The Birth of “Gordalita”

She was conceived by Richard Woods, and born on a picnic table in our garage.

Richard Woods is the real deal. He is a lifelong designer, sailor and builder who has forgotten more than most of us will ever know of the esoteric world of designing, building and sailing boats.

We needed a smaller lighter tender, that can be hoisted by hand, up onto the new aft platform being installed on the big boat. The idea is to avoid towing the thing around, which presents obvious problems. A decent dingy needs to be able to carry a load, meaning at least three people and their gear, and needs to be light, but must be stable and row comfortably. Richard Woods “Crayfish” design (ours is to be named Gordalita ) seems to fit the bill, as she weighs in at about 50 lbs., and is only 8 ft. long. A little plump no doubt- hence the name, but still quite graceful. I think she is beautemous!

Gordalita will replace Caddywhampus, which has been a delight to row, and a generally good all round workhorse, with a nice figure to boot. When the time comes that you have to row out an anchor to kedge off when on the beach or aground, you really appreciate something that is maneuverable and sturdy . She was Designed by Dave Gerr , as a “nester”, which is a type of boat that is built in two parts that can be unbolted and nested, one piece inside the other, in order to save storage space. In the old days, they used nesting dorys ,which had the same idea. Whalers and cod-fishermen simply stacked one inside the other when stored on the schooner deck. Anyway, Caddywhampus has her place but she is a still bit too large for most of our purposes.

Both tenders are built with the simple “stitch and glue” method, which entails cutting panels for the sides, bottom, and transoms, and lacing them together with wires that are threaded through holes cut along the edges of the seams. As the wires are tightened, the boat comes into shape. Then they are permanently joined by adding epoxy “filets”, which is just a bead of thickened goo, that is coved out with a popsicle stick or a tongue depressor and overlaid with epoxy saturated cloth for reinforcement. This design would be a great starter boat for someone that wanted to get their feet wet. In just a couple of days a complete novice could have a nice functional tender or creek boat. You could also power her up with an electric trolling motor or a 2 hp kicker if you want.

To build one, first, panel dimensions are taken off the plans and drawn out on the plywood (4mm marine, okume ply)

The plywood panels are cut out and faired so they are exactly the same on each side of the boat

Panels are then simply wired together at the seams. For this one I used 14 gauge household wire. Zoom in and you can see how the wires are twist tied. I just leave the wires in and epoxy over them. The pigtails are later cut off flush when the boat is flipped over for glassing the outside seams.

The boat magically takes shape when the wires are tightened at all the seams. Use a temporary brace to get the correct distance across at the gunnels.

You can use anything for the seats. The lighter the better. I used two inch thick foam from home depot, sandwiched and glued between pieces of 4mm ply leftovers. It is stronger if the panel face-grain runs athwartships. Also, foam gives positive floatation and when located at the seat level- up high, the floatation will tend to keep the boat in a stable posture if she is ever swamped.

Laminated gunnels are sprung into place and all glued up

It only takes two or three sessions to get to this point. According to the bathroom scales she weighs 60 lbs. Not too bad, but a couple of pounds more than I had hoped. I think I will skip the paint for now, and see how things go.

Comfortable to carry
I was able to lift her up on deck from the dock without problems. Very encouraging. If anyone wants to build one of these let me know. It would be fun, and less expensive, to do a “workshop” and turn out several.

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