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  • #34419

    Dear all, my first post may be controversial, but here goes…

    Which is the best wayfarer version for cruising? I bought a Mark 1 because I liked the look of the large storage capacity in the bow. However on a recent cruise to the west coast of Scotland with my kids, I had 2 concerns: storage and buoyancy. We all hated the job of shoving camping kit into the front hatch in front of the mast, grovelling on our bellies and hitting our heads! And despite recently replacing the seals on the fore and aft hatch covers, I am still worried that these are only as watertight as the last person who closed them up. So which version might be better?

    Woodie: I guess wood is naturally buoyant, unlike GRP, but I suspect it’s too much maintenance for me?

    Mark 2: I wonder whether the front shelf is a bit easier for storing kit (in dry bags of course)… is this true? And the buoyancy seems more guaranteed, at least in front?

    Mark 1A: designed for cruising, and the twin front buoyancy compartments look intriguing, but I wonder how easy it is is actually storing kit in them? Does anyone cruise one of these?

    Mark 4 / World: too expensive for me!

    I was surprised not to find a post on this subject, so I thought I’d ask. Many thanks for your wisdom!


    Bob Harland

    The mark 1 (GRP) forward buoyancy tank was prone to leaks around the gunwhale, hence the change to mark 2. I always liked the easy access to the shelf above the forward tank in the mark 2. So I would agree with your comments. Mke sure the dry bags are on lanyards, or secured in some way.

    We had a mark 1A for some years, getting gear in and out through the forward hatches was tricky, and it was also difficult to get a good seal on the hatches.

    The Woodie is a lovely boat to camp in, none of those sharp grp edges, extra stowage options under side decks, more space under the thwart for legs. If you can find a GRP mark 1 plus S that might be a good compromise if you don’t want to go for wood.



    Thanks Bob, that’s really helpful, especially your experience comparing the Mark 2 shelf with mark 1A storage!

    Out of interest, does a woodie actually need a lot of maintenance? And how would buoyancy /safety compare with the Mark 2?


    Bob Harland

    A Woodie in good condition should not need lots of maintenance. If it has been epoxied and then finished in 2 pot poly varnish/paint these coatings can last a few years before needing recoating. But any exposed timber – e.g. from knocks and bashes – must be dealt with promptly – especially if open to rainwater. A good cover, one that goes over all the transom  is essential. Winter storage out of the weather will also help.

    As with all Wayfarers it is important to check the integrity of the buoyancy tanks, both marks can have problems. Seals will need to be in good condition and secure hatch clips.


    hope that helps

    Dave Barker

    The original question referred to 2 points – storage and buoyancy. I think I initially misunderstood the point about storage in the bow. I would point to the Mk1’s storage capacity in the area between the benches and the front bulkhead as one of its advantages over the Mk2 in particular. This is a near-perfect place to put heavier items – water, anchor & chain, tent etc.

    Accessing storage in the front buoyancy tank is definitely not a popular job, but for a couple of drybags, perhaps with sleeping bags in, it’s not too onerous a job, and to an extent balances the weight aft if you have a lot of kit in the back tank (who doesn’t?). I’ve put a sort of long triangular plywood ramp in the bottom of our front tank to make it easier to retrieve drybags. Lanyards, optionally tied to an eye on the back of the hatch cover, are helpful too.

    As Bob has already pointed out, whichever boat you sail, the buoyancy needs to be reliable, so that shouldn’t be a factor in deciding which Mark to sail.

    Other than the apparently glib response that the boat you already own is the best option, I would put in a word for the Mk1 Composite. This has less of the anxiety-inducing wood in its construction, but retains the advantage of the Mk1 layout, including the space around the mast foot area previously mentioned (short front benches) and crucially (for me at least) the wooden thwart, which gives significantly more clearance beneath it for sleeping than either the Mk1 grp or the Mk2, if that’s a factor. We owned a Mk2 for a number of years and slept in it quite a bit, but the extra space in our current Mk1 is much appreciated. NB – not all composite Wayfarers have a wooden thwart.

    Some of the most vulnerable areas of an all-wooden dinghy are the junction of the centreboard case to the hog and the front bulkhead to the planking, and in fact any low-lying part of the boat, which is where water – especially fresh water – can collect and induce rot. This is why I suggest a composite boat with its grp hull, cb case and bulkheads. 100% agree with Bob on winter storage under cover if possible, for any boat.

    If I had more time and energy I would investigate the feasibility of replacing the grp thwart on a Mk1 grp or Mk2 boat, building in a wooden thwart instead. No wooden decks to worry about and more room to sleep!

    I personally wouldn’t consider any boat (such as a Mk4) without floorboards if planning to sleep in the boat.

    Jonathan Ferguson

    Agreed with what Bob and Dave have said above. Some points here from a Mk1A sailor who’s recently spent a week cruising in a MkII:

    The shelf on a MkII was, in my experience, harder to access than the front hatch on a Mk1. Perhaps slightly easier than on our 1A, but not by much. The space above the shelf is surprisingly narrow, so drybags really have to be squished down, and everything needs to be in a decent drybag too since it’s not in a locker. On our 1A, we solve this by making sure everything stored in the split front locker is small enough to fit through easily – then the shelf system works well.

    I thoroughly agree with Dave about the space in front of the mast on the non-MkIIs. Our 1A has this, with the half-length front benches seen on the woodies/composites, which gives a cavernous space which is relatively sheltered under the foredeck.

    In terms of buoyancy, any Wayfarer is going to be compromised if you don’t do the hatches up. There’s a simple solution to this – do the hatches up, religiously! I’m sorry I can’t be more helpful there, but in my opinion if you’re changing boats because there’s more buoyancy if you forget to do the hatches up, then you’re probably looking at the problem the wrong way around!

    Hope that’s of use.

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