This dinghy is intended to be used as a tender, leisure sail
boat and in an emergency it can even be used as life-saving craft. Its compact
dimensions allow it to be easily stowed on deck, or on top of cabin trunk
coach-roofs of almost any cruising sailboat, except the very small ones, once
its short length and lightness is an invitation for having it as a solid dinghy
tender. The fact that it can be propelled by sail, oars, paddles, or outboard
motor, increases its versatility. A wheel attached to a small skeg helps
pulling it out of the water, if the ground isn't too irregular. As a sailboat
the Caravela1.7 gives a good opportunity to enjoy dinghy sailing
when the mother boat is at anchor. Being unsinkable and stable, it can be used
by children, and for that matter, is a good training boat. The two leeboards
are handy, especially because they don't take internal room.
The function as a life-saving vessel is based on the concept that depending on
where you are, when a leisure craft is abandoned, there is no absolute
assurance of rescue, even if an EPIRB is activated. Being capable of sailing
even in bad weather conditions, this dinghy is able to take two persons towards
the closest land, provided no beating against the wind is required.
The Caravela1.7 with its shorter sail plan may be considered a
life-saving vessel for the following reasons:
1 - The three water-tight compartments have a total volume of 390 litres, which
allow up to two persons to be carried with positive flotation, with a
reasonable safety margin.
2 - Two of these compartments have inspection ports (deck plates) which allow
for dry storage of personal belongings and emergency equipment.
3 - The cover that we recommend to be made to protect the hull when it's lying
on deck upside-down, when inverted and with its hem lashed under the
rubbing-strake, makes a canopy that provides shade and protects the crew from
4 - Unobstructed cockpit (yes, this dinghy has a watertight cockpit, even
though it is self-draining only when the dinghy is not on service, bliss when
it pours heavy rains at night, the water draining by scuppers, not requiring to
be bailed by hand on these occasions. You only must remember to shut the
scuppers before boarding the dingy) which allows one person to get some rest at
a reasonably comfortable position.
5 - A reduced sail plan and a rig that can be installed by one person
unassisted, even if the dinghy is drifting away from the mother boat.
6 - The watertight fore-castle allows that one person at a time can climb onboard,
with no need of external help. The first person that climbs aboard takes the
aft seat to balance the trim for the second one to come aboard.
Some equipment may enhance the chances of survival, like portable GPS and VHF,
as well as a hand operated desalinator. Even though the dinghy Caravela 1.7 may
serve as a life-savingcraft, it should not be considered as so in
substitution of the country’s mandatory life-saving equipment. There is no
restriction in any legislation that you have a complementary means to cope with
the emergency of a shipwreck
One of the great advantages of building the dinghy Caravela 1.7, if you intend to be involved with a more radical challenge of
building your own cruising sailboat, is the opportunity to improve your skills
as an amateur builder gathering experience with an easy to build, affordable
Displacement (two persons):
Sail area (leisure):
Sail area (unofficial survival craft):
Caravela 1.7 Pinta sailing in Marina da Glória, Rio de Janeiro.
Photo: Roberto Barros