Minto Stories  
  Since I started building the Minto Sailing Dinghy in 2005 many current and former Minto owners have told me their "Minto Story". I have so thoroughly enjoyed hearing these stories I thought others would as well. So if you have a story about the Minto Sailing Dinghy send it to me as an email message at with your name and phone number. If it passes the "fit for family" test I will post it on this page.  
    From: Guy Harper, Seattle 2-7-07    

In 1965 I was the founding Commodore of the Three Tree Point Yacht Club. At the Boat Show that year, was a fellow named Smitty showing a wonderful fiberglass dingy called the MINTO. We were fascinated with this beautiful little boat and bought it right then and there from the floor of the boat show. The sail number was 300 and cost $700.00.

We began taking it on our club cruises and very soon other members began buying Mintos. At one time, our club was very proud to have sail numbers 300, 400, 500, 600 and 700! It just happened that way and Smitty was willing to go along with the sail number game by advising us when the next number would be available. One of our members even had John Erlichman's Minto hull 3 in our fleet at one time. Today, I understand there may be as many as 20 Mintos in our club.

Minto 300 was a lot of fun. We had a sculling notch on the transom which we used all the time in addition to the spinnaker which had a huge daisy in the center. In the later years, we had the Minto hanging from davits on our Force 50. It was a great storage area for fenders, crab pots, etc. and then to ghost sail around the various harbors in which we were moored.

Three of our kids grew up with MINTO 300 and it served the purpose very well. It was sold recently and is still in perfect condition, complete with a spinnaker with a daisy and the words, "Have a nice day!"

    Editorial Note: Using the Consumer Price Index the $700 in 1965 dollars would be over $4,400 in 2007 dollars.    
    From: John Chille, Alameda, CA 2-7-07    

It's as lazy as a Sunday on the Oakland Estuary can get when the temperature on the water is in the nineties. Tomorrow is Labor Day (2004) and the "official" end of summer. But today winter seems a million miles away as I'm lazily sailing my 9-foot fiberglass lapstrake cat-rigged Minto dinghy on a near dead run, tan-bark sail (distinctive, high visibility) far out on the port side (starboard tack) towards home. The hot sun, even at about five in the afternoon makes the sailing as mellow as it gets...then I'm underwater! I break the surface in shock but instinctively grab a hold of the overturned dinghy transom and am surprised to get her swamped hull upright and I start bailing with the attached scoop. A large sloop, "Kiaimakani 2", approaches under power and asks if I need any help. I respond with a very vocal yes! David and Janet Hinojosa, from Encinal Yacht Club lower their transom ladder and with all the efficiency of "the best bilge pump in the world" (a scared man with a good bucket) David gets the dink nearly dry of water in less than a minute then asks me if I'm able to climb up the ladder. I do and am on deck when a Bavaria 42-footer fiberglass sloop, sails covered and under power, the boat that ran me down, comes alongside, the male skipper not saying a word, his woman crew repeating "they are so sorry" and hands me a scrap of paper with his & her names and a phone number. They cast off and headed immediately to their marina. After checking, "Kiaimakani 2" proceeds toward the Oakland Yacht Club, the dinghy with rudder and dagger-board still attached slewing wildly astern. The good skipper slows to keep the tow under control and reviews what is now obvious to me; that the offending crew was not maintaining a proper watch and at five or six knots plowed into my starboard quarter rail, casting the dingy and me to leeward in a full capsize. Thankful that my right arm was not casually draped over the windward rail as I often do for I doubt I'd ever play mandolin again. My shirt still shows a large black smudge from their bottom paint but my broken ribs and that of my stout little dinghy will heal.

Lessons learned: If I had been wearing a proper life vest it could have saved my ribs that slammed into the port gunwale as I was violently thrown to leeward. It would have kept me buoyant instead of trying to tread water. Holding onto the dinghy transom would not last long if I had been more seriously injured. A bridle "stirrup", draped over the transom could have helped me get back into the dinghy. Final lesson: Don't assume anyone else knows the rules of the waterways or maintains a proper watch forward. I have purchased a parabolic "rear-view" mirror to mount on my mast!

