Sunday, December 11, 2011

2012 Calendar

Introducing the first of what we hope will become an annual feature. It is the "Boats of Dudley Dix Yacht Design - 2012" calendar, with photos of a wide selection of our boats. This was a project that happened very quickly, under considerable time pressure because it started so late in 2011. The photos selected came mostly from those that have been sent to me by owners and builders over many years.

Cover of 2012 calendar

There are only 12 months and 1 cover available, so there is a limit to what we could include. I have shown as many boats as I could fit in, so some readers will be lucky enough to be included this year. We have many beautiful photos but most were automatically excluded by being of low resolution.

February photo page

If you are interested in buying the calendar, go to . You can view before buying. Current price is US$17 but if you register on the Lulu website, you will receive regular discount offers by email to get it or other publications at a reduced price. They are printed by suppliers in many countries, so yours will come from your closest supplier for reduced shipping cost.

I invite all owners and builders of our boats to send me your best hi-res photos for consideration to be included in future calendars. They must be at least 300dpi resolution, the higher the better.

Thanks for reading. To see our full range of designs, go to .

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Hardy Boatbuilders

I have built all of my big boats outside, sometimes with temporary shelters over them to allow me to work through the winter rainy season or to protect new materials that were sentitive to moisture. I built a 36 footer (not my design) when in my 20s, a 34 footer (CW975) when in my 30s and a 38 footer (Didi 38) when in my 40s, all of them from plywood.

I had it easy, compared to many builders of our boats. A few days ago, Bill Connor in Boulder Colorado sent me this photo after an early winter blizzard. Doesn't look like a boat but under all that cold white stuff is a Didi 40cr  hull and deck.

Stern view of Bill Connor's Didi 40cr

Bill writes the following. "As you know, building ourside requires an understanding of local weather, cooperation with the weather you are given (as opposed to forecast), perseverance, and a sense of humor, not unlike sailing itself. Local weather in Boulder means Chinooks, cold, and snow. The winds came early this year with 85kts. at the house mid-October, so the tent had to come down for the season. I finished glassing the deck and cabin, but the cockpit coamings were in progress so they'll have to wait under plastic until an Indian Summer or until Spring rolls around - so it goes. Meanwhile, I'll work on assemblies in the shop with an eye towards next Summer's goal: painting the exterior and decking."

Bill highlights something that I mention in various places on my website and documentation supplied with our designs. It is important with a large project like this to always have a few sub-projects on the go or being planned so that you can carry on with other work inside the workshop or inside the covered boat. If you are going to sit and wait out the rain or snow then the boat might never be finished.

Igor Pokusaev is building his Hout Bay 30 in
Moscow, Russia.

So, almost wherever you are, you should be able to build a boat. You must make allowances in your planning for your local conditions and you might have to seek premises that will allow you to build indoors. However, by making suitable choices, you will be able to successfully build a boat.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Aluminium Boatbuilding

This post was prompted by me receiving the photo below from a client who is building one of my aluminium designs. I have posted about him before, his name is Brian Russell and he is building in Tennessee. The reason for the post? Well, the photo is just so gorgeous in its composition and shows up the framing system of the boat so nicely. And, of course, there is his pretty wife right in the middle of it as well, to add interest.

Brian Russell's Dix 43 Pilot. The black surfaces are
insulation, which highlight the framing system of
longitudinal stringers and transverse frames.

Brian is a professional sculptor, so he obviously does beautiful work and has a great eye for aesthetics to show it all off. Brian's website is at .

This design is the Dix 43 Pilot, originally drawn for steel construction. Many have been built by professional and amateur builders from steel and a few have been built by professionals from aluminium. One of them, "Blue Pearl" was built by Jacobs Brothers in Cape Town and has cruised many thousands of miles, including voyages to both the Arctic and the Antarctic.

