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Dinghy kits are prefabricated sets of parts and materials used to build small boats called dinghies. The individual parts are cut and shaped by the manufacturer, who then ships the completed set to the buyer so that the dinghy can be assembled at home or in a workshop. Dinghy kits make the process of building a dinghy quicker and more accessible, since the buyer does not have to build the boat from scratch based on a pattern.
Most dinghy kits are used to make wooden dinghies out of an inexpensive but sturdy material known as marine plywood. They typically include panels for the bottom and sides of the boat, pre-beveled bow and stern transoms, gunwales, seat blocks, and any other pieces needed to complete the boat’s unique design. Some dinghy kits include silicon bronze fasteners and screws, which are used for their resistance to saltwater corrosion.
Dinghies may be assembled using one of two methods. Conventional construction involves building a plywood shell around a wooden frame — primarily a longitudinal piece called the “chine,” which determines the shape of the hull. Stitch and glue construction does away with the chine and instead simply fastens the panels together using epoxy putty and fiberglass tape. Kits that employ stitch and glue construction come with epoxy resin, fiberglass tape, and wire used to stitch the pieces of the hull together during construction.
Kits for rowing dinghies are popular due to their simplicity and ease of construction, but many builders opt for a sailing dinghy instead. Sailing dinghy kits consist of additional pieces such as sailing tackle, rigging lines, a rudder, a retractable keel centerboard, and the mast and sail. In most cases sailing dinghies also incorporate features of rowing dinghies and can be converted into rowboats when desired.
Build-it-yourself dinghy kits are useful for those who need a dinghy to row out to an area in a harbor where a larger boat, such as a yacht, may be moored. They are also popular among recreational boatbuilders and hobbyists. Dinghy kits make the process of boatbuilding accessible to those with less technical skill, workspace, time, or equipment than a professional builder might have, which makes them ideal as entry-level projects for first-time builders and families.
Kits for building dinghies are sometimes mass-produced by large companies, but they can also be ordered from individuals and small businesses. Many professional boatbuilders enjoy creating unique designs for small boats. When a particular design proves successful, the builder may provide kits to popularize that boat and generate income. Dinghy kits have become a way for boatbuilding enthusiasts to spread awareness of their craft.