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Buying a dinghy - Looking for advice

  • #1
    Registered Users Posts: 831 ✭✭✭ Dr Pepper


    I have recently done the Level 1 ISA course ("Start Sailing") in DMG Sail Sports, Malahide. Did the course in a Topaz (single-hander) which I really liked. I am doing the level 2 course ("Basic Skills") next week in a Backman 21' Keelboat (multi-hander). After that course, I am allowed sail on my own in "light wind" conditions.

    My eventual objective is to buy a cruiser so I can go on coastal sailing trips for a few days at a time (eventually cross to the UK and the Med on longer trips after that). However, I want to get a dinghy for now so that I can build up some sailing experience (without having to worry about mooring and maintenance on a bigger boat). I'd like something that will comfortably fit myself and at least one other person. Don't think the Topaz I was on would quite fit the bill. I found it to be fairly cramped with just me. I am also looking at Lasers, but again, they seem to have a very small 'cockpit' at the back. I've been looking at Apollo Duck and there are plenty of Mirrors for sale also. Are they any use to me or are they more for kids? There is a couple of GP14's also which look a bit bigger.

    I'd like to get away without spending too much more than €1,000. I'd also need to be able to launch the boat on my own and stick it on a car trailer easily enough.

    Anybody got any tips for me? Thanks


  • While I love mirrors, if you're an average adult male, you won't fit (unless you want to sail single handed, which is easily doable once you get used to doing jib and mainsail yourself). I'm under 5'6 and quite light and if I sail my mirror I'm looking for crew that would be smaller than I am.
    The GP14s would be a more "adult friendly" type dinghy. I've never sailed one myself but I've been told they're an absolute pain to right if they capsize. Another type of boat adults would tend to sail would be IDRA 14s. Fireballs and 420s would also be ok, but you might be a little overpowered as a beginner.
    They aren't my favourite boat (I find them quite... rubbery in terms of responsiveness), but Laser Picos are good boats for beginners. There's very little upkeep on them, you can put 3-4 kids or comfortably 2 adults in them and they're very forgiving. They're damned difficult to break, easy to right and they're light too so transporting and moving them is easy.

    Hope that helps

  • That does help, thanks very much.
    I'm 6'2 so size matters! Laser Picos on Apollo Duck are a little outside my price range but I'll keep an eye out for them.

  • Here are some of the boats I'm considering: (420 - actually looks ideal, nice and big and a good price!) (GP14) (I love the look of this one, looks perfect for day tripping - bit pricey and far away though)

  • I can't see anything immediately wrong with any of them, they all seem like good starting points for a beginner. Maybe ask around where you learnt to sail to see if anyone has something for sail (edit: I mean sale!!! heh, sailing on the brain...), or if anyone with a bit of knowledge would go to look at boats with you.

    Keep an eye out here too:

    sometimes stuff can appear here: but it can be worth looking at their actual notice board if you live in the area.

    I'm not sure if they still do it, but there is a little watersports club on the malahide estury called fingal sailing school. I'd forgotten about them to be honest until it popped into my head just now :eek: but I remember from a few years back they were telling me that they sell off their entire fleet of picos at the end of each summer. They may have stopped doing it, but it could be a good way to pick up a new enough boat that won't have had the sails blown out of them at a decent price.

  • Just a quick bit of advice about mirrors,
    They are great boats but are old fashioned and are going out of style pretty quickly so you'll have a hard time selling one again,but you could pick one up for very little which might balance things out.
    That Leader you were looking at on apollo duck looks pretty ideal for your needs and maybe the seller would be willing to meet you halfway of something like that,
    Hope thats of Help,

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  • Ugggh, don't buy a mirror.

    They're a pain in the hole as regards maintenance, sailing, etc.

    They're not exactly easy to right either.

    You mentioned a 420, Wayfarer and GP14.

    Of them all I'd highly recommend a GP14, but with a fibreglass hull. They're a super boat to sail, really really super, and in terms of capsize, a 420 or Wayfarer would be harder to right. It is very rare that they capsize though really.

    The 420 and GP14 aren't dissimilar, but I'd plum for the GP14 that said. However coming across a fibre glass hulled 420 might be easier than a GP14.

    As regards the Wayfarer, they are a nice boat, but big, clumsy and awkward. At least at a push you could sail the GP14 or 420 on your own, but you couldn't do this with a wayfarer.

    I don't know a massive amount about the Laser picos tbh. I did have a regular Laser for a bit which was good craic, but they're really only suitable for one person.

    A good place to start is to see what other dinghies are in your sailing club. It can be nice to join an existing fleet and makes racing that bit more competitive if you're within a class.

  • Mirror's are dead and gone, besides, their a junior boat and you can t enter any events unless under the age of 19...

    My advice, buy a laser, either go radial or full rig, there's so many of them about, and in these hard times, their going cheap as chips...

  • Sorry to hi-jack the thread, but I've taken a hiatus from sailing for about 3 years (college, work, marriage!) but I'm looking to get back into it. I've got huge experience in big boat sailing and some competitive GP14 sailing.

    I was thinking of getting a GP14 and even though they're still extremely popular with a great circuit, I was wondering if anybody can recommend an established, high-performance, minimum single-trapeze (ideally twin), asymmetric dinghy? I'm a big guy so need something with lots of sail area.

    My ideal boat would be something along the lines of the Laser 5000, but they're not sailed anymore. Can anybody suggest something suitable? Haven't really worked out a budget yet ... but feel free to suggest anything! Thanks!

