Cormorant dinghy
Questions and answers - page 2
Hi Liz, hope you don't mind me picking your brain again. A season with "Penny Black" (albeit a very
windy one) makes me wish for another reef over and above the single one provided. I see from a photo
in the DCA Bulletin 198 that your Cormorant has two rows of reef points; did she come as standard like
that? Your second reef appears deeper than the first. Taking in the single reef on my boat "uses up" all
but the top foot or so of the span wire on the gaff, so I imagine that I'd need to get a longer span wire
fitted to accommodate a deeper reef ; but a longer span wire could mean too much "slop". I would
welcome some guidance. Otherwise the boat is a pleasure; launching is now a doddle, onlookers seem
to enjoy the caber-tossing involved in shipping the mast, and the boat attracts some nice comments.
David Pickup

Hi David,
Yes I always recommend a second set of reef points for serious cruising.  I had my second set added
after my first year with the boat. I'm surprised Martin Corrick didn't have that done.  I thought he was
going to.  I took my sail to Rockall Sails, who made the originals and who conveniently happen to be in
Bosham, very near where I keep my boat anyway. Gerry Payne of Rockall Sails knew exactly where to
put them and they are just right.  I didn't have to make any adjustments to the span.  The attachment
simply slides up the span to the new position.  The second set are exactly the same distance above the
first set as the first set are above the foot, dividing the sail by thirds, so with two reefs the sail is one third
it's original size.  Why not get the reef points put in first and then sort out the span wire when you can
see better what you need?  It could be that the gaff is not the original, or the span wire arrangement
might have changed on more recently built Cormorants like my own.  Martin bought the boat
second-hand so he might not know all its history either.    Liz

2 December 2008
Hello Liz
Subject: Cormorant Mast + Gaff Weights
Just a short note to say that I've recently found / bought my Cormorant and have been much impressed
by the stability of the boat giving a very relaxed sail. The trailer is well set up with a winch plus a jockey
wheel on the trolley, and there are also two guide posts on the trolley to align the boat for recovery.
As you suggest on your web site I found it easier to step the mast standing on the deck, however I have
weighed the mast and gaff ( 19 lb and 6 lb respectively ) and was surprised to see that they match the
weight of an old aluminium mast I have from a 12 ft dinghy - 25 lb. I think with the wooden mast (being a
larger diameter), you don't get such a secure grip as you would on a smaller aluminium one and hence
you may think it much heavier. Many thanks for your informative site.
(sorry I've lost the surname for this contributor)

Thanks John, for that interesting information.  Of course the aluminium mast might be longer, and thus
heavier, and your boom might be lighter than mine, particularly if it's a replacement for the original.  
Somebody I knew asked Cornish Crabbers why the spars were so heavy, and was told it was because
they used the off-cuts from spars for the bigger boats, and there was no reason why they shouldn't be
planed down to a narrower size.  Glad to hear you're pleased with the boat.  You've got a few extras that
I lack.  Guide posts on the trolley would certainly be helpful, but those on neighbouring trolleys to mine
look so heavy I worry that they will add too much weight to the trolley and make recovery more difficult.

Racing Yardstick for Cormorant?
HI Cormorant owners, has anyone got any idea what the boat's yardstick number for racing would be?
Colin Freeman
email   :

No idea Colin, I don't think it has one.  I've never raced, but the speed seems to be similar to that of a
Mirror 10 - usually faster to windward, slower down-wind.  Anyone else any idea?

Re Colin's post, Cormorant Handicap
Bursledon Regatta have the Cormorant down as Portsmouth Yardstick of 1453 - I'm racing mine (Tosh)
there tomorrow
(Sat 29 Aug 09).  I also know that Bosham Sailing Club had a handicap for a Cormorant
in their Classic Dayboat section.  I sent Colin an email.
Max Taylor
name = Max Taylor
email =

I have just purchased Cormorant 198 and wondered who the best people were to obtain a quote for a
new tan sail from? Any advice would be gratefully received.
Colin Broom

Hello Colin
Rockall Sails (or Arun Sails - same company) at Bosham made my original Cormorant sail and do an
excellent job.  They are also very quick.  As they are also local to where I keep my boat, I had mine
repaired by them last week as the mice had had a go at it, and while there they also quoted me around
£400 for a new tan one, or £350 white.  I forget the exact price, but it's quite a lot to fork out.  However,
the original sail has survived well over the last 12 years and, apart from the mouse trouble, could well be
good for another 12, so it's probably money well spent.  They will put in one set of reef points as
standard, but while you are about it, if you plan to do any extended cruising, I would recommend asking
for a second set.  I have no experience of other sail makers so regretfully can't compare prices.  Hope
this info. helps.  Details below.

Address of Rockall Sails:
The Sail Centre, Southfield Industrial Park, Delling Lane,
BOSHAM, West Sussex PO18 8NW

Tel:        01243 573185
Fax:        01243 573032
Mobile:   07973 319518

16 March 2010
name: Robin Flowerday

The New Cormorant in GRP
Hello Liz,
Further to my e-mails last year, I understand that the New GRP Cormorant is coming along and will soon
be available - it is suggested by end of April 2010. I notice that Seashell Boats also have an advert in
this month's Watercraft magazine confirming that the GRP version will soon be available.

