While I know that the overall consensus is that the best cruising dinghy is an eight or ten-foot RIB with a 9.9/15 HP engine but I’ll just have to disagree.
For a long time I’ll admit that I thought the best cruising dinghy was Phil Bolger’s Tortoise as it did everything we needed it to do, no one wanted to steal it, and it was the most boat you could get out of two sheets of plywood.
Sure it could have been bigger and prettier but any reasonable attempt to do so would result in a boat that would not work as well and cost more.
A while back I noticed that the late and much missed Dynamite Payson had included a “Big Tortoise” in his “Instant Boat Building with Dynamite Payson” and that while a lot bigger it still only used two sheets of plywood so we built one.
It’s a great boat.
Being longer it rowed better, carried a bigger load and was even more stable than the smaller Tortoise. Plus it’s homely looks meant no one ever felt compelled to steal it. The only downsides are that it’s a bit heavier and takes up too much room on the deck.
I’ve have built a sorta/kinda nesting version of the little Tortoise so I could fit it into a space I had on the deck of LM2 but it was a crude hack and, while it worked, the kludge factor irritated me.
I’ve been working on a couple of ideas on a replacement dinghy for our Big Tortoise where it would nest but keeping its qualities at the same level while still only using two sheets of plywood. Funny how tiny changes on a very simple boat seem a lot like rocket science.
More on the subject soonish…