  • how about a RS800? double trapeze with a/sym spi... don't know your weight or what weight your intended crew is but it may just be a little small.

  • how about a RS800? double trapeze with a/sym spi... don't know your weight or what weight your intended crew is but it may just be a little small.

    Cheers! I was thinking about them, but couldn't find any active fleets in the Leinster area. Do you know of any?

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  • NO dont get a laser5000!!! their dead and gone... Id definately get a 29er, next set up is the 49er oylimpic fleet...

  • dbyrneryan wrote: »
    NO dont get a laser5000!!! their dead and gone... Id definately get a 29er, next set up is the 49er oylimpic fleet...

    I know, but they're sooooo damn cheap right now! having said that, I am looking for some good close racing so that rules them out.

    I'm too big for a 29er, really want a twin trapeze and the 49er is just out of my price range at the moment. Are there even any active fleets of 49ers in the country?

  • theres a good few 49er's in the country... why dont you think about taking a trip over to the uk and getting yourself a penultimatei14 (pre-1995), or a i14 that was adjusted for the rule change post 1995

  • yeah I was checking them out too. tempting to say the least!

  • Hi my son is currently in a sail training course and I am looking to obtail a second hand Pico/Topper, do they need to come with a road trailer or will they fit onto a roof rack with the launcher? also is it worth going up North for a second hand one, the price point seems to be €2200 for 2nd hand and €3050 for new.


  • .. second hand Pico/Topper.. will they fit onto a roof rack

    Are you an Olympic-standard power lifter :eek: !!!

  • Hi my son is currently in a sail training course and I am looking to obtail a second hand Pico/Topper, do they need to come with a road trailer or will they fit onto a roof rack with the launcher? also is it worth going up North for a second hand one, the price point seems to be €2200 for 2nd hand and €3050 for new.


    Most of the junior sailors (parents) car top their Toppers.

  • Hello again,

    I've been fairly busy and/or sick for the past while but I'm finally on the verge of buying a dinghy. I looked at a couple last night, a Pico and a Laser II. The Laser II is slightly more expensive but comes with a decent new combi trailer.
    They are both very different boats. The Pico is smaller and there is a lot less rigging/fittings. The Laser II looks like it would venture a lot further at sea and it looks seriously fast!

    Here is a brief description of what I want to get out of dinghy sailing and maybe people could help me make the decision:
    - My eventual aim is to get a cruiser and I'm just looking for a dinghy to get used to the basics.
    - I'm not that bothered about racing or club sailing. I'd be happy enough to sail independently around Dublin Bay or some of the bigger lakes. Maybe after a while venture down the east coast a little bit.
    - I'd like to keep the boat at home and take it out on the trailer to different locations for an easy launch.
    - I'd like to keep the costs and maintenance to a minimum.

    To be honest, my gut feeling is to go with the Pico. It's just a big solid lump of plastic with very basic setup and probably a lot easier to launch. Plus, it's very like the Topaz I did my level 1 course on. The speed and larger size/range of the Laser II is tempting though.. Plus it comes with a good road trailer.

    Anybody know how much I'd pay for a dinghy road trailer (or where I'd get one?).


  • The laser II is a nice boat but can be a handful for a beginner. Venturing out far in it alone is not really recommended. They have a good racing class and are fast. They need some care to keep the running rigging in decent shape, they also take a while to rig and de-rig. Pico is nice easy boat to sail and is designed for playing around in. You'll learn the basic well in it and it can take a beating. It won't be as fast as the laser II but is easier to sail and rig. As a beginner without a club for support the Pico is the one to go for.Again dont go far from land and if possible bring another boat for company.

  • Thanks Pigeon Reaper,

    I think the Pico is the boat for me at this stage.

    I was out at INSS (, Dun Laoghaire this afternoon and they have a large fleet of ex-sailing school Picos of various different ages for sale with all the bits and pieces (at significantly lower prices than private sellers). They also give you a new sail and make sure all ropes and fittings are up to scratch. So, I'll probably call out there on Saturday morning and pick up one of those.

    PS - I'm looking for a road trailer for a Pico if anyone knows somebody selling one!

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  • Dr. Pepper,

    why don't you consider joining Swords Sailing Club - based on the Malahide Estuary (where you did your course) we have a fleet of Spanking New Club Topaz and Laser Vago which are available for (cheap) hire on a monthly basis for new club members to get experience!

    The club is really small and friendly - we race on Wednesday evenings and Sunday afternoons and even if you don't want to race at least there is rescue cover (and advice) until you find your feet.

    have a look here


    John Mc

  • You're not going to get much for 1,000 . My son's oppie cost more than that. You could look at laser 2000s if you're willing to expand your price range

  • If your ultimately looking at crusier sailing you should be looking at something more beafy that a pico, which is basically lasers answer to the topaz. Have you sailing a wayfarer or wanderer? Even an enterprise would be better. Enterprises may be old school racers but still have a very socal and active racing scene if you wanted to race.

    You'll get alot of conflicting opinions on this site as everyone wants something different, I for one wouldn touch ANY of the boats mentioned on this thread because im a single-handed boat man, its just the way I am.

    but if your looking to learn to ropes for eventual crusier sailing get something with a bit of weight under it

  • Thanks for the advice but I got the Pico a couple of months ago. Got it from INSS for €1500. I think, a very good price for a Pico in good condition with a trolley, new jib and mainsail and all of the other rigging up to scratch.

    Really enjoying it so far. I've been out 4 or 5 times and it's very similar to the topaz I did my course on.

  • Well getting out on the water and enjoying yourself is what its all about! Best of luck with it