    From: Margaret Van Leuven Reyhner, Tacoma 2-9-07    

My identical twin, Marla, and I grew up on boats. Our parents belonged to the Tacoma Yacht Club from the time we were five years old. Our dad was a principal and our mom was a teacher, so in the summers we would go up north on the boat for four to six weeks. Marla and I graduated from Franklin Pierce High School in 1964. We were on our way to Western Washington College in September. We chose Western because it was on the water, and it had sailboats on Lake Whatcom. Our parents gave us each $100 for graduation to buy clothes for college. Instead, we convinced our dad to go half with us, and we bought our Minto (R74) sailing dinghy from Ranger. We must have learned about Mintos from the sailors at the yacht club. We had an informal junior yacht club, and the sailors took us out on sailboat races as crew. That summer we took the Minto as the dinghy on our boat, MarMar III. We anchored at an island near Saddlebag, maybe Huckleberry. A friend we were cruising with had been a sailor, and I remember him helping us figure out how to put up the mast and rig the sailboat. When it was completely rigged, the two of us started out in the boat without any idea of what we were doing. We had some flying jibes that were complete surprises to us. I'm not sure that we understood about the wind getting behind the sail. We had some very "strong discussions" with each other about what and how we should be sailing while we were in the Minto. Our parents commented how well we got along that summer. Maybe it was because we were maturing or more probably because we did all of our arguing in the dinghy. When we went to Western, we joined the sailing club and had many wonderful experiences learning how to really sail and race.

When my twin boated on the Columbia River in Portland with her husband, she wanted the Minto. I found another Minto for sale that I paid half for, so that she could have a Minto on their boat. Sadly, my twin died nine years ago, and when her husband sold their boat, that Minto went with it. My mom and dad kept our Minto as their dinghy. They are both gone now, and I am now the keeper of the Minto. My husband and I have a boat, but we have a Zodiac on the back of it. At the present time the Minto is in our garage lovingly covered with plastic so that it doesn't get dirty. I have plans to eventually put it in the front of our boathouse at the Tacoma Yacht Club where I can get it out and once again sail in it. I have so many wonderful memories with that boat. I will always have it. My heirs are going to have to figure out what to do with it.

    From: Michael Ellis, Port Orchard 2-9-07    

Although I have had my Minto for 25 years, and it has been used for sailing, rowing, fishing, crabbing, and even crawdad catching, the two most memorable experiences were associated with Minto racing. The first was at the Gig Harbor Maritime Festival in 2005. I had participated in my first dinghy race the week prior, and had at least learned to be near the starting line at the beginning of the race if you wanted to be regarded as being in the race. I also had learned who knew the Gig Harbor wind and currents so my plan was to follow their lead. Somewhere between the starting line and the windward mark they got favorable wind and current and I didn't. After over an hour of trying and finally rounding the mark I received a rousing cheer from the patrons of the Tides Tavern, where my wife, daughter and friends had been patiently waiting. Since everyone else had already crossed the finish line, the race committee picked up the mark as soon as I cleared it and wanted to know if I intended to finish. I decided to save them some time by lowering my sail and rowing to the Tides to join my family, and by now apparently some fans, for a beer.

My second memorable experience was at the 2005 Minto Mingle, hosted by the Three Tree Point Yacht Club. After taking a last and next to last in my first two heats, I made a tactical decision at the start of my third race that drastically changed my status as a Minto racer. When everyone else had started to starboard, I had started to port and was in first place rounding the windward mark. On the downwind leg I lifted my daggerboard encouraging the effect of a gradually increasing lead. I was so excited as I rounded the downwind mark still in first place, and with just a short windward run to the finish line, my knees were shaking. But to my dismay, my lead quickly disappeared and before I realized my mistake I had dropped to third. You probably already noticed I didn't mention putting the daggerboard back down. So many things to remember.

    August 2007 48North Article: "2007 Minto Mingle"    

Some think it was the 29th year, and some think it was the 35th. Regardless of who is correct, this year's Three Tree Point Yacht Club's June 23rd Minto Mingle in Quartermaster Harbor successfully upheld the lengthy tradition of being a lot of fun. About the only rule discussed at the pre-race meeting was the penalty for making contact with the race course buoys and other boats. Oh yes, and pulling out an opponent's rudder was also not allowed.

