The obvious choice was a Drascombe Dabber, which has the kick-up rudder lacking in bigger Drascombes, or a Scaffie with its simple rig and uncluttered cockpit, but although they are robust and pretty boats, they don't sail upwind or in light airs.
This boat will be kept on the edge of the lake, either hauled out onto a beach or kept on a running mooring, so it needs to be fairly light. I'd like it to be capable of accommodating two or three friends for occasional trips, but could live with a limit of one or two. There seem to be lots of boats which fit the criteria so far, but I have a few extra requirements which narrow the field.
Most of my use will be day-sailing, but I would like to be able to do some overnighting in the boat. One other thing: I love the idea of having a small mizzen, to facilitate heaving-to and stabilising the boat at anchor.
And finally, the heart and head agree on one thing: lots of epoxy-plywood boats fit both the lightness criteria and the real-boat-feel criteria.
I have been googling way and reading lots of blogs and forums, and so far, the boats which seems to come closest to my criteria are the designs of John Welsford and Iain Oughtred. I'm slightly tempted by the Swallow Boats Trouper 12 and Storm 15 or Storm 17, but none of them quite gets there. Rationally, the Navigator looks like a wise choice against nearly all my criteria except rowability: it looks just a little fat for easy rowing. It seems to me that the singlehanding problem is likely to be mostly a matter of stability, solveable by ballast.
It answers none of your criteria, but I thought I'd throw in a vote for the Dublin Bay Waterwag, seen here in Lough Erne. Not too big for a smaller person to sail, row, or haul, but with enough capacity for several. If you love the CY you will love her almost twin Tern sisters even more - Sooty and Arctic. It would be interesting to work out the maximum weight one can push off and pull up a tidal beach? I suspect that the Oughtred Rowan design (as recommended above) may be the perfect boat for you, as you clearly want a sail & oar boat, not one with an outboard.
The only other thing to consider would be a similar boat with a plank keel or flat dory bottom -- either the double-ended Gunning Dory or something like Duck Trap's Christmas Wherry with the plank keel option.
Navigator and BayRaider are lovely boats, but they fail in the same area as the Caledonia Yawl in not being ideal to row. I suppose that if you are mostly on flat, muddy beaches, your preference may vary, but I'm almost always on pebbly shingle. Location: Brisbane Templates The hull templates are just about completed. In cleaning up my parents holiday house I came upon their once prized M16, now significantly damaged with rot. I am talking on behalf on the Cowichan Maritime Centre on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada.
A guy called Archie Campbell at my old club Ranelagh SC Putney London used to have one in light blue. Another Mirror 16 owner is sending me the original instruction manual that came with the original kit, so we should be able to reverse engineer from that, although I don't think we'll draw plans, that's not in our plans at this stage. As soon as we commence work, (that probably won't be for another month) I'll post photos and describe our process. Location: British Columbia, Canada Encouragement Thanks for the encouragement.
However it seems to be the hollow bilge which sets the Mirror 16 apart from so many other dinghies.
When making potentially dangerous or financial decisions, always employ and consult appropriate professionals. Our October issue, which features the design story of Francois Vivier (to which this piece is a supplement), is on sale now.
YOU don’t really own an old wooden sailing boat; you have an emotional relationship with her.
So I returned to England hugely smitten once again by dinghy cruising, but also convinced that it was high time I bought a larger dinghy. The Ilur is just one of many such boats by Francois Vivier that have become a frequent sight around the French coast: Abers, Avens, Beg Meils and many others. Voile Aviron is also the name of a lively French e-mail discussion group, and I posted a message on it asking for help in buying an Ilur.


Rather than metal fittings, which are prone to beat you about the skull, both sheet and tack tackle are attached to the sail by head-friendly rope strops, which no amount of sail flogging seems to shake loose. Perhaps the most striking example of Avel Dro’s simplicity of rig, and the hardest for a mere Englishman to get used to, is the lack of a horse for the mainsheet.
