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Blivit 13 Sailing Dinghy
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"This boat deserves to be built and sailed by a lot more people."

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I’m glad to hear you’ve sold another Blivit, but I’m disappointed that it will not be as a sailboat. Attaching an air motor will probably work (the boat is extremely stable so if he keeps the weight distribution low and toward the middle, it should work).

Ron Johnson's Blivit 13 under sail

It never fails that when I set up this boat I get gawkers who ask a million questions. What’s it made of? You did this yourself? The sails are Tyvek? Disbelief turns to wonder in a few minutes. The wonder intensifies when they see it keep pace with factory built job on most points of sail. Everyone knows me from my tyvek sails (and many have told me they can’t go past a housing development without noting that the houses are being wrapped in sail material).

My best finish this season was third and I ranked sixth overall (out of maybe 10 or 12 boats). The previous year I did not rank at all. The Blivit has made me more competitive for two reasons: 1. It is a fast boat fully capable of matching or beating Lasers in head-to-head races and 2. It has given me more sailing time and thus more practice because it can be sailed solo when my crew does not show up. I can’t tell you how important reason #2 has been.

I probably could have done a little better if my jib had not continually come loose from the rope running through its leading edge. It would let loose usually at the head and get saggy during the middle of a race. Finally fixed it with some extra darts and wrapping of Tyvek backed with carpet tape to secure the whole affair. I have had no problems since doing the fix. I am still experimenting with positioning the jib leads. Right now they are in line with the front edge of the daggerboard and when fully extended, hang inside the rail about 8 inches. I have mounted cleats on the opposite rail so that when I am alone I can secure the jib sheet while playing the main. While the jib is a powerful sail, it does not seem to threaten to overpower the boat in heavy wind (my Thistle, on the other hand, can capsize if the jib is not released quickly in a heavy gust). The boat does not do as well in extremely light winds (5 mph or less).. probably because it has no weight to carry it along between puffs and because it over-reacts to every weight shift by the crew; but it positively loves 10-15 mph winds. I’ve had it out in gusts up to 20-25 mph and it has behaved exceptionally because it is so quick to de-power (my Thistle can’t depower fast enough and is always at risk of capsizing in those conditions.) In fact, the Blivit led the fleet for about 3/4 of one race because three of the fastest boats, two Thistles and a Laser, capsized in a freak burst of wind at the starting line. My blivit rode out the burst with no problem and when the gust subsided I sheeted in and took off.

Blivit racing sequence showing a hard gust of wind

I’ve had my wife and son (eight year old) out in both the thistle and the Blivit. They both agree that the Blivit is more family friendly because it is so stable. both my wife and my son have taken the tiller at times..something they would not even consider in the Thistle.

By the way, I know you designed this boat to be launched from a dock but I have been sailing off of a sandy beach with no problems. The kickup rudder allows me to completely set up in about two inches of water; then I give it a good shove just as I jump in and quickly set the daggerboard when I get to a boat 2 1/2 feet of water. Landing the boat has been no problem either because I raise the rudder while still in several feet of water and raise the dagger board by degrees until every close to shore; then pull it up completely. The rudder,even fully up, gives enough control to run the boat close to shore before jamming the tiller over to one side and sliding sideways to the beach. Pretty Nifty and no one gets wet!

Feel free to send my letter detailing construction to anyone who will find it useful, including the magazine you mentioned. I’m going to order a subscription myself! you can also use me as a referral if you’d like when anyone seems interested in the boat. I haven’t convinced anyone to build the Blivit yet but I keep telling people where they can get the plans. This boat deserves to be built and sailed by a lot more people.

Sorry, I still have no quality photos of the boat with boat sails flying. In April, when I set up for the first time of the season, I plan on having my wife take a ton of photos with good camera. I’ll send you some!

Ron Johnson St. Louis, Mo

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