Saturday, December 26, 2015

Seen at the 2015 Annapolis Sailboat Show: the Scamp Mini-cruising Dinghy

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.


Dieharddinghysailor said...

You may also know that Howard Rice is preparing a Scamp to sail around Cape Horn.....a trip he has accomplished before in a kayak.......

Paul Mullings said...

Not actually around Cape Horn I'll think you'll find, but intrepid any way you look at it!

Alden Smith said...

Your new Blog header photograph is excellent and reminds me why I just love large buoyancy tanks in my centerboard yachts!

The Scamp and the Micro and others show that you don't have to go BIG to have fun - or to have a boat that has a bit of gravitas!

howard rice said...

If all goes according to plan I'll be voyaging the Straits of Magellan and south into and then past the Beagle Channel into the Southern Ocean with the intent of exploring the remotest southwest islands of Tierra del Fuego. Should conditions allow Cape Horn would be on my intended path. Having been there before in a small boat I can say that making Cape Horn in any boat is a gamble and of course completely dependent on weather conditions, which are very rarely good in that part of the world.

Tweezerman said...


It is good to see that you have experience in such a formidable stretch of water. I admit that I've never been a dinghy cruiser but if I was I would be found in more benign bays such as my local Cheasapeake Bay or the Pamlico Sound further south. Good luck! Is there a website to keep track of your adventure.

Marc said...

The previous comment is not on the right place. Sorry for that.