I was frankly surprised to see this small dinghy cruiser at the Sailboat Show. This 12' (3.6 m) mini-dinghy cruiser designed by John Welsford has become the darling of home-builders looking for a small outside, but big inside, simple rig, able-sailing project. This community of boat builders, an alternative universe in the sailing world, revolve around the DIY wood designs of Phil Bolger, Jim Michalak, Ian Oughtred, John Welsford, Francois Vivier and others, And this alternative universe seldom intrudes on the plastic commercial world which predominates at the large boat shows. But, in 2015, there she was, a plastic Scamp, built by Gig Harbor Boatworks north of Seattle Washington.
There is no doubt this is a clever design. It has a transom bow that tapers rapidly toward the waterline, the actual sections at the bow waterline are V-ish. There is an offset centerboard under the starboard seat. This makes for an unobstructed floor, perfect to lay out a sleeping bag. The Scamp is high sided though the designer has given her a pleasant sheer to make this a jaunty looking dinghy. There is 70 kg of water ballast to dampen down what could be a very lively motion in wind and waves.
The summer of 2014, I was sitting on the back lawn at my friend Bill M's house, just off South River, when I spotted a small sailing dinghy making her way smartly against a building sea breeze. To settle our speculation about what kind of boat we were watching, Bill promptly went to get his binoculars. Through the binoculars I could tell it was a Scamp (a very distinctive profile with her balanced lug rig) and the skipper was doing a fine job getting her upwind. He poked his nose just into the Chesapeake Bay and then turned downwind to rock and roll back into South River. As a spectator, I was mightily impressed at the Scamp's sailing performance (initially being somewhat of a skeptic when the Scamp first came out). One quibble was the Scamp looked somewhat tender going offwind, rolling back and forth - not atypical for a cat-rigged boat, or maybe the skipper had dumped the water ballast for a quicker ride back home.
Two photos of the Gig Harbor Boatworks Scamp from the Annapolis Sailboat Show. Plenty of room in this 12-footer! If I remember correctly the rep said they were building about 30 a year. Base price is $13,000 USD.
The cabin is just a cuddy cabin, enough to shelter from the weather. Plenty of storage under the seats and up forward.
Wooden Scamps being built from CNC kits. This photo gives a good idea of how the kit pieces fit together. You can see in the lower Scamp the centerboard trunk incorporated into the starboard seat tank.
A Gig Harbor Boats promotional video.
Also, over on my blog list is this duo building a 17' Devlin designed daysailor-cruiser.