Saturday, March 01, 2014

Adding to the fleet ...

Ever since I sold  my Islander Bahama 28 Dog Days, a sale that included Pup, the tiny wood/fiberglass pram that my friend John Tuma built for me, I have missed having a little hard-sided tender.  Well, I've also missed having Dog Days, as well, but one can't be too selfish with boats, and so for the past five years I've had to be satisfied with Alizee and her Walker Bay Genesis RIB Bertha.  But the idea of a sailing dinghy just keeps popping up every time I see an advertisement for some classic small boat: a sharpie, Bug, Beetlecat, Melonseed, Fatty Knees and so forth.  My mind has been working overtime lately, perhaps because I have just finished an article on the history of recreational sailing in which I reviewed the history of several of these small boats and their evolution since the nineteenth century (a bow to the late Howard Chapelle for his pioneering work American Small Sailing Craft, 1951).

So, I was primed and ready when Fred and Eleanor Jacobs from our sailing group "The Dolphins Cruising Club of Tampa Bay" sent out an email saying they were selling their Dyer Midget sailing dinghy.  I immediately asked for first right of refusal, then emailed Penelope, who was in DeLand visiting her sister, to get her opinion.

"This is what Bill buggered up," she replied almost immediately.  "It was sweet before he did that."  So the offer was made for the asking price, and two minutes later Penelope added: "Wonderful!  I hope we get it!"

It turns out that in Penelope's life before me, she and Bill had owned a Dyer dinghy, which they had a great time sailing on Lake Winnemissett in DeLand.  Who would have believed I would be wanting to buy the same type of sailing dinghy.  It seemed like it almost was meant to be, if you believe in that sort of stuff.

But the deal was not quite done yet, because some other Dolphins club member had gotten first right of refusal three minutes before me.  Fred contacted me and after observing that "you both must have been sitting on your computers," he said if the other fellow didn't take her, she'd be mine.  And 24 hours later he called and gave us the good news.  So, say hello to our newest fleet member, Merrily (name soon to be changed), a 1974 Dyer Midget sailing dinghy.

She is the third in a line of sailing dinghies built by Bill Dyer, who founded The Anchorage in Warren, Rhode Island, in 1934 and produced the Philip Rhodes' designed 10-foot Dyer Dink, a hard chined wooden boat.  Around 1940, Rhodes also designed the most famous of the Dyer dinghies, the 9-foot Dyer Dhow.  It was designed and built out of the then revolutionary new material, marine-grade plywood, at the request of the War Department, who approached Dyer and asked him to produce, according to his granddaughter Anna Jones, "a boat that would fit in nine-feet of space and hold nine men." During World War II, they were used on PT boats in the Pacific as well as rescue units when ships were attacked -- according to one report "stacks of Dyer Dhows were dropped into the water over shipwrecks to allow survivors safety until they could be rescued."  In 1949, Anchorage started constructing Dyer Dhows with fiberglass, which makes it the the oldest continuously-built fiberglass boat in production today, and the Dyer Midget was introduced in 1952.

Merrily is hull 6575, laid up in May 1974, and she was sold and shipped by the company in January 1975 to a customer in Sun City Center, Florida, a Del Webb retirement community on the east side of Tampa Bay that was opened in 1962.  As you can see, she's a centerboard dinghy with a Gunter rig, 7' 11" in length (LOA), with a 4-foot beam.  Her draft is 3 feet with the centerboard down and 5 inches with it up, and she displaces 90 lbs. 

As you can probably guess, we're excited to get out in here and will possibly be employing her as a full-time tender on Alizee.  But first, I'll be doing a little polishing and varnishing to make her debut on Charlotte Harbor a good one.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home