Caravela 1.7 - Beware of the Yellow Peril!

This warning has nothing to do with Mr Bonnie statement made two hundred years ago about the geopolitical potential of the Empire of the Centre. It is true that two centuries later his foresight couldn’t be more accurate, but in this case we are referring to another menace, incomparably more insignificant: the dinghy Caravela 1.7.

The Caravela 1.7 might be a good tender for the Flying Dutchman tall ship

Ask any owner of a Caravela 1.7 and much probably he will have an odd tale to report about his dinghy. A 1.7m long unsinkable offshore sailboat definitively is hard to be taken seriously. However the philosophy behind the project is that having a Caravela 1.7 to give you shelter in the case the mother ship sinks is infinitely better than having nothing at all to jump into.

The real Yellow Peril is this dinghy that served as tender aboard Sea Bird, seen in the background. This one, besides being much smaller, it wasn’t unsinkable. To learn more about this dangerous 1.50m x 0.90m dinghy you have to read “Rio to Polynesia, an adventure in the South Pacific”, a free book that can be downloaded from the home page of B & G Yacht Design

The mother of the brood of Yellow Perils is the dinghy stowed on top of the Sea Bird cabin trunk coach-roof. In some occasions she had to face long distance crossings carrying Roberto and Eileen Barros, besides being loaded with provisions.

“Yellow Peril” was a nickname given to the dinghy Caravela 1.7 by their builders. Actually this was the name of the dinghy Roberto Barros built to be tender aboard the engineless 25 foot Sea Bird, the boat he and his wife Eileen travelled from Brazil to the South Pacific, an adventure related in the book “Rio to Polynesia” available for free in the B & G Yacht Design web-site, which can be downloaded from the home page.

Three years old Christian, Roberto Barros’ grandson having a good time paddling in Ilha Grande, west of Rio de Janeiro. At this age the Caravela 1.7 must look like a cruising ship

What triggered the wish for writing this story about the dinghy Caravela 1.7 was an e-mail we received from Beto Roque, the yachtsman who bought the Multichine 28 Fiu from Roberto Barros, which he re-baptized Stella del Fioravante. Beto told in the e-mail that Lorena, the three years old daughter of his friend Rubens, after paddling the dinghy for a while, fell in love with it, affectionately calling her Yellow Peril. It was then that we realized that a 1.70mm dinghy is huge for a three years old toddler. Then we remembered when Christian, the three years old Roberto Barros grandson also went paddling all by himself aboard the very same Caravela 1.7.

Juliana, Roberto Barros’ granddaughter, sailing with her father Luis Gouveia in Marina da Gloria, Rio de Janeiro, aboard Pinta, the Caravela 1.7 built to be the tender of MC 28 Fiu.

Roberto Barros, together with two friends who also owned two MC 28, Roberto Ceppas and José Manuel Gonzales Fernandes, respectively the owners of Makai and Sabadear, decided to build together three dinghies Caravela 1.7, custom designed to fit the flush fore-deck of the MC 28. These dinghies were built together, and in reference to the name of the project, were called Santa Maria, Pinta and Niña. By then the nickname Yelow Peril simply didn’t exist.

In honour of his Nordic heritage, Roberto Ceppas is evoking the Viking gods asking protection for his creation. He felt the horns were an extravagance and dispensed wearing them. A second Caravela 1.7 is seen in the background


Those were glorious weekends, when after long hours of hard work the three friends went to a nearby bar where they toasted the progress in the construction with a couple of ice-cold beers.

Pinta was intensively used along the eight years it belonged to Roberto Barros, having travelled more than six thousand miles lashed to Fiu’s foredeck, and also being used as a leisure sailboat. The Barros family opinion about its behaviour is that of a dinghy you can count on it in any circumstance. However, other owners might have different opinions, having extensive folklore to tell about their dinghies.

We had seen a video produced by Jarle Andhoy, a Norwegian sailor who was travelling to Antarctica aboard a 27 foot cruising sailboat. When arriving at a British base in that continent, he had to deploy the Caravela 1.7 he was carrying on deck and tow his boat to the local pier, since there was no wind and his auxiliary engine was out of order.

Another unconventional incident was the case of the Caravela 1.7 that in a short-lasting thunderstorm made an unexpected flight, taking off from the deck where it was stowed in the vertical position, supported laterally by the mast, and having the dinghy’s bow fitting shackled to a halyard.

Can you believe? This Caravela 1.7 took off from the deck of the boat at the other side of pier to land on the spreader of the boat in front, staying tucked there until somebody went there to bring it down. Only the protection of Christ the Redeemer (in the centre of the photo) prevented an accident of dire consequences

Another story about dinghys Caravela 1.7 worth mentioning was the contest for the wackiest floating craft, capable of sailing for a certain distance, that took place in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Adrian Callejón, a MC 28 amateur builder won the contest with a Caravela made from cardboard, newspaper, masking tape and ordinary plastic sails found in a dust-bin. Like in a rodeo, after sailing a pre-established distance, Adrian was acclaimed the winner.

This builder from Buenos Aires, Argentina, made a Caravela 1.7 with cardboard and newspaper, to participate in a tournament to see who had the wackiest idea in dinghy’s amateur construction. Courtesy: Adrian Callejon

And then went sailing aboard his creation, the $1,99 sailboat, to win the contest. Courtesy: Adrian Callejon.

Aristides, the owner of a Cabo Horn 35, built this Caravela 1.7 to be his boat’s tender. Here he is sailing in Bracuhy, State of Rio de Janeiro. He praises his dinghy as being fantastic.

Marcos Veras made this Caravela 1.7 to be the tender for his Multichine 28 Bacanga, stationed in Marina da Glória, where he lives aboard.

The Caravela 1.7 can be rowed, can be propelled by a small outboard and can sail.

The Caravela 1.7 plans can be downloaded for free entering in the dinghy’s page. The purpose of offering the plans for free is allowing our potential builders to try their skills while proportioning the opportunity of owning a multi-purpose dinghy.

Click here to know more about the dinghy Caravela 1.7