"Blue Pearl" in the Antarctic

Aluminium is a great boatbuilding material and well-proven in use. It is also a much nicer material with which to work than steel. It is relatively light, so it is easier to manhandle pieces by yourself than with steel, with less need for heavy-lifting equipment. It is also easily worked with woodworking machinery like power saws, power planes etc and it is a lot quieter to work than steel. It also has the advantage that it is not necessary to paint it above the waterline, so the increased cost of the material is offset to large extent by the savings in fairing and painting.

OK, so what is the problem with it that blocks most amateur builders from using it? Aluminium is a material that can result in an unsafe boat if the builder does not properly educate himself before starting construction. That education is needed in two areas, which are proper choice of alloys and correct welding techniques. Get these two things right and you will have a good boat.

Proper choice of alloys is important because incorrect alloys will result in corrosion problems that will seriously shorten the safe life of the boat. The aluminium must be marine grade, from the 5000 and 6000 series of alloys and they must be selected for their strength, welding and corrosion characteristics.

Correct welding technique is much more important for aluminium than for steel because it is a more difficult material to weld successfully. Correct preparation of the weld zone and cleanliness of the work area are needed because any contamination in the weld will adversely affect weld adhesion and strength. Aluminium welding is also badly affected if the inert gas is blown away, allowing oxidation of the molten metal. That means that there must be no wind or other air movement where the welding is going on.

So, any amateur who is prepared to take courses at the nearest Community College should be able to build a good boat in aluminium. You don't want to find out in 60 knots of wind and 50ft seas in the Southern Ocean that your welding techniques were not up to scratch. Do it right and you will have a boat that can take you anywhere in the world that you want to go.

See our full range of designs and much info on boatbuilding at

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Time to Plan for Winter

Winter is coming fast and the weatherman says that it will be another cold one, much like last year. If you are into winter sports, this is a great time of year. If you are like me, you prefer the warmer months. Despite that, I don't let the cold trap me inside, you will often find me out on the ocean, surfing in air and water temperatures that are not many degrees above freezing. I will be covered head to toe in black neoprene, with only my face exposed to the elements. If the surf is good, that is where I will be.

When I am not surfing or working, I keep myself busy in the workshop with projects. My current project is rebuilding a 40 year old British sportscar, a Lotus Europa S2. It was given to me by a friend, in a very sad state. This project will keep me busy for a few winters.

My Lotus Europa rebuild project, garaged and with
 the body off the chassis. My surfboards are racked
 on the wall.

Now is the time to plan what you will do this winter. Building a small boat is a great project that will keep you busy, in a warm shop or garage. It will also result in a product of your own hands, of which you will be proud and which will give you lots of fun when the warmer weather returns.

Nomatter what your age, you can benefit from building a small boat. As a schoolboy, you can build it for yourself. As a father or grandfather, you can build it for yourself and your children or grandchildren. Whether you are into fishing, sailing or the exercise of rowing or paddling, there are boats that you can build with basic woodworking skills.

Some designs need boatbuilding skills but most can be built by people with only basic woodworking skills and no prior boatbuilding experience. You should choose a design that you are sure that you will be able to complete. It is good to challenge yourself but don't aim so high that your project will get the better of you.

We have a few designs that are suitable for winter builds. At the lower end of the skills scale are the 3:1 dinghies that are built by the stitch & glue method. They can be built by almost anyone and can be propelled by oars, sails or a small outboard motor. Use them for sailing, fishing, teaching boating skills or simply lazing around on the water, with or without a fishing rod.

Nicely built Argie 10 3:1 dinghy, built from
plywood by an inexperienced amateur builder.

At the other end of the skills scale are the lapstrake Challenger and the Paper Jet. A completed Challenger is also a 3:1 multi-purpose dinghy. The Paper Jet is very different, being only a sailing dinghy. But it is a sailing dinghy with a difference in that it has 3 sailing configurations that make it suitable for sailing at all skill levels.

Whatever, your boating preferences you can find a boat to build in our Winter Projects. If you get started now, you can be having fun "messing about in boats" when the warm summer months come again.

See all of our designs at .

