While attending the recent 2014 Newport International Boat Show, we ran into our friend David Foynes of the Fatty Knees Boat Company. We spoke of the short video I shot on the Fatty Knees a few years back, and the number of views it has gotten on YouTube (over 7,000 so far). If you haven’t seen it yet, now’s your chance!
If you’re in the market for a dinghy, you should really check out this nifty little boat, which comes with a fine pedigree. Designed by Lyle Hess, the Fatty Knees has enjoyed widespread popularity as a rowing and sailing dinghy for more than 70 years. The lapstrake hull was originally built of wood, then fiberglass, by the Lyle Hess Boat Company in California, before the design was bought by Edey & Duff, which built hundreds of Fatty Knees through the ‘80s. However, a lack of marketing and the advent of cheaper, mass-produced dinghies eventually led to a drop-off in demand.
Among knowledgeable boaters, however, the boat remained a favorite, as it was easy to rig and sail, and a dream to row—as you can see in the accompanying video, shot in Pocasset Harbor, MA. When the molds became available, Foynes saw a chance to revive the brand, and set about the task with the help of veteran boatbuilder John Dietenhoffer.
The “new” Fatty Knees hulls are laid up at an outside facility and finished at Diettenhoffer’s shop in Duxbury. The boats are still constructed of quality materials and components, and are available with some clever and useful options brought about by Foynes’ and Diettenhoffer’s many years of sailing and boatbuilding experience.
The Fatty Knees is available in 7’, 8’ and 9’ models, with or without sailing kits, in a variety of custom hull colors. Prices range from $3,234 to $3,615 for the bare hull, with the sailing kit running an additional $1,595.