Boom Tent

Dinghy cruisers are among the most ingenious people in the world – when it comes to using a very small boat as a cruise ship. Over the last couple of days, I have been busy making a boom tent for my boat – especially with the Semaine du Golfe in mind, also for other occasions when I need to camp for a night or two in my boat.

Everything in a boat needs to have several uses, and the tent structure is the rig of the boat. One end of the tent is supported by the mast, and the other is held up by a wooden support in the stern. In this way, no extra stress is put on the shrouds and forestay. The tent folds away into a very compact package and is lightweight, only the polytarp.

boom-tent01The tent covers the boat’s cockpit but not the foredeck. It is held at the sides by brass hooks screwed into the boat’s gunwale.

boom-tent02Here the tent is open at the stern showing the wooden support, that folds and is easily stored in the boat.

The next thing to go into is a compact mattress to go into the port side between the buoyancy tank and the centreboard well. The space is narrow, but I have tried it. My legs go under the thwart if the mattress isn’t too thick. I would be positioned with my head to the stern where there is the full width of the boat. I have a sleeping bag for summer use and clothing can be used as a pillow, all packed into a dry bag designed to keep clothing and bedding dry. The adventure is getting exciting!

After that, I will be making a small stern locker for everything to do with navigation (charts, Portland plotter, dividers, binoculars and sighting compass) and communications (VHF radio). The rest of the boat needs to be organised with a box for the galley and what will go into the fo’c’sle – which has to be lightweight and not exactly the ship’s riff-raff to kept in order under the threat of four dozen lashes of the cat! There will be some confusion between the crew, the midshipmen and the captain’s cabin. All that in twelve feet of length and five feet of beam!

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4 Responses to Boom Tent

  1. ed pacht says:

    Boy, do you raise memories in me of what never was. I’m not a sailor, and never have been, and have only once been on the water under sail (as an adult, on a somewhat larger craft in which my best friend’s Dad actually lived full time – but that’s another story). But as a pre-teen and early teen I lived largely in a world of imagination. Some of my reading and some of my experience as a Boy Scout melded in my mind and I had endless daydreams about sailing in a tiny boat (which you have taught me to think of as a dory) with a tent to sleep under. I hadn’t thought of those dreams in decades. Thanks for bringing them back. I’m looking forward to your accounts of the adventures I always wanted but never had.

    • This is one thing I have discovered in life and in middle age, the need to relive our boyhood – except with bigger toys. This is very much the spirit of the Dinghy Cruising Association and Roger Barnes who heads it. Dinghy cruising as a sporting discipline is being taken seriously by the Royal Yachting Association, which sets the standards for safety at sea and sailing training. This kind of thing helps us spiritually and emotionally when we live through problems in our churches, families and places of work.

      Indeed, I will have many photos and tales to tell from my “do” from 11th to 16th May in Flotilla 2. Roger Barnes will be there and camping in his boat, as will many other intrepid sailors from many countries. There are already 165 boats registered in our flotilla and 954 in all flotillas. There will be well over a thousand boats, and the two grand parades will be spectacular. I will be very proud to be a part of it in Sarum.

    • ed pacht says:

      correction: I meant “dinghy” – apparently haven’t learned as much as I thought!

      In one’s old age (I’ll soon be 74) when physical weakness precludes the living out of boyish dreams, one picks up the dreams once more and finds oneself mentally playing with much the same toys as in one’s first childhood. I finally realize just why I relate so much to your accounts of a sailing I never did and know so little about. Again, thank you.

      • The dory is an extraordinary boat. They were carried on-board fishing ships, all nested into each other, and men would fish from them two by two. It was often dangerous, since these little boats often got lost in the fog and many men were lost. They are rowed or can sail downwind with a lug rig. The dory is flat-bottomed and narrow, so not very stable (at least when there isn’t much weight in them, eg. the day’s catch) – they are best sailed by experienced sailors. There is an association not far from Fécamp that restores and builds dories and uses them for pleasure and fishing. There were quite a few of these boats at the Route du Sable last year. They sail downwind very well and are easily rowed.

        Modern commercial fishing dories are built in steel on a bigger scale and are powered by outboard engines. They are launched from the beach and recovered by a tractor and launching trolley each time.

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