I have owned Avel Dro for a couple of years now, and slowly grown accustomed to her strange foreign ways. I enjoy this, and like the feel that she is a real workboat, not a natty dinghy, but I can see that she would not suit everyone.
For a hull just over 14ft 6in (4.4m) long, the Ilur has an astonishing amount of space, due not only to her full sections and generous freeboard, but also to the lack of fore and side decks, which means that the whole of the boat is available to work in. My boat tent is still just a temporary tarpaulin edifice, but it has full sitting headroom throughout its length and almost standing headroom at the stern, and includes separate sections for sleeping, cooking and lounging for postprandial drinks, as well as a dedicated area in the bows for slimy anchors, muddy boots and drippy oilskins. Despite a dense fog in the Raz de Sein, Avel Dro and I finally slipped silently into the little harbour of Sein, triumphant.
This entry was posted in Articles, Boat Tests, Design and tagged Ilur, Roger Barnes, VIvier encore.
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So I thought of a Wanderer, but realised that I hate bermudan rigs and the whole factory-boat feel of plastic-boat-with-alloy spars. Head and heart conflict here: heart says tan-sailed gaff cutter, heavyish construction, somewhere near 20 feet, with lots of varnish and string.
So this has to be a boat which will doesn't need a brace of heavy crew on toe-straps to sail in a breeze, and it must have easy ways of shortening sail. The first is that I have to be able to lie down in the bottom of the boat without rearranging anything. I'm not looking for luxury or a cabin, and apart from a bit of stowage for clobber, I don't think this alters my requirements much except by pointing me a little larger to allow some reasonable payload.
There are several boats there which catch my eye: Welsford's Pathfinder and Navigator, and Oughtred's Thirrik, Arctic Tern and Caledonia Yawl. I guess that removable lead ballast is an acceptable solution, though I don't see any reason why I couldn't make a custom-moulded water ballast tank to fit under the floor boards and then use a suitably-arranged bilge pump to empty and fill it.
Very well resolved, water ballast for windy days on your own and will be available as a CNC plywood panel kit or complete kit. The very practical designs that your head would choose such as Navigator or BayRaider 17 might win after 5 years using them? I would prefer it to go to someone who would at least use it for parts rather than taking it to the tip. I have been fascinated by the various sets of pics and the advice given by others who have struggled through this project. I saw them there on the Narborough Road along with the Mirror Offshore project they were building. I personally sailed a Wayfarer quite extensively in Southern UK, so I was pleased to see the Mirror 16. We grew close in shared adversity and achievement, but in the end we parted, and I went looking for a boat that demanded less logistic and financial commitment. There are limits to the abilities of any 12ft (3.7m) dinghy, and I felt I needed the greater seaworthiness that comes with increased size. The plumb stem and good wide transom, the firm bilges curving down to a long central keel for directional stability, decent freeboard and buoyant sections speak of a boat that’ll look after you when things get tough. This resulted in a firm lead on an available boat, so a few weeks later I arrived in France with a trailer lighting board, an international money order for rather less than the asking price, to leave room for haggling, and a wad of Euros to make up the difference.
The misainier is much the more romantic and popular, and Avel Dro is a pretty typical example. Like all lugsails, Avel Dro’s likes lots of luff tension, and this is achieved by a beefy four-part tack purchase, which I have led aft to within reach of the helm, as I often sail single-handed. Each time the sail is tacked or gybed, the sheet block has to be unhooked from one quarter and hooked onto the other.
The idiosyncrasies of her rig have now become familiar to me, and I find it deeply satisfying to get the best out of her. The Ilur is as proud of her full buttocks  as is her compatriot, the Renault Megane – and that broad raked transom has many advantages. I had barely erected the cover when a man in an orange fisherman’s smock popped his head over the quayside and invited me home to dinner that night with his wife.
After a long French lunch the next morning, we both sailed out of the harbour together – he to fish among the shoals that surround his rockbound island, I on the long coastal passage to Camaret.


