If we want to know "how big" a boat is, many will look at the length, and think that's it. Here are some of the other factors you need to consider:
- Beam (width). A short but relatively beamy boat can have the same carrying capacity as a long, thin one. So, where you might carry three adults in our 8ft pram dinghy, with her beam of 4'3", you wouldn't (or shouldn't!) think of doing so in an 11ft open canoe with a 3ft beam.
- Hull Shape. An obvious example of this is the pram (flat) versus the stem (pointed) shape bow... as a very rough indicator, all else being equal, a pram dinghy will have about the same capacity as a stem dinghy about 20% longer. In the case of our 8ft pram then, we could describe her as equivalent to at least a 9'6" stem dinghy of the same beam.
- Displacement. The lighter a boat is to start with, the more effect a given load will have on her trim and handling; stepping on the deck of a heavily-built steel yacht would heel her much less than a lightly built racing yacht. In the case of dinghies, this is an argument against "extreme" light weight, despite the handling advantages -anything below about 20-25kg is likely to be rather tippy.
There are many other factors, but by now we're sure you understand the general point. Our main point is to explain why we build the boats we do.
(1) Nesting Pram Dinghy. If you want a boat that stores in a smaller space, it seems like a good idea to start from a hull shape that has as much capacity as possible for its length. Taking that to its extreme we should build rectangular boats, but we do also want a shape that will row, motor or sail easily, and that looks nice. So our nesting pram dinghy has a high, raked bow transom that stays clear of the water until very heavily loaded, but gives much more internal volume, carrying capacity and stability than a stem dinghy of the same length. She is a very practical boat, the "all-rounder" in the range.
(3) 9ft Nesting Stem Dinghy. Apart from the obvious increase in length, this has a more than proportionate increase in beam, freeboard and volume - giving effectively double the capacity of the 7ft 10" version. Less of a thoroughbred, more of a load carrier; but still far nicer to row, sail and look at than anything inflatable!
(4) NN10 Nesting Stem Dinghy. This hull is optimised for sailing performance, with a big rig, but less capacity and feeling more initially tippy than the 9ft Stem, despite being longer. She does slip along very nicely under oars too.
(5) Trio 14 multi-purpose-boat. Strange as it may sound, our 14ft Trio has only slightly more capacity than our 8'2" pram dinghy. If you think of her as a 10ft stem dinghy stretched out (ie longer and thinner) you won't be far off. The advantage is that longer, thinner hulls are less dictated by hull speed and much more easily driven (given the same load), hence her ability to achieve 11-12knots with a 3.5hp outboard. The other advantage of narrow beam, once freed from the problems of length (by making her sectional) is that she will fit in the back of many estate cars!
(6) Trio 16 multi-purpose boat. At London Boat Show January 2012 we are launching a larger 16ft version of the Trio, able to take four adults in Category D conditions. She is a foot wider so won't fit in an estate car - this will be one for the back of a van or a small trailer - but is still much easier to store/tow than a single-piece boat. She is a good all-rounder, retaining the 14 hull's easily-driven characteristics, making her: efficient under power, with electric or petrol motors; nice to row; and fun to sail with her ketch-lug rig.