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Mini-Transat sailor Radek Kowalczyk

Radek Kowalczyk is sailing his little boat "Calbud" in the Mini-Transat single-handed race that is currently being sailed between France and Brazil. He is the third Polish sailor to sail in this event. His boat is built from radius chine plywood, to the first version of our Didi Mini design. Radek is proving to be a resilient sailor.

Radek Kowalczyk arriving in Madeira

Radek was unlucky, on the first leg, to hit a whale. The inpact damaged his keel, necessitating heading into a small harbour in Portugal to make repairs. The damage appears to have been primarily delamination of the carbon skin that he applied over the outside of my aluminium keel design. The repair kept him in port for a few days before he could resume his voyage.

Radek and "Calbud" arrived in Madeira yesterday to a massive welcome from fellow competitors, family and friends. He and his boat were both given a clean bill of health by doctors and the Mini 650 class inspectors respectively. Today they set off on the second leg of the race, more than 3000 miles to Brazil.

"Calbud" undergoing inspection in Madeira.

Radek is a great example of what this race is all about. He is resilient in the face of adversity and does whatever is needed to achieve his goal of sailing this race. He is part of an ever-growing group of single-handed sailors who treat each other with great respect. They support each other like family, to help each other through these events.

Radek, you have earned our respect and I wish you the best of sailing for the rest of this race.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Sneak Preview

We have a new small sailboat taking shape in a remote workshop in rural North Carolina. It is a performance dinghy with a twist. It will be an exciting boat with a trapeze or two, or a ballast bulb can be added to the daggerboard to make a more docile small sportboat or family funboat. This is the first time that we are showing it anywhere public because it is not yet ready for plans sales. The design has taken a backseat due to pressure from other designs, so it has gone rather slowly

This hull shape was requested by my client, in preference to a simpler hard-chine or multi-chine hull form of stitch-&-glue hull construction. It is a direct development of the Didi Mini Mk3, scaled down to a smaller size.

This is a project that is suited to builders who have already built a stitch-&-glue boat or two and want to develop their skills further. It is built mostly with sheet plywood, to a shape that comes very close to those used for the latest breed of Volvo and other high performance raceboats, with a chine above a rounded bottom.

In these photos we have clamped the flat sheets to the framing on one side of the hull, to check that all fit correctly. This is a CNC kit, so we need to be sure that it goes together properly. The turn of the bilge will be skinned with two thinner layers laminated together to form a compound curve.

This first boat should be ready for the Wooden Boat Show in June 2012, at Mystic Seaport. Make plans to be there if you want to see her in the flesh.

See our design range at .

Saturday, September 3, 2011

DH550 Catamaran

We have added an option of cruising fin keels to the DH550 performance cruising catamaran design. The plans continue to show the daggerboards that were originally in the design and additional drawings are now included to show the fixed keels.

DH550 prototype "Wild Vanilla"

Daggerboards offer improved windward performance and the ability to pull the boards up for beaching and for side-slipping in extreme weather. Cruising keels offer simpler sailing.

This option will also be available on the smaller sister, the Dix 470, when any builder wants that feature.

Visit to see all of our designs.


Thursday, August 25, 2011

Hurricane Irene

Hurricane Irene is one mean gal. She has us in her sights here in Virginia Beach and will arrive Saturday. Forecasts are that she will go right over us before heading for New York, Boston and points North.

There is likely to be a lot of flood and wind damage around here, with prolonged power outages that could go on for a fortnight or more. If you are unable to make contact with us in the aftermath of Irene, please bear with us. We will be back on-line and working as soon as we can. We have a generator to keep the office and household going but will still have no contact with the outside world if there are widespread outages that shut down communications.

For now, we are battening down the hatches and moving all loose stuff indoors. This will be the first major storm test for my new boat shed, in which my Paper Jet is hiding from the angry elements.


Metal Boat Festival Wrap-up

I returned home yesterday from the 24th Metal Boat Festival, held 19-21 August at the Cap Sante Boat Haven in Anacortes, WA. The venue was good, there was an interesting array of metal boats to be viewed on the  marinas and great people to meet and with whom to socialise.

