Un Petit Bateau

Pacific Seacraft Burgee

We were so excited about the arrival of our Dinghy that we wanted to take it for a test drive right away! After looking through all of our inventory, we were surprised to find a gift from the previous owner. He gave us his old Pacific Seacraft Burgee. We didn’t have one yet, and it was a nice surprise to find yet another Pacific Seacraft owner with such satisfaction and appreciation for the type of boat that we have chosen.

Petit Bateau     Petit Bateau (the island)

Most dinghies are usually named by their owners so they can be easily identified from a crowd of dinghies left floating around the dinghy dock. Some people get clever and pick a name that compliments the theme of their big boat. While we discussed keeping the Hawaiian theme going we didn’t feel the need to follow the norm. Instead we decided to go French. We went with something that had some meaning for us. Petit Bateau, which means Little Boat in French. On our honeymoon we actually sailed to an island named Petit Bateau in the Southern Caribbean. Thus, we ended up with our Hawaiian-French combo!

Enjoying A Row

Our first dinghy test drive was spent rowing across the harbor to get the mail.  I was taught the difference between rowing and paddling a long time ago, but I had never actually rowed anything before. When paddling you face the direction you are moving, but when rowing, you sit backwards. This takes some coordination. I like to think I am highly coordinated but Grant might disagree. Communication with your passenger usually needs take place, with them keeping a watch on where you are going and for other traffic on the water, or in my case reminding me that I’m not rowing in a straight line anymore. Consistent and coordinated movements will keep the boat moving in a straight line. Turning is achieved by moving a single oar, or a tighter circle can be made by moving both oars in opposite directions at the same time (one forward and one backwards).


On a calm day Grant rowed past the breakwater, out of the harbor and about half way to the entrance buoy in the Pacific. On another outing we skimmed by the entrance and that is when we saw them pop up out of the water and dive back down. Dolphins! We tried to get closer by rowing over to them, but ended up following them back into the harbor. Of course they are so big and so fast, it’s ridiculous! I did manage to catch a fin shot but I have much to learn, before I can call myself a professional dolphin photographer.

As Fun As It Looks!

On our next dinghy excursion we decided to test out the sail. There was good wind blowing and some chop coming in through the harbor entrance. We each took turns practicing tacking and gybing. This was a little different than sailing Lasers and FJ’s back on the lake in Iowa. Mainly because we couldn’t figure out how to get comfortable without sitting directly on the dinghy floor.  I took my turn at sailing it first while Grant assumed role of the photographer. I had a grand old time sailing downwind and out into the Harbor!  When it was time to switch off and let Grant take a turn, it was then that I began to have trouble. I tried to return the dinghy to our slip but I couldn’t get enough traction to sail upwind! Just as I’d start to make my entrance down the channel to our slip, I’d loose my rudder, and start drifting sideways. Ugh! I didn’t want to hit any boats, so at the last possible second I’d abort my attempt with a fierce gybe, and sail downwind out of the slip channel.

Bringing Her Home

I continued for several attempts. To those that didn’t know me, I probably looked out of control. I wasn’t. I was frustrated and there was no way I was going to give up that easy. I continued on making one attempt after another, aborting with a gybe the moment I knew I couldn’t make it. Silently, I started going through a mental checklist. What is the problem? It could only be a few things, the rudder, the point of sail or the sail itself. The rudder was good and I wasn’t pointed directly into the wind. Grant shouted, “Maybe we didn’t secure the leech of the sail tight enough to the boom, try tightening!” Good suggestion, but I didn’t have enough room to drift while I fixed. Grant decided that I needed a rescue and threw me a line to pull me over to the end of the dock. We switched spots and now I watched from the dock as he struggled to get the boat to do exactly what I intended. After arriving at our slip, Grant told me he was having trouble as well and that it wasn’t easy. I felt a little better about my epic fail, but was still disappointed. Maybe it was something I didn’t account for. Perhaps, I couldn’t get a enough speed to fight the current. Whatever it was, I should have known better not having an oar with me!


  • Denise and Grant,

    Try strapping a plank to the starboard gunwale to mimic the origin of a rudder and dagger board to provide a better center of resistance for sailing up wind. The alternative would be to wait for a the wind to change direction as gentlemen never sail against the wind!


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