The Fatty Knees 7' Dingy

Hi All,

I’m considering a purchase of the 7’ Fatty Knees w/sailing kit. I’ve read all the posts in the forum, and the 7’ seems a popular choice among Fatty Knees/BCC owners. Most posts deal with storage of the boat, but what I’d like to know is how satisfied people are with the 7’s size, stability, and it’s cargo capacity.

Is it a dingy you’d recommend?

Warren: Hi!

I’ve not used a Fatty Knees dinghy. I have maximmum respect for any design by Lyle Hess, which includes the Fatty Knees.

I have used the Cherub dinghy, designed by Roger Olson to fit on a Sam L Morse Co BCC. During his years of cruising, Roger had used several dinghies. And designed the Cherub to avoid the shortcomings of other designs while fitting perfectly onto a BCC. A healthy adult can row a Cherub, with one passenger, at 4 knots water speed (on Zygote, we only bought an outboard after finding that we could not row to our destination against a 7 knot current).

I’m unclear as to who now has the moulds for the Cherub. And the number on the market is probably very close to zero.

For what it’s worth, here are some of the Cherub specs (for your comparison with those of a 7’ Fatty Knees):

Fiberglass Lapstrake hull with in-turning flange.
Length: 7’ 4" Beam - 4’ 4"
Weight: Approximately 85 pounds without seats
Maximum engine size: 3 HP
Safe Load Carrying Capacity: 429 pounds * Maximum Person Carrying Capacity -397 pounds
Maximum Number of Persons: 3
Basic Floatation: Supports 2/15 of Person Capacity and 25% of Load Capacity.

Big selling points:

  • More carrying capacity aft.
  • Capable of rowing against a windy chop, even when loaded with supplies or additional anchors.
  • Sails well for exploring after setting the mother boat’s anchor.
  • Durable closed cell urethane coated foam rubrail available in different colors provides additional floatation at the sheer to help prevent capsize if swamped.
  • All the seats are easily removable for sailing or storing the dinghy upside down over a hatch on deck.
  • Two sets of oar-locks allow the boat to be rowed from three different positions, depending on the size and location of the load.



Hi, I’m new to this forum. Cape George Marine Works has a Cherub mold.


Hi Warren,
The 7’ Fatty Knees has been Shaula’s only dinghy for over 25 yrs. Like everything on a boat, there’s plusses and minuses. Since it’s been the only dinghy we’ve used on Shaula, I can’t compare it with other dinghies except in a general way.

The big decision to make is inflatable vs hard dinghy. Although inflatables have a greater cargo capacity, we’ve found the FK to be adequate for carrying 2 average adults and all the groceries they can carry from the grocery store a mile away. We’ve had a 3rd adult aboard if the sea conditions are mild, but we only tried 4 once because water came in through the plug.

We enjoy rowing the FK, especially by ourselves. With a passenger, the transom drags a bit, and that slows the FK down a bit. I added a 2nd rowing position, but we don’t use it except when there’s 3 aboard. We have a 2.5 hp Tohatsu that is all that’s needed to get places where rowing is hard work (against wind or current or longer distances).

Snorkeling from the 7’ FK is a challenge but can be done. One of us hangs on one side while the other one scrambles in from the other side. If the OB isn’t on the transom, I’ve climbed in over the transom when Alice wasn’t there to balance things.

The ease of launching or retrieving a small hard dink, compared to the hassle of either towing an inflatable, or inflating and deflating it, is a big plus in our opinion.

We’ve enjoyed sailing the FK, but must confess that it’s been a number of years… In fact, the plug has teredo worms and I need to pound it out and build a new one (it’s on the list).

We stow the FK on the cabin top, bow aft, and that has worked fine. Most BCC’s seem to stow it bow forward, so either way works. A bridle with a boat pole works great for launching and retrieving, singlehanded.

Dan sv Shaula BCC #58 (1981)

I have Cherub Hull #1. It fits perfectly over the scuttle hatch. The bow rests up
against the back of the sampson posts and the stern rests about 2 inches in front of
the propane boxes on either side of the mast.

