Christmas decorations are all back up in the garage’s “attic,” days are starting to get longer – and warmer – and, an old geek’s mind is starting to wander toward days to spend learning to sail in some unlikely-looking boxy little boats at the lake down the road. Yep! I’m Puddle Duck dreamin’ again!
Puddle Duck Racers are a loosely knit international class of low-cost racing dinghies that are usually home-built. To facilitate participation by home builders and a high degree of experimentation, the developer of the class, David “Shorty” Routh, decided that the bottom 10″ of the boats should be as similar as practical (+/- 1/4″) for home boat builders, and that the rest should be left up to the individual builder. There have been some evolutionary changes, but you are basically building an 8′ x 4′ flat-bottomed box boat. The bottom has enough rocker to allow for planing performance under a modest sail rig — that is usually as homemade as the rest of the boat.
What you wind up with is a safe, light & stable 8′ boat to learn to sail in. As you can see from the photo, even us “old guys” can have fun in them. I’ve always been very enamored with sailing, but have never really learned how — other than playing deck monkey for other people on their boats. I would also like to get John & Joe interested in sailing, as it is a sport that they can enjoy for the rest of their lives, and, sailing is also a means of traveling long distances relatively inexpensively — without being at the mercy of some multinational corporation.
I won’t go into all the details of my planning for the construction of these boats, but I’m going to do at least two ‘ducks from 1/4″ ACX plywood with fir strips for framing, and would really like to do a “PD-Goose” which is a 12’ version of the PDR. The Goose is not class legal, but I think it would make a good car-top fishing boat for the local lakes, and could serve as a “committee boat” if we generate some interest in racing Puddle Ducks in the local area.
If you want more information about the Puddle Duck Racer, please go to the class pages maintained at PDRacer.com. Their is an extensive site map, as well as a good site-specific Google search on several of the index pages. By all means, go on over and take a look around. Shorty and the other ‘duckers have amassed a wealth of information on building, equipping and sailing the Puddle Duck Racer. Who knows? We might wind up fighting for position approaching the windward mark someday. =;)