By Courtney Moore, CMB Creative Group
Photos by Nick Woviotis, © Skylla Filmworks
The 74th Dyer Dhow Derby will be held Saturday, October 21, from 10am to 5pm at Mystic Seaport Museum in Mystic, CT. Defending their title from 2022 will be the Murphy family (three generations: Frank, Patrick, and Lily) representing the Mystic River Mudhead Sailing Association. Past winners include many other Mudheads such as Carl Fast, Woody Bergendahl and Nate Fast.
Mystic Seaport Museum has more than fifty Dhows, giving the Museum the distinction of having the largest fleet of Dyer Dhows in North America. The boats are used for teaching sailing to the community, and as an integral part of the Joseph Conrad Overnight Sailing Camp. Each Dhow is named for the yacht club, family, or individual who generously donated it to Mystic Seaport Museum. It is through these generous donations that the Museum’s sailing programs have continued to teach hundreds of people annually, young and old alike, to capture the wind in their sails and enjoy their time at sea.
Located in Warren, RI, The Anchorage, Inc. has been building boats named after the company’s founder, Bill Dyer, since 1930. After creating the now classic 10’ Dyer Dink, the 9’ Dhow – the most famous of the Dyer line of dinghies – was added in the early 1940s, manufactured out of plywood. During World War II, The 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 Dhows were dropped into the water over shipwrecks to provide safety for survivors until they could be rescued.
In 1949, the first fiberglass sailing dinghy based on the version of the Dhow used during the war was built. The Dyer 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’ Daysailer.
The Mystic Seaport Museum is always looking for improvements and maintenance to keep the Dyer Dhow fleet operable for years to come. Monetary donations are helpful in keeping the fleet afloat. Funding is used for new sails and continued boat maintenance such as new paint, new rails, new thwarts, or other needs. If you are interested in donating, please contact the Sailing Center at 860-572-5369. ■