Sweet lines” is often the first thing out of the mouth of classic-boat aficionados having a first look at an Abaco dinghy. It’s no wonder legend has it that this traditional Bahamian workboat had a role in inspiring Capt. Nat Herreshoff’s famous 12 1/2 daysailer. Dinghy owners call them little jewels and will lavish hundreds of hours and many thousands of dollars on full restorations.During the mid-20th century, yachtsmen began gravitating to the Sea of Abaco in the Bahamas. Lying between the Abaco Cays—Green Turtle, Great Guana, Scotland, Man-O-War, and Elbow—to the east and Great Abaco Island to the west, the Sea makes a sheltered cruising ground. Visitors found friendly islanders with accents like Cornish fishermen, clear blue water rife with reef fish, and good breezes. They also found a vibrant wooden boat building industry on Man-O-War Cay and in Hope Town on Elbow Cay. The yachtsmen and expats proved a ready market for local workboats to be used as daysailers and racers.Nobody knows for sure when the first Abaco dinghy was built, or who built it, but the type has been around as a small fishing boat since the late 1800s. Dinghies are traditionally either 12′ or 14′ overall, with a 5′ beam and a 2′ draft. During the middle decades of the 20th century Abaco boatbuilders like Maurice Albury on Man-O-War Cay and Winer Malone at Hope Town launched hundreds of dinghies for fishing, daysailing, and racing. Some builders had government contracts to turn out dinghies to supply the Bahamian fishing fleet.

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