I was lucky to be the guest of Ian and Laurie Clark, on their centre cockpit Dix 43 "Namo". She was beautifully built by John Dearden of Gibsons, BC. I was made to feel very welcome and tried very hard to behave myself (not that easy).

Dudley with Laurie and Ian Clark on "Namo".
Thanks to Owen Youngblood for the photo.

Highlight of the weekend was the very interesting presentation by Charmaine Lingard (assisted by daughter Sindella) about their voyaging in the Antarctic and Chile aboard Vickers 45AC "Vlakvark". Charmaine had the audience enthralled with her video showing the interaction of her family with nature in this extreme climate. This part of the 3-day program alone was worth the effort of flying across the continent to attend.

My thanks to Charmaine Lingard and Brian Russell for their presentations, which supported my own talks, helping to make this a successful event.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The beautiful "Tana Vika"

Every now and then I am sent a truely gorgeous photo of one of my boats, which I just have to show off.

Today I received this beautiful one from Tony and Angela Maslin, of their Dix 43HD "Tana Vika". They were sailing in company with Beth Leonard and Evans Starzinger on "Hawk" along the Newfoundland coast. Thanks to Beth for the photo.

 "Tana Vika" was built by Neriede Yachting in Czech Republic. Tony and Angela took delivery at the yard in motor-away state, without the rig. They motored through the rivers and canals of Europe to UK, where the rig was fitted. Since then they have crossed the Atlantic and cruised the Caribbean and East Coast of USA and Canada.

Her construction is aluminium and she was built from a kit that was pre-cut by CNC using cutting files prepared by Robert Christinger of Alumar Yachts.

PS. When Tony sent me the photo he said that they were able to hold "Hawk", a Samoa 47, for the 30 mile beat during which the photo was taken. I didn't initially include it in my blog in case Tony was stretching the truth a bit. Since then Beth has confirmed that the two boats had a great race and were a good match.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

24th Annual Metal Boat Festival

The Metal Boat Festival is a gathering of people who are involved with steel and aluminium boats and takes place annually in the Pacific Northwest. It has moved around this beautiful area and this year it takes place at the Cap Sante Boat Haven in the Port of Anacortes Marina from 19-21 August.

This year I will be one of the speakers at the Festival. I have participated four times since 1998 but have not been there for about 5 years. I look forward to returning and renewing old friendships.

On the Friday evening I will be the dinner speaker, with a PowerPoint illustrated talk about growing up as a surfer/sailor/amateur boatbuilder in South Africa, how it affected the development of my career as a yacht designer and the subsequent path that I have taken.

Table Mountain, looking across Table Bay, home
waters for my offshore sailing in Cape Town.

On Saturday afternoon I will talk about developments in boat design through the years. This will be partly historical and partly current trends and will also be a PowerPoint presentation. It will cover such issues as hull, keel, rudder and rig design and the effects that decisions have on the behaviour of the resulting boat.

On Sunday morning I will be one of the panel in the Designers and Builders Forum. This is an open discussion with people from the floor asking questions of the designers and builders on the panel. From past experience, this leads to valuable and very interesting discussion, with the members of the panel offering their solutions to problems posed.

The program includes interesting presentations by boat builders and others from the boating industry on a wide range of subjects related to building, owning, maintaining and cruising boats generally, with a strong leaning toward metal boats. A highlight will be a talk by Charmaine Lingard about their voyages between Canada and Antarctica, over the barbecue dinner on Saturday evening. Their boat is "Vlakvark", built in South Africa to my Vickers 45AC design. See the full festival schedule .

Berthing will be available on the marina for metal boats associated with the Festival. One of them will be the aluminium centre cockpit Dix 43 "Namo", owned by Ian Clark and built by John Dearden in Gibson, BC.

Dix 43 "Namo" on launch day.

