By Bob Booth - Warwick, Rhode Island - USA

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Cruising Modifications
for the Cape Dory 10

I had been boatless for neigh on 6 years, having parted with a beloved ‘30’s vintage, very wooden, 39’ Crocker Ketch at a point in my life when throwing out the anchor seemed appropriate. Kids long grown and the dog tired of five years of my live-aboard dream, and, truth be told my bones were weary of basically three full time occupations: main job, boat funding job, and boat repair job. But six years was enough and when a friend offered me a free Cape Dory 10 and an invitation to join the annual cruising raid…

CD 10 # 2038 was one of three dinghies owned by my pal Nim Marsh and was the one which found its way to me during a consolidation of his holdings in preparation for an upcoming marriage. Long ignored before his acquisition, it had been band aided in order to sail a couple times in the annual Great ‘Gansett Raid conducted by the very much ad hoc and unofficial local chapter of the Dinghy Cruising Association (UK) by resident members of same here in Rhode Island, U.S. of A.

Sailed is this condition, by very experienced small boat sailors the boat had acquired a reputation as a tender and unwieldy vessel—in horse parlance, a high-spirited thoroughbred, when sailed off the wind. This then was the boat, of dubious distinction yet pedigreed heritage, which came to me as part of the afore mentioned consolidation, in time to be renamed SEA MINOR, repaired to a minor degree, repainted and sent forth once again to do battle in yet another annual raid.

What follows is the story of SEA MINOR subsequent to that experience or to be more precise the story of turning the thoroughbred into a packhorse.

I am a fully grown man of 5’10” and 182 pounds and have established preferences in how to handle small craft in dirty weather garnered from many years of canoeing and rowing--having commuted 1.5 miles each day for a period of five years, come rain or come shine, in a 10’ Old Town dinghy to and from my live aboard Crocker ketch. In sailing the Cape Dory 10 I found the open space in the “cockpit” (the area aft the centerboard trunk and forward the stern sheets comprising the open floors) severely restricted due to large “winged” sideboards.

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CD 10 from the 1976 CD brochure

This was particularly an issue when single handed and running in a stiffening breeze or with moderate seas—conditions when it is desirable to carry your weight low in the boat near the centerline yet have the ability to rapidly shift in order to counteract puffs/sea conditions.

Restrictive sternsheets, closed center thwart

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In rowing, I found the center thwart placement a bit low and too far aft. Also, from the point of view of cruising, the midship floatation chamber essentially divided the boat in two with no ability to stow gear underneath or to extend one’s legs for sleeping.

Given a full overhaul was required to address rotted wood, failed polyester resin/ fiberglass bonds and other age induced issues, attention would be paid the habitability concerns. Attention also, subject of an earlier article The Taming of the Shrew, re relocating the mast step from the very bow aft to the forward thwart, would be given the tenderness concerns.

In his catalogue, Lapstreak Plywood Boat Designs, Ian Oughtred mentions that he does not use sideboards in his boats of 10’. The study plans of his Puffin (10’ 3”) show two options, a straight board stern thwart or a minimum sheets arrangement providing a nicely curved interface with the hull. This curved design, retaining the existing floatation area, is the model I chose to follow.

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Puffin (Oughtred)

SEA MINOR--modified sternsheet design

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The center thwart situation was a tougher nut. It was heavily bonded to the hull and made up nearly all of the hulls rigidity--moving it posed major structural issues.

An adjusted thwart position taking into consideration my rowing preferences was achieved using blocks and clamps to temporarily position the old cover board in various positions as oars were shipped and the boat dry rowed. Leg spacing, seat height, and oarlock position were adjusted until a comfortable, custom fit was found. This resolved the rowing position issues but despite opening the area beneath the thwart, sleeping arrangements still presented a problem—although I could work my way under the seat and lay prone, turning over and, more of a concern, getting up quickly, was impossible.

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Test fitting center thwart

In his book, Oar & Sail, Kenneth Leighton mentioned a removable center thwart. This idea appealed to me but I did not want to be burdened with loose gear the size of the center thwart board while trying to sleep and cook aboard. Further, I had weakened the boat by removing the rigid center chamber and needed to address this condition with the new design. Knees of some arrangement were called for as well as the need to retain as much structural rigidity as possible. To this end, I decided upon permanent cleats, rather than stringers, tied to the hull with through-bolts and knees—the seat board, hinged in the middle, would screw to the port shelf and to a bearing pad fastened to the centerboard trunk cover (see figures below).

New thwart cleats and amidships bearing pad

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Thwart hinges

The starboard end of the seat is fastened with a combination of 3/8” nylon knockdown snap joints and a good size screw toggle latch. The seat snaps onto the cleat by use of the nylon knockdowns, allowing quick securing of the thwart in the event rapid rowing from anchor is required. The screw latch makes up the mechanical interface with the hull when sailing. Thus, when day is done and anchor set, the starboard side of the thwart maybe unlatched and swung over, out of the way, to lie atop the port side of the seat.

Nylon snap joints

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Latch in place and tightened

Floatation volume lost by removal of the center chamber is made up with two 8X20” fenders. The choice of fenders over floatation bags was one of multi-use. Space in a 10’ dinghy is limited and everything possible should serve more than one task. The fenders, made fast along the keel outboard the centerboard trunk , not only provide needed floatation to maintain the original design requirement of 300# buoyancy but during camping, may also be anchor pickup buoy and/or back rest or, if docking, simply fenders.

7’ leathered spoon bladed oars, new mast step, floatation

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Anchoring, Mooring

A close look at the original layout of the CD 10 will reveal a lack ground tackle accommodations. Here, the original mast step found service: there is a 2” diameter hole in the breast hook and a drain hole centered in the bottom of the step. The post was turned to provide a friction fit with the breast hook and a 4” #14 bronze lag bolt bearing on rubber and bronze washers was run up through the drain hole.

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A Wicked Good Samson Post

This arrangment proved valuable for towing as well as anchoring. A four-pound “Bruce” style anchor with 15’ of light chain and 100’ of 3/8” nylon line formed the rode.

The two belaying pins shown in the previous interior picture (located in proximity to the mast step) provide places for hayard and downhaul when sailing but also may be placed in the oarlock sockets to function as cleats when tying to a dock.

Rigged and ready--let’s go sailing!

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