My wife likes traditional clinker dinghies. I like modern affordable building techniques and materials coupled with interesting, low aspect, easily handled rigs. We have a mix of shallow to moderate depth lakes and estuaries and the open sea near by, so a shallow draught is useful.
‘Lady Sonia’ is the result, a lightish displacement day sailer, drawing 0.62 metres with the dagger board down, and 0.2 metres with the board up or motoring; built in stitch and glue Hoop Pine ply trimmed with New Guinea Rosewood and hand carved Australian Cedar ‘nautilus’ stem-head. I used Boatcraft epoxy and Aquacoat throughout. Spars are aluminium tube, sails are cream Dacron made to my design by Switch Sails of Scarborough, Queensland. It is fitted with a 5 HP outboard for auxiliary power or just motoring – 5 knots at a bit above idle speed – and chart-plotter, sounder.
The boat has well balanced volumes fore and aft with plenty of reserve stability. It has 5 airtight buoyancy chambers and 120 litres of solid foam behind cockpit seat backs. There are 5 separate stowage spaces under the seats and a chain locker under the foredeck. As you can see in the photos, it is a boat to sit in, rather than on.
The 9.2 square metre gaff rig consists of a roller furled jib, and jiffy reefed gaff mainsail with a single halyard to both throat and peak inspired by those on Norfolk Wherries, with the mast supported by Dyneema stays. I made the main sheet blocks out of Coachwood for cheeks and Ironbark sheaves. The gaff and boom are also tipped with Coachwood. It is fun to sail.
The 8 square metre balanced lug sail is set on an unstayed mast with a jiffy reef. It is a simple practical rig for sailing at sea and makes for an uncluttered fishing platform. Given the Derwent is quite open, this is the rig I would prefer to bring to the Festival if chosen.
When designing my boats, I keep in mind that what we see in traditional boats is the best available appropriate technology of their day.