For those unfamiliar with the 9 foot Minto sailing dinghy, it was originally built by Ed Hoppen at his EDDON Boat Yard in Gig Harbor in the early 1960's, and then by Howard "Smitty" Smith at Ranger Boats in Kent, WA from the mid 1960's to the late 1990's. With over 1200 produced during the past 45 years it is a common site in most NW marinas, due to its popularity as a yacht tender and sailing dinghy. The Minto excels as a rowboat, and is a surprisingly nimble sailboat. It can safely carry three full size adults as a rowboat, but as a sailboat its capacity is basically one adult, or one adult and a child. The Minto is currently produced by Rich Passage Boats, LLC in Port Orchard and can be seen at

The original event, dubbed the "Minto Mingle Dinghy Thingy", started shortly after the 1965 formation of the TTPYC. Several of the initial TTPYC members happened to own either an EDDON or a Ranger Minto sailing dinghy. As a group of serious sailboat racers as well as being serious about having a good time, the original Minto Mingle probably occurred about 1971 and was intended to be a relaxed theme cruise as a break from their usual competitive races. It wasn't long however, before every means of gaining a competitive edge was thrown into their efforts to win the race, from supersized roaches to spinnakers.

It even evolved to include a Minto beauty pageant, the "Concourse De Elegance", where TTPYC members competed on the dock as well as on the water. According to Ron Moblo, this year's race winner and long time Minto Mingle organizer, "It all just happened to start with decorating our boats with stuff we had on hand on our big boats, but soon escalated to bringing cardboard cut outs and decorations from home. Some very clever ideas evolved and it became a real contest with judging and prizes. But we eventually ran out of ideas and time. It took too much time and effort to derig the Minto's and line them up on the dock so the tradition kind of died. We did it for about 6 years in a row."

Among the early Minto owners was Guy Harper, the first TTPYC Commodore. His interest in the Minto and his role with TTPYC played a significant part in the relationship between the Minto and TTPYC. According to Guy, "We began taking it on our club cruises and very soon other members began buying Mintos. At one time, our club was very proud to have sail numbers 300, 400, 500, 600 and 700. It just happened that way and Smitty (the owner of Ranger) was willing to go along with the sail number game by advising us when the next number would be available. One of our members even had John Erlichman's (of Nixon White House fame) Ranger Minto hull number 3 in our fleet at one time. Today, I understand there may be as many as 20 Mintos in our club." Another early TTPYC Commordore, Frank Schriver, was also a Minto owner. With many years of boating behind him, he mentioned with noticeable pride he was the first participant to win the Minto Mingle two years in a row, while giving up a significant weight advantage to lighter sailors.

Although race result records only go back to 1979 (the source of the 29th or 35th year confusion), the following history was provided by Ron Moblo, "I did some research on the Minto Mingle. I joined the club in 1988 and Guy joined in 1965. According to our roster of members and awards, the Minto Mingle trophy started in 1979 so this was our 29th event. I have no idea how many informal races were run before that, but we can document 29. There is a big perpetual trophy housed at Anthony's Homeport restaurant in the Des Moines Marina. I have won 6 times, Scott Wilson 8 times, Ray Hamlyn 3 times, with Dean Conti, Vern Day, and Frank Schriver at 2 times each. Since 1997 it has been Scott or me winning. Its time for some new blood to win this thing." Frank Schriver also gave specific acknowledgement to Ron for his efforts to standardize the races with a specific sail size, and even an attempt to come up with a handicapping system to mitigate the weight advantages of lighter sailors. Judging by the number of Minto Mingle races Ron has won, the effort he put into the unsuccessful handicapping scheme would have to be questioned.

Which brings us back to this year's Minto Mingle. Although Ron won the race for the 6th time the final results were far from obvious as the race began. As usual, there were more Minto Mingle participants than Minto's. This year the fleet was 10, which is about average, but there were 15 sailors signed up to race. So the first heat consisted of Minto owners, with the top 5 finishers qualifying for the third and championship heat, while giving up their boats for the non-Minto owners in the second heat. Somehow Ron didn't finish in the top 5 in the owner's heat, thereby getting to sail in all three heats. This appears a little suspicious doesn't it? Suffice it to say, Ron did finish in the top 5 of the second heat, qualifying for the final, which he won quite handily. Scott Wilson finished second, Steve Sisson took third and Susan Moblo finished fourth. The author did qualify for the championship heat but he is not saying where he finished.

