Let's move on to a new subject, dinghies and tenders. I want one, I need one. For a couple months now (it is Jan 08) I have been in the market for a dinghy or tender. At this point, let's assume that when I say dinghy, I mean dinghy/tender. I searched Craigslist.com and the local newspapers for something in my price range, less than $100. I would have settled for a fiberglass boat less than 8' that needed some fixing because I am into fixing stuff right now. A real solid fiberglass boat would be great; durable, capable and customizable. Sue found a nice 7' fiberglass fixer-upper about three hours from here for $25. Can't beat the price unless you take into consideration the price of gas and time (I finally started using my head for something useful). I found a 9' fiberglass boat for $50 that was twenty minutes from home, and only ten minutes from the marina, but 9' was bigger than I needed and too big to hoist onto our 25 footer. What I wanted was a seven footer, lighter than 100 lbs, capable of looking good, maybe take a 2hp outboard. After all the work I am putting into the boat, I don't want a junky dinghy dragging behind or cluttering the fore deck.

In the past, I worked next to Cherry Boatworks in Gig Harbor, WA, a wooden boat builder. Let me clarify that. The boat builder himself was not wooden, but the boats he built were. He built very fine dinghies that were out of my price range but the wood boat idea stuck in my mind. I loved working with wood but had no experience working with wooden boats. I proved it by getting a job at the boat shop and lasted only a week. The work proved to be too demanding and critical of my woodworking skills that I had aquired as a residential framing carpenter. The thought of building a wooden boat was beyond my grasp until discovering, as many have already, the stitch and glue and instant boats that are widely discussed on the internet. That brings me to today, January 2008.

I can and will build a dinghy using the stitch and glue technique, in, around and near my garage, before summer. I have narrowed down my choices in boats;


  • Prameke PK78 Length 7'-8", Beam 4'-8"
    Jim's Little Dinghy Page
  • D4 Length 7'-10", Beam 3'-10"
    Building a Dream D4
  • Rubens Nymph Length 7'-9", Beam 4'-6"
    Rubens Nymph
  • Portuguese style Dinghy 7'-4", Beam 3'-10"
  • Apple Pie 7'-0", Beam 3'-6"
    Boat Design.Com
  • Nutshell 7'-7", Beam 4'
  • Bolger Nymph 7'-9" Beam 4'-6"
    Bolger Nymph

    There were others in the list. I had posted some questions on boatbuilders.com and received many ideas and suggestions and I decided that this is where I am standing my ground.

    I had not considered a sailing dinghy, but the idea sure is considerable. I think that an outboat is not really a diciding factor, although we do have a 2hp waiting in the wings and besides that, I can say that rowing is the intended main propulsion because I am not currently rowing. As I recall, when I was rowing, I thought that having an outboard would be nice , however, when I was motoring, I don't remember thinking that rowing would be nicer.

    I must say that I have been somewhat consumed by the dinghy idea. I have built many of them in my sleep over the last two months. I have watched many Youtube videos and looked at and read much website content related to stitch and glue dinghies. I am ready for the real thing. We am working on a decision right now, actually excited at getting this started before I even finish all the things I still have to do on the sailboat.

    Here is a dinghy that I picked up off Craigslist. 6'-7" and beam 3'-10". It has a fiberglass hull and bench.

    The gunwales are made of three layers of 1" x .25" mahogany that is in bad shape. It will have to be removed and rebuilt.

    The bench is bolted thru hull, I'm not sure that I can live with that.

    I like the bench layout.

    I say we start stripping it out and repair and replace all that needs it. The gunwale was held on with 1,000 screws using about 2,000 holes.

    The bench was in need of repair. The stiffening and support members were detached from the glass and the rigid foam blocks were not only crumbling, they housed many different bugs and spiders. A little WQest MArine 105/206 and roving cloth made a stiffy out of this project.

    I cut some cedar 1" x .25" strips to replace the existing mahogany. These strips were given a shower in extremely hot water to aid in the bending. The new gunwale will be glued and coated with West Marine 105/206. I picked up another dozen clamps today and still I don't have enough. I read an article about building a dinghy or any other boat for that matter. It said to go buy all the clamps you need, then go back to the store and get some more.

    The bow peak will be a tight fit and thank goodness for screw clamps.

    The molding process, after wetting the first outside layer. This is day two and I have used all my clamps. I went and bought more before I started this and now I still don't have enough clamps.

    The original gunwale was 1" x 1/4" mahogany. Being replaced by the same size cedar and stuck together with West Marine 105/206. Clamps are a lot like dominos, ya know?

    One side at a time... Gotta go get some more clamps. As a gift, give clamps in ten-packs. As an anniversary gift, give one ten-pack for every year you are celebrating.

    June 08

    Sawdust and resin filling on the transom. This side mounting against the fiberglass.

    Corner support also acts as a stop for the rails.

    Glued in with some filler with 1/4" dowels holding it together

    Replacing the cap for the engine mount.

    Spencer is doing the install of the cap.

    We do a little epoxy at a time for this project and Spencer has the patience to mix.

    The transom after epoxy party. Ground off the old paint and get it down to wood.

    Spencer is starting his relationship with clamps.

    After all is said and done, We really need more clamps.

    The artistic view of "clamps".

    Transom replacement.

    Old transom and engine mount.

    If you followed my dinghy project this summer, you would recognize this little boat.

    How time could you possibly put into a little $75 dinghy? Speaking from experience, I would say easily over 40 hours, 1/2 gallon of epoxy resin, 74' of cedar 1/4" x 1", and a few other things.

    We had the dinghy at the marina and some extra paint from the hull job, why not finish the dinghy and put that project to rest.

    Here she is in service.