Bill Flinn rows his home-made dinghy to the boat launch in Crofton

Bill Flinn rows his home-made dinghy to the boat launch in Crofton

Homemade dinghy cheap, portable and seaworthy

Bill Flinn has built himself a special little catamaran that’s cheap, stable and fun

Steady as she goes.

That could be Bill Flinn’s motto. The Crofton resident, who’s love of the ocean has seen him go overboard, literally, at least once, has built himself a special little catamaran that’s cheap, stable and fun.

He’s so thrilled with the nine-foot version that he’s preparing to build himself a 16 footer soon, a project he figures he can complete in under a week. “If I flew right at it, I could probably build it an about three days.”

“I live near the ocean, I was free diving,” Flinn said after docking and packing up his cat at the boat launch next to the Crofton-Salt Spring ferry terminal. So why not build a vessel that would be stable; you could get in and out of without it tipping over; and you could sail?

He found his dream boat design at, the web site of Richard Woods, a British nautical engineer, who has a passion for designing seaworthy boats that can be built quickly, cheaply and easily by just about anyone.

“He builds them in two days,” Flinn said. “They’re really quite popular.”

There is a page on Woods’ site which shows him building a Duo dinghy in two days as part of the Edensaw 2014 Boatbuilding Challenge. “We had a seaworthy boat that was finished in time and we had made everything, in fact we were the only ones to make our own oars,” Woods reports on his site.

Although it might take Flinn a tad longer, he is no less dedicated to do-it-yourself boat building. He, too, made his own oars, and a sail for his cat, using materials that came to hand – including, he doesn’t hesitate to say, duct tape.

One of the features of his dinghy is portability. When he docks, he lashes the boat onto a homemade carriage; wheels it up the ramp; detaches the pontoons and folds them; then stows them and pulls the whole rig up the hill to his home, about half a kilometer away.

The pontoons make the dinghy sailable as well as a terrific platform for diving. But the nine-foot version is not quite up to the changeable conditions of the Straight of Georgia, which is why he’s thinking of trading up to a 16 foot version that will be able to handle three foot swells and more.


Flinn knows by experience just how easy it is to get into trouble. One of his initial outings under sail resulted in a dunking just off the Crofton BC Ferry Terminal dock. He figures pontoons plus a little extra length will give him a vessel capable of handling the unpredictable waters off Crofton.








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