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Dyer Dhow Derby

Visitors are invited to cheer on the Museum’s fleet of Dyer Dhows and their crews as they race along the Mystic River at the 64th Annual Dyer Dhow Derby at Mystic Seaport. The regatta is held annually in appreciation for the yacht clubs, organizations, and individuals who have donated and maintained a Dyer Dhow in support of the Joseph Conrad and Community Sailing programs at Mystic Seaport.

Dyer Dhow Fleet

Mystic Seaport currently has more than 50 Dhows, of which 48 are sailed regularly, giving Mystic Seaport the distinction of having the largest fleet of Dyer Dhows in North America. The Dhows are used year-round for teaching sailing to the local community, as an integral part of the Joseph Conrad Overnight Sailing Camp and in the racing series. Each Dyer Dhow is named for the yacht club, family, or individual who generously donated it to the Museum’s sailing program. It is through these generous donations that Mystic Seaport’s sailing programs have continued to grow, teaching hundreds of people annually–young and old alike–to capture the wind in their sails and enjoy their time at sea.

Dyer Dhow History

Located in Warren, Rhode Island, The Anchorage, Inc. has been building boats named after the company’s founder, Bill Dyer, since 1930. After creating the now classic 10-foot Dyer Dink, the most famous of the Dyer line of dinghies–the 9-foot Dyer Dhow–was built in the early 1940s manufactured out of plywood.

During WWII, Anchorage was contracted to supply lifeboats to be carried aboard small minesweepers and PT boats. Dyer Dhows were the boats to answer this call to service. Used on the Pacific front, Dhows were used as rescue units when ships were attacked. Stacks of Dyer Dhows were dropped into the water over shipwrecks to allow survivors safety until they could be rescued. Anna Jones, granddaughter of creator Bill Dyer, describes their early uses during war time:

“The government (War Department) came to my grandfather, Bill Dyer, during WWII and asked him to build a boat that would fit in nine-feet of space and hold nine men. The original 9′ers were plywood and were used on PT boats during WWII. I have pictures of them being loaded on the big transport planes. I also have a picture showing nine of our men standing in one out here on the [Warren] river and it was still floating. About a year or so ago, I had a call from a customer who told me that when he was stationed in the South Pacific during the war they used to take a boat and rag a sail on it and sail around. That’s where he learned to sail.”

In 1949, the first fiberglass sailing dinghy based on the version of the Dhow used during the war was built. While not the first boat ever built of fiberglass, the Dhow is the oldest continuously-built fiberglass boat in production today. The nine-foot Dhow was followed by the 7′ 11″ Midget and the 12 ½’ Daysailer. Dyer also makes the Glamour Girl, a launch or utility vessel, which can also be found at Mystic Seaport and as part of the Joseph Conrad Overnight Sailing Camp and Community Sailing programs.

A versatile boat, the Dyer Dhow’s “hard chine” or flat bottom design offers great stability perfect for teaching sailing to all ages. Dyers Dhows can hold up to four people or approximately 650 lbs. Dhows are not just sailboats; many people use them as rowboats or powerboats as well.