Passagemaker by Chesapeake Light Craft

Handy boat that can be rowed, sailed, and powered with up to three large adults

Length overall11' 7"3.53 m
Beam4' 8"1.42 m
Draft2' 6"0.76 m
Draft (cb up)6"0.15 m
Weight90 lbs41 kg
Capacity650 lbs295 kg
Sail area78 sq. ft.7.25 m2
Engine power2 - 4
Hull construction Stich-n-glue
See also Eastport PramEastport Nesting Pram



Here's a handy boat that can be rowed, sailed, and powered with up to three large adults, and it "nests" to take up less space. The Passagemaker Dinghy is easy to build but looks great and performs beautifully. A smooth glide when rowing, spirited performance when sailing, and steady handling with an outboard mark this latest entry in our fleet of graceful build-it-yourself boat kits.

This is the perfect dinghy for folks with larger boats. Are you tired of moving heavy, traditional dinghies that weigh 200 pounds, or struggling with a limp, awkward inflatable that can't be rowed or sailed? CLC designer John C. Harris has drawn an elegant, Norwegian-styled pram that weighs only 90lbs, but can survive real abuse in the dinghy park. With a 650-pound payload, the Passagemaker can haul the entire crew in one go, or ferry blocks of ice and jerrycans of drinking water from the quayside to the mothership. The sailing rig components store flat inside the 11'7" hull; fasten three shrouds and the mainsheet, hoist up the mainsail and jib, and you've got a fast, fun, stable sailing dinghy that will please even the most ardent and discriminating sailing enthusiast.

If you have a long harbor to cross, a 2, 3, or 4 horsepower outboard will drive the Passagemaker to harbor speed limits and beyond. Transom height is 15 inches, sized for short-shaft outboards. An electric outboard for fishing lakes will work great, too. If you don't want to lug around an outboard and smelly gas, you'll be delighted to discover how well the Passagemaker rows: there's plenty of rocker for low wetted surface and the transom won't drag in the water to slow you down.

A Great Daysailer

At CLC we've long since tired of dinghies with makeshift sailing rigs. This was what drove us to create the Eastport Pram, the Passagemaker's smaller sister. With its ample sail area and efficient hull, the Eastport sails better than any 8-foot dinghy has a right to. With a 78-square foot sloop rig, the 11'7" Passagemaker is even more exciting. While many Passagemaker builders will be using their boat as a tender to a mothership, even more people will be drawn to the design as a fun and practical daysailer. Slide the 90-pound hull onto the family car, throw in the kids, the dog, a cooler, and a picnic basket, and spend Saturday afternoons gliding around the lake or bay. When you're done, the Passagemaker can be leaned up against the side of the house or wedged into the far corner of the garage.

The rig is called a "gunter sloop." In this rig, a lower mast supports a taller mainsail with a yard. This allows for shorter spars, all of which can be stowed within the hull's length for trailering or towing behind a bigger boat. It's a handsome rig, and powerful on all points of sail with the jib-and-main combination.

A lug rig is available.

Easy to Build

The Passagemaker Dinghy is built using CLC's proven LapStitch technique, which yields a rigid, durable, beautiful hull without resorting to complex molds. The kit consists of okoume marine plywood panels - computer cut for accuracy, mahogany trim, and all of the epoxy, fiberglass and hardware you'll need. Begin by stitching the hull panels together with copper wire. Then fill the LapStitch joint with thickened epoxy, and reinforce the bottom with fiberglass on the inside and outside. Add mahogany rails, and glue the seats into the interior (they form airtight tanks for safety). Standard bottom skids and a big skeg protect the bottom for dragging across gravel beaches. Finish by coating the entire hull in several layers of clear epoxy for a lifetime of durability and low maintenance, then sand and apply paint and varnish.

The Passagemaker Dinghy is well within the reach of first-time boatbuilders. There are no tricky steps and no special tools are needed. Completion will average 100 hours for the sailing version. The daggerboard trunk is included in the base kit, so you can upgrade to the sailing option at any time in the future.

Passagemaker Take-Apart

We've had hundreds of requests for a take-apart dinghy. Take-aparts or "nesting" dinghies can be disassembled to take up less space when stored on the deck of a trawler or sailing yacht. The Passagemaker Take-Apart is identical to the standard kit, except that the front 45" unbolts and stows in the rear 93". The interiors of both standard and Take-Apart versions are identical; there are no compromises made to rowing, sailing, powering, or towing ability in the Take-Apart design, although the Take-Apart weighs about four pounds more. Outwardly it's actually difficult to tell the difference between them.

Optional Lug Rig

There is an option for a lug rig, which is substituted for the stock sloop rig. The lug rig offers somewhat simpler handling both ashore and on the water. While not as fast upwind, the lug rig still provides serious horsepower. A detailed addendum for this option was added to the instruction manual in July 2011, and is available as a PDF.

Because the lug rig has an unstayed mast, the mast step arrangement is completely different, with additional overhang on the front seat and integral reinforcement. Existing hulls built with the stock forward seat will need a relatively complex retrofit package (available in kit form). If you're just ordering the "rowing version" and you THINK you might prefer the lug rig in the future, you'll need to specify the lug rig package from the start. The lug-specific seat does not add any cost to the rowing kit, but must be specified so that we can ship you the correct parts. If you are ordering just the rowing kit and plan to use the Lug Rig later, please add the Lug Rig Variation for Rowing Kit option to your order.

Deck plan

See also

Design Length Beam Sail area Engine power Compare
Eastport Pram by Chesapeake Light Craft
Ultra-light Sailing Dinghy
7' 9"
2.36 m
1.22 m
42 sq. ft.
3.90 m2
Eastport Nesting Pram by Chesapeake Light Craft
Ultra-light Sailing Nesting Dinghy
7' 9"
2.36 m
1.22 m
42 sq. ft.
3.90 m2

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