Date:    6 April 2010
Name:   Bob Measures

Repairs to the Original, Wooden Cormorant

For several years I have owned Cormorant No.1, the original wooden boat from 1985 which started the
class and formed the plug for the moulds of all those which followed. "Joy" has given me excellent
service at DCA meets and appeared at Beale Park with me in 2004 and 5, starring in photographs in
several magazines (well she is very pretty!). Following the 2005 show I discovered an area of rot in her
forefoot caused by moisture trapped in the inaccessible sealed bow tank. After discussion with her
designer, Roger Dongray (who was pleased to hear of her and wished me well with trying to repair her)
and approaches to three professional boatbuilders I found that the cost of having this lovely epoxy ply
dinghy repaired professionally would be prohibitive (though one admitted this was only because nobody
would want to take on the work, as the job is complicated by the methods of construction and "would be
more bother than it's worth. You'd be better off burning her now.")!

I offered her free to anyone with the skills to repair her - but got no takers. So I offered her free to the
National Maritime Museum at Falmouth who would have loved to have her but they just don't have the
room for another dinghy in need of attention. So I'm back to my own resources and despite feeling a
heavy weight of responsibility as custodian of an important piece of our boating history I have resolved
to try to complete the repair myself. Luckily I am about to move to a house with good, covered, working
space where I can set the boat up for as long as it takes. If anyone's interested in what the problems are
(as I see them) and how I get on with resolving them over the next few months, feel free to keep in touch,
even if it's only to give me encouragement or tell me to give up! I've come to the conclusion that it's
better to try to save her than let her die. At least,if I fail and she has to be burned I'll know I at least tried
when the professionals didn't want to know!

Bob Measures

Date:    11 August 2010
Name:   Charlie McFadden

Hi there ladies and gents.Ive got an old Cormorant Coble with a single Gaff sail. Havent used it for a
while but am hoping to get it up and running again. Only thing is my crazy brother broke the mast on a
tree while transporting it with the mast up! Im still talking to him (just) but now need to source a new mast
and possibly a rudder. Im in Glasgow but would obviously look further afield. Any help would be
appreciated. The boat is probably 20 years old and has a sailing number 123 (o`leary).
Regards Charlie

Hello Charlie,
First we need to establish whether your boat is a Cormorant or a Coble, because, although both come
from Cornish Crabbers, they are very different boats.  As you say you have a single gaff sail, it is
probably a Cormorant, which is 12' 6" long, whereas a Coble is 16' 6".

I got a new mast for my Cormorant from Collar Masts of Oxford,,
who also made the original.  In 2002 the cost was just over £300, plus £22 for delivery.  If your boat is a
Coble they should also be able to make you a mast, but whatever the boat, be prepared to wait a few
months for delivery.

If you have the original rudder blade, you can easily make a replacement yourself using the original as a
pattern.  I have made several over the years, and if I can do it, anyone can as I was never taught
woodwork at school.  I also once made a new rudder stock, again using the old one as a pattern.  
Although that was not for a Cormorant, a rudder stock for a Cormorant should be no more difficult.  Just
take the original rudder stock apart and use the old pieces as patterns for the new one.

Other manufacturers of masts can be found in magazines such as "Practical Boat Owner"or "Classic


Date:  19 August 2010
Name: Martin Gosling

Dear Liz. I am on the point of buying a Cormorant and have the choice of an early (1980s) initial design
with unstayed mast or one of the wooden Mark 2 dinghies. Leaving aside the considerable difference in
price, is there any major consideration that I should bear in mind given  that I sail single-handed and am
not in the first flush of youth.  Specifically, is the rig with the single mainsail markedly more difficult
to handle in a blow than the gunter sloop rig of the later design?  The  owner of the Mark 2 has told me
that he found that it was more handy  generally and sailed well in testing conditions with just the
mainsail.  I  have read your excellent article dealing with some of these points but  would value a further
comment please.
Martin Gosling

Hello Martin,
Unfortunately I have only ever sailed the Mark 2 Cormorant on the lake at Beale Park, and never in a
blow, so I can't really answer your question.  I know the the wooden Mark 2 is 200 lbs lighter, which
could be an advantage when handling ashore .  I think the mainsail area is the same, but the jib
on the Mark 2 gives a bit more sail in light winds; however, I don't know if it goes so well to windward as
the mast is positioned further aft to accommodate the jib and bowsprit.  You also have the extra
complication of shrouds, less foredeck, and for a wooden boat, more maintenance, although it
is now possible to buy a Mark 2 GRP version.  In a blow my own Cormorant develops very heavy weather
helm; but this can be reduced by reefing, and for F5 upwards I had a second set of reef points installed
which provide a lot of extra reassurance.  The new Cormorant, with its shorter foredeck, might be wetter
when going to windward, and there would be less under-cover storage, but it would be easier to get to
the bow.  I did like the lockable stern hatch big enough for an outboard motor.

Personally I am very happy with my original version and have no desire to change it as I like the
unstayed mast.  I understand there are now two alternatives of rig for the new version, either gunter or
balanced lug.  From the website it appears that the balance lug rig doesn't include a jib.
However I see that Seashell Boats,, are happy to
adapt the rig to suit individual requirements.

I hope that someone with experience of the new Cormorant might respond to your questions.

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