Boom tent plans

Hello, all dinghy cruisers.

Even before I've started the refurb of Poppy I'm planning the next steps, which will be a boom tent to enable some longer cruises. Looking around, there aren't any specific plans or measurements, so I thought it would be useful to document my progress as an aid to others looking to do the same. It'll also let others spot my mistakes, hopefully before I make them.

Here is an initial sketch I made after measuring some aspects of Poppy's decks:


I have a topping lift to raise the boom, which will then support the tent using nylon webbing and clips (the black tags). This is similar to David's tent on Curlew, except not permanently fixed. I thought this might be easier than slinging the material over the boom as the topping lift would have to be moved in my case.

I have aimed to be able to sit on the rear deck or thwart (just about). The door flaps will zip closed straight down, the front ones behind the mast; another benefit of not going over the boom is that you don't have to work out how to get round the gooseneck.

I'm initially going to have five nylon webbing straps that go under the hull, which I know some have used, rather than use hooks under the gunwale. Less permanent, but fiddlier.

The yellow shapes are the bed boards when in place, the orange when stowed. They'll be slightly tapered and span from the rear deck to the thwart. The third piece sits on top of the daggerboard case and the two battens on the side tanks. This should give 190cm to lie down. I could have stretched the third piece to the bulkhead, but that would mean it can't be stowed on the rear deck.

The measurements are not 100% accurate, but gave me enough to draw up a net:


I'm planning on using tent flysheet material from Profabrics, which comes in 1.5m-wide sheets, so will need to be sewn together along the spine. I am fairly handy with a sewing machine, but lightweight material will help ease of manufacture and keeping finished bulk down.

I will almost certainly make a mistake somewhere, as I always do, but I look forward to giving it a go.

DavidH's picture

Nice job!
Always good to plot and scheme in advance, I feel.

I have several Mirror dinghy dimension pages which are now covered in diagrams and sketches, and I don''t have my boat yet. My rather battered Black and Decker worktop vice arrived this morning - to join the other 2nd-hand tools I'll be using on the Mirror.

curlew's picture

Be careful you don't lose too much height with the straps.
If the front closes aft of the mast, you need to be sure that with a headwind, the tent will not blow inwards and allow a draft to enter the boat. In other words the front must be sealed to the deck.
It is possible to have a second, higher gooseneck just for camping, and I tried a standard fitting modified to be tied on for this purpose but do not use it as it is a bit clumsy.
If you cover the entire area with bed boards, it is difficult to dress, cook or take a pee. I only cover half the boat with bed boards.
Good sailing

Good point about the headwind. I'll probably leave some trailing ties to go around the foot of the mast and keep the bottom in place. The straps will be adjustable, so hopefully they'll be able to be kept taut.

One related question that I hadn't been able to find a quick answer to: when sleeping pulled up on a beach (or creek as you did in the video on your channel) how do you keep a Mirror level? I suppose mud will generally let you settle flat, but sand not so much. Is there any worry of standing on the floor if you were to build up sand underneath as a prop?

curlew's picture

If the boat is sloping sideways too much I usually push a fender under the boat. It will be held in place by the bilge runners. I tie the fender to the boat with a few metres of line so I don't lose it when the tide comes in. A few weeks ago I tied up to Ashlett Creek pontoon and when the tide went out my boat was half in a mud hole! So I did have a night at 25 degrees or so. David

DavidH's picture

David, you have perfectly summed up why I never intend to camp out in my Mirror!