So, if you are interested in metal boats, or want to learn more about them, Anacortes could be the best place to be on 19-21 August.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Wooden Boat Show wrap-up

The 20th Annual Wooden Boat Show was a great success. Attendance was at a record high and the visitors seemed to be serious about boats, not just tourists passing through Mystic Seaport. We had visitors at our booth and Paper Jet most of the time, sometimes lined up waiting to talk.

To those guys who told me that I get them into trouble, I sympathise with you for your predicament. It seems that they spend too much time in my website, which gets them into trouble with their wives. At least it is not porn or drugs taking their time and hard-earned money.

Special visitors to our display were Bill Conner with son Spencer and father Bill Snr. They are building a Didi 40cr in Boulder, Colorado and are turning the hull this week. Another special visitor was Eric Thesen, originally from Knysna South Africa and now living in New Zealand. He worked on a Vickers 45 in Knysna and is now working in New England on a large rebuild project. Thanks guys, for coming by.

Bill Connor's hull ready for turning

The Paper Jet attracted even more attention this year than before. We expect to sell a few more of them before the 21st Annual Wooden Boat Show. We hope to be there with the Paper Jet and another new plywood dinghy, which is currently being built in North Carolina.


Visit our website for info on our designs.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Wooden Boat Show 2011

We are heading into summer and our annual boat show road trip is approaching. The destination is the very beautiful Mystic Seaport, Connecticutt. The show is the 20th Annual Wooden Boat Show.

We will have the prototype of the Paper Jet sailing skiff on display, as well as information on our many other designs, for building from all materials. We will be at Booth 13A in Tent A, with our boat set up just outside the entrance alongside our booth. In 2007 we received the Outstanding Innovation Award at this show for the Paper Jet.

Paper Jet numbers are growing worldwide. This week we have shipped plans to a builder in Thailand, who has sail #55. A Paper Jet Forum has been started recently for exchange of ideas and tips for building, rigging, sailing and tuning the Paper Jet.

Please drop by the booth or boat to see what we have, ask questions or just chat about what new designs we have coming soon.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Quality Metal Boat Kits

Robert Christinger is the man behind  Alumar Yachts. His first experience of our designs was when he bought plans for the Dix 43 Pilot, to have one built for himself. He converted our 2-dimensional paper plans into a very detailed 3-dimensional computer model, complete with every piece of metal that was to go into the boat structure.
Then he converted the entire structure into interlocking pieces, nested them onto aluminium plates and had them cut by a metal supplier with CNC equipment. That is the process of creating a kit that can be built by a professional boatbuilder, or any suitably experienced amateur.

The pieces were delivered to the builder and the boat in the photo below was the result.

That was the first of a series. Since then Robert has designed similar CNC kits for a few of our other designs. Alumar Yachts can supply cutting files for a kit to be cut by a supplier near to the builder or can arrange for supply of a pre-cut kit to be delivered. Robert can also customise the model and cutting files to suit the owner's needs.

One of the people for whom Robert supplied cutting files is Brian Russell in Tennessee. Brian is a very skilled metal sculptor who has taken to boatbuilding. He is building the Dix 43 Pilot for himself and producing a high quality boat.

Brian's company is Odyssey Yachts, with a great blog illustrating every step of his building process. Odyssey Yachts is also the agent for Alumar Yachts in North America, able to supply pre-cut kits for our metal designs.

If you are considering building a metal boat, contact Robert or Brian via the contact pages on their websites. They can help to reduce the time and effort needed to build a quality boat.

See our full range of designs at .

Monday, April 25, 2011

WOOD Regatta

The WOOD Regatta is approaching fast. It will be sailed on 20-22 May at the  Rock Hall Yacht Club in Maryland, just across Chesapeake Bay from Annapolis.

This looks like being a memorable racing and social event. A wide range of wooden boat types have already entered and the Rock Hall Yacht Club has a reputation for laying on excellent racing, with good facilities both on and off the water. Organisation is by Carl Cramer and his able staff at Wooden Boat Magazine.

You can read more about the regatta at and keep up to date on developments through the WOOD Regatta thread on the Wooden Boat Forum .