Started out tied to the mast of an open catboat aged 18 months, progressed to rowing a wooden dinghy on a lake, graduated to racing a Mirror I helped build, and then raced a very-battered paleolithic plastic 420. Thinking further, I realised that the boats I loved most were the wooden ones: my ancient clinker-pram rowing dinghy and Mirror. Still, it must sail respectably in light airs: ghosting along in light winds is a great joy and a real must-have. That sounds trivial, but when i thought carefully about my intended uses, I realised that being able to sling a hook and then lie down in the bottom of the boat would be one of the most pleasurable things I could do.
The second image shows the templates for the centreboard casing, bulkhead, and the underfloor ribs. Our acquisition was drained of about 100 gallons of water in the hull before we could mover her. I have sailed in one many years ago and was very impressed, so much better than a Wayfarer, much lighter, faster and much better behaved.
You’d think that camping aboard a 12-footer would be a colossal comedown, but actually the intense intimacy and endearing simplicity of camper-cruising was striking. There is surprisingly little choice of modern dinghies suitable for coastal cruising though – particularly the way I do it, which involves regular leaps into the boat from tall quaysides, or coiling down 30m (100ft) lengths of seaweed-encrusted rope into the bottom boards.
Designed by the prolific naval architect Francois Vivier, for clinker ply or strip building, Ilurs have inherited the almost forgotten traditional virtues, developed through centuries of experience. Her rigging, taken directly from workboat practice, is incredibly simple and admirably robust. If you are tardy in moving the block across, the sail fills with wind and rips the block out of your hand. He was called Abel, and amazingly owned the very first Ilur ever made; he had made it for Francois Vivier many years before.
We parted at the wailing whistle buoy Cornoc-an-ar-Braden, and soon the sail of Abel’s Ilur dwindled to a speck in the rolling swell, small and fragile in the immense Atlantic. There's nothing to beat being afloat on varnish you've applied yourself, and since most of world is turning plastic these days, I don't want my waterborne relaxation to be plastic too. I'm not a first-rate woodworker, but I'm confident enough in my skills to build something myself provided I start with a kit. The trailer is out of registration and appears to have a tow hitch slightly smaller than the standard 50mm ball. She is drying out now, but the plywood in her hull and in the hollow bige is so waterlogged that two males still cannot lifet her!
If you do get the plans off a good one it would be worth putting it into a decent 3D CAD system to very lightly refine it, within tolerances, to get a set of repeatable patterns. Whereas modern dinghies are designed for windward speed at all costs, the longshore sailors who worked from open sailing boats in all weathers were more interested in a sturdy boat that would lie calmly in a heavy sea while the sail was lowered to reef, and did not need constant attention while nets were set or lines hauled. The well-raked wooden mast is held up by a rope looped backwards and forwards around two substantial wooden belaying pins in the bows. Reefing means lowering the sail and moving the attachments for the sheet and tack up the sail to a new cringle, before tying the reef points and then rehoisting the sail. It was months before I could tack confidently, and a year before I’d learnt how to gybe her. It is easy to clamp on an outboard, if you use such things; and if you don’t, sculling her over the stern is a doddle. Then I looked down at my own Ilur, so purposeful and well honed for these waters, and knew we had chosen well: these boats would not let us down in the Celtic seas of their birth.
It was surprising that it did not do better but in the 80s windsurfing was taking away from dinghies for a while and people started to prefer the all plastic boats which is what Porter Bros did with the Wayfarer.
I might have given up long before and fitted a horse, but I was reluctant to muck around with her splendidly straightforward rudder – just a single sheet of plywood that simply rises up its long pintles in shallow water, avoiding all the complexity of a pivoting rudder blade.
Indeed, I tend to sail with an oar almost permanently sitting in the sculling notch and protruding over the transom, so that a quick stroke can be made “a la godille” in a calm patch, or if I’m unexpectedly caught in irons. She needs physical strength to sail her, as her gear is heavy and the simple running rigging gives little mechanical advantage.



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