Columbia Dinghy by N. G. Herreshoff

LOA:                        11′ 6″
Draft:                6″ & 1′ 5″
Beam:                            4′
Sail Area:       60.00 sq ft
Displacement:    150 lbs

Anyone might choose a classic lapstrake tender for no other reason than its looks, but it was a construction method chosen for very practical reasons. Of the traditional methods, lapstrake is the most practical for situations where the dinghy will spend much of its life hung on davits, because the plank seams tend not to leak even when the boat dries out. It is also a very rigid construction method for its weight, and a varnished lapstrake tender is just about as pretty as a small boat gets.

Disadvantages are somewhat increased maintenance—the plank edges can take a beating from beaches and dinghy docks, on the outside, and foot traffic and cargo on the inside. The laps make a slight noise from small waves, there is slightly more resistance, and it is a little harder to clean the sand and mud out of the boat on the inside. For these reasons Joel White adapted the design to form the carvel-planked Cats Paw dinghy shown elsewhere on this site—she has many of the Columbia dinghy’s functional merits in a more workaday version.

As with the Cats Paw, the Columbia Dinghy excels as a tender because of her good rowing characteristics, load-carrying ability, and her practicality as a sailboat. As an easily trailered daysailer, a Columbia dinghy will make quite a statement wherever she goes.

We’d call the Cats Paw more practical, and the Columbia Dinghy more spectacular. It would be hard to argue against either choice.