly light camping gear.

Questions:
Is this safe or am I crazy?
Is there a gulf islands sailing related forum?
What boat or boat class should I look at?
Can you offer any search terms that will help me do my research?
Would a motor increase safety in this situation?

Thanks!
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Old 08-23-2012
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Re: cruising dinghy in currents and beach camping

You live in a BEAUTIFUL area I wish I could cruise there myself.

But seriously, guys do what you are talking about in ocean kayaks so I doubt a good dinghy will be less able to deal with currents. You can always wait until the tides change anyway.

If you're gonna do this, esp in cold water, DRESS FOR IMMERSION. Wear a drysuit or at least a wetsuit for if you capsize.

As far as choice of trailerable affordable dinghy, Smack has a thread about a beach cat he picked up for $200 and will be in sailing shape for a total of $600 (I think). Beach cats are extremely seaworthy, and are fast enough in a breeze to outrun a modest current without too much trouble. Super stable too, so the likelyhood of capsize, as long as you are prudent, is pretty low and there is plenty of deck space for gear. They are hard to paddle when the breeze dies however, whereas a dinghy can simply be rowed. A motor on a sailing dinghy seems unwise though, since it will capsize at some point and your motor will be damaged. Also, motors are expensive you are better off investing in a screacher or something similar for light winds IMHO, if you are on a serious budget. I've even made a jib out of white duct tape and white pvc tarp material that worked well enough for a full season, alot of guys do this for small boats and dinghies.

forum.woodenboat.com has a ton of people who do this sort of thing, that might be a good place to do some searches. search the term "sail and oar cruiser" or "beach cruising" or something. This is a cool open boat cruising site also: www.openboat.co.nz

One more thing, if you have a place to store the trailer there are some very small keelboats that may still be picked up for almost nothing used, they may require some work though. I'm thinking like a Rhodes 19 or something. But no dragging that up a beach...
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Old 08-23-2012
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Re: cruising dinghy in currents and beach camping

Thanks, great advice / links.

Quote:
Originally Posted by peterchech View Post
As far as choice of trailerable affordable dinghy, Smack has a thread about a beach cat he picked up for $200 and will be in sailing shape for a total of $600 (I think). Beach cats are extremely seaworthy, and are fast enough in a breeze to outrun a modest current without too much trouble. Super stable too, so the likelyhood of capsize, as long as you are prudent, is pretty low and there is plenty of deck space for gear. They are hard to paddle when the breeze dies however, whereas a dinghy can simply be rowed. A motor on a sailing dinghy seems unwise though, since it will capsize at some point and your motor will be damaged. Also, motors are expensive you are better off investing in a screacher or something similar for light winds IMHO.
I felt that CATs might be dangerous because they turtle quickly and you can't right them easily, and they capsize unexpectedly. Plus they don't seem as comfortable as a dinghy. Am I right about this?
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Old 08-23-2012
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Re: cruising dinghy in currents and beach camping

driggers:
Just picked up a copy of the current "Small Craft Advisor" magazine (Sept/Oct 2012 volume number 77) yesterday and looked through it this morning. There's an article in there you should read about a couple who sailed (and rowed) their 15-foot Albacore sailing dinghy from Seattle to Alaska.

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Re: cruising dinghy in currents and beach camping

Quote:
Originally Posted by driggers View Post
Thanks, great advice / links.



I felt that CATs might be dangerous because they turtle quickly and you can't right them easily, and they capsize unexpectedly. Plus they don't seem as comfortable as a dinghy. Am I right about this?
IMHO beach cats are far safer than monohull unballasted dinghies. A capsized beach cat can be righted in not much more time than it takes to right a dinghy and bail it out, but are faaaaaar less likely to capsize in the first place. Don't take my word for it, go to a beach cat club and ask around if anyone will let you crew on their boat. If they are as nice as they are around here, someone will give you a ride. If you get a cat with wings it will be far more comfortable than a dinghy, but even on a regular hobie 16 I find the tramps more comfortable than sitting on the bottom of a dinghy in light airs.

I mean, the atlantic ocean has been crossed by guys on beach cats at least 10 times, and guys have even done the northwest passage (the arctic) on a beach cat, not to mention doing key west to cuba and all kinds of other crazy stuff (google this you will find it). I don't know anyone who has done this kind of thing on an unballasted monohull dinghy
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Last edited by peterchech; 08-23-2012 at 02:21 PM.
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Re: cruising dinghy in currents and beach camping

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mobnets View Post
driggers:
Just picked up a copy of the current "Small Craft Advisor" magazine (Sept/Oct 2012 volume number 77) yesterday and looked through it this morning. There's an article in there you should read about a couple who sailed (and rowed) their 15-foot Albacore sailing dinghy from Seattle to Alaska.

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great magazine I agree
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Re: cruising dinghy in currents and beach camping

Quote:
Originally Posted by peterchech View Post
IMHO beach cats are far safer than monohull unballasted dinghies...
Good points for sure, and hobie 16 is easy to find used for a good price, plus the payload is larger than it is for a comparable dinghy...

