Monday, February 23, 2015

Dylan Bailey Interviews Dudley Dix

Dylan Bailey is a marine surveyor and member of the committee of the Metal Boat Society. He recently interviewed me about my background in boats, designing, boat building and sailing. The interview was for the Metal Boat Society magazine Metal Boat Quarterly and Dylan has also posted it on his own blog. Anyone who wants to read it, please visit Dylan's blog at

Dylan is also the owner of the prototype Little Creek 47 "Flutterby", which was built by his father Howdy Bailey of Howdy Bailey Yacht Services in the 1980s. She is a shallow draft steel cruiser with swing keel, twin rudders and staysail schooner rig.

Little Creek 47 "Flutterby".
"Flutterby" on Chesapeake Bay.
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Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Wickedly Accurate Didi 29 Retro Project in North Carolina

I designed the Didi 29 Retro for Mike Kopman, a professional charter skipper who lives in my hometown of Hout Bay, South Africa. Mike's concept was to adapt the Didi 26 cruiser/racer design to a more traditional concept, with counter stern, bulwarks, boxy trunk cabin and a big gaff rig, for participation in the Caribbean classic racing circuit. Mike received the first CNC kit to this design, supplied by CKD Boats in South Africa. The second kit went to Bruce Mierke of Murphy, North Carolina, which he ordered from our list of plywood kits.

Mike Kopman has been building his workshop ahead of the boatbuilding project, so that hasn't started yet. Bruce Mierke started his boat a few months ago and is moving along very well. These photos are of Bruce's build. He began with some smaller items ahead of starting the hull, so I am showing those first.
Foil of lifting keel
Beaver-tail ballast bulb
Carbon spars for gaff rig.
Bulkheads and framework set up on building stocks.
This design has a spade rudder that is installed in a cassette so that it can be lifted out through the cockpit for trailing or shallow moorings. Bruce has added a motor well also, in which he will run a Torqueedo electric outboard. The casings that contain the outboard well and rudder cassette can be seen on the photo above and others in this series.
Bottom panels installed, rudder cassette and Torqueedo test-fitted
Radiused section of skin completed.
Aft view, with hardwood-veneered transom
Plug of engine well and rudder cassette in place.
Bruce has modified my rudder cassette design to allow some steerage with the rudder partially raised to assist when approaching shallow moorings with the keel raised.

He is very happy with the quality and accuracy of the kit that we supplied, describing it as "wicked accurate".

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Sunday, February 15, 2015

Cape Cutter 19 - Capable Little Cruiser

The Cape Cutter 19 was commissioned by Nick and Lyndsay Voorhoeve as a GRP trailer-sailer, styled after the traditional working craft of UK. It was first built in South Africa, then the company was sold to Honnor Marine, who have built them in UK since 2003. To date more than 125 GRP boats have been built and we have also sold plans for nearly 70 of them, to be built from plywood.

These little boats have proven to be very capable little cruisers, with a surprising turn of speed. They have won the modern gaffer division of the Round the Island Race (around the Isle of Wight) a number of times. I designed the CC19 to handle the boisterous seas and winds found around the Cape of Good Hope, so it has proven quite at home in the sometimes rough conditions around the Solent.

Most are used for family cruising but some have made interesting passages. Top of the list must be the voyage that Jo Sinfield made on "Bandoola". She was built for him in Cape Town in 2002, then shipped to Myanmar (previously Burma), 1000 miles up the Irrawaddy River. Jo sailed her down the Irrawaddy River to the Bay of Bengal, across the Andaman Sea to Thailand then to Singapore.
Jo Sinfield and "Bandoola" sailing the Irrawaddy River in Myanmar.