I’ve had three adults aboard (including me), so weight capacity is pretty good. I
can’t comment on the Fatty Knees, but my Cherub has led a hard life but nevertheless
has held up well over the years.

You can’t go wrong with a Cherub, if you can manage to find a used one or have one

Mark Gearhart
s/v Godspeed

Be sure to look at the 8’ Trinka before you buy.

I looked into getting a Cherub hull shipped to me from Cape George last winter but the shipping was just too costly to get it to Maine. A freind had plans for the dingy “Tender Behind” by John Welsford that he bought through Duckworks Boat Building Supply. He has almost finished building it, it will fit over the scuttle hatch. It is another option to check out at least.

The FK7 has proved very excellent on my trip so far. However, the teak floor has split/broken in numerous places. So the floor is uneven. Seems to be built too thin/weak for real everyday station wagon type use. Stowage on cabin house has been easy. Launching/retrieving singlehanded isn’t too difficult either…practice makes perfect!

I did have the pleasure of flipping the FK the other day, fully laden with a dead group 31, oars/oarlocks, chain/lock, 3.5 outboard on transom & 2 Dahon folding bikes. I was loading the 2nd bike aboard, and lost my balance due to the uneven flooring. Yes, I did have the dink overloaded, I know that… but without the flooring issue, I think she would have been Ok for a short trip with that much Cargo. Kinda sucks, lost both bikes in 30’ water and divers could not recover them.

Anyways, hard to say without knowing both dinks intimately… but so it seems owners all like their dinks, and we all recognize their shortcomings. No dink is a perfect solution I suppose.

Oh Ben…you sure are the envelope pusher! Sorry to hear of the about the loss of the bikes…damn! what is a “dead group 31”?? What’s the story on your engine problem?

Our early 1982 version of the FK7 doesn’t have an any flooring. I’ve had to bail out the dink after a downpore, sometimes several times during the day or night, (in the tropics and even here in the Pacific NW!), MANY times over the years! Bailing must be easier without flooring? OK, we could have flipped it back on the cabin top…

I’ve bolted some brass (and then copper when the brass wore out) to the keel to reduce wear. I’ve also bolted 2 hardwood strips (about 3’X5/16"X5/16") on each side for the same reason.



He means a dead group 31 battery; The Little Starting Battery that Couldn’t!

I do want to know how you were unable to get your bikes back up. Were you unable to locate them, or could you not figure a way to get them back up?



Did you try dragging with some sort of hook? I would think that a bike would offer enough spaces for a grapple to hook into that you could probably find them. If not that, then a powerful magnet, if you have a steel-framed Dahon. (I’m not sure if they are all Al framed.)

If you want to think about building one, but the Tender Behind is a bit small, check out Welsford’s “Sherpa” design. Sherpa

Hi Warren , my BCC came with a 7’ Fatty Knees. I tried the sailing rig in Newport Beach Harbor, and had to row home.

At first the breeze was about 12-15 k and sailing was good , but as the afternoon progressed, wind piped up to 20 k , and since there were no reef points in the sail, I got caught on a lee shore and couldn’t beat off, until I dropped the sail and rowed away.

I really don’t like to use an outboard, being more of a kayaker and rower.

Long time ago I read an article in a sailing mag , about how Lyle got the idea to design a FK . I would very much like a copy of that article, if anyone has it.

Lyle told the interviewer that he was in Morro Bay , CA, and watched a sailor try to row his dinghy from shore back out to his boat anchored in the channel.

The windy conditions and current running against the wind, created a v difficult time for this sailor to get back to his boat.

Lyle said he decided right then, that a better dinghy was needed for conditions like that. He then designed the FK .

I spent quite some time getting wet, turning the dink over in the water, climbing back in, and bailing it out, scuba diving from it , climbing over the transom both exiting and entering, without much trouble, so much so, I felt comfortable in converting it into a life boat , instead of buying a life raft.

