Richard Shilling’s pretty Avocet dinghy


This sweet little boat is the Avocet, a general-purpose traditionally-built dinghy designed and made by Richard Shilling, who completed his training at the International Boatbuilding Training College at Lowestoft in 2006, and has subsequently worked for boat builders in Devon and Cornwall.

Here’s what he says about the Avocet:

‘I have built quite a few traditional dinghies for other boat builders over the last few years, so I wanted to design and build a good looking clinker boat with the best features from these. The most important attributes were:

  • size as large as is easily manageable by one person on land, which I think is 12ft 6in
  • adaptable, simple to sail for beginners and children, but quick and exciting enough for experienced sailors, or as you progress from a beginner – the Avocet therefore has two mast positions, an aft for sailing with mainsail and jib, and forward for mainsail alone
  • easily rowed and able to take an outboard
  • a good sailing boat – like many modern sailing dinghies, under the water she is very fine forward yet wide and flat aft
  • a family boat, good for small children with a heavy centreboard (lifted with a 4:1 tackle) and definitely a dinghy you sit in, rather than on
  • simple to keep ashore, so she has a gunter rig with all the spars fitting inside the boat

‘This is a new design, with only one being built so far, so no one has yet bought the boat. I’m expecting that it will appeal to those with young children or grandchildren, but it is really suitable for anyone who wants to explore lakes, rivers and inshore waters.

‘I’ve only been out for a few test sails, mostly on the North Coast of Cornwall as I’m based near Liskeard on Bodmin Moor, but it was good to see that she was as quick as I thought compared to others in her class – she won the under 20ft class race at the Plymouth Classic Boat Rally, and got a lot of positive comments.’

I don’t know what the field in that race was like, but Avocet’s win seems remarkable for a boat of her size.

The Avocet dinghy is made from varnished mahogany on oak and fitted with modern sails, ropes and Selden blocks for ease of sailing. Read all about her at Richard’s website:

2 thoughts on “Richard Shilling’s pretty Avocet dinghy”

  1. Absolutely charming, the type of boat dreams are made of – but oh the eye watering price one pays to enjoy them!!
    I fully understand that to make any kind of living from boat building this is the price tag that needs to be attached to a thing of beauty in these enlightened times.

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