Simple, Fun & Quick Build To Get You Fun In The Sun Fast...
An 8' sail/row plywood pram
Standard Plywood or Stitch & Glue
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This V-bottom dinghy is akin to the renown Sabot, using the identical rig and rudder, and fitted with a daggerboard for the Sail Version. It's also similar in form and dimensions to the popular El Toro class. SABOTINA makes a great ship-to-shore dinghy with or without the sail rig. You can build either our STANDARD VERSION or our STITCH-&-GLUE VERSION.
The STANDARD VERSION is built upside down over the two transoms (ends) and 3 temporary formers that dont stay in the boat. Longitudinal wood backing members back up the hull edges and junctions, and receive the planking fastenings. Many people prefer this type of construction since it's a good introduction to typical wood boatbuilding operations involved on bigger boats, hones one's skills, and therefore provides great training. Yet our basic construction as perfected by Ken Hankinson in actual boatbuilding classroom situations is much simplified over past types. And our available FULL SIZE PATTERNS option for the hull-forming members speed the process for the inexperienced builder.
But for even faster, simpler construction, others prefer our "STITCH-&-GLUE" version. This includes FULL SIZE PATTERNS for ALL panel and structural members of the boat, and results in the lightest weight boat. Hull fastenings are virtually eliminated, as are the backing members at panel joints. Seats are integral with the structure, and form closed-in flotation compartments. Whichever SABOTINA you pick, you can save hundreds of $$$ over the cost of ready-made dinghies. They're both fun & easy, and ideal starter boats.
What Makes a Good Pram
Prams should tow, row, and sail well. Yet many dont, even costly production boats and some from competitors. Hull shape is the key. For directional control when rowing, towing, or sailing, a v-bottom chined hull is best. Flat-bottomed prams cant do all three functions well, and those of round or multi-chined form are less stable and harder to build.
For least drag and best speed, prams need enough profile "rocker" so ends can lift. There must be just-the-right fullness in these ends (especially the bow) so it won't push up a wall of water underway.
Buoyancy must be sufficient for stability and load carrying. Yet too many prams have ends too broad or deep - you can tell them by their bow waves piling up ahead while turbulence gathers aft due to drag from a too-wide stern. This drag makes headway and directional control difficult under sail or oar, and such boats may swamp when towed.
SABOTINA meets all these demands well. It's based on the most proven dinghy hull of all time (same as Sabots, El Toro's, and others), with thousands in use world wide. We've refined the details so building is fast and easy, even for beginners.
About Sabotina's Mast and Boom
The wood mast we detail is superior and costs next to nothing compared to one in aluminum. It's stiffer, stronger, and floats too! Best of all, it's easy to make and with no need to pay any freight to get it. If a round dowel is not available, start with a 2" square section length of wood (or Glue one up from thinner laminates - Douglas-fir or Sitka spruce work well). Then make it octagon-shaped (which is round enough) by setting a table saw blade at 45-degrees, and cutting off the four corners to form 8 equal facets. That's all there is to it! Our sail simply slips over it. The boom is a 1" x 2" stick of strong wood such as fir or oak. No rocket science involved!
Andy Suhrer of OREGON sent us these comments about his Stitch & Glue SABOTINA he built from our plans and which he uses as a tender for his larger boat:
"The whole project - painting and all - took 60 hours and $400 of materials. The pram had a tremendous amount of use this summer...and has proven to be remarkably tough... I'm continually impressed with the results. Without a doubt it is the easiest and fastest to build boat I've ever come across (I've built several "stitch-&-glue" [and] "instant" boats previously)... Can't praise it enough... Thanks for the great service."
SABOTINA STITCH & GLUE rowing pram version above
as built by Loren Palmer and his 13-year-old son in
Oklahoma. Both were first-time boatbuilding and epoxy
neophytes, but did a top job in about 100 man hours.
Says Mr. Loren; "The boat is very seaworthy and tracks
very well". As a test, they filled it with water
to the seat tops with both inside in deep water. Then
successfully re-boarded from bow and stern in the water
without shipping any more water.
J. Grigsby Markham from Wisconsin sent these 3 photos
of his SABOTINA standard version under
construction. Note the simple building form or
"jig" with temporary forms in place around
which the plywood planking is applied. "It
has been a fun project" says Mr. Markham
...a construction photo gallery below from Jack Brix
We thank our customer Jack Brix of Washington for
submitting this series of construction photos he
took while building his STANDARD VERSION
Fig 1. Simple jig of ordinary 2"x 4"s is
set up on sawhorses or workbench. Three
temporary forms of ordinary lumber are mounted to
jig so hull can be built upside down. Full
size patterns are available for these members
Fig. 2. With the forms and transoms (ends of boat)
in place, longitudinal members are bent around the
formwork - these will receive the fastenings and
glue used to back up the plywood planking junctions.
Fig. 3. Plywood planking panels are leaned against
the framework, marked and cut a bit oversize, glued
and fastened in place, and trimmed flush around
edges after. The marine screws and nails
specified come in our Bronze Fastening Kit.
Fig. 4. With planking complete, edges get radiused
slightly, fastening holes are filled, and surfaces
sanded slightly in preparaion for the application of
a fiberglass/epoxy sheathing.
Fig. 5. Hull has been covered using our
Epoxy Fiberglass Covering Kit. Note how
covering is virtually transparent, allowing a
natural wood finish if desired. The covering
adds durability and reduces maintenance.
Fig. 6. Completed hull is removed from jig, righted,
and temporary forms removed so balance of interior
members, such as thwarts and corners knees, can be
Fig. 7. Virtually complete, Jack made his boat
from natural-finished plywood and mahogany for a
striking furniture-like appearance. Others may
Fig. 8. Jack's SABOTINA is ready to launch!
Fig. 9. Jacks completed SABOTINA fits
easily in the bed of his pick-up truck. Beautiful
job Jack and thanks for sharing your photos!
John Doerrler's Sabotina Standard Version built in
Florida looks anxious to go sailing.
Henrik Rasmussen in North Carolina built his
SABOTINA Standard Version above as a rowing
tender without the sail rig or daggerboard - an easy
modification if desired.
SABOTINA Stitch & Glue Version results in
a hull thats the same size and shape as the
Standard Version, but the construction method is
different as are the plans and instructions.
Its easier and faster to build for most, is a
bit lighter, and about the same cost when completed.
FULL SIZE PATTERNS are provided for every component
and panel. Stitch &
All the hardware & rigging with a pivoting cam cleat for hands free operation of mainsheet.
This kit includes our Kick-Up Rudder fitting instead of Gudgeons & Pintles to allow the rudder to kick-up when needed--for beaching, shallow water, etc.