DunlinDesign

Dunlin 22 Design Notes

Whether you’re fishing for mackerel or cedar logs, giving a tow or taking it easy, as the world seems to get wetter there’s much to be said for a capable little motor cruiser with a warm wheelhouse.

Act One: It was a very cold November morning at my home on Puget Sound, here in the Pacific Northwest. Calm now but the night before, we had experienced quite a lively storm with lots of wind and rain and my little yard tugboat Godzilli awaiting me patiently for the day’s adventures. Looking about after these early winter storms, quite often one can find some good cedar logs – really trees – that have been washed down off the low banks of the bay and they are almost always free for the taking. Some pretty good timber can be had from the beach salvage of these logs and I gathered up my youngest son, Mackenzie, – aged 19 at the time – and we set out to see what we might rescue.

The Godzilli is a small 16′ {4.9m) boat with a good tow bitt and a strong hi-thrust engine, almost ideal for the task. We had a great day, ending up salvaging two neighbor’s boats that had drifted off their moorings, a dock – pontoon – that had also been blown off its mooring and finally at the end of the day we lashed on to a 60′ {18m) cedar log, not good enough for boatbuilding but it did yield some very nice siding for a small workshop we were constructing. After a long rewarding day it was great to have a bit of a drink in celebration of our achievements of the day and reflect on my little tug…

It was during this reflection time that I started down the path of scheming that eventually led to the Dunlin 22 design. The day’s wish list was for a galley, something that the small tug Godzilli lacked, a good solid fuel stove to warm my wet hands from a day of salvage and the final wish was for space enough in which, as the last rays of winter sun drifted away my son and I could sit down, warm ourselves up and enjoy a stiff drink! What was needed was a boat a bit larger than Godzilli but with her same simple lines and utility; shallow enough draft that I could nose her ashore close enough to allow me to get lashed onto the logs that I wanted to salvage and heavy enough that the large logs couldn’t pull me off course once I had a tow made up.

Those musings came into my mind just a few days later and roughed out a set of lines for the new boat.

Act Two: Don Blum walks into my office a few months later, visiting on a road trip from Oregon, just south of my home in Washington State. He is a tall and lean fellow and very shortly after sitting down, he begins outlining his ideal dream boat for his home waters on the Oregon coast.

Don lives on Coos Bay which has several rivers that feed it. The bay is large enough to allow lots of cruising and exploring in it and with the right weather conditions, think of running a boat out over the Bar to do a bit of fishing on the open Pacific. His dream was very close to my own and I don’t think more than 15 minutes passed before the rough set of lines that I had drawn months before were out on my drafting table and we were both busy talking through the details of the upcoming build project.

She was to have a 60hp outboard mounted conventionally on the stern, one of the hi-thrust models that are available these days. The hoped-for performance was a top speed of cruise speed of about 15 mph {13 knots) and a cruise speed of 10 mph {8.7 knots). Fuel economy had to be good as it just didn’t make sense to have a new boat built that gobbled down excessive amounts of expensive and valuable fuel. The cockpit was vital to the success of the boat as Don anticipated several diverse pursuits with the boat. He is a scientist and avid birdwatcher so would use the boat as an active blind to observe animal and bird life in his home waters. He also is keen fisherman and wanted a serviceable cockpit that would accommodate that pursuit without compromise. A large hold was planned in the middle of the cockpit to house gear that didn’t need to be strewn about the deck; it would also serve as a working table and seat perch in the middle of the cockpit. A crab pot puller would be mounted on the starboard side of the cockpit as the crabs on Coos Bay are numerous and succulent.

The wheelhouse would be entered by a centreline bi-folding door and full headroom of 6’3″ (1.9m) provided, plenty enough for Don’s height to avoid head banging in rough seas. A solid fuel stove built by Navigator Stove Co of Orcas Island, Washington was specified to be mounted in the pilothouse on the portside aft up against the rear bulkhead. This model. the Little Cod, is a wonderful little piece of cast-iron heaven, burning just about any fuel – we favor small 2″ {50mm) diameter alder hardwood limb cuttings about 6″ (150mm) long – and provides radiant heat that will knock the chill out of the marine air in just minutes. A galley counter to port and counter to starboard form the edges to the pilothouse and Don suggested foregoing any fixed helm seat in favor of the more flexible and useful movable stool for seating.

Up forward, beneath a large dash area – formed by the foredeck planking which extends into the pilothouse by 18″ (0.45m) – is a large port-to-starboard double berth. The cushioned platform is 16″ (0.4m) above the pilothouse sole and has stowage built into its base. A space was also planned for a porta-potti to be accessible below the berth flat and a hinged lid swung up to expose it for use. There is pretty good sitting headroom over the berth top; you can’t sit fully upright but with a pillow to lean back against, it works out well and it is fairly easy to swing into and out of the bunk.

I planned on cold moulding the bottom – a very shallow vee – with an extra layer of V4″ (6mm) marine plywood over the original skin of V2″ (12mm) marine ply with epoxy glue and then sheathing the entire exterior of the hull with a layer of Dynel cloth set in epoxy. This will give us a very strong and stiff bottom for her life of being stored at times on a trailer and allows the elements to be kept at a distance from her structure. She is built with the Stitch and Glue method and this is the first boat that we experimented with stapling the panels together rather than using the normal wire stitches as was more traditional for Stitch and Glue construction. The staples augmented a few wire stitches and we had the 6 hull panels – 2 bottoms, 2 lower sides, 2 topside panels all fastened together over the mandrel of 6 athwartships bulkheads in just about 90 minutes with two fellows doing the work. That is very fast assembly of a hull and within the first day of setting bulkheads up on the mould floor, the panels were all in place and we had the first go-around of interior tabbing at the bulkhead/hull intersections done. The second day saw her exterior seams taped with two layers of 12 oz biaxial tape in 4″ and 6″ (100 ft 150mm) widths and about half of the interior seams fully glassed with the same laminate schedule.

It was many months later that we launched her to the joy of the crew and her owner and on early sea-trials, the 60hp Yamaha 4-stroke outboard showed a top speed of 16mph and a good and easy cruising speed of 12mph. She floated exactly on her lines and is now beloved by her owner in her home on Coos Bay.

Act Three: Don and his wife are at a friend’s party in their hometown and the talk is all about his new boat. Before long someone asks: How much did she cost? Don thinks for moment and answers: Nothing, she didn’t cost me a dime.

All the money he used to buy the boat was part of an inheritance that had its old home in the Lehman Bros brokerage on Wall Street, New York. Don had cashed in the fund to pay for the boat. Just a few weeks after we delivered her to Don, Lehman Bros went bankrupt. If Don had not used the money to have her built, he would have lost it all. So his quick answer was quite true.

Life can be amazing these days; perhaps the best tack is to enjoy what we can of it, while we still can! — Sam Devlin

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