Dix's Doings


May 1999




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Boat Sites



Didi 38 top scores in Table Bay Classic Regatta

New Website

Video on radius chine plywood

Mount Gay 30

TLC 19 for Turkey

Challenger dinghy for amateur builders

Shearwater 45 for USA boat shows

Articles via electronic media

My timing is improving. It is only 5 months since my last quarterly newsletter. I may yet manage to split a year into 4 quarters (maybe sometime in the New Millennium).

Didi 38 scores tops in Table Bay Classic Regatta

My own Didi 38, "Didi" (ex "Black Cat") top scored in Racing Class 1 of the Table Bay Classic Regatta sailed over the weekend of 15th and 16th May, hosted by Royal Cape Yacht Club. Saturday was blown out by a SE gale gusting over 50 knots and was followed by light S to E winds and flat seas on Sunday, conditions in which the Didi 38 is very fast.

We set a good base for the regatta by being the only boat to see that the wind had backed 45 degrees in the last few minutes before the start of the first race. Hitting the start line at almost full speed, on time, at the pin end and on port tack, we sailed straight up the lay line to the mark with no interference from starboard tack boats. Most of the fleet had to sail the length of the start line to reach the lay line before taking up the chase, only the 64ft "Merlin" catching us before the mark.

Our 3rd over the line and handicap win in this windward/leeward was followed by 2nd in the next windward/leeward. The last race was to be a medium distance bay race. Dying winds resulted in this race being drastically shortened at the second mark, most of the fleet fighting the fitful breeze to reach the finish line. Our 1st in this race tied up the regatta for us, with the Mount Gay 30 "Just Barbie" in 2nd and the 52ft "Thunderchild" in 3rd for the event.

With a mostly geriatric crew and no hot shots on board, we proved that the average guy can still pull it out of the bag. The Didi range of radius chine plywood designs gives that average guy the means to put a fast boat onto the water at reasonable cost.

New Website

The big new dixdesign.com website is now no longer so new. It has been widely received as one of the best online boat design sites and marine resources in the world. We are now receiving over 2500 visitors a month, small by corporate ecommerce standards but large in this field. Numbers are growing around 5% per month.

"Video on radius chine plywood

A video showing the hands-on process of building a boat by the radius chine plywood method is taking shape in parallel with the progress of the boat which is the main star of this movie. Jon Lunn in UK is building his Didi 40 (Didi 38 with extended stern) inside a plastic tunnel on a tennis court near London and his building experience is being recorded by a professional cameraman. Between them they will be producing the video, which will be available toward the end of 1999. When ready, you will be able to buy it direct from Jon or through our website. I envisage that it will be a very useful reference for builders using this method.

Didi 40 under construction
Jon Lunn setting up bulkheads for his Didi 40. At time of writing she has most of the interior fitted and is nearing completion of the hull skin.

Mount Gay 30

My Mount Gay 30 design is now complete and ready for building. The design went through a few structural metamorphoses during the design process, each time simplifying the structure a little more. The end result is a boat which will be competitive with the hi-tech designs yet is lo-tech in its structural concepts. It puts competitive fleet racing within the realistic reach of an average handyman builder who does not have a bottomless wallet.

Also changed in the final concept is the arrangement of the ballast tanks and berths. The tanks remain low down at the turn of the bilge for maximum benefit but the berths have been rearranged to be inboard of the tanks, with no need for convertible berths above the tanks. The result is improved stability along with simplified construction.

Although aimed primarily at the Mount Gay 30 Class, the superstructure has been shaped to satisfy the requirements of the IMS Rules as well, allowing her to be used as a club racer without the optional water ballast permitted by the Mount Gay 30 Rules. The hull shape has been computer optimised to minimise hull drag over a wide range of boat speeds.

It is an extension of the concepts introduced in the Didi 26, having a multi-chine plywood cabintop for speedy and simple assembly. The bulk of the construction is of plywood, epoxy filleted together for simplified construction. Much of this can be self-jigging, egg-crate fashion, for speedy assembly.

It is planned for this design to be available in various forms to suit the wallet and/or time limitations of each owner. Negotiations are now in progress prior to selecting a builder. Options will be:-

1) Basic design package - build from plans and offsets

2) As for 1 but with computer files of bulkheads supplied for owner plotting or CNC cutting

3) As for 1 but with full size bulkhead patterns

4) Flat pack kit of all components for hull, deck, interior, keel and rudder, with all design drawings

5) Pre-assembled hull, deck and interior ready for finishing by owner, with all design drawings

6) Complete boat ready to sail

Options 1-3 will be available from this office and 4-6 will be available from the appointed builder.

Included in the flat pack kit will be all of the components for fabricating the steel keel casing, into which the lead ballast will be poured.

The rig is deck stepped, fractional with two sets of swept spreaders and runnerless. This makes her easy to handle with a small crew whether racing or cruising. The deck stepping arrangement places less stress on the hull structure, permitting a lighter yet more durable boat.

Mount Gay 30 radius chine plywood racer

TLC 19 for Turkey

Remember the little boat in which Anthony Steward sailed around the world? In that boat he set the record, which still stands today, of being the only person ever to have sailed around the world in an open boat. His hull was the plug off which the hull mould was made for the TLC 19 trailer sailer, a great little family weekender and round the cans racer.

As I write, a set of mouldings for the TLC 19 is being prepared for export to Turkey. From them, a full set of moulds will be made for her to go into GRP production near to Istanbul. This little boat is to be the first of a range of new sailboat designs which will be produced by the powerboat builder Marintek as a new venture into the sailboat market.

Challenger dinghy for amateur builders

A design which I drew a few years ago is now to be available to amateur builders. It is the Challenger, which I drew as a 13ft lapstrake dinghy for Sentinel Boats of Hout Bay, South Africa. They owned sole rights to the design so I was unable to market it except through them. They have taken the step of commissioning GRP moulds for her, at the same time extending her to 14ft and will in future only be building her in that form, as a small sister to the 18ft Explorer.

Sentinel Boats have graciously agreed to allow me to sell plans for the Challenger for owner building from timber and she is now on my website. By agreement, these plans are only available to buyers outside of South Africa.

She is a pretty little boat, with a balanced lug rig. She is well suited to a small family for safe boating and can show a good turn of speed when the wind pipes up a bit.

Challenger 13 lapstrake plywood dinghy

Shearwater 45 for USA boat shows

The Shearwater 45, which is so beautifully built by Acheson Yachts, is soon to be seen in USA. Richard Acheson has recently returned from an exploratory marketing trip to East and West Coast USA and reports that she will initially be shown on the Newport Show in Rhode Island. The Annapolis Show in Maryland will probably follow.

We wish them the best of success in expanding their marketing efforts across the Atlantic Ocean.

Articles via electronic media

We have some articles on our website, as a reference service for visitors. They are part of a larger library of articles which I wrote for magazines and which have been available in hard copy form for a long time. We are now introducing them for delivery by either email or on 3.5" disk at reduced prices, allowed by these more cost effective delivery methods. The articles are supplied as html files, with photographs as jpg files and diagrams as gif files. This allows them to be viewed on the buyer's web browser, exactly as if they were on a website.

Articles include advice on choice of construction material, pros and cons of various sailing rigs, how to turn over the hull during construction, how to loft the hull lines, corrosion protection for steel boats, factors affecting the seakeeping characteristics of different hull shapes, rudders and steering systems, stability of sailboats and many more.

Read earlier newsletters : November 1997 : August 1998 : January 1999


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