France’s rugged Atlantic coastline is a popular and challenging cruising ground, but it was not so long ago that countless fleets of small workboats called its remote harbors and rocky estuaries home. These traditional voile-et-aviron (sail-and-oar) boats inspired the French naval architect François Vivier to design boats like the Morbic 12, the Ilur, and a host of others. Like the Ilur, the Morbic 12 has become very popular in France, and in the last few years has attracted the attention of small-boat builders and sailors in the United Kingdom. The Morbic 12 is one of a series of Morbics that includes 8′ and 10′ lengths as well as an 11′ strip-planked version. The Morbic 12 has become a favorite with builders wanting something similar to the 14-1/2′ Ilur but a little smaller and easier to store and transport.Vivier designed the Morbic 12 with the International 12 in mind. A hugely popular racing dinghy and tender for larger boats dating back to before the First World War, the International 12 set the standard for smaller sailing dinghies for many years around the U.K. and Europe. The Morbic 12 was inspired by both the older competitive 12′ racing dinghy class as well as the traditional inshore fishing boats once ubiquitous around Brittany. It has more beam and freeboard, comfortably carries a crew up to three, and is capable of coastal cruising under sail, oar, or even a small outboard. The construction manual is suited for those with some prior experience in modern glued-lapstrake construction; a novice builder might need expanded guidance for each step. I found Eric Dow’s 1993 book, How to Build the Shellback Dinghy, which I had used when I built a Shellback, a useful reference during the construction of the Morbic’s hull.

Photographs by Patricia Wisdom

There are buoyancy chambers under the foredeck and each of the side benches. The oars stow out of the way on the sides of the chambers. To the port side of the transom's outboard cutaway there is a smaller notch for sculling.

Read this article now for free!

Sign up here (No credit card required) to finish reading your article now.

— OR —

Subscribe now for $29.99 a year! You'll have access to our new issues as they are published, and access to our entire archive of back issues, starting with our inaugural issue in September 2014. Subscribers can also post unlimited classified ads. This is an extraordinary value!