Paul’s Cape Dory 25, just doing it!


What the heck? This morning In Myrtle Beach it was the same frosty 36 degrees as it was in Camden, Maine. I’ve got lots more install work I can do before heading north, but it’s fun to check out the odd lot of early ICW cruisers who turn into Osprey Marina’s narrow entrance channel. Particularly curious was this venerable Cape Dory 25 that came in looking like it had been knocking around at sea. In fact it had just come non-stop and single-handed from St. Augustine, Florida,  and had gotten there mostly offshore from Cape May, New Jersey, just last month. Yes, in February, and the owner’s previous sailing experience was aboard a Sunfish on a lake. I had to know more!


It was no surprise that Captain Paul is a bit of a character — one of the beauties of cruising is the amazing freedom we enjoy — but he is certainly not the fool that casual observers might presume. Not at all. He was ripe for an adventure on the ocean he loves and he’s getting one with a boat he picked up last summer for $4,000 (with an “excellent custom trailer”). He not only had a lot of experience on his own fishing boats but I think he’s developed the innate boat sense that often trumps fancy equipment and book learning…


Of course I was curious about Paul’s electronics. Primary navigation is done with paper charts and that economical Garmin 441s which has a thru-hull transducer so that it also serves as a sounder or fishfinder. The boat came with an antique VHF but on deck Paul says he always carries a West Marine floating handheld as well as an ACR ResQLink Personal Locator Beacon. It was when he explained how he’d really wanted the bouyant ResQLink+ (the West store he’d hiked to had misinformed him about stock), that I began to realize how carefully he’d thought through the bad things that could happen on that bouncy little boat.
   But I was also thinking about that water coming up through the cockpit “drains”!  Part of the problem was my extra 200 pounds standing on the cockpit seats, but note too the twin gas tanks that were already lashed onto those seats, and wait until you see Paul’s custom outboard set up…


When I first saw the Cape Dory 25 I forgot that one of its features is an outboard well. But when Paul was learning his boat last fall he wasn’t satisfied with its maneuverability in tight quarters and speed under power. So he added the bigger Mercury on the bracket and says he can now negotiate any slip or buck any current. Plus he can not only run both engines simultaneously but he has an auxiliary to his auxiliary…


Still, though, the boat is riding a bit low and footwear may need drying out when possible. She also lacks an autopilot but Paul has learned how to get her to heave to, which is a valuable move that a lot of ‘experienced’ sailors don’t know much about. However, and also like a lot of ‘experienced’ sailors, he wasn’t familiar with the idea of foresail downhaul. I was happy to help with the gift of a small block he could lash at the base of his forestay. Hopefully he’s now strung a length of very light line from the jib head down through the hanks, through the block, and back the mast. If so, he’ll be able to release the halyard and haul the sail down to the tack, and secure it, without having to first step out onto that itsy-bitsy foredeck.
   At any rate, here’s wishing Paul fair winds as he speeds home (hoping to make Easter with his family). My takeaways: that the right person can go sailing without a lot of the gear many of us think necessary, that my friend Andy Vavolotis sure built some durable take-anything boats, and that Paul is a guy I’d like helping me move a boat somewhere. Your thoughts?


Similar Posts:

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May 11, 2007

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Ben Ellison

Ben Ellison

Panbo editor, publisher & chief bottlewasher from 4/2005 until 8/2018, and now excited to have Ben Stein as very able publisher, webmaster, and editing colleague. Panbo is going to the next level in 2019 and beyond.

16 Responses

  1. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    A couple of details I forgot:
    Note the heavy duty rods mounted aft. Paul did some successful catch-and-release medium-big game fishing on his way from Florida.
    Note also how the bimini, which he likes for sun protection, runs rail to rail. Therefore going forward means stepping outside the life lines, which is what that green grab strap is all about.
    To each his own!

  2. Kim says:

    What a great story, thank you for that!