Wooden sailboats up to 30ft on deck are eligible, so whether you have an Argie 10 or a Didi 26, you are able to sail in the regatta.  I have entered my Paper Jet #001 and hope to meet owners of some of our other wooden boats there as well.

Don't wait too long, entries close on May 5th.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Hubble, Bubble, Toil & Trouble

With my apologies to the late great William Shakespeare, we have just come through a trying time. Those of you who have tried to visit our website and instead found error pages or error messages will have felt some of the frustration along with us.

It started with reports that some visitors from South Africa could not access our website. Try as we might, we could not find for certain where the problem was. It only affected some and not others but we knew there was a problem to sort out. Internet techs and computer geeks on both sides of the Atlantic tried to find the problem without success. My conclusion was that there was a breakdown in connection between a router in Northern Virginia and our ISP, not too far away.

For those who don't know these things (and probably also don't care), your computer talks to websites on the other side of the world with signals that travel at the speed of light and pass through up to 20 routers and the cables, microwaves etc that connect them. Each of those routers can be identified by IP address, owner, location etc so that we can find where a problem is, if we are lucky. So, I identified that my problem was probably with a particular router machine at a particular company in Andover, VA.

However, that bit of info did not solve the problem. Before I was able to arrange a fix, my website disappeared from the face of the earth, to be replaced by 404 Error Page messages where previously we had all those pretty pictures and lots of text to help you fall asleep. Its disappearance also sent 18-24 hours of emails flying off into cyberspace at a speed so fast that even the Hubble Telescope has no chance of spotting them, let alone ugly witches staring into a bubbling pot.

So, if you sent us any emails in the past day or two and have not had a response, please send them again. If you tried to visit us and have been concerned about the error pages, please visit again. We are still at the same address, although that address has magically moved from Virginia to Massachusetts, courtesy of the wonders of the web, some deft fingerwork on my keyboard and much head scratching to get it all to work properly. I have moved it to a company that is able to offer proper support when I need it.

If you see anything that is not working properly, I apologise. I cannot visit every page of my site to check that they are all working as intended but you guys will spot any problems. Please tell me if you see anything that I need to correct.

Thank you all, for staying loyal to us.


Thursday, January 20, 2011

250 And Still Going Strong

The Didi 26 has to rate among our most successful designs. I designed it in 1997/8, so it has been around for about 13 years. In that time we have sold plans for 250 boats, so about 20 boats per year. They have been built by amateur builders on all continents and in far-off corners of the world.

I have no idea how many are on the water because only a small proportion of owners send me their launch and sailing photos. I am very grateful to those owners of our boats who do send photos of the build process and sailing once completed.

The most recent sailing photo that I have received for a Didi 26 was from Bill Richards on South Island in New Zealand. He has sent me a few sailing pics over the past year or two but the new one is very nice, showing his "Panic Knot" at speed under masthead asymmetrical in strong winds.

Bill added the following commentary to his photo.

"The conditions where extremely testing with a southerly wind that ranged from 5 knots to 30 knots. So we put up as much sail as we dared and went for it. We did wipe out several times both using the fractional and mast head kites. We tried very hard to break stuff but didn't succeed. max speed was 15 knots in flat water. And everything was under control on a good deep run, unfortunatley the course then called for a reach to the finish so we had to turn and try and carry kite, we managed very well until the gusts built to strong and then couldn't control it, ( the other boats wiped out before us) recovery was quick and I can now prove that the boat has a good righting moment, as we managed to have the mast head kite up and full main up with the top of the mast in the water!

What helped us was that the oppositon were flying conventioanl spinnakers and when they lost it they didn't recover as quickly as us. When we rounded up we didn't ever get as far as head to wind or worse as the oppositon did. The crew didn't even get wet feet as the boat on its side sits very high in the water. There is no chance of any water getting near the companion way.

The photo shows us doing about 12 knots."
We also have a 23ft version of this concept, the Didi 23.
Please visit our website to see our other designs.