Sep 18, 2001 10:12 am

I have a 10 foot West Marine inflatable, the sort that has the high 
pressure floor, and an 8 Hp Nissan.

The thing will go on a plane with two adults and a kid, or one adult and 3 
kids. Any more weight and she won't plane. With cruising two months/year, 
and living aboard here in Baltimore, we use the dink a lot, and planing is 
really important to increase our range. Also, it's a big entertainment 
thing for the kids. They love to zoom around in it.

The West dingy is 4 yrs old now, and has seen a tough life, being in the 
water almost year round. I'd guess there's another year or two of life in 
it. It will roll up and fits in the V-berth, eating up one side of that. 
However, it's a real pain to stow it and pump it up, so we only do that for 
ocean sailing.

A good friend bought the same dink and is happy with it. However, he got a 
little too close to coral with it and tore major holes in it. It repaired 
OK. I've put a couple of big and small holes in mine; the repairs worked 
out well. These things are easy to tear and puncture, so you've got to be 

It tows great; I've towed it in 10 foot seas across the Anegada Passage 
(with the motor removed). It will race up and pass the boat from time to 
time, but without a problem.

In very high winds it will flip while towing. Crossing the Albermarle Sound 
in 40-50 knots last year we had some problems.

However, if doing it again, I'd get a RIB (the kind with the hard floor and 
inflatable tubes). That will be dryer; the current dink does tend to 
collect water under the high pressure floor that's a nuisance to get rid 
of.  A RIB will tow better and plane better, and is better for carrying 
gear. While tossing conch into the dink last year we found their sharp 
shells sometimes puncture the floor. No such problem with a RIB. I wind up 
carrying a lot of gear (Scuba, tools, groceries, etc) and would prefer 
something dryer and more rigid.

I'm planning to borrow a friend's RIB to see if it will stow between the 
dodger and the main mast (with the tubes deflated).

The Nissan has been fantastic. It has been dunked three times and still 
runs great. Years of life left in it. Next time I'd be tempted to get a 9.9 
Hp for better planning with more people. Using the mizzen boom as a crane 
means the engine weight really isn't an issue. Working alone it takes me 
just a couple of minutes to move the engine from the stern pulpit to the 
dink or back. I had one of those funny black webbing engine straps from 
West, which was a pain. It falls off, covers the water exhaust hose, etc. I 
replaced that with a 1/4" nylon line with small eyes spliced in each end. 
Very cheap and works great.

A friend here with a 9.9 four stroke Honda is very unhappy with the thing. 
It fails repeatedly and he claims it's all but unserviceable.

Sep 18, 2001 11:45 am

In Florida due to the sun's strong rays we find the Achilles SPD4Fl with
the curved up bow has an acceptable performance.  Our last one we
purchased used, at that time it was four years old and had been used for
scuba diving. We used it another ten years before selling it to friends
who are still using it. We purchased another used Achilles, same size and
type which is about 11' long. We store it inflated upside down bow
forward on the coach roof and secured to the wooden hand rails during
settled conditions and use a webbed strap with winch during unsettled
conditions across the bottom of the dingy. After anchoring we simply
attach the main and mizzen halyards fore and aft on the dingy, take up on
the halyards, flip the dingy over and launch it. Place the fuel tank,
emergency gear, engine, and 8hp Yanmar 2 cycle on and take off. With two
people and gear it will plan nicely. It has a wooden floor which in my
opinion is the only set back because of its weight. In breaking seas of 3
foot you will get very wet going to weather as the top of the seas blow
off and of course your right in their path. The fabric we keep covered
with material similar to that which one uses to protect sail material
which keeps the harmful rays of the sun from damaging the material.

A few extra notes:

We found that we can heave too with the dingy aft of the main mast, but
not stored on the forward deck, to much windage will prevent you from
heaving too.

We found that we can leave the main hatch on the coach roof open in the
worst of weather with out taking any seas below as the dingy prevents any
from getting below, that a plus keeping below cool and ventilated in
adverse weather.

As we sail in the Gulf of Mexico with its reputation for square waves we
know of many sailors that have lost their dingys towing them at night and
were unable to retrieve them in rough conditions. That is why we prefer
storing on the coach roof.

Another plus is it fouls the thief who wants to steal the dingy.

Date: Tue Sep 18, 2001 9:34 am

Somehow at some time or another the dinghy debate seems to arise for every sailor.

My friend Tom may have actually solved the problem. His answer is called the Armada.