  3. Dave Tew says:

    I built the 25s at their Bridgewater, Massachusetts location back in the seventies and still see some of the ones that passed through the shops when I was there. Tough little boats.

  4. Ted Janssen says:

    I had a 25 in 1975. And a Naugus built Alberg designed 19 before that. It became the Cape Dory “Typhoon”. Great boats!

  5. Joe Myerson says:

    Thanks for the great little story.
    Andy did indeed build a great line of traditional sailboats, and there’s an active association of Cape Dory owners, the Cape Dory Sailboat Owners Association ( that helps stay in touch and exchange technical information. –Joe Myerson, Captain, Northeast Fleet, Cape Dory Sailboat Owners Association

  6. Ben Cashen says:

    Great post Ben! I’ve done “the ditch” 7 times and one of the best parts of the trip is the people you meet and the weird stories they have…. We had a boat sail into Camden harbor about 10 days ago during a snow storm- 3 Norwegians who were sailing UP from Ft. Lauderdale…weirdest thing I’ve ever seen in March.

  7. Michael says:

    Cool boat and a good story. But I think I’d strike that bimini below before I went offshore. Of course I mean really offshore, not Ft. Augustine to Myrtle Beach. And it is really true that “boat sense” trumps doing everything by the book.

  8. BillP says:

    Wonder how many cans of Dinty Moore he has aboard? Great story that serves as a valuable and timely reality check for those who have convinced themselves to never venture off without dual radars, thermal imaging, get home systems, and 3,000 rounds of .45 ammo in case of pirates.
    While many of us did the minimalist thing years ago, and don’t particularly want to revisit that approach to cruising today, it is always refreshing to see someone doing more with less.
    Love Osprey Marina and its friendly staff. Hope to see you in Annapolis, Ben!

  9. Johnd says:

    I’d also echo the to each their own.
    While many folks might have suggestions, few are actually out there sailing, which is what Paul clearly has done. So whatever he’s done, it’s clearly working!
    And less can be more. My guess is that Paul can work on and fix many of the systems he’s got on board without too much outside consulting. Those new boat owners with dual everything? Not so much!
    Being a sailor does remain a bit about also being an engineer and craftperson. You’ll get a lot more pleasure out of “sailing” if you don’t mind laying some glass or futzing with your impeller, because that will come with owning a boat.
    Nice job Paul!

  10. Richard C says:

    Captain Paul, When all said and done and you are too old to sail, it’s the stories you have to tell that count. I think you will have many. Good luck and I will watch for you on the water.

  11. pegleg says:

    I had two Typhoons, CD 18’s, in the ’70s. Great sailing boats as were the larger CD’s. Always used a jib down- haul rather than go up to the bow while underway. There were several 25’s in my marina at the time. I never “moved up” to the 25 as they all had trouble with the outboards mounted in the cockpit lazarus. Could never tilt them out of the water when not in use nor would they run properly when the well hatch was closed.

  12. Dan says:

    Hi! We watched you sail by our condo on the ICW this morning in Myrtle Beach and then looked up your boat’s name on the web… then we found your blog and have enjoyed reading it. Fair winds and following seas…

  13. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Thanks, Dan! I had a great first day on the trip north. By afternoon the rain had stopped, the Sun came out, and I was on the fly bridge. Anchored in little Southport, NC, harbor and dined at the Fishy Fish. All good.
    Also, most of my new power and electronics installs worked 😉
    AIS and inReach satellite tracking here:

  14. roger hudson says:

    Now that is more like it, a good old sailing yacht (i’ve a 27ft ‘Folkboat derivative’). With lots of solar power here in Croatia can we have more articles about low energy yet integrated systems.

  15. Seth says:

    Great looking boat! I have a Cape Dory 25 as well that I’m restoring. You wouldn’t happen to have a photo of what the motor mount should look like in the motor well would you? Mine is missing and I am hoping to make it look original again.

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