The Dinghy

For getting to and from shore and exploring bays SWALLOW is anchored I have a small Montgomery 6’8″ dinghy.

Since I became a Montgomery fan and owner I’ve wanted one of these small dinghies. They are rare. This is even after they received some international fame as the dinghy used by Lin and Larry Pardey. Lin and Larry wrote –

We had a 6’8″ fiberglass Montgomery lapstrake sailing pram for 12 years on our last boat. Mexican kids jumped off a 12-foot high dock into it and debonded all the seats. Another time a trimaran caught its painter and pulled it right into its propeller. This chopped a football sized hole and its bow. I once tied it across the stern of a fishing boat in Sri Lanka and another fish boat rammed it, squishing are poor pram into an hourglass shape. All of these disasters were quickly repairable with some fiberglass and resin. If I had had a wooden dinghy, each one of these incidents would have totaled it.

A lapstrake fiberglass dinghy is usually stronger and lighter than a rounded bilged glass dinghy. The lands or ridges act like longitudinal angle irons adding rigidity which keeps the weight low and strength high. Our first pram weighed 62 pounds. A well-designed hard dinghy will make headway in a strong wind and chop up to two or three feet. I rowed Seraffyn’s pram a half-mile to windward in force eight winds, but I had to stop and bail three times.

– The Capable Cruiser, pg 141, Lin and Larry Pardey, 1995.

It is commonly thought that the M6’8″ was designed by Lyle Hess. This isn’t the case. Jerry Montgomery says that the dinghy was sketched by Richard Arthur, of Arthur Marine the builder of the Hess designed Balboa sailboats whom Jerry worked for in the 1960s; and whom Jerry bought the mold when he opened Montgomery Marine Products about 1969/70. Even MORE interesting is that Jerry says Richard Arthur didn’t do more than outline an idea for a small dinghy and Larry Pardey, yes the Larry of Lin Larry and Seraffyn and Taleisin fame, built the plug that made the mold. Jerry believes Larry did the ‘design’ mostly from memory of an existing boat or plans. This may explain why the Pardeys chose to use a M6’8″ when they sailed Seraffyn.

Jerry built my dinghy in 1992. Her hull number is 650. I don’t know much about her history. The prior owner didn’t know what he had, he didn’t even know it was a Montgomery, and I got the pram for a steal of a price including oars and an almost complete sailing kit.

Yep the M6’8′ can be sailed! It is a simple rig: two part fiberglass mast, a marconi main (the sail plan is a catboat), boom, leeboard, rudder and tiller. I need to put together a boom and a bracket that attaches the leeboard to the starboard gunnel.

The dink rows very well and is pretty stable for being such a small boat. There is positive flotation under the rowing and transom seats. It tows straight with no walking.

It just fits on SWALLOW’s foredeck. I need to create some chocks to better secure it in place for when I do more adventurous crossings of larger bodies of water.

I have a few ideas for a name. Still haven’t settled on a favorite.