Two kayaks grace the deck space on his Hans Christian to satisfy those outbreaks of adventurous exploration. His daughter's Walker Bay sailing dink has its place of grace on the port side aft towing bit. The family dog is 95 pounds and must be taken ashore a few times per day for normal ablutions and her taxi is the venerable 8 foot Dyher that tethers to the starboard bit. The West Marine inflatable seems to have found a home in the cockpit locker awaiting the ambitious project of removal and inflating, finding the vestigial oars and hoisting the outboard from it's regal perch on the massive pushpit rail of the Hans.

Still, he laments, he wishes he had something like my old 12 foot Tortola Dinghy that I had used when living in the BVI for basic commuting and toting back & forth from Sea Quill.

Unfortunately, I seem to have to remind him frequently that the Hydro-Lift needed to launch and recover the truly utilitarian tender, the 13 foot Boston Whaler, may indeed require the removal of his main mast.

With the levity aside I have broached the question recently and seem to have attained the most acceptable compromise.

Three, production, hard dinghies are manufactured with approximately 7.0 foot LOA. This dimension allows deck mounting between the mast and my dodger for offshore transportation. Towing when conditions allow is generally a more tame experience with hard dinghies over inflatables in my experience. But the Dinghy-Tow system seems to actually be an answer that is based on more sensible and safe management of space and friction for the longer coastal jaunt. With this method a substantially larger dink may be easily towed, even with the outboard mounted. It allows for lowering and boarding within minutes and with the mizzen halyard actually allows the dink to be raised to an inglorious vertical position should someone see a need for this.

Sep 18, 2001 11:29 am

I've been searching for an inflatable too. I have not made a purchase yet but have decided on what I'm going to buy. I've chosen the 9 foot Avon RIB with the fiberglass bottom. The Avon is made of hypalon which will far outlast PVC. The sun doesn't destroy it as quicky and it carries a 10 year warranty as opposed to the PVC warranty of 5 years.

I like the idea of an inflatable because you don't have to worry about banging your boat with it everytime you come alongside. No more scars! In addition, the fiberglass hull will track straighter and be much more resistent to punctures and hard knocks from inside and out. The Avon RIB will cost quite a bit more, but if you're a serious sailor who will use it for it's lifetime, I think you'll come out ahead.

To figure the annual cost of the Avon hypalon as opposed to say, a Zodiac PVC, take the total cost of the boat and divide by it's useful life (10 years for Avon and 5 years for PVC Zodiac).

Good luck in your search!

Sep 21, 2001 9:45 pm

Whatever you do, do not buy the Portaboat from Alaska. It is very smart, and holds well along the rail, BUT it does not tow, playing submarine in any sort of swell and fast speed, which typically go together on our swift heavy boats...

Sep 21, 2001 10:10 pm

I had a Fold-Boat many years ago and found out about their errant tendencies the hard way. I still resides at the bottom of Buzzards Bay I think.

One of the more pressing issues of dinghy selection for me must be consideration of my deteriorating spine. I have had reconstructive surgery now 7 times and any lifting or gymnastics assuredly cause me discomfort.

I do love the RIB's for all of the right reasons. Durable, fast, dry, high-load capacity, tow-ability and quiet alongside. BUT! they are heavy, ungainly and difficult for me to launch as a single-hander! Shorter waterline versions have a hard time getting up on plane unless the weight is transferred all the way forward. Lastly, the one version that fits on deck takes away all of the "dance floor" from going forward. I do agree that the Hypalon material is far more impervious to the sun and abrasion that the PVC.

My tendency for the proposed new voyages will be an inflatable with the inflatable floor and my 2 HP Yamaha only as they can be stowed in the cockpit locker for offshore service. The Dinghy Tow system can be used with it for the more protected waters and shorter trips to save the intermidable preparation to use it, lift it and stow it. But I admit I do love rowing and rubber duckies just don't row!

Sep 22, 2001 8:33 am

I have an Achilles besides the Portaboat, but have not figured yet how to put my Seagull on its round transom... Have you considered an Optimist? there are some small dinghies coming out which can sail, row and use a 2-3HP.

Sep 22, 2001 9:23 am

The Achilles must be some years old. The last one I had, about 8 foot, (disappeared from tethered astern early one morning when a French flagged yacht of some local ill repute had made an earlier departure for down-island) had been part of the equipment I inherited from Gerry Smith. It had a wooden transom and three wooden floor boards, the Sea Gull too. I found it skittish and extremely difficult to set the floorboards properly while searching workspace on deck.

