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:

Stirling and Son at the London Boat Show

The Stirling and Son folks are inviting readers to see them at the Tullet Prebon London Boat Show, where Stirlings will be on the Classic Boat stand (G120).

Will is planning to build one of his 9ft clinker built dinghies during the show, and visitors will also have a chance to have a close-up look at the new 14ft Stirling & Son sailing dinghy with its rig up. Will offers plans for many of his designs.

I’m sure Will is also aiming to talk to as many people as possible about Integrity, the glorious Victorian-style gentleman’s racing cutter that’s currently in build at Stirlings…

Ile aux Moines – a jewel of an island in the Gulf of Morbihan

Boat Gulf of Morbihan

Boat Gulf of Morbihan Boat Gulf of Morbihan Boat Gulf of Morbihan Boat Gulf of Morbihan

Boat Gulf of Morbihan Boat Gulf of Morbihan Boat Gulf of Morbihan Boat Gulf of Morbihan

There always seems to be something special, slightly slow and old-fashioned about an island, and the charming Ile aux Moines set in the Gulf of Morbihan on the West Coast of France is no exception.

Here is a first instalment of photos of boats and scenery from the island taken during a holiday trip there this summer. We liked it immensely. I have a half-cooked plan that when I eventually retire some time in my late sixties, one of the first things I’d like to do is to sail to Morbihan and spend a couple of months both on the island and boating around it in the company of friends who will each drop by for a few days.

Well, it’s a nice idea, and dreams don’t cost too much while they’re still just an idea. In the meantime, there are the photos and a few things to find out about – including the hard-chine one-design dinghy class that’s so popular in the area.

I’d just like to add that it was Francois Vivier’s wise recommendation that took us to the Ile aux Moines. Thanks Francois!