Tuesday, December 01, 2009
I owned ‘Harriott’, a Roamer dinghy, for two years before selling her to another enthusiast. She was designed by Eric Coleman, a founder member of the Dinghy Cruising Association. He also designed and built the first Rebell, which is a bigger version of the Roamer. His book, 'Dinghies for all Waters', is an excellent guide for those wanting to cruise dinghies.
By modern standards the Roamer would be considered old-fashioned, but for all that, I believe she is a really good cruising dinghy. When fully ballasted and ready for the water, she has a displacement of about 650 lbs. Her working sail area is only 96 sq ft, but it can be increased to 105 sq ft by replacing the jib with the Genoa. She has a boom tent, and carries minimal cruising gear. Strictly speaking Roamer is not your typical general purpose dinghy, because she carries 56 lbs of removable lead ballast and she has a metal centreplate weighing 80 lbs. Eric Coleman certainly knew what characteristics were required in a dinghy for coastal cruising - one with excellent sea-keeping ability - even in a Force 6 when properly handled and well reefed.
You will notice her watertight stern-castles, and her raised foredeck, all providing buoyancy where it is needed for righting the boat in the unlikely event of a 180 degree capsize. There is more buoyancy in the form of inflated air bags secured under the side decks. She has two chines, and her bottom is protected by rubbing-strakes. She has a long skeg for directional stability and for providing lateral resistance in addition to the centreboard. Her lifting rudder can be raised above the base of the skeg to prevent it from being damaged when the boat dries out or runs aground. Her cockpit has removable side benches for optimizing useable space when camping aboard, and her floorboards are raised well above the keelson to separate her crew from bilge water. Because the floor is almost level with the top of the centreplate case, the case does not unduly intrude into the accommodation. To make for comfortable and efficient rowing, the rowlocks are secured in raised, purpose-built supports.
'Harriott’ had her mast housed in a tabernacle which made it easy for me to hoist or lower the rig, even when afloat. Forward of the tabernacle she had a washboard to stop water entering the cockpit. Her boom tent was supported by flexible rods, and the lower hem was secured to the hull by cords looped over permanent inverted hooks under the rubbing strakes. She was easy to launch and retrieve on a road trailer, and in most cases I could do it without getting the wheel hubs wet. It depended on the steepness of the launching ramp; if it was shallow, I needed to use a length of rope to the tow bar so that enough depth of water could be found for floating the boat on or off the trailer.
Small Boat Forum – ‘Roamer’ Cruising Dinghy
Paul Fisher Stitch and Tape Plans for the DCA ‘Roamer’ Dinghy