While in Toronto last year,` I visited the shop of a fellow who occasionally advertises in Cruising World, Boatex, www.boatshowcom/boatex/html and was quite impressed with his 7 foot 2 inch tender, also 8 & 10 foot. He makes each as a sailing model as well as the standard. Several things intrigued me. Not only was it fairly light but it was built with a bonded inner shell for strength. The coaming was part of the stiffener shell and raised a couple of inches above the hull mold and cambered down and outward. A jaunty sheer line, wide, flat bilge sections, sensible seats, floatation and several cruising options showed not only great thought but very attractive compliments to a traditional yacht.

Only two men work in this tiny little shop, not much bigger than a three car garage but it was very obvious to see their dedication to quality. With the few options I feel I require; the stainless keel strip, raised oarlock receivers, gelcoat and boot stripe to ,match Sea Quill's pale blue hull and Royal blue cove stripe and the oar receivers (securely stow the oars under tow) Roger quoted about $1000 US, delivered to me at a rest-stop on Rte 95, duty free, oars & row locks included.

I do suspect that I will try to get on their production run for the spring.

Sep 22, 2001 10:31 am

Has anyone had any experience with a nesting dinghy.I know there is a design out there (maybe by Bolger) for such a dinghy.

Also I have thought it would be nice to have a kayak with an outriger (detachable) for use as a dinghy but I have never seen one advertised. Would any of the group comment on these suggestions.

Sep 22, 2001 10:55 am

Your link didn't do the job. Here's one I took of the URL line when i found it

I just saw row, tow and sail and I'm intrigued. Going back to take a closer look. now. Still haven't heard from anyone on davits. The overhanging mizzen boom seems to be a problem. Has anyone thought of attaching the traveler to the davits? (Rube Goldberg and I are buddies from way back.)

Sat Sep 22, 2001 12:45 pm

The other dink(s) I was very impressed with comes at a fairly dear price, the address shows a very impressive but expensive alternative.

I have investigated the davits idea pretty thoroughly for some time now. No factory davit quite satisfies all requirements for mounting, clearance, mechanical advantage or adequate access when operating. Without a significant raise in the mizzen gooseneck the boom creates a problem no matter how it is viewed. The loss of sightlines to the horizon and traffic aft is total. The cantilevered weight of the davits combined with the weight of the average dink is tremendous. One CSY 33 I am aware of hoisted the dinghy up on the davit and forgot to pull the drain plug from the dink. A normal but furious Caribbean rain squall filled the dink enough in only minutes and the added water weight tore out all of the fastenings for the davit.

My calculations at one point indicated raising the waterline aft to accommodate increased, cantilevered load aft of the actual water line, not the transom, was an inch and a half minimum. This combined with understanding of the predictable, negative effect upon the sailing characteristics to be remarkable, I rejected the idea immediately.

The Dinghy Tow system finally brings a designer/manufacturer to produce something we have all done at one time or the other. We have all towed the dink with the transom raised out of the water by some method or the other with far more satisfactory results than draggin' it out behind us in tough towing conditions. Their well designed method is limited to a certain level of weather conditions and overall weight born by the lifting gear attached to the pushpit rail but still reduces the drag effect significantly while approximately halving the actual dinghy weight as their equipment package is really quite light. For you, the Chesapeake cruiser, the general weather and wind conditions should find this system quite satisfactory. I have unfortunately experienced two of your famous black squalls when delivering in the area. In that kind of situation I rather expect the Dinghy Tow system may actually be more of a dangerous hindrance than anything else. Even to the degree that a well thought out cradling apparatus may secure a hard or RIB dink securely on deck it only serves well to remind SW II owners that the increase upon an already high windage factor and that it virtually eliminates our "dance floor" when the probability of rapid response to shortening sail requires a bit of working room at the mast.

Until someone invents a dink that combines absolutely everything the debate goes on. It has more to do with the analysis of just HOW, much stuff you transport, many people are aboard, fast and far you need to go, the offshore stowage debacle and how important the combined factors affect your life will effect your choices.

Sep 22, 2001 2:12 pm

I totally agree with Paul on the davits' dangers and weight problem, plus its bulk and windage once loaded do prevent installing any windvane system (ideally with autopilot for windless days), which completely changes your cruising life, even coastal, and your safety when you need to leave the helm for any reason. It is much more important in my eyes than a watermaker, an SSB (who wants to chat at sea? a weatherfax and satellite phone make more sense if you are rich), or even a radar (other than in extensive areas with heavy fog or traffic, but who wants to be there extensively, anyway), and cheaper. Look at the Cape Horn wind vane, probably the best value today, which combines easily with a tiller pilot Autohelm 1000 on the servo-connection, more effective and much more economic and power-lean than the normal choice of 4000+ (marginal) or 5000, and reasonably aesthetic (better than any other windvane, at least).

