While i am thinking actively about the pro’s of owning and running a smaller sailing boat for a while it would only work best if i can meet some specific pre-conditions such as keeping the boat at home so last night i did the opposite process and had a think about the arguments against Dinghy’s as cruising boats.
I failed on the first Wayfarer on ebay by the way : the slightly scruffy one with a decent trailer and a little stroker : i had it from the 2 minute mark when i placed my first bid and right down to minus 4 seconds when another bidder was faster on the button. In a way that means that i am trying to get a Wayfarer to start off with as they are commonly available and not that expensive. I am also pretty sure we can get one on the drive without too much hassle as the boat is about the same size and weight as the failed Osprey project. As an aside i spent a while surfing through ebay boats and dinghy’s while i was waiting to bid, this popped up : i always wanted one of these.
Isn’t she pretty ?
It would of course be madness at my age and weight to contemplate owning and sailing a full-race merlin : fast, responsive and tippy but with an older one like this there is the potential of doing a similar conversion to the one done on the local National 18 ie the lugger. Ok so now everyone is looking at me as though i have gone completely nuts but i will explain a bit more about the ‘MAD’ project later and the Merlin would work for that.
For now i want to consider the potential problems with storing, running and sailing a smaller boat…call it a dinghy then.
1.Storage : to make this idea work the boat HAS to live at home in the drive and i have to be able to get it in and out (ooh) with relative ease. I did have a dinghy in the drive once (the osprey) and we struggled a bit with the car and trailer so i just want to show what the problem is : we live just off a lane that gets very narrow where it passes the cottages and its on a reasonable hill. Its the driveway on the right that i have to reverse the trailer into.
The way we dealt with the Osprey was to drive up the lane, park alongside the first cottage, unhitch the boat/trailer and then rotate the inside wheel of the trailer around the dustbin and shove the boat up our access drive..its slightly uphill also at that point.
A better solution but more difficult is to reverse up to this point (about 50 yards) and poke the trailer around the corner from this (view) side, i haven’t tried that with a boat on a trailer yet : what it really needs is for me to modify the end of the garden and wall here to open out the angle into the drive slightly so that the arse-end of the boat doesn’t end up in the neighbour’s porch !. I might be able to achieve that by taking out the strainer post, the short section of fence and a load of stones and then flattening that all out a bit.
Ok so : we have got the boat in the drive, the shed/garage isn’t big enough for a boat but is just about big enough to poke one end of a boat in to be worked on and i can see a way of extending the shed roof (it needs a rebuild anyway) so that most of a boat could be at least under cover for working on it. There is enough space to store a boat in our own drive which is good but that then makes turning a car around more difficult : we lived with that problem before.
2.Driving/towing and sailing. To sail now all i have to do is drive or walk down to the yard, step aboard my boat and go : its that quick, i can be under way within 5 minutes of being aboard. With the boat at home i am clearly going to have to reverse the above process and then drive the boat somewhere, get the stick up , rig it all and then launch potentially a heavy boat down a slip and then retrieve/store the trailer and car while we sail. In some places i can see practical difficulties with that : in Norfolk for example if we had wanted to sail from Wells i couldn’t see anywhere to park the car and dinghy near the water but would have had to take car and dinghy back to the campsite first. In France i would have to learn sufficient Franglais to get past ‘my boat is the marina’ which i can cope with to ‘i want to park my car and dinghy here and btw can i use your slipway’….which i can’t , especially if its a complex answer.
3. So now i have negotiated the drive, sworn at the local drivers (assholes to a man) got the boat to a slipway , launched it, taken out a mortgage for the exorbitant parking charges, got the stick up, the sails and gear on and am just about to go sailing. The problem now is that i am an old and fat git who has never actually sailed a dinghy so the result might be on the wrong side of hlarious !. What i am is an old and knackered maxi-boat sailor perfectly at home running the deck of an 80 footer and not carefully balancing a twitchy dinghy….just imagine me in the merlin if you will !. Its likely that i don’t actually know what i am doing in a dinghy even though i am a mega experienced sailor and ocean yachtmaster so i might need a few driving lessons (Emily you listening ?).
4.Cruising. Finally launched the boat, locked the trailer away from the pikies , haven’t capsized the dinghy and actually done some sailing : now i want to stop, get some shelter and have a brew. On the Liberty that’s easy : i can get the kettle on as i am sailing, anchor and drop the sails within a couple of minutes and have my feet up with a brew in hand within 5 minutes….and be in shelter inside the boat. I think that’s the one side that is a downside of the cruising dinghy that there isn’t any shelter unless we rig a tent and that takes time. I’m not sure with many of the boats then just how much room we would have to live and work (and sleep) in the boat. Of the boats the mark 1 wayfarer looks the best for floor space but that centreboard is still right in the way : obviously in kit the boat would absolutely need a tent of some kind even though we would probably carry one or our tarp/bugnet combo in the boat.
On the boat choice this does all point me in the direction that the boat we have has to be just small enough to go in the drive (the Osprey was close to the limit) but big enough to be stable enough to not spit me out too often and be big enough (just) for the 2 of us to cozy-up. Also it needs to be manageable enough for me when i sail solo which is frequently .
Maybe what i need is 2 boats : solo boat and a boat for the 2 of us.
I can hear that Merlin saying “come on…you know you want some”
Peter Cash wrote : ”