L & L have an 8’ FK, and like it so much, they purchased a spare.

Roger , after , many ocean cruising miles and days , too wanted a better dinghy and designed the Cherub .

If I were to be looking for an inflatable dinghy , I would choose a Tinker Tramp .

Mostly I have been using a 3 piece sit-on-top 12’ sea kayak, for my dinghy.

Try to learn everything about dinghy’s , before you put your money down, and try them out first, if you can .


Thanks to everyone for their comments. I’m sold on the boat, but being in Japan means not getting any hands-on time and so having to bring one in from abroad. High total costs have come into play and I’m now considering this decision very carefully. I’ve been fortunate to find a seller in Maryland who’ll crate the FK and send it over.

The problem is there are no real options here for a hard shell, except for the Walker Bay 8 kit which I’ve heard is a good boat, if you don’t mind plastic.

Thanks again.

Hello Guys - It’s getting pretty hot here, so while the season’s starting up for most of you, only a few of us will be out through the summer.

Time for projects !

I am lucky enough to have access to a fibreglass workshop, and need some plans for a dinghy that will work with the BCC.
Would it be possible to buy plans for the Cherub from somewhere?

I’m really too far away to buy one and have it sent over.

Try contacting Todd Ueker at Cape George ( - I think he has the plans, but is too busy to consider building dingies.

Thanks John - I’ve sent a request to Todd.

Todd is building a modified Cherub for Anita Rock. I wanted to sail it and has a centerboard not the lee boards of Roger’s design. Further we eliminated the double bottom but increased the transom and bow floatation. It is designed to fit over the forward hatch not on cabin top. Will let you know how it rows and sails hopefully soon.

nathaniel berkowitz, sausalito california

tel: 415 331 3314 fax: 415 331 1854

— On Mon, 5/31/10, BCC Forums wrote:

From: BCC Forums
Subject: [BCC Forum Post] John Cole: Re: The Fatty Knees 7’ Dingy
Date: Monday, May 31, 2010, 4:41 AM

Author: John Cole
Username: John Cole
Subject: Re: The Fatty Knees 7’ Dingy
Forum: BCC Forum

Try contacting Todd Ueker at Cape George ( - I think he has the plans, but is too busy to consider building dingies.

Cherrub v. Fatty Knees:
I am an owner of both a Cherrub and a FattyKnees dinghy. We used the Cherrub for years then a deal on a used Fattyknees came along that could not be passed up.
My son and I have sailed against each other on each boat and my conclusions assuming that you ignore his claims as a better sailor are that they are pretty much matched downwind, but that the FK has a slight advantage up wind.
In terms of cruising, the Cherrub is a “truck”. With no center board trunk and a higher sheer. The Cherrub can really be loaded down. As they sit side by side, the lower cut of the sheer on the FK makes it the sexier looking boat. In addition, the FK is much lighter to lift on deck. However, the Cherrub is designed to sit over the forward hatch and rests on the deck while the FK back seat rests on the forward hatch if put in the same fordeck position.
Both boats are harder to get into from the water than an inflatable. However, Roger tied a series of small fenders to the sides of his Cherrub and made it nearly as stable as an inflatable.
Life and dinghies are all a series of trade offs. Either one will work, both will take up space and weight on the BCC, but neither needs to be inflated in order to work. Both, but especially the Cherrub are fun to row and have a substantial feel to them.
Hope this helps.
BCC Odyssey

PS My wife says that I need to sell one or the other, but alas, just like the BCC owner who can not decide which one to buy, I can’t decide which one to sell. Maybe the answer is one of each and an inflatable!!!

Wayne, you stored both dinghys on the foredeck?

I like my FK. It is small, as we know. But it does launch and stow easily - I do it alone all the time. I like it on the cabin top despite the visibility issue, because I like the open foredeck… with hank on sails, I am up forward alot more then those with roller furl.

I’d love to see a Cherub in person and compare… lucky you Wayne!

One boat at a time on board, but we have had them side by side at the slip. Fun to compare.