Another remarkable journey was the fund-raising voyage that Mike Brooke made with his CC19 "Theo's Future", to raise funds for research and treatment of a congenital eye disease. Mike is an ex Royal Marine and highly experienced dinghy sailor. He circumnavigated England in June to September 2008, with a variety of friends and family crewing for him on various legs. He raised more than his target and was able to buy important hi-tech equipment for treatment of the condition. Theo is Mike's nephew, who was born healthy but lost his sight to the condition within months. Mike continues to raise funds by selling his book about the voyage, "Fight for Sight on Theo's Future - A Voyage of Hope & Endeavour". If you want to read his story and support this very worthwhile cause, you can buy his book at
Mike Brooke sailing "Theo's Future"
I have just read of another voyage by a CC19. This was a circumnavigation of UK, made by David Farquhar on CC19 #11, "Pipistrelle". David didn't intend to circumnavigate, he set off for a few days of sailing to see how his boat went, then just kept going. He harbour-hopped and spread it over a three-year period before arriving back at his starting point. David is now part-way through doing the same again and estimates that to date he has sailed about 4000 miles on his little ship.
David Farquhar and crew Fiona on CC19 Pipistrelle
These very capable little boats have wonderful character and are well-loved by their owners. It will be interesting to see where else their owners may take them (or be taken by them).

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Saturday, February 14, 2015

More about Jim's DS15 Project

In a November post I wrote about the Didi Sport 15 that is being built in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, by Jim Foot. Jim has continued to build at a good pace and his boat is moving into the final stages of construction.

Jim has provided a steady stream of photos that document his project through all of its stages. He appears to be doing a very capable build and his boat should be sailing within months.

Jim bought a plywood kit from CKD Boats in Cape Town. It was cut by CNC router using cutting files that we prepared and supplied. Similar kits can also be cut by our other kit suppliers in other countries.
Beautiful standard of hull finish shows off the hull shape.
Internal framing of Jim's DS15 hull, CNC-cut by CKD Boats in Cape Town.
Spinnaker pole launch tube
Internal surfaces sealed with 3 coats epoxy
Adding doublers for mainsheet track and epoxy-coating underside of deck.
Jigsaw-jointed cockpit sole installed and cockpit sides being fitted.
Framing of foredeck and cambered mastdeck.
Mastdeck being fitted.
Cockpit and decks nearing completion.
Mound for rudder pintles.
Casting lead keel bulb.
Thanks Jim for your photos and for your enthusiasm. I look forward to the launch and sailing photos of your new boat.

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Wednesday, February 4, 2015

What the Saints did Next

The Saints are the people who live on St Helena Island, a remote island in the middle of the South Atlantic Ocean. They live on a mountain of rock that comes straight up out of the ocean, with steep cliffs all round and nary a beach to be seen. The terrain is very convoluted, with deep valleys and mountain passes. Until now, the only way to reach St Helena has been by boat or ship but soon an airport will be completed, making the island more accessible to others and opening up the world to the islanders. This is an interesting place to visit on Google Earth, to see how remote and inhospitable it is. The new airport can also be seen; consider the mammoth task that it must be taking to create it with the minimal resources available on the island. I imagine that much equipment and material has been shipped in over the past few years to accomplish this.
Saloon view of "Black Cat". Photo courtesy of What The Saints Did Next.
St Helena is the finishing point for the Governors Cup Yacht Race, sailed from False Bay Yacht Club in Simonstown on the western side of False Bay, South Africa, every two years. It was also the place to which Napoleon Bonaparte was banished for his second imprisonment. It was far enough away from anywhere else that he was not able to get up to any more mischief.

What The Saints Did Next is the blog for the island, which helps to keep the world up to date with whatever is happening on the island. The blog has a great post about "Black Cat" and her win in the most recent edition of the race. It includes an interview with the crew about the race and life aboard, as well as a bunch of really nice photos of "Black Cat" and crew.

I hope that I can be on "Black Cat" for her next voyage in this race. Visiting St Helena is on my bucket list as a place to visit. An ancestor of mine and the first Dix to settle in Cape Town arrived from St Helena. What he was doing there I don't know, possibly a soldier guarding Napoleon.

"Black Cat" is the prototype of my Didi 38 design and forerunner of all of my radius chine plywood designs. Visit our website at for more info on my designs.