New mirror owner

Ive recently acquired a lovely mirror dinghy. I'm very new to the idea of sailing so much so that the captch questions to sign up defeted me many times!

We were initially going to get an inflatable to mess around on the rivers and canals but decided as we have a 4 year old learning to sail would be great family fun.

So I intend to get a small outboard for lazy weekends on the river and use the sails for more vigorous entertainment.

I know nothing about boats but quite alot about carpentry, so with my limited knowledge the boat looks in fine fettle. It came with a road trailer, three sails, rigging, a canoe paddle, rowlocks, centreboard, rudder, buoyancy aids and the masts etc. No idea what to do with most of it though. Hopefully my brother inlaw will provide some answers as he sails abit.

I need to know about fitting outboards first. Where on the forum would it be best to ask?

Thanks Jon

Welcome to Mirror Dinghy sailing. I think since you are brand new to Mirrors and to sailing one of the best things you could do is search for a Mirror Dinghy sailing club near you. That is what I did 32 years ago and I learned a lot from the members who were anxious to help a newbie.

See if you can find a copy of Sailing the Mirror, by Roy Partridge. It was published in 1980 by Fernhurst Books, London. It is a great book with loads of useful information.

You did not say where you are located. If you let this forum know, perhaps nearby Mirror sailors will make themselves known to you.

Good luck and I know you will enjoy yourselves. The Mirror is a great little boat.


Thanks for the welcome.
I'm near Bedford. Theres a local sailing lake that I was going to goto to see what information I could gleen from them. I'm sure I saw mirrors there last time I walked passed. I will look out for that book, sounds just what I need.



62816inBerlin's picture

Welcome from me, too!
Although I have vowed never to put one on my Mirror, I see the advantages for cruising around narrow waterways and for fishing excursions etc. The 2 1/2 hp two-strokes by Tohatsu, Mercury etc. (now deprecated) are quite common on boats of the Mirror size range (see "Curlew's" youtube channel for example). The little air-cooled Hondas are even lighter and are 4-strokes, but being air-cooled, not really quieter than the more powerful 2-strokes. Electric outboards are limited as far as running time is involved and call for a heavy battery to go any distance.
I have a 2.5 kW 2-stroke Tohatsu that I use to push my 5.2 metre long daysailer (ballast keel/centreboard) which is a heavy boat and it's adequate to push us along at hull speed, so it would actually be overkill on the Mirror. Unfortunately there are not many very small 4-strokes on the market.
Try getting someone to take you out as crew on their dinghy, it's the best way to get into sailing and get a feel of dinghies. Be careful with a small child, as one nasty or unpleasant experience may put him or her off boating for life.
Have fun messing about in boats!

Thanks for the welcome and information.
I was thinking of an older 2 stroke 2-2.5hp outboard, I might go down the route of a electric trolling motor at a later stage if one comes up for auction locally cheap, just to see if it works. The youtube clips suggest its only as good as rowing, which might not be enough for the Kingsbridge estuary which we hope to go to. I would like a seagull but I'm too worried about it not having a cover.

I've read I need to reinforce the transom inside and out which requires cutting a hole in the rear buoyancy tank, this worries me as the boat looks in quite good condition, and taking a saw to it straight away is a shame. I've seen some youtube clips of mirrors without any obvious reinforcement which confuses the issue. I think I will end up doing some kind of external reinforcement and see how I go.

My son loves the water and we go out on my inlaws motor boat quite abit. He could do with a scare or two as he is very confident and independent (see dictionary under wild, verging on feral), he also watches his 5 year old cousin sail and is very jealous.

I have a whole host of questions swimming around my brain most I'm sure are very basic, for you experienced sailors, so please don't despair of my future post about whats this part and where do I put it.
thanks again

If you're rowing or motoring you can treat a Mirror like a rowing/motor boat, but it is much more fragile and you can punch holes in the hull by relatively gentle collisions with rocks, so your aim should be to avoid hitting any. Ever. Avoid scraping the paint too by using the trolley rather than pulling the boat ashore without it, though it's often okay risk it on sand or grass. This does limit what you can do with the boat at times, but the gains are in its light weight and good sailing performance.

