Small sailboats are from about 10 to 18 feet in length (3 to 6 metres). Small
sailboats are often called sailing dinghies, because almost all have open
cockpits without any cabins. They are usually made from either marine plywood or
fiberglass - the big manufacturers use fiberglass x431
pro mini, but wood is used for some boats, particularly if they are sold in
Small sailboats are ideal for learning to sail -much better than a bigger
boat because things happen quicker autel
maxisys ms906, and you learn to respond to changes in the wind and sea. I
recommend that anyone interested in sailing starts with a small sailboat.
Among wooden small sailboats are the Mirror, Streaker and GP14 all designed
by Jack Holt, while the Topper, Lasers and Yamaha small sailboats are all
fiberglass. There is a whole range of small Laser sailboats. Waverleys were made
from plywood in the early days, but are now all fiberglass. Most 420s and 470s
Centerboard or dagger board
Because small sailboats are usually launched from the beach, you need a
retractable keel, so and all have centerboards or dagger boards - these are
types of lifting keels. You need the keel to counteract the force of the wind
which is trying to push the boar over. In a small boat, you have to lean out to
counterbalance the force of the wind when sailing to windward. Sailing to
windward is when are at an angle of about 45 degrees to 75 degrees from the
The dagger board is a keel that is just raised or lowered by hand, being
pushed down or pulled up vertically in its housing in the small sailboat. It is
very simple, and is usually held in position by a pin - fully up when running
before the wind, maybe halfway down when the wind is on the aft quarter, and
with it fully down when beating to windward.
A centerboard is a type of lifting keel used on most small sailboats. It
pivots in a housing, and has an lever projecting from the top end. When the
centerboard is raised, the lever is right forward and you pull it back to lower
it - with this arrangement, you can have as much of the centerboard lowered as
you like, moving the lever to any point from fully up to fully down.
The reason that the position of the centerboard or dagger board is important
is that these small sailboats are used mostly for racing, and you want the
maximum performance you can get. If you are just going out for a sail in a small
sailboat, leave the centerboard fully down except when you come back to the
beach, or of course if you run aground.
Small sailboats are a lo to fun to sail, cost little, are robust, and as they
are kept out of the water require very little maintenance. The Lasers, Streakers
and Europa are among those that have 'cat' rigs - just one sail, like a mainsail
on a normal Bermudian rig. They can still sail very fast, and can be sailed
easily single-handed. They are used for single-handed racing.
Most other small sailboats have a Bermudian rig, usually with a small jib and
fairly large mainsail. The exception is the Mirror Dinghy which has a gunter rig
- the mainsail is hoisted up the mast and a spar that goes almost vertically
from the top of the mast. The shape of the sails is almost the same as the
Bermudian, but this rig was chosen because the mast is shorter making the boat
easier to store at home and transport to the water.
Small sailboats come is all sizes, shapes and weights. Some are built with a
gaff rig, some with the gunter rig, some with cat rigs, and most with Bermudian
rigs - there are even some with two masts, each with a cat rig.
The great thing about small sailboat is that you can take it from the boat
store or from your home to the shore easily and launch it single handed. This
hardly takes any time - and then you are sailing. Mostly, small sailboats are
used for racing, or for short cruises of a couple of hours, but some people have
cruised across oceans in modified small sailboats like the Waverley and
So if you want to get a sailboat and have limited funds - or no experience -
I recommend you buy a small sailboat.John Hartley has been sailing for over
20 years, and has owned three sailboats - one small one and two cruising yachts.
He gives helpful information about sailboats and yachts at SailBoats Yatch