I'm still concerned about the fact that you can't row it, and can't motor it. Here is the scenario I am afraid of:

mistake #1: misunderstand currents around islands and in strait.
mistake #2: get caught in not enough wind
mistake #3: slowed down on some unexpected kelp

Next thing you know your boat is on the reef and you are asking the seals to share their rock with you. This happened to someone in a 25 foot day sailor just across from oak bay marina quite recently.

Maybe this sort of risk is manageable through experience, and a motor is not needed?

Thanks again for your helpful comments!
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Re: cruising dinghy in currents and beach camping

I really think you're over thinking this d. Have you got any sailing experience? If there is light wind you can usually keep going, just at 2-3 knots. It is rare that there is NO wind at all, and even if, just chill on shore till the sea breeze kicks in.

A cat can be paddled, just not efficiently or for long distances. You could certainly avoid a rock island full of seals if you had to, and with 6" draft float over a reef. If you think you can row a sailing dinghy against a current for long distances, well, I happen to think otherwise...
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Re: cruising dinghy in currents and beach camping

The driest little dinghy you can pick up for pennies in your area will be a WD Schock built Lido 14. 310 lbs - can be trailered with a Prius.

Used Lido 14 prices range from 'can you pick it up today ? my wife wants it out of the garage' to $5k. Lido14

A more lux choice might be the Ultimate 20. used prices in the $20k range. 1280 lbs. can be trailered with most any sedan. U20 Class Association
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Old 08-23-2012
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Re: cruising dinghy in currents and beach camping

Quote:
Originally Posted by driggers View Post
Good points for sure, and hobie 16 is easy to find used for a good price, plus the payload is larger than it is for a comparable dinghy...

I'm still concerned about the fact that you can't row it, and can't motor it. Here is the scenario I am afraid of:

mistake #1: misunderstand currents around islands and in strait.
mistake #2: get caught in not enough wind
mistake #3: slowed down on some unexpected kelp

Next thing you know your boat is on the reef and you are asking the seals to share their rock with you. This happened to someone in a 25 foot day sailor just across from oak bay marina quite recently.

Maybe this sort of risk is manageable through experience, and a motor is not needed?

Thanks again for your helpful comments!
Diggers, welcome to Sailnet...I think your plan is a good one and I think a small sailing dinghy is OK and your questions are good. Not sure how much you are aware of in any case, here goes... There are a lot of strong currents in the Georgia Strait and understanding them, dealing with them and using them to your advantage is a good idea if you're going to go cruising on a regular basis. Unless you are under ideal conditions that all come together at the same time, you won't likely get through Dodd Narrows let alone places like Active Pass in a sailing vessel or any other dinghy without a motor. You will get through in a kayak or a canoe and possibly but with great difficulty a sailing dinghy that you can properly row. The transiting window to get through some of these passes before it swings the other way and builds quickly can be very short. That coupled with heavy vessel traffic and narrow passes makes going motorless impractical.

You will get used to the local knowledge of the currents in short order by talking to people around the dock and by reading stuff like the link you provided. I wouldn't be afraid of them but just don't push your arrival timing as your getting used to them.

Unless you are retired and have all the time in the world, I doubt you can get back to where you started by sail alone particularly if you are going deep into the Gulf Islands or the San Juans and through the various passes. Realistically, it just isn't going to work or you will be fed up in no time.

My recommendations...
IMHO, I think you should take the "Power and Sailing Squadron" Boating course $300 which will get you what you need to know about currents, weather and navigation, safety etc. You also get an insurance discount if you have it. Having said that, you should be able to learn it on your own if your that type of person. But as you know in Canada you at least need the boating card.

I think a small trailerable sailing dinghy like the "Siren 17" or similar with a ballasted swing keel and a small outboard that can push it at 3 or 5 knots will do the trick which could be around $3,000 or $5,000. The beauty of a little swing keel dinghy is you will certainly get into any anchorage, little bite etc. because you will be in depths others cannot go. You can also beach a boat like this obviously paying close attention to the tides but keep in mind that the tides can come in very very quick and you can loose a boat this way so you always need to run a line to a tree or something above the high water.

Quote:
mistake #1: misunderstand currents around islands and in strait.
mistake #2: get caught in not enough wind
mistake #3: slowed down on some unexpected kelp
The stronger current directions and normal max are shown on your charts and you will learn all this in the course among other things. Other than in the passes which get into the double digits, you are really only talking under 5 knots which will back off eventually or you can possibly make your way over to a back eddy. You can usually see the current and back eddies particularly if there is wind against the current which you will get used to over time just by observation and testing. The flood for you comes through the Juan De Fuca, then heads NW up the Strait and South into Puget Sound and you can quite often visualize (but not always) the direction of the flood as it makes it's way between islands.

No wind and wind shifts are going to happen a lot out here so you need to be prepared with a boat that can be properly rowed but better yet a small motor that can push you along. During the summer stuck out in the middle with no power and no wind to pick up can sometime take days.

The kelp beds are easy to spot and not difficult to get around. The current if any will generally push you around kelp beds, not through them.

Hopefully some of the southern Georgia Strait or San Juan sailors will chime in soon. They will have a better idea of your area.

Regards, Steve
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Last edited by Bilgewater; 08-23-2012 at 06:59 PM.
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