One notable aspect of this year's Minto Mingle was the presence of members of the West Seattle Yacht Club. One of their members bought a used Minto this last spring, and decided to check out the Minto Mingle. Judging from the enthusiasm and competitive nature of the WSYC participants there might just be a rivalry brewing between TTPYC and WSYC for Minto dominance. The Minto Mingle traditionally occurs the last weekend of June at Dockton Marine Park on Vashon Island (technically Maury Island for those NW geographic astute readers). You do not have to be a TTPYC member to participate. A short video of this year's Minto Mingle can be seen on YouTube Minto Mingle 2007

Another aspect of this year's Minto Mingle worthy of note was the participation of EDDON Minto number 6, one of the first five Minto's built. Going back into the Minto history a little, the initial intent of the original Minto owners and their collaboration with Ed Hoppen was to have a pretty little sailing dinghy for their personal use, with little or no anticipation of its future commercial success. EDDON Minto number one didn't made it successfully from the mold and was destroyed, so number 6 is actually the fifth Minto. Even though it is about 45 years old, number 6 had no problem keeping up with its younger siblings and cousins.

    From: Buz Branch 2/12/08    

I first laid eyes on our '76 Minto about 12 years ago, overturned on the dock at St Helens Marina, Oregon. My brother had invited my two young daughters and I to cruise up to Barkley Sound, BC aboard T'GILLI, his Down East 38. At that time I was buying/restoring sailboats and had a strange fascination with this particular sailing dingy. I told him if she ever came up for sail to let me know. A year later she was ours.

Ever since, our WINKY WHALER has trailed along behind our C&C 29 DOUBLOON on our annual five week cruise in The Sea of Cortez. She has been the envy of every cruiser we met as we explored the back waters and islets near the anchorages while the bigger boats stayed put. My wife and I had a habit of going for an early morning sail with our coffee while the girls slept in. A number of times we would sail along with a pod of dolphins all around close enough to reach out and touch. One time we were anchored up in the Midriff Islands of the northern sea and about six or eight big grey whales were feeding all around for days. My oldest daughter and I sailed WINKY in hopes of getting a good picture when one really big 50 footer surfaced and literally washed us to the side. That's the day WINKY became WINKY WHALER.

My girls are both excellent sailors from countless hours at the helm of our WINKY WHALER Although grown now, it's something they do with the "boyfriends" that now cruise with us.

About 6 years ago I fashioned a teak bow sprit and added a jib sail. Wow!! What a performance sailor now! This is all removable and a clean design that all fits in the sailing kit bag. The sprit fits without having to so much as drill any holes or make any modifications to the original hull. Just a longer fore stay.

Over the years I raved so much about this little sailing dingy that my brother finally found a Minto for himself. Once again there is a pretty little sailing dingy overturned on the dock at St. Helens Marina only this one is NOT FOR SALE.

    Minto Mingle 2008
by Michael Ellis

What do you get when eighteen Minto's show up June 20-22 at Dockton Park on Quartermaster Harbor for the thirty something annual Three Tree Point Yacht Club's Minto Mingle? Not much wind, but a lot of fun.

Although the Minto Mingle "Dinghy Thingy" has been a long time TTPYC tradition, starting in the early 1970's shortly after TTPCY was formed, by opening participation up to all Minto lovers it is becoming the quintessential "Minto Fest". With nine participants from the TTPYC and the other nine being non-members, the popularity of the event is experiencing a resurgence. Mostly for the racing, but perhaps partially due to the cultural aspects as well. The Mingle commenced Friday night with a "blind" wine tasting party. Twenty nine tasters and sixteen bottles of wine. Racing didn't start until noon on Saturday. One tasted suspiciously like grape juice. We were told the original contents didn't make it all the way from Gig Harbor to Dockton. Oh yes, we also had a sumptuous pot luck Saturday night on the dock, and so I am told there were poetry reading competitions afterwards. Somehow I missed the poetry part.

The first "all comers" heat on Saturday had fourteen boats competing in very light winds. That was followed by two flights of seven boats racing two heats each, however before those were completed four more Minto's showed up from Lake Union via the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks. So the fleet was shuffled again to include them in the fun. Although the racing was exciting to the participants, probably the most exciting visual for those on the dock was Susan Moblo's boom catching Peter Gelinas's bow stay while maneuvering for the start and proceeding to pull Pete's boat over. Peter swam to shore while Susan doused her sail and watched the author of this story record his one and only first place finish.

The "winner take all" championship race was held on Sunday and included all participating Minto's. Again it was extremely light winds and after successfully avoiding Susan Moblo at the start, Pete took the lead with his new super mylar sail and never relinquished it. Pete took first (he gets his name on the perpetual trophy kept at the Des Moines Anthony's), Ron Moblo second, Susan Moblo third and the author took fourth. But in truth, all eighteen participants were winners.

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