I would place an effective windvane priority above any dinghy other than a simple small inflatable 2-seat kayak or elongated tub with a pair of split oars! I am actually tired of noise, air, water, wake and visual pollution from inflatables "zodiacs" manned unthinkingly by kids or adults zooming ("planing") in anchorages or magic gunkholes, whether from cruisers or locals, the latter having utterly spoilt the lovely Les Saintes off Guadeloupe except when the trades are howling and making it uncomfortable for these nefarious insects to buzz around. A considerate cruiser goes through an anchorage or a riverine waterway (bank protection) at a low speed comparable to that achievable by rowing said inflatable, which is much better for the health and totally non-polluting.

Sep 22, 2001 2:42 pm

Don't forget an aft oarlock for sculling. I'll give lessons to anyone who wishes, that is a very effective way to move a hard dinghy (or even a Hunter 25 across the harbor, have not tried our Seawind II, probably too heavy, would need a 12 foot galley oar and the mizzen boom is in the way!), and it allows to look forward, to look elegant, or at the ladies...


Nov 20, 2001 11:33 am

I have been having thoughts about davits, dinghies, etc. Has anyone tried the folding boats? The one I have tried (porta-bote, had been rigged for rowing. This was definitely an error - it rowed like a brick. I think with an outboard it might do okay, and maybe with the sail rig...

Nov 20, 2001 11:33 am

We use a Achilles inflatable SPD 4FL which is about 11 feet long. We can
place it upside down with the bow at the base of the mast and the stern
tubes within our dodger. This permits carrying the dingy in rough
conditions without concern, keeps the speed up because a towed dingy cuts
about one knot from the boats speed.

Another nice feature is we can keep the center hatch open during adverse
weather for air circulation because its beneath the dingy and no water
can get in or at least has not yet.

The average years of service is well over 10 with the hypolon fabric and
repair if punctured is easy.

We have been using this as our primary dingy now for over 15 years and
have yet to find a better solution, but we keep our eyes and ears open
for suggestions.

We power the dingy with an 8 hp outboard made by Yamaha which is the
highest horsepower for the weight thats available.

We store the engine on the starboard quarter deck and lift it with a
block and tackle using the mizzen boom.


Nov 20, 2001 11:55 am

I've been trying to keep the discussions in appropriate Internet Mail folders by the "Subject" line in each mail but I fear most information containing the 'dinghies selection' subject do not refer to those few regarding davits or foldboats.. I know that the one that I owned is now entertaining Davy Jone's sense of humor. I certainly had very little respect or ultimate use for it as a tender.

Whatever you do, do not buy the Portaboat from Alaska. It is very smart, and holds well along the rail, BUT it does not tow, playing submarine in any sort of swell and fast speed, which typically go together on our swift heavy boats... Bert dF Pianissimo 80K

Again, from Bert

I totally agree with Paul on the davits' dangers and weight problem, plus its bulk and windage once loaded do prevent installing any windvane system (ideally with autopilot for windless days),

Nov 20, 2001 12:35 pm

I also bought a portaboat, with only an option for the sail rig, which I have not exercized, as I now feel that (a) my Seagull 3HP works well enough but, worse, (b) I feel the portaboat was a mistake for coastal or archipelago cruising as it does not tow well: it fills up soon in any sea state. That was confirmed in the Caribbean between or even along islands, also by a couple of cruisers afflicted with the same boat.

I liked the idea of a rugged, sailable, insubmersible dinghy that can store on the rail, and I have a sumbrella sheath made later in Horta. I wanted the 8 footer, but they did not have one available so I got the 10ft, heavier and bulkier. Folding and unfolding every time you are exposed to any sort of sea state is a lot more of a pain than storing a small inflatable on the fore deck or cabin deck, or even deflating (and stored into cockpit locker) and reflating. However, it stored well on the rail, with 3 jerricans (one fwd, 2 aft plus the spare LPG bottle) on the same side (4 more jerricans on the other side, aft of the 4 fenders). I ended up suing the inflatable in the Bahamas, after all!

If you already have it... and it gets ruined by sun or sand, I'd be delighted to sell you mine...