When sailing there is always the risk of a gust of wind capsizing you, so you need to be wearing the right clothes, and in Britain that means a drysuit or wetsuit. I prefer the latter, and it isn't important for it to have long arms and legs as cold limbs during a swim won't kill you. I'm thinking particularly about keeping the costs down here, and a wetsuit without long arms and legs will last a growing child longer while still providing adequate warmth. Ask other people for advice though because they may disagree - I'm only judging by what I preferred wearing while sailing as a child, and that wasn't recent.

Once you've got the clothing sorted, there are two more essential things to sort out: you need to gain sufficient sailing experience to be able to control a boat safely, knowing how to avoid collisions (there are rules about who has right of way), how to stop whenever you need to (there are situations you have to avoid getting into because if you're going downwind in a narrow space and can't turn, you can't stop), how to avoid a slam gybe (which can kill), and how to land without damaging anything. You may be able to gain all of that in a single day by sailing with someone experienced, but it will likely take longer: you'll only be ready to sail on your own when that experienced person judges that you're ready. The other essential thing is being able to right the boat from a capsize, and that doesn't just mean knowing how it's done, but actually having successfully done it a few times, so that's something else you need to do while sailing with someone experienced. Furthermore, if you are going to sail with a four-year-old, that is equivalent to sailing alone, and recovering from a capsize while sailing alone is much harder than it is for a crew of two - just climbing back in can be impossible unless you fit extra equipment to the boat to help you climb in over the stern. You need to prove to yourself that you can right the boat on your own before you think of sailing alone (with or without a young child).

Sailing on a calm day should be treated the same way as sailing in a strong breeze - the wind can get up suddenly at any time without warning, so you must be able to handle whatever happens and never just assume that you're safe because the wind's light. Go and get the experience you need and then you'll be fine once you know what you're doing - it doesn't take long to learn everything that matters, but it makes a huge difference to how safe you are.

Good luck with it all, and have fun,


I agree with everything David said above. There is one more thing I would recommend in your first hours sailing the Mirror. Do it on a fair sized lake where collisions and the need for sudden unplanned turns (tacks) are reduced. This will make getting used to sailing the Mirror much easier than sailing on narrower rivers.


A few other things worth mentioning, and these apply not only while sailing but at all times. Avoid climbing forward onto the foredeck as the weight of an adult there tends to lead to the boat tipping over and dumping you in the drink. Also be aware that the wood of the foredeck is thin and you can punch a hole in it easily if you put too much of your weight down in the same place rather than trying to spread it out. Any small child going forward onto the foredeck needs to know never to jump about on it if you allow them up there at all. The floor is made of thicker plywood but it is also weak when the boat is out of the water, so never stand in it unless it's fully supported by water underneath - it seems unlikely that having water underneath can add so much strength to the plywood, but experience says that it does. I've seen a hole punched in the bottom of a Mirror hull by a 12-year-old girl who was climbing on it during a capsize (with the hull upside down) and managed to put her knee through it. Again you have to spread your weight out carefully in that situation. Having a child stand in the boat when it's on its trolley can also damage the hull at the points where it rests on the trolley, so it isn't a risk worth taking (although a four-year-old is unlikely to do it any harm unless he jumps up and down).

This is all great and very useful information.

I have discovered that we are surrounded by sailing clubs, its amazing what you find out down the pub.

I think I will take a wander down to one of them this week and take a look.

I've also discovered that there's quite alot of rigging missing, mostly the rope bits, I think the wire bits and pulleys are there.

This is what we have. (The rudder and handle etc is out of shot)

thanks again

P.S. If you know about repairs please could you take a look at my other post

@David Cooper

Thanks for the info again. I will only sail with my wife and son until hes a good bit older and experienced at falling in. The clothing is good pointers, I spoke to my sister inlaw yesterday who has a small sailing boat/dinghy and sails with her three kids 5, 8 and 9 and she talked us through some of the rigging, but I completely forgot to ask about the clothes. My wife and I have buoyancy aids already from the motor boat and a new larger one for my son is on the way.

I'm glad you reiterated the weak points of the mirror as my wife had trouble believing me about its delicacy.

We are going to do a beginners course then go out with my brother and sister inlaw a few times with one of us with one of them until we get a